On Saturday, Oprah comes to cable, or at least her new network, OWN, does. Here are six key questions and answers about this much-talked-about venture.
Where can you watch OWN?
Cablevision, Dish, DirecTV, and FiOs will all carry OWN, which stands, of course, for "Oprah Winfrey Network." The channel, a joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery Communications, is taking over Discovery Health's channel space on the systems that carried it. (Cablevision, which owns Newsday, did not carry Discovery Health, and will just add OWN to its lineup.)
Will Oprah have a role?
Winfrey has agreed to appear in 70 hours a year - a tiny amount compared to her current daytime profile, but that role could grow. An hourlong weekly show, "Oprah's Next Chapter" - bowing in the fall - "is the new 'Oprah Winfrey Show,' " says OWN chief executive officer Christina Norman, although there will be no studio audience. Instead, Winfrey will travel the world, talking to people, or, as Norman puts it, "She'll break away from the chair."
OWN also will have 25 years of "Oprah" episodes, and Norman says that, by September, "We're looking to bring the library to the schedule, but not to air them as they originally aired. She wants to give them some new content and context - to follow up with people in 'where they are now' stories, or why this story is so relevant today."
Most will be added during the year, but in January there's "Oprah's Master Class" - major figures from news, culture (Simon Cowell!), and so on, explaining their life lessons; "Enough Already! With Peter Walsh" (helping people unclutter their homes); "Kidnapped by the Kids" (unscripted, featuring kids and their workaholic parents); "In the Bedroom With Dr. Laura Berman," about intimacy issues; and "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes," a look at the final season of Winfrey's syndicated series, which ends in May.
What about all those expected talk shows?
Ah, you remembered. Yes, OWN will be stuffed with talk. In the months ahead, there will be talk, news and infotainment vehicles starring Sarah Ferguson (remaking her life); Shania Twain; Ryan and Tatum O'Neal; Rosie O'Donnell (coming in the fall); and the Judds. "Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love," a cooking show, launches Monday.
Who are OWN's big stars?
Besides Winfrey, these are the three key names - Lisa Ling, hosting a news-ish show called "Our America"; Winfrey's BFF Gayle King, hosting a weekday morning series; and "Dr. Phil," which will be repeated from broadcast TV.
What's the overall philosophy of OWN?
Key question, because it's crowded out there, and unless you have a clear reason for being, cable networks have no clear reason for carrying you. OWN is designed to be "inspirational," but in a secular, New Age, Oprahesque kind of way. In other words, how to make your life better.