Image Credit: George Burns/Harpo ProductionsWith the button-pushing Facebook movie The Social Network‘s premiere only a week away, the company’s real-life CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared on today’s Oprah Winfrey Show to donate $100 million to the Newark public school system. As Oprah ruefully noted during the segment — which also featured New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Newark mayor Corey Booker — the news had already leaked two days earlier, so some of the announcement’s impact was blunted. Still, it was undoubtedly a huge chunk of change for an often beleaguered city. (Booker said at one point that a full half of Newark’s public school kids don’t graduate high school.)
What I found interesting was that while The Social Network buzz was undoubtedly lingering in the background, the show was actually about a whole other movie that’s been making waves: Waiting for “Superman”. In fact, today was Oprah’s second show this week devoted to the lauded documentary about the crisis in American education. And the focus stayed there throughout, even as Oprah got a never-before-seen peek into Zuckerberg’s modest, rented house in Palo Alto, Calif., that he shares with his girlfriend. (Oprah briefly brought up the “unauthorized” Facebook movie without ever mention its title, and Zuckerberg shrugged it off, saying “It’s a movie. It’s fun. A lot of it is fiction. Even the filmmakers will say that.”) Another interesting wrinkle: Oprah noted that Zuckerberg had initially intended to make the donation anonymously, but that when she heard the news from Booker, she said “Is he crazy?” and convinced Zuckerberg to announce it publicly. She also explained the timing of the news, saying that it would have happened much earlier had it not been for her show’s airing schedule. Me, I couldn’t care less why Zuckerberg is donating so much — I just think it’s very cool he did.
Did you watch? Is Zuckerberg aligning himself with “Superman” and trying to ignore…the unauthorized Facebook movie? What are your thoughts on him post-announcement?