When Oprah Winfrey decided to conclude the long run of her daily TV talk and interview show and put up her own TV network, many people were caught by surprise but thought that, given her experience and vast popularity, she would easily make a go of it.
Alas, things have turned out differently, with some of the new shows Oprah initiated not rating well, forcing her to make major adjustments along the way.
Launching an entire TV network isn’t easy as pie after all—even if you’re Oprah Winfrey!
Oprah took the time to analyze why some of her productions weren’t coming up roses. She concluded that there was something to what other analysts had surmised, that viewers loved Oprah, not necessarily everything she did and produced. And, even more to the point, they missed seeing her often on the tube.
So, starting last year, she came up with occasional “special” interviews with celebrities, particularly those who had been involved in a big controversy that threatened to rock their careers and popularity to their very core.
The fact that a big star was involved, and the controversial nature of the debacle meant top ratings for the specials and the network, so it ended up as a win-win situation all around!
For instance, after veteran nighttime TV host David Letterman was caught figuratively with his pants down (he admitted to using his position to have flings with some of his show’s female staffers), he eventually agreed to a tell-all interview with Oprah, and the telecast was a top-rater.
Letterman similarly benefited from the “true confessions” nature of the interview, because it finally cleared the air, enabled him to publicly own up to his sins and eat humble pie, and his popularity, or at least some of it, was restored.
The move was so effective that it may have been a factor in cleaning up Letterman’s image so well that he was deemed worthy of the Kennedy Center’s lifetime achievement honor that was recently bestowed on him.
More recently, Oprah announced that she had also taped a long and similarly “confessional” interview with sports icon Lance Armstrong, who has had to deal with a lot of controversy of late over his reported use of performance-enhancing substances.
Needless to say, it’s another scoop for Oprah, and a sure ratings-booster for her TV outfit!
Now that Winfrey has again reinvented herself, this time as a sympathetic shoulder to publicly cry on for the most beleaguered celebrities in the biz, expect her own image and network to benefit from her savvy gambit, as well.
“Oprah magic” has been proven to not be automatically transferable, but it has become a hot item and a bankable commodity once more!
Other controversies that the queen of talk can insightfully and profitably feature include Arnold Schwarzenegger’s own fall from grace and the feisty exchange of bitchy barbs between “American Idol” cohosts Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.
Where there’s smoke, there’s fire—and for the successfully comebacking Miss O, a lot of profitable fire-dousing to be done!