Oprah’s Jerry Springer crisis

January 15, 2008

oprah3.jpgOprah Winfrey is spreading her sphere of influence to cable television. In about 18 months she will launch with Discovery Communications the Oprah Winfrey Network, or OWN, to 70 million homes in the United States, replacing the sometimes raw footage of appendectomies and gout-swollen feet now programmed on the Discovery Health Channel.

The queen of daytime talk said the deal was actually more than 15 years in the making, well before Discovery chief David Zaslav came calling last spring to suggest a venture. Not two days before that meeting, she said in call to discuss the deal, she found an old entry in her diary that envisioned life beyond her talk show.

Cleaning out some drawers. I came across a piece in my journal 16 years now since. I had this vision of creating my own network using the platform of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

The journal entry included a line about creating mindful, not mindless, television, she said.

I wrote this when I was going through the conflict of the Jerry Springers, and everyone was going to trash TV … I had this vision for a long time and had just recently run across that piece in my journal. Literally I brought him (Zaslav) into my office and showed him that piece of paper … It was an instant connection.

That “connection” will soon become a full-fledged cable network with all programming vetted by Winfrey herself. She described it as a channel dedicated to unleashing human potential, digging deeper into the topics of health, relationships, child-rearing and charity she’s cultivated in hour-long segments, each afternoon, from Monday to Friday.

Who knows, maybe “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will also come to the new mothership, once the progam’s current distribution contract expires in 2011?

(Photo: Reuters)

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