ince its launch on Jan. 1, Oprah Winfrey's fledgling network, OWN, has struggled with disappointing ratings and negative press. Hoping to turn things around, Winfrey will go before the cameras again in a reality-TV format. Oprah's Next Chapter, which debuts on OWN's one-year anniversary, will follow Winfrey as she travels the world to talk with celebrities and other public figures. In the premiere, she'll interview Steven Tyler at his New Hampshire home, while other episodes will feature a slumber party with Paula Deen, a visit to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch, and a trip to Haiti with Sean Penn. Could Oprah's Next Chapter save OWN?
This may be her last shot: Winfrey promised that her role on OWN would be "strictly behind the cameras," says Radar. But she has to do something to get the network "off of life support." Her heaviest hitters are either floundering (Rosie O'Donnell's talk show struggles to attract a meager 200,000 viewers per episode), or have jumped ship altogether (Gayle King is moving to CBS to host The Early Show). OWN has been such a disappointment that Winfrey simply "had to try something new."
"Oprah trying to salvage OWN by going back on air with new series"
And it could really pay off: Winfrey is wise to pull out her "best weapon," says Hillary Reinsberg at Mogulite: "Another Oprah show!" OWN has "relied too much on Oprah's name and not on particularly engaging programs." But Oprah having a slumber party at Paula Deen's house? That certainly sounds like "a big win." This could work.
"Oprah's Next Chapter, featuring a sleep over at Paula Deen's house"
But Steven Tyler is a strange choice: Oprah's Next Chapter is a transparently "desperate bid to revive" OWN's ratings, says The Improper. But why lead off with Steven Tyler? The Aerosmith frontman doesn't seem like a big ratings get for Winfrey, who could presumably book any celebrity she chooses. Tyler has "played out the talk show circuit and his band is ancient." Picking him to launch the show is "curious," unless Oprah's "key demographic is the 55-years-old and older crowd." And "rest assured, it isn't."
"Oprah goes back on air to save ailing OWN network"
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