Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
TCA: OWN Announces Premiere Dates For ‘Rosie’ & ‘OWN Your Life’
Oprah Winfrey blew through the TCA press tour today to address critics at a morning session promoting OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, having been freshly installed as CEO of the network owned by Discovery Communications. She’d acknowledged earlier this summer that she hadn’t been dedicating all of her energies to OWN and aimed to change that going forward, in part to address its growing pains in the form of falling ratings. “In my new role, I am focusing on the unity of Harpo and OWN, aligning them together,” she told the gathered critics. To that end, she introduced OWN’s new co-presidents Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, former heads at Harpo Studios who joined the new network in June. It’s no secret that OWN has struggled to find its footing and an identity, with a lineup of cheesy reality shows and little programming flow. Key to that new push is the hiring of Rosie O’Donnell, whom Winfrey also introduced today.
O’Donnell charmed the room with her wisecracking, no-nonsense style, discussing how her coming to OWN went down when she’d been courted by much larger and deeper-pocketed networks. “I called my agent and told him to call the Oprah people, because I wanted to go to OWN,” she said. “And you know how agents only care about what you want to do, not finances? My agent was thrilled that I wanted to go to basic cable and not one of the major networks. … Oprah came in with a bunch of people from her staff and asked, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ And I’m like, ‘Because it’s you.’ With Oprah, it’s a huge stamp of approval, almost like being knighted in a way.”
Of her new nightly show that will be produced out of Harpo in Chicago, O’Donnell said, “It won’t be your average show with three celebrities promoting something who you see on Letterman and with Regis and all of that. There’s going to be one celebrity per show, and they’ll have something to talk about and want to play.” And how has she been getting along with Oprah so far? “I have to tell you, I’m still nervous when she calls. If you noticed, I have a pedicure. It was the second time I’ve been in a spa ever.”