More than 30,000 people crowded onto the campus at Howard University in Washington for this weekend's graduation ceremony. That's what happens when Oprah Winfrey delivers the commencement address.

Ms. O did not disappoint. "My integrity is not for sale, and neither is yours," Winfrey said. "Do not be a slave to any form of selling out."

The talk-show titan recalled her start at a TV station in Baltimore where management told her she was "too black" and "too emotional." They urged her to change her name to something more conventional, but she refused.

Finally, she said, she was put on a talk show to run out her contract. "And that was the beginning," she told the cheering throng.

Winfrey said that when she was growing up in Mississippi in the '50s, her grandmother wished that some day the girl would "get some good white folks" to work for.

"I regret that she didn't live past 1963," Winfrey said, "and see that I did get some really good white folks - working for me."

Still on top

Spider-Man 3 remained the most popular film in the country its second weekend in release. The bad news: Receipts plummeted 60 percent from the previous weekend.

Ah, but all numbers are relative when Hollywood is cooking the books. Spider-Man 3 took in $60 million, which means the comic-book adaptation has grossed $242 million domestically in its first 10 days. That puts it ahead of the first two films in the super-hero saga.

"Any studio would be happy to have a movie opening with $60 million, let alone a second weekend with $60 million," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media by Numbers.

The total was certainly enough to crush the competition. Debuting in second place with $10 million was the British horror sequel 28 Weeks Later. Georgia Rule, a generational melodrama starring Lindsay Lohan, Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman, opened at No. 3 with $5.9 million. The suburban thriller Disturbia held on to fourth place with $4.8 million. The comedy Delta Farce, starring Larry the Cable Guy, premiered at No. 5 with $3.5 million.

Beginner's luck

Country legend Mel Tillis, 74, finally got invited this weekend to join the Grand Ole Opry ensemble. The singer and humorist, known for his signature stutter, was performing at the storied Nashville venue on Saturday when fellow performer "Whisperin'" Bill Anderson asked him if he'd like to become the show's newest member.

"You know what? Another part of the dream has been fulfilled," Tillis said. "It's been a long, hard road. I've been in the business for 52 years." The singer received a standing ovation as his daughter, Opry member Pam Tillis, and son Mel Jr. joined him on stage.

He will be inducted June 9.

Contact "Sideshow" at sideshow@phillynews.com.

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