Oprah’s $2,300-a-Pop Bash: Presidential candidate Barack Obama seems likely to clean up big-time at the September 8 party Oprah is throwing for him at her Santa Barbara home – but it’ll be nothing close to what she earns a year.

Which is (drum roll) a mere $260 million – including what she earns from Rachael Ray, Dr. Phil, and other shows under her wing – according to TV Guide.

I would ask Judge Judy whether anyone in show biz is worth that much dough, but then I noticed that Judge Judy herself makes – gulp! – $30 million a year.

Not that I begrudge Oprah one penny. If you don’t know her life story; she pulled herself up from abuse and poverty in the South, where she was told that the best possible job she could ever aspire to have would be being a maid in a nice home.

She’s a true phenomenon, and so is Obama. This is going to be fun to watch: Hillary vs. this guy who came from out of Nowhere, Chicago. The presidency – against whoever the GOP puts up – is theirs to lose.

Now just to get through Oprah’s Montecito door on Sept. 8 will cost you $2,300. That’s spare change to many, but the maximum allowable under federal campaign laws, I understand.

But if you want to rub elbows with celebs at a special VIP reception, it will take an additional $25,000 bite out of your children’s or grandchild’s college fund. And if you have some extra mad money stashed offshore, you can plunk down a cool $50,000 to break bread and dine with the two O’s.

I daresay there’ll be no shortage of those willing – no, anxious – to write out a check for fifty grand.

Not Cruisin’: Contrary to reports circulating the world as fact via the Internet, Tom Cruise has not bought Rob Lowe’s property on Picacho Lane in Montecito, according to Lowe’s spokesperson. The Lowes haven’t sold the property, nor do they have plans to. In fact, they have just moved in, Nicole Perez told The Independent.

Takeaway Prize: Everyone knows the classic Peanuts cartoon where Lucy jerks away the football just as Charlie Brown runs up to kick it. Well, something like that happened to Barbara Bartolome and her News-Press Reader’s Choice award.

Barbara, owner of Santa Barbara Scrapbooks, not only canceled her newspaper subscription when the staff meltdown began a year ago, but also canceled her ad.

She also appeared at some of the demonstrations in De la Guerra Plaza, supporting the reporters and others who quit or were fired. “I’m a longtime John Zant fan,” she said of the veteran sportswriter. The dwindling staff is “a great loss,” Barbara told me. “It’s sad.”

Then, about six months later, she got a letter from the News-Press urging her to renew her advertising. She replied with a strongly-worded letter saying that she’d never do it as long as Wendy McCaw owned the paper.

Later, a News-Press ad man, whom she described as a nice guy, dropped off a plaque showing that her shop, which deals in all manner of items useful to scrapbook makers, had come in second in the annual “Reader’s Choice” contest.

Nordstrom was first in the category for “Best Shopping and Service Overall, Retail Customer Service.” Barbara wasn’t there when he dropped it off, but she got the impression that he was a bit peeved at her for not advertising.

So Barbara wrote a note to him, explaining that her dispute was with management and not with the employees, especially since she knew so many of them, adding that her son had actually been a photo intern there.

But when the “Reader’s Choice” promotion appeared in the paper, Barbara could find no mention of the “Best Shopping and Service Overall” category. She and Nordstrom had been deleted, it seemed.

“I let it go,” she said, although puzzled and disappointed that the paper would snub her after the public had voted her the award. Nordstrom may have questioned the missing category as well, because a few days later the paper printed a correction, saying that the category, along with Nordstrom and Santa Barbara Scrapbooks, had been omitted by error, Barbara said.

Then she learned that the paper owed her $360 for the unused part of her ad contract, but hadn’t notified her. After she called, Barbara said, she heard from Yolanda Apodaca, the News-Press‘s Human Resources Director.

Barbara was also surprised that an HR director would be dealing with ads.

“She said it could not be refunded and that I needed to use it. I said no.” But Barbara is a persistent sort and managed to get the $360 refunded.

As for the plaque, it has a prominent place in her shop at 918 Chapala St. It’s the only scrapbook store between Port Hueneme and Pismo Beach, she said. “All the others are gone.”

Meanwhile, scrapbookers will gather in Santa Barbara at the Veterans Memorial Building Sept. 14 and 15 to raise funds for breast cancer research. It’s part of a nationwide campaign with folks in over 600 cities participating, according to Barbara. More info can be found by visiting www.scrappink.com.

Stark’s Last Case: Shane Stark, county counsel – and top civil attorney for the Board of Supervisors – plans to retire in January after 13 years at the post. He’ll be 65. “I love this job, but it’s time to move on,” he said.

Peter, Paul & Mommy: The singing group Peter, Paul and Mary will be honored at the 24th annual Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Evening for Peace on September 17.

Movies on Campus: What? You’ve never seen Frederico Fellini’s La Dolce Vida? Or not since you were in college? Well, it’ll be showing at UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Aug. 29 at 7:30pm. Admission is six bucks for the public. And Days of Glory, screening Aug. 15, is not about the sweet life. It’s the true story of four young Algerian men who enlist in the French army during World War II to fight the Nazis. On the lighter side, Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights – about the Little Tramp and the blind flower girl – will be shown on Aug. 22.

Barney Brantingham can be reached at barney@independent.com or 805-965-5205. He writes online columns on Tuesdays and Fridays and a print column on Thursdays.


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