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[EXCLUSIVE] Oprah Winfrey Admits “It’s not where I want it to be” Regarding Her New TV Network, OWN



Filed under : Entertainment

Waddup people!

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One thing you will get from Oprah Winfrey is honesty & truth, about herself, her life, her empire and her views on life in general. So in a candid & exclusive interview, Entertainment Weekly sat down with Oprah Winfrey at her Harpo’s headquarters in Chicago, Illinois, to talk about her Oprah Behind the Scenes TV series, how she comes across in the show, and whether she has any regrets about launching OWN while still doing her talk show.

The interview, which was published on Monday, came three days after OWN, in the starkest sign yet of its troubles, fired its Chief Executive Christina Norman [saddened me to hear about Christina’s departure from OWN. She is a force in television industry in the US]. The network has struggled with low ratings since its blockbuster launch in January. Before Christina Norman was let go, Christina had already overhauled OWN’s schedule once [not sure if it a Christina problem. I do agree with Oprah’s own admission, that she needs to dedicate her time and attention to OWN for it to reach its fullest potential. I do believe that Oprah is on to something with her 24hr channel but it is going to need Oprah behind the helms to steer it.]

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Oprah Behind the Scenes is addictive.

OPRAH WINFREY: I wish more people were addicted to it! It’s getting better, though a lot of people still don’t know where to find it and how to find it. We just moved it to Sundays. It gives an accurate presentation of the surface of who we are, and people get an idea of what it takes to put these shows together. It doesn’t even begin to touch the nerve of who we really are. What’s really missing is how hard everybody works and the long hours that people put in, the sacrifices they have made with their families, and the depth of absolute passion.

How did it evolve?

It was my idea to do it. Originally, it was proposed to me to do it like Madonna: Truth or Dare, to do it as a film documentary piece. I did not feel like my audience, who supported me for 25 years on TV, wanted to then pay to go to the theater to watch a documentary. The idea of doing it as a TV series fulfilled two purposes – we needed programming for OWN, and it was a way to document the last season. It felt like a perfect idea.

One thing we don’t see on BTS is how much time you give to the Oprah Winfrey Network.

I feel like I have not begun to give anything to OWN. I was on the phone yesterday with the head of OWN probably for 20 minutes, and then I was on another phone call for an hour, so I probably gave OWN and hour and 20 minutes yesterday. Not enough. Not enough. And I hadn’t talked to anybody for two or three days there. Doing this right and ending [Oprah] this the way is a full-time job. And the magazine is a full-time job, but that’s its own machine now. I don’t have to a lot with that anymore. But I still have to check in, approve things. I wouldn’t even say 10 percent of my time is on OWN right now. But it will be. [After the end of Oprah] I can start to give my attention to OWN that it deserves. Its going to improve exponentially with the amount of time and service I can give to it.

Do you regret launching OWN before your talk show ended?

I’ve thought maybe it would have been better to wait until this completely ended and then literally use [Oprah] as a launchpad. If I had it to do differently and had thought of that option, I might have considered that a priority. But I don’t spend a lot of time in the regret mode.

How do you feel about OWN’s performance so far?

It’s not where I want it to be. I had a wonderful conversation with Lorne Michaels at a dinner party. He said it’s going to take three years, not two. And I am going to have to pay my dues and will be in the midst of a learning curve. And when I think I’ve learned as much as I need to know, I’ll be hit with something else. Don’t judge OWN until after three years. So that’s exactly what I have thought in my own mind.

The perception is that you are a perfectionist. Did you mean for BTS to dispel any impressions that are out there about you?

I was not trying to dispel anything. The only thing I’ve ever heard is how controlling I am. But that’s also not true. I want to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am about what they do, particularly if it comes to technology and computers, because I can’t get the damn TV on! I want them to do their jobs. And I want to give them the freedom and the allowance to do it as well as possible for themselves. And then I’m absolutely not in it until you come to tell me what the results are, and I will give you permission to execute that.

How do you think you’ve been portrayed on BTS?

On a camping episode, I had said to [supervising producer] Lisa Morin, when she came to me to want to re-do something, I said, “You must be delusional if you think I’m going to do that.” If you know my personality, you know I’m not trying to humiliate anybody. That’s my way of saying, get the heck out of here, are you crazy or whatever? People thought I was really harsh in saying that. I didn’t mean it to be harsh. It was that moment.

Have you ever gone back to edit the way you came across in an episode?

Yes, for the Jennifer Hudson episode. That was a lot of high drama because we’ve never been stood up before. There were a lot of people saying a lot of things. Everybody was mad. I wanted to make sure that there was not one single thing in that episode that had anything to do with us being mad or upset in that moment. It was dramatic. Nobody has never not shown up, ever. Especially if they were here the night before.

One of the great things about this show is how you appear without makeup.

I’ve taken that to an all-time low, Oh my god. Jesus, I need a little vanity. I’m not asking for vanity fair, but just a little. The camping trip was an all-time low for makeup and pajamas. I do think I could have had nicer pajamas. The reason why it doesn’t completely make me feel like, God I should improve myself, is that people have seen me. They know I can pull it together. And in real life, people don’t have coordinated outfits. I don’t have coordinated outfits!

Take a peak at Oprah Behind the Scenes:
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My fave Oprah Behind the Scenes:
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I actually love this intimate portrayal of the making of the Oprah Winfrey show. It’s a great lens into her empire and how they put together the show. As co-host/Producer on Point Of View on Afrotainment, Channel #751 on DishNetwork, this is so instructive to me as we build our talk-show. I love that fact that Oprah’s team understands her vision and executes excellently towards that end.

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Will You Guys Be Watching OWN?!?!

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Love ya for it!

Photo: Zimbio / Getty Images

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.


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  • Anonymous

    Yeah, my wife watches the show and enjoys it but my only problem with the network is there really isn’t any difference between her network and CBS, FOX, NBC, ABC, etc.  She has no diversity when it comes to african american shows, hispanic shows, etc.  Why not?  It would’ve been nice if you would’ve asked her that question. 

    I mean, when are the other races going to get a chance to have their talents discovered and shown to the world?  Nearly her entire network of shows is basically catered for and to the white audience.  That is shocking coming from someone who says they are proud to be African American. 

  • Diane Curry

    If the only time Oprah edited herself was the Jennifer Hudson episode..she didn’t edit enough!  I  thought that was Oprah at her most thoughtless. When she took her by the arm and said..”You better be glad I’m not your Mother..I would of put you in time out”..I gasped.I am sure she did not mean to…but everyone instantly thought of Jennifer’s murdured Mother and’lp9iiiiiixxxx,,, mj mthe casual way Oprah refered to her. And for the record…she did show up..just late!.