Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Are You the Next Oprah Winfrey? [BOOK WEEK] Jun18

Share This

Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: Are You the Next Oprah Winfrey? [BOOK WEEK]


a blogumn by Jersey Joe

Are you the next Oprah Winfrey?  Would you love to live like Oprah?  Would you love to host your own show on her new cable network, OWN?  Who wouldn’t, right?  Well, now we ALL have the chance! Just about every red blooded American knows who Oprah Winfrey is.  Most of us have seen at least a few minutes of her show over the past 25 seasons.  However, she is leaving the world of television syndication and is forming a cable network of her own.  Launching a new cable network will mostly original programming cannot be an easy task, but Oprah’s brain never stops working. She’s also making it easier on herself and trying to suck in viewers by picking one of us to join her!

From television, to movies, to books, to Broadway; Oprah can be credited with making her own success.  She was born into poverty in rural Mississippi, grew up in Minneapolis, got pregnant and was sent to live in Nashville.  She landed her first job in radio while still in high school and began anchoring the local radio news at age 19!  She eventually moved to anchoring the TV news at the CBS affiliate in Nashville, before eventually heading on to co-anchor the six o’clock news at WJZ, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore.

Image Credit: DonkeyHotey

It was during her stay in Baltimore, that she moved onto to talk shows.  She originally hosted the local show People Are Talking which premiered in 1978.  In 1983, she left for Chicago to host the low rated AM Chicago for WLS-TV, the powerhouse ABC affiliate.  It was during this time that she honed her talk-show format.  In fact, she took AM Chicago’s ratings from dead last to beating the nationally televised Donahue!

After only two seasons on AM Chicago, Oprah was convinced by movie critic Rodger Ebert to take her talk show into national syndication.  Her national show, then retitled The Oprah Winfrey Show, began on September 8, 1986 and is the same show that we see today.  However, it will end production in September 2011.

I must admit that I am not one of the 30 million viewers a week that watch Oprah and I do not fit into her target demographic of 18-49 women.  I did see Tom Cruise jumping up and down on her couch while I was flipping through channels that day.  I also thought it was a brilliant stunt to launch the new season a few years ago, by giving away cars to the entire audience.  I also recognize how she rose through the industry and is ready to make another major leap.

On January 1, 2011, she will officially launch OWN, which stands for The Oprah Winfrey Network.  The channel is currently on the air now as The Discovery Health Channel, but Oprah will rebrand it and take its place at that time.  It was originally scheduled to launch in 2009, but has been delayed.  By taking over Discovery Health, she will instantly be in the 70 million homes that already receive the channel!

When the OWN channel launches, it will need a ton of new programming.  None of the current health related shows are expected to carryover.  In addition to running the channel with Discovery Communications, she will host a new show called Oprah’s Next Chapter a few nights a week.  Other new shows that are scheduled to launch are: Gayle King Live, Why Not? With Shania Twain, In the Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman, Inside with Lisa Ling, Kidnapped By the Kids, Excellent Adventure, The Miracle Detectives, Oprah Presents: Masters Class and Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star.

Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star will give one of her fans a chance to host their own show on the network.  This will be an American Idol style competition (aren’t most shows these days?).  She is teaming up with Mark Burnett from Survivor and Apprentice fame, to produce the show. Burnett told reporters that “Much in the way American Idol finds unknown people there’s no reason we can’t find someone who deserves their own show.” This type of show has also worked for The Food Network, so it could work here.

To enter, go to Oprah’s OWN website, but you have less than 2 weeks left to enter!  Simply upload your video and tell Oprah and her producers if you have “it.”  “It” being the idea and the personality for your own Oprah show.  There are instructional videos from Oprah and Burnett to get you started!

It is rare for a show this early in planning to be generating all the buzz that this project already has.  It looks like this one is going to be popular with both the fans and those who are drooling to be contestants!  Plus, with Burnett and Oprah at the helm, this is going to make for some good television! Putting Oprah’s name on a show, almost gives it a seal of quality.  You’ll see her name prominently displayed in front of numerous movies, television specials, and even The Color Purple on Broadway.

Another sign of Oprah’s success is her mighty book club.  Once a title is placed on the list, most go on to become best sellers.  It all started as a simple segment on her show back in 1996 and today has become a powerful marking tool for publishers.  Her official gold and white seal is placed proudly on the cover and plastered on advertisements in store and online. The books on her list are not all new releases.  Some are classics that have been around for generations, while some have been down right controversial.  Being recognized by Oprah often means an additional several million in copies sold for the author.

The first book she selected was The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard.  The club made regular selections until 2002, when Oprah put it on hold, saying she didn’t have the time to read and research the novels she wanted.  It was fired up again in 2003 and still continues to this day. I loved seeing David Letterman whip out his new book about top ten lists on The Late Show and proclaim how it had become part of Oprah’s Book Club, which it had not.  It was a nice piece of comedy and a nod to their so-called feud from years back.

It’s amazing to me how Oprah went from poverty to one of the richest and most influential women in America.  At this point, she could retire from the public spotlight and live a great life, but she has no plans to do so.  She continues to roll out new projects on stage, screen, and in print.  Only with Oprah is it OK to have your face on the cover of your own magazine each and every month!

Oh, and in my research on Oprah’s past… did you know she once dated John Tesh?  The two met as reporters during her Nashville days!

THE 411:


Current Location: Chicago, Illinois

Birthday: January 29, 1954, Kosciusko, Mississippi


JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Even if you are not an Oprah fan, you should definitely try and catch at least one episode of her broadcast talk show while you still can.  When Oprah moves to cable in 2011, her new show will have a different format than the current one.  Plus, if you think you’d like to host your own show on her new network, go to her website and enter the contest.  Also, her book club continues to roll out new picks a few times a year.  It’s a pretty safe bet, that once a book becomes an official part of her book club, you are in for a good read.