1. Headline
  1. Headline
Hollywood Reporter
updated 2/23/2011 4:44:49 PM ET 2011-02-23T21:44:49

Image: Oprah Winfrey
Mary Altaffer  /  AP file
Oprah Winfrey, chairman of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, discusses the challenges involved with building her cable business.

Oprah Winfrey admits the OWN network is still a work in progress.

"We're building, night by night by night. What everyone told me about the cable business is the way you do cable is you start with a couple of shows, people are used to repeats," Winfrey told The Hollywood Reporter from the Chicago offices of Harpo Productions. "Oprah viewers were not!"

Winfrey says she's actively seeking audience input while building her network, and even signed up for an oprah@oprah.com email address on her website last week, which she plans to use to interact with people.

OWN’s first promo

The network's first hit is Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, which earlier this month was averaging 546,000 viewers, and has seen a 40 percent boost in the network's key women 25-54 demo from DVR usage. 1.6 million viewers tuned in to its premiere. Compared to what Discovery Health was averaging in 2010, it's up 262 percent in total viewers.

Story: Oprah's got her OWN problems

The show "was my idea," says Winfrey. "Originally there was some talk about doing it as a documentary film. I shot that down, because I thought my viewers don't want to now go pay to see a film about me. [I said], 'What would make it really interesting is to put it in your living rooms, where I've been all these years.'"

  1. More Entertainment stories
    1. Autistic ballerina dances her way into hearts

      In a popular YouTube video, the beaming little ballerina dances an entire four-minute routine seemingly perfectly, matchin...

    2. Every on-screen drink in 'Mad Men' in 5 minutes
    3. See the 'Dancing' stars' most memorable moves
    4. Emmy's biggest snubs? Cranston, Hamm, more
    5. 'Toy Story' toys burn up in prank on mom

Winfrey's producers are followed by a 16-person production team, Harpo president (and producer of Winfrey's talk show for 15 years) Sheri Salata tells THR. ("Oprah is the only person who has any comfort at all in front of the camera," she jokes. For the rest of the staff," it's agonizing." Quips Winfrey: "It's second nature for me. I've been on camera since I was 19. A lot of people are a little awkward.")

Despite Winfrey insisting that she doesn't think her life "is that darn entertaining," the series will continue to delve deeper into her personal life, including more appearances by longtime partner Stedman Graham, whom Winfrey comments is the no. 1 fan.

Hollywood’s Highest Grossing Actors

"They had a shot of me in the tub [Wednesday]. I thought it was too much. C'mon people, we went a little too far behind the scenes with this shot!" jokes Winfrey.

It will chronicle the end of production through May. Then later this year, Winfrey's new show, Oprah's Next Chapter, will kick off in the same vein.

"Oprah as we know it with a studio audience is over. We can't do it any better than we've done it," Salata tells THR. "I think you can expect to see Oprah out in the world, and having the look and feel very different. it's about what Oprah is interested in exploring and interested in life."

Hollywood’s most powerful women

"I think we've figured out how to do it," Salata goes on. "If we stay in a reality style, and not having Oprah as a presenter. There will be interviews, some things will be really elaborate like with Australia…"

  1. Most popular

Winfrey explains it like this: "Oprah's Next Chapter is a loose feel, like Behind the Scenes…. We'll shoot the interview wherever it's happening, in that sort of reality space. It's about trying to stay in the truth space, the reality space. It's also just making it good television."

In the meantime, Winfrey is counting down until the end of her talk show, and plans to take a vacation after taping her Oscars special.

Copyright 2012 The Hollywood Reporter


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. TODAY

    video Former Columbine student meets other school shooting survivors

    4/20/2014 1:59:51 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T13:59:51
  1. TODAY

    video Ouch! Baseball player hit in face by 90-mph fastball

    4/20/2014 1:22:19 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T13:22:19
  1. Nick Lisi / AP

    Miss America defends student suspended for asking her to prom

    4/20/2014 5:57:24 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T17:57:24
  1. Pool / Reuters

    Prince George meets George the marsupial on zoo trip

    4/20/2014 3:44:05 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T15:44:05
  1. TODAY

    video Death toll rises as divers enter sunken South Korean ferry

    4/20/2014 1:23:09 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T13:23:09
Boston Marathon
  1. Police securing Boston

    video Law enforcement officials are working around the clock to make sure the Boston Marathon is safe.

    4/20/2014 1:24:33 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T13:24:33
  2. Boston counts down to marathon 

    video After getting through a long, painful year, many Boston Marathon bombing survivors look forward to finishing what they started.

    4/20/2014 1:23:53 PM +00:00 2014-04-20T13:23:53