*Dressed in various hues of her favorite color, a purple-clad Oprah Winfrey took center stage to answer questions from television critics about her new cable channel OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.
“It’s like being thrown to the wolves,” she said, greeting more than 300 reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour Thursday afternoon in Pasadena.
In a session that ran nearly an hour, the talk show host did what she does best – talk…and talk…in long, meandering answers that always started off addressing the question directly, but veered off on multiple tangents that ran the gamut: from her roots in Kosiousko, Mississippi, to her early TV jobs in Baltimore and Nashville, to the notion of who will be the next Oprah – a question that irks her.
“It’s like someone asking me, ‘Are you gonna be the next Donahue?’ No. I created my own way of doing it,” she said.
The session’s very first question, “Are we all gonna get cars?,” prompted her shortest answer of the afternoon: “No.”
She was asked about spirituality, and whether it will permeate the network. Winfrey admitted that it was a big mistake to adopt the Change Your Life theme for a season of her talk show.
“Don’t go telling people you’ll change their lives, let people tell you how they changed their lives,” she said. “One of the things that makes me not anxious, but accepting the challenge of OWN is that I’ve learned from my mistakes. Being on the air for 25 years, you learn what works and what doesn’t work.”
During another one of her tangents, Oprah said it’s hard to please every viewer of OWN, but she’ll be satisfied in “knowing that the viewers got what we’re trying to do.”
“Some of them are complaining that they have to spend more money [to get OWN], and that’s okay,” she said. “You can’t get everybody. But at this point in my life, I’m not trying to get everybody. If you get it, you get it. If you don’t, then this is not for you.”
If you’ve posted anything on her Oprah.com message board, she may have seen it.
“Of the 866 pages of messages during OWN’s first two days, I read at least 200 of those. And I’m grateful to them — grateful we weren’t embarrassed, grateful that people came.”
At the end of another tangent, Oprah promoted OWN as “a place where you can come and leave the channel on all day long — and there’s not gonna be one thing that causes you not to sleep at night.”
Someone asked if she ever gets tired of being “Oprah,” meeting everyone’s expectation of her to be inspirational and generous – all the damn time.
“Do you ever want to take a day off,” a reporter asked.
“Yes,” Oprah said, stressing she gets exhausted just like everyone else in the room. “The difference is, I have a TV show and I don’t have a sub-host. People who watch me over the years, they know. They say, ‘Ooh, you look tired today.’ I’d say, ‘That’s cuz I am tired!’”
The session ended, but the night isn’t over for Ms. O, no matter how tired she may be. She’s scheduled to appear at an OWN cocktail reception with reporters in five minutes.