Cold Comfort

Self-proclaimed psychic medium John Edward ranks as either the “Oprah of the Other Side” or, as South Park and Penn Jillette would have it, “The Biggest Douche in the Universe.” The distinction hinges less on whether his gifts are real than on whether it’s appropriate to erect an empire on exploiting peoples’ losses, even if some of them find comfort in the ensuing big-top catharsis. Then again, one could say the same about Oprah.

Clearly, Edward stirs a strong reaction -- which, after all, is the stock-in-trade of carnival barkers, revival preachers, daytime talk show hosts, and crystal-ball jockeys. Soul-stirrer or grief vampire, he’s a pro and the show’s bound to be entertaining, if only for the disquieting frisson arising from contemplating that far shore (or reaching for a Ouija board).

Sat., Jan. 15, 4 p.m., 2011
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Nicholas Gerbis