Back in November when Oprah Winfrey said she was ending her daytime talk show to focus on her new cable channels, there was a lot of coverage of “the end of Oprah’s show.” I made a point of stressing, at the time, that there is a difference between ending one iteration of a show for a particular syndication deal and actually ending your career as a host. “Until it is actually buried,” I wrote, “I consider Oprah’s talkshow career as dead as a major character on 24.”
Well, Tony Almeida came back to life, and so has Oprah’s show! In a (somewhat) different, primetime format, anyway.
Word is, after Oprah launches the OWN channel with Discovery Networks in January, she’ll host a primetime interview show. (The debut date isn’t set but will probably be later in 2011.) The parameters are still fuzzy, but Oprah’s Next Chapter will apparently have Winfrey traveling and doing interviews outside the studio (and at her home).
It’s not surprising. I’m sure it’s true that 25 years is a long time to do a show, and Oprah the host would like to knock off, break the routine and do something different. The problem is, her boss is Oprah the TV mogul, who is too good a businesswoman not to get her number-one star to do what brings in the viewers on her new network.
Oprah’s Next Chapter sounds like an attempt by Winfrey to do something different, but not so different that it doesn’t draw the Oprah faithful. (It will, for instance, not be nightly but possibly more than weekly—possibly two or three nights a week.) Oprah’s a good talent scout, and I’m sure she aims to develop other stars as she has in the past with Dr. Phil and Rachel Ray. But for now she’s her OWN biggest star, so her next chapter can’t be too unlike her last one.