Oprah Says She's Tired, Loves Commercials — And Eight Other Surprises
Oprah Winfrey's been all over the place promoting her new network, OWN. Over the past few weeks, she's granted many, many interviews, ranging from a sit-down with Barbara Walters to posing for the cover of Parade. To little surprise, millions tuned in to the channel's Jan. 1 debut.
Oprah Winfrey to be the first guest on Piers Morgan Tonight
Still, running a network is a big new business for The Queen of Daytime — and she's got more hawking to do! But is there anything left we don't know about Oprah? During the Television Critics Association winter preview on Thursday, Lady O descended a room of TV reporters, and here are 10 things we learned, in no particular order:
10. Prior to the deal for OWN, Oprah didn't watch TV. That's right, daytime's most successful host may have made her career on-screen, but she was far from a TV junkie. "That's why I didn't ever have the TV on in my house until now," she says. "I don't want all that energy coming into my space."
9. ...But she loves commercials! Or, at least, now she does. "Gayle [King] called after [OWN launched]. She said 'Oh my God, OWN has commercials! You have commercials just like a real network!'... I'm thinking the same thing. I didn't know I loved Febreze so much."
8. Oprah would rather talk to you than give you an autograph. "Every day, after the show, I spend time with every audience member," Oprah says. "I've learned from the mistake of trying to sign autographs for all those people... And I realized I don't really want to sign autographs. I want to talk to people about who they are, why they watch the show and where they come from, so I do my own focus group every single day."
Oprah launches OWN: What do you think so far?
7. Low ratings? No problem. Oprah won't cancel shows that aren't big hits for OWN. Why? Because she's Oprah, and she knows what's best for you! "Obviously, ratings are important; numbers are important...There are a few shows that, even if [viewers] don't respond to them, we're going to keep on anyway. Because I can. Because I like 'em, and in time it'll grow on them!"
6. Oprah is tired. But that won't get in the way of business. Her next vacation? Three years from now. "I was under the illusion that I could have a network, build it and travel the world, finish the show, build a boat, go to France, sail around, do a show every now and then, check in and carry on with my life," she says. "I will have another vacation in 2014. I'm looking forward to it."
5. Anderson Cooper is not the next Oprah. She was asked whether he could fill her shoes. Her immediate response: "No. The next Anderson? Yes."
4. Oprah's grandmother thought TV was the devil's work. On the first day OWN launched, Oprah recalled a time when she was a little girl. She was in town, "watching television from the Sears and Roebuck store and asking my grandmother if we could get a TV. She said, 'No, that's the devil's work.' Now, being able to have my name on a channel is extraordinary."
Check out the rest of today's news
3. Before she was "Oprah," she aspired to be a fourth grade teacher. Instead, she was working in radio by the time she was 16 and anchoring the news by 19. "I just wanted to be a guest host on Good Morning America. I asked my agent, 'Could you just send my tape into ABC?' I wanted to be a substitute for Joan Lunden. My agent at the time told me, 'There aren't going to be anymore black people on TV. They've already got Bryant Gumbel.'" She later got rid of that agent.
2. Oprah regrets "Change Your Life TV." The campaign she launched 10-12 years ago resulted in rare pushback for her. What did she learn? It's not for Oprah to brand herself as life-changing. "That was a big lesson," she said.
1. Oprah's big message. Sadly, for the reporters in the room, it wasn't, "You get a car." "My prayer is use me, use me, use me," Oprah says. "I see myself, really, as a messenger for a message that is greater than myself. The message is: You can, you can. You can do and you can be and you can grow and it can grow better."
(Additional reporting by Denise Martin and Kate Stanhope)