Oprah Winfrey scored huge ratings -- over 3.5 million people tuned in -- for her exclusive interview with Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and other family members. But was the sit-down just as successful at helping the family heal and maintain Whitney's legacy, or was it too soon to tell all?
"I don't think it was too soon," said Dr. Jeff Gardere, assistant professor at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. "In some ways, it was very cathartic and healing in that she got to speak and bare her soul to Oprah, who is a family friend and very supportive. It's also an opportunity for her to give a more respectful, intimate and loving portrait of her mother, instead of the one-dimensional, drug addict persona that has emerged in the media."
Some industry insiders said speaking out now also could help shape Whitney's legacy.
"It's amazing that Whitney Houston's family has been able to keep quiet for so long, and I think that opening up to Oprah Winfrey is an ideal venue for the family," Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR and author of “For Immediate Release,” tells me. "There are so many questions about Houston -– her substance abuse, relationship with ex-husband Bobbi Brown, her future career plans -– and the family has to answer these questions publicly and now is the right time. The Houston family must take control of Whitney’s legacy."
Public relations veteran Howard Bragman of Reputation.com agrees. "The only timetable is the internal one and if they felt ready, then they were ready," Bragman says.
However, not everyone is sure the time was ripe for an Oprah couch visit. Adam Hanft, CEO of marketing firm Hanft Projects, thinks the interview was a mistake.
"The Houston family made a huge tactical error by allowing Whitney's daughter to be exposed to the press so quickly," Hanft tells me. "It reminds us that they were derelict for years as Whitney slid into drugs and alcohol abuse, and now they are suddenly immediately reactive after her death. It makes them appear cold and manipulative."
But the most powerful sign that the interview happened too soon is the fact that the man Whitney called her father and mentor, Clive Davis, has not done any press beyond issuing an initial statement.
"He was called and asked to be part of the Oprah interview and we declined," a friend of Clive's tells me. "They all have called -- Barbara Walters, Charlie Rose, Piers Morgan and Matt Lauer -- but for him, it was just too soon. He's still too distraught."
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