Oprah Winfrey Network announces new series amid ongoing struggles
Oprah Winfrey, the founder of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, announced the launch of the network's new prime-time series, "Oprah's Next Chapter," which will showcase the former talk show host traveling around the country and having encounters with celebrities and others.
The announcement comes in the wake of reports of continuing struggles for the fledgling OWN. Peter Liguori, chief operating officer of Discovery Communications Inc., which is a co-owner of OWN, is leaving the company at the end of the year. A prime-time talk show hosted by Rosie O'Donnell, one of OWN's marquee stars, premiered with almost 500,000 viewers but now is averaging about half that audience. Winfrey's best friend, Gayle King, is leaving her OWN talk show to join CBS' "The Early Show."
The two-hour premiere of "Oprah's Next Chapter" on Jan. 1, 2012, will feature Aerosmith lead singer and "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler from his New Hampshire home. Subsequent episodes will show Winfrey traveling to Haiti with actor Sean Penn nearly two years after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people, and a visit with "Star Wars" creator George Lucas at his Skywalker Ranch. She also has a slumber party at chef Paula Deen's Georgia estate and travels to a small town in Iowa devoted to the practice of transcendental meditation.
"After 25 years, I got myself out of the studio chairs," Winfrey said in a statement. "I moved into the next chapter, and I am having more fun than ever — moving around the country and the world talking to people I'm really interested in getting to know and I think viewers will be, too."
— Greg Braxton
Photo: Oprah Winfrey (right) with Rosie O'Donnell on the premiere of "The Rosie Show." Credit: George Burns / Harpo / AP