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Recently in Oprah Winfrey Category

Homeless sensation Ted Williams is finding out fast what fame can bring you. The latest good fortune in Williams' brush with superstardom may come from none other than talk diva Oprah Winfrey, who told "Inside Edition's" Deborah Norville that she would like to give Williams a job, possibly serving as the voiceover announcer for Winfrey's new cable channel. "It would be fantastic to hear him say 'The Oprah Winfrey Network'," Winfrey said.

Like millions of others, Winfrey apparently was intrigued by panhandler Williams' quick emergence into the national spotlight, thanks in large measure to a YouTube video of him talking about his tough battle with drugs and alcohol and showing off his rich, resonant radio announcer's voice. As for Williams, the magnitude of the attention he is getting is only just beginning to sink in. "A whirlwind -- a tornado" is how he described the effect of all the publicity to Norville.

Oprah Winfrey wanted it to be big. But the talk diva's 25th and final season opener wasn't quite as big as she might have hoped for in the Nielsen overnight TV ratings.

Monday's premiere of the of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" actually fell short of topping the ratings both nationally and locally for Winfrey's penultimate 24th season opener last year, which featured an interview with singer Whitney Houston, much in the news at the time.

The 25th season opener Monday pulled a 7.8 national rating (9 million households), compared to an 8.0 (9.3 million) for the season debut in 2009. But as noted by spokeswoman for CBS, which distributes Winfrey's talk show nationally, Winfrey's national number may have been negatively affected by pre-emptions in some markets where United States Open tennis coverage was still in progress Monday afternoon. Altogether, Winfrey's national rating is based on data from 51metered markets.
Winfrey's national rating for Monday's show, though short of a record number, still bested her two nearest competitors -- Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz (both, interesting enough, Winfrey proteges) --by a whopping five ratings points, as both of them could do no better than 2.8 rating (3.25 million) nationally.

In Chicago, Winfrey's number for her 25th season opener -- an 8.9 (311,500 households) -- also fell short of a record rating, though it was notably better than her national rating for Monday's premiere. Last season's "Oprah" opener scored a 9.6 (336,000) rating in the Chicago market where the show originated 25 years ago.

Talk about strange and unprofessional ways to announce a new show. Rather than an official press release actually confirming the launch of "The Nate Berkus Show," Chicago-based Harpo Productions opted to let some brief comments to the New York Times from newly-anointed Harpo co-president Erik Logan serve as that announcement. Berkus is an interior decorator seen frequently on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The New York Times piece about the proposed show, meanwhile, was couched in all sorts of "ifs" and "possibles," which hardly made it seem certain the Berkus show would ever actually happen. A Harpo spokesperson said the production company did not plan on issuing an official announcement about the Berkus show.

Right now, it's all about testing the waters to see if television stations are even interested in a show headlining Berkus, which could start as early as next September. Like most of the stars attached to other syndicated TV shows that Harpo has had a hand in launching, Berkus's "star" power (Logan's descriptive, not ours) is pretty much due to Oprah Winfrey's incessant fawning over the interior decorator and her devotion to introducing him to her adoring fans. Such an approach certainly worked for Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. We'll see if it does, as well, for Berkus.

PX158_479D_7.JPGThe Oprah Winfrey Network, set to launch in early 2010, announced on Thursday some of the programs in development for the TV channel, which will replace Discovery Health. The Oprah Winfrey Network has been described as the first network about living your own best life.

Among the shows in development is "Master Class" (working title), which will profile the most extraordinary people of our time, hand-picked by Winfrey herself. These people will share with viewers who they really are -- their passions and best life lessons. "Surfer's Healing" is a docusoap produced by Snackaholic about former competitive surfer Izzy Paskowitz, his wife Danielle, their three children (one of whom is autistic) and their surf school business. "Excellent Adventure" will follow celebrities and their best friends as they embark on the adventures they've always dreamed of taking.

And in "Exposed: Lisa Ling Investigates," Ling will explore offbeat worlds and examine aspects of news stories viewers might otherwise not see.

Oprah goes 24/7 on Sirius XM

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Sirius XM Radio and Harpo Radio have officially relaunched the Oprah & Friends satellite radio channel as Oprah Radio, a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week outlet on XM channel 156 and on Sirius channel 195 as part of "The Best of XM" package. Daily and weekly shows will feature talent such as Maya Angelou, medical expert Mehmet Oz, fitness trainer Bob Greene, financial expert Jean Chatzky, design expert Nate Berkus and former news anchor-turned inspirationalist Daryn Kagan. "We are thrilled to be expanding our already robust radio programming for fans who are seeking to live their best lives," said Erik Logan, executive vice-president, Harpo Inc., in announcing the relaunch.

APRIL COVER.JPGFor the first time in nine years, Oprah Winfrey is sharing the cover of O magazine with another celebrity -- First Lady Michelle Obama. Inside the April issue, Winfrey also has an interview with the new First Lady that addresses everything from the joys of White House pie to Obama's decorating philosophy, which seems to have a lot to do with sofas. "I want comfortable sofas," said Obama in the interview. "You've got to be able to make a fort with the sofa pillows! Everything must be fort-worthy."

Winfrey's interview is accompanied by images taken by noted photographer Bruce Weber, who was working for the magazine for the first time. For those who concern themselves with such things, Michelle Obama is wearing a Michael Kors dress in the cover shot and a Dear cashmere cardigan. Winfrey's dress is by Rachel Roy New York.

Winfrey obviously was determined to make a statement by sharing the cover with Obama. "Say what you will about books -- people do judge a magazine by its cover, which is why it's important to me keep the cover of this one looking fresh," said Winfrey. "And right now nothing -- and I mean nothing -- is fresher than the family that moved into the White House in January, sparking a national spirit of renewal the likes of which I've never seen."



About the blogger

Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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