The critically acclaimed film from The Weinstein Company/TWC – about former South African President Nelson Mandela, starring Idris Elba and Naomie Harris – is based on the 1995 book “Long Walk to Freedom.”
*The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Oprah Winfrey to chat about the huge reversal in fortune of her OWN cable channel and the lessons she’s learned.
“I’m not doing the hula yet …but compared to a year ago, it feels like a sigh of relief,” says Winfrey between sips of iced tea on her sprawling estate. The network debuted two years earlier to a deluge of headlines about weak programming, management shake-ups and its honcho’s dwindling influence.
“Part of my own expectation was, ‘You’ve had 25 years of success; people will leverage that,’ ” confesses the 58-year-old mogul. “But we didn’t account for people not having the channel, and not knowing how to find it, and the cable audience being different from broadcast.”
Today, the network, co-owned by Discovery and Winfrey, is generating fresh ink: 3.5 million viewers tuned in to see her mourn with Whitney Houston’s family as part of her “Oprah’s Next Chapter” interview series; 2.5 million watched as Rihanna opened up about her relationship with R&B star Chris Brown; and 1.6 million watched her debate marriage and faith with Pastor Joel Osteen.
OWN also has signed a lucrative producing deal with Tyler Perry, found buzz in shows like “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” (a reality series about a St. Louis family who runs soul food restaurants) and delivered 10 consecutive months of year-over-year growth.
Discovery chief David Zaslav has stated that the feel-good network is poised to become profitable in late 2013, ahead of the five-year horizon “Saturday Night Live’s” Lorne Michaels, a friend, told Winfrey to expect.
“He said to me, ‘It’s like throwing spaghetti against the wall and watching it drizzle down,’ ” she recalls of a conversation they had in early 2011. “ ‘Nothing’s going to work until you get there.’ ”
*Hollywood film executive DeVon Franklin, author of “Produced By Faith,” will be featured on Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual series “Super Soul Sunday,” on June 17 at 11 a.m. ET/PT on OWN.
Winfrey will talk with Franklin about his journey in the entertainment industry, his relationship with actress Meagan Good and working his way up as an intern for Will Smith.
In addition to working on the films “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Jumping The Broom” and the remake of “The Karate Kid,” Franklin is also a Seventh Day Adventist preacher. In “Produced by Faith,” he uses the process of filmmaking as a metaphor for finding direction, meaning and purpose in life. Winfrey also talks to Franklin about why the church and his faith have always been at the forefront of his life and career, making him a unique figure in Hollywood.
Winfrey blogged on Oprah.com Monday: “[Super Soul Sunday] symbolizes the reason why I wanted to stay in television …I was so moved by [DeVon’s] passion and commitment to faith while functioning in the lion’s den of entertainment I could hardly wait to do a ‘Super Soul Sunday’ and share his insights, clarity and wisdom with you. He’s in the business of developing movies and talent, but as you will see, is a bona fide dynamo himself.”
Watch a preview below.
*The entire extended Kardashian clan – including significant others – sat down for an interview with Oprah Winfrey that will air this Sunday (June 17) on “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” [Scroll down to watch the promo.]
Winfrey visited the Jenner Home in Hidden Hills, Calif. to conduct the family’s first television interview together.
Included in the Q&A were family matriarch Kris Jenner and husband Olympic legend Bruce Jenner, daughters Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, son Rob Kardashian, daughters Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Khloe’s husband of two years, NBA star Lamar Odom and Kourtney’s longtime boyfriend Scott Disick, father of their 2-year-old son, Mason.
The episode will air at a special time, (8-9 PM ET/PT), and will be followed by part 2 of Oprah’s interview with rapper 50 Cent (9-10 PM ET/PT) on OWN.
*Andy Cohen, Bravo programming exec and host of its late-night show “Watch What Happens,” was asked how he would boost ratings at the struggling Oprah Winfrey Network during a visit to Howard Stern’s satellite radio show Tuesday.
“Here’s the first thing that I would do and it’s the first thing I would have done two years ago: put on re-reruns of the freaking Oprah Winfrey Show,” Cohen said. “They are sitting on a 25-year archive of The Oprah Winfrey Show. You have all this time to fill? Guess what I want to watch? The greatest talk show in the history of talk shows, The Oprah Winfrey Show,” he said.
At Bravo, Cohen is responsible for such successful reality franchises as “Project Runway,” “Top Chef” and the multi-city “Real Housewives” editions.
Winfrey is featured in two OWN programs: “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” an interview show that’s attracted the biggest audience with high-profile guests, and “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” a televised self-help session that has included appearances from Deepak Chopra and Tony Robbins.
“First of all, I don’t want to watch a show that has class in the title,” said Cohen. “I don’t want to go to school. … I just want to see the old The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He added: “I know they probably have rights issues … (but) it’s the greatest show.”
Cohen said he would decline an offer to jump from Bravo to OWN because he’s “like a pig in s–t right now,” multi-tasking on projects including his new memoir, “Most Talkative: Stories from the Front Lines of Pop Culture,” which was released Tuesday.
*OWN, the joint venture of Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey, will reach cash flow break-even during the second half of 2013, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Tuesday.
On his company’s first-quarter earnings conference call Tuesday, he said Discovery expects funding to OWN in 2012 to come in below that of 2011. The network’s recent steps such as layoffs and the cancellation of several shows, including one featuring Rosie O’Donnell, will improve the network’s financial performance, Zaslav reiterated.
Discovery reported lower earnings for its first quarter as it said it began recording 100 percent of losses from OWN, which exceeded the equity that Discovery had contributed to the network. New Discovery CFO Andrew Warren said on Tuesday’s conference call that the result was a $10 million hit to earnings, or 3 cents per share. The company started including the OWN losses earlier than previously expected.
Warren didn’t give specific guidance but said the losses will be lower in the coming quarters as a write-down on the O’Donnell show and the layoffs affected the performance in the latest period.
With 80 million subscribers, and growing to 85 million, OWN will also see “most” pay TV operators beginning to pay affiliate fees for the channel in 2013, Discovery CEO Zaslav said, highlighting that OWN has added 10 million subs since its launch, when the channel made “virtually no” sub fees. “We remain confident in the growth potential” of OWN, he said.
“OWN has already become a top 30 cable network for women,” up from 45 a year ago, he also emphasized. And ratings momentum has improved this year “with the creative team firmly in place … and Oprah once again captivating audiences as only she can.”
Zaslav also said Tuesday that “there has been a lot of noise out there [about OWN]. Despite what you read, we are making real progress.” The network is focusing on finding the “right blend of content to nurse the audience,” and ratings are trending up 17 percent so far in the second quarter, he said.
Overall, Zaslav said: “We have a long way to go,” but he feels better now than he has ever felt about OWN. The channel has the opportunity for “significant” appreciation over time, he said.