The Biz: Will Michelle Obama Be the Next Oprah?
While President Obama has been locked in a tight battle for reelection, his wife's favorability ratings have soared higher than ever. America loves First Lady Michelle Obama, and when viewers see her on the talk-show circuit doing pushups with Ellen DeGeneres or reeling off a Top 10 list on Late Show With David Letterman, it's easy to understand why.
Michelle Obama has such an appealing TV presence that if she and her husband find themselves moving out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January, she'll have the opportunity to make the transition from high-profile, engaging talk-show guest to big-name talk-show host — arguably the biggest ever in terms of recognizability.
"Personally I want to see her in the White House," says Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures Productions, the syndication company behind The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "But if she were not going to be in the White House, I'd love to have her as the host of a show. She's amazing."
Former CNN president Jon Klein says he's sure Mrs. Obama will have plenty of suitors in the TV business if her husband doesn't serve another term. "Daytime syndicators are desperate for a new voice, and she is tailor-made for it," says Klein, now an independent producer. "She's thoughtful. She's committed. She's a working mom. She'd be a strong voice on issues important to her."
McLoughlin even uses the other "O" word when discussing Obama's biggest strengths. "She reminds me of Oprah Winfrey as someone who has the ability to make people understand complex things in a simple way," she says.
Of course, it's a big if whether or not Obama would want to make the kind of commitment required for a daily syndicated show (the platform that could provide the greatest exposure and financial reward). "I don't think she would do it," says one TV agent who has done business with many Washington figures. "When you're in a position such as First Lady, you've reached the pinnacle. When you really can make a difference in the world, you're not going to want to be tied to a syndication schedule."
The agent adds that if Obama wanted to make less of a commitment but still have a TV platform, "maybe she'd do a weekly show where she gets to promote her initiatives."
Of course, there is still a chance she may spend four more years in her current job. Check back with us on Nov. 7.
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