March 20, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

You know it’s serious when Oprah starts paying attention. On March 12, the mother of all talk-show hosts devoted a live episode to dating violence, ”dedicated to all the Rihannas of the world.” In fact, it seems like every big-name television personality has weighed in on the Rihanna-Chris Brown situation recently, especially with reports swirling that the couple may have reconciled. Katie Couric, Tyra Banks, and Dr. Phil have all used the incident to discuss domestic abuse of teens and young adults. And they’re not just reporting the latest details: Several of these celebs seem to be directly addressing Rihanna, as if trying to persuade her not to make a huge mistake. ”Love isn’t supposed to hurt,” Couric said, referring to Rihanna at the end of her March 9 newscast, ”except when someone breaks your heart.”

Question is: Could these sorts of very public overtures actually get through to the singer? Quite possibly. ”I think she’s very aware of everything that’s going on,” says music producer Evan Rogers, who discovered Rihanna in Barbados and has worked closely with her ever since. ”Just like anyone else, she watches TV, she goes online. And I think that it matters to her.” Which, hopefully, could help lead to a welcome return to work for the platinum-level performer. When asked if she is recording new music, Rogers offers, ”She’s just getting started now.” (Rihanna’s label, Island Def Jam, would not confirm.)

But even if Oprah and other concerned commentators can’t get through to Rihanna, their efforts might still help viewers and fans who find themselves in a similar situation. ”This is a teachable moment,” says The Early Show anchor Maggie Rodriguez, who has covered the story extensively. ”Like it or not, Rihanna and Chris are role models for our children, and they should know that dating violence should never be tolerated or romanticized.”

You May Like