Oprah Wraps TV Show, Laser Focus On OWN

Oprah-Winfrey

Even as OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has had some bumps getting off the ground, Winfrey said Thursday she has confidence success is coming as her involvement moves to full throttle.  

"I wouldn't bet against me, I just wouldn't," she said at the national cable convention.

As she's wrapped her syndicated show, she says she is giving all she's got to her new endeavor: "Myself, my heart, the soul, the spirit of me, my company -- the people in my company (are) dedicated now to the vision of OWN."

Winfrey said that entity, Harpo, will remain in Chicago, and the 300 people there will produce shows for the network, including taking the nearly 4,900 episodes of Oprah's syndicated show and refashioning them in an appealing way to air on OWN.

The Chicago team will also produce "Oprah's Next Chapter" and the shows with Gayle King and Rosie O'Donnell.

Appearing at the national cable convention, Winfrey put to rest suggestions she will do broadcast specials a la Barbara Walters, saying she will only appear going forward on cable.

As she does interviews on OWN, she said she hopes to land ones with two people she couldn't get on the "Oprah Winfrey Show": Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman who killed her children, and O.J. Simpson.

"I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me, and I am going to make that happen, people!" Winfrey told the crowd.

Winfrey said when "the Z man" (Discovery CEO David Zaslav) came to her and presented the concept of OWN, he told her: "We need you to be all in or nothing," If not, "we will both go our separate ways."

Winfrey said she would be fully committed, and now she can be. "This is the moment I've been waiting for for the past two years," she said.

Discovery, which Winfrey said has been patient, is a half-owner of OWN with Harpo.

Winfrey said she would have employed a more conventional model in running a cable network when getting OWN going: Establish one night of programming, then move on to others.

As she gets involved in OWN programming, Winfrey faces new challenges. She had total control of her show's content, but now, she has to determine what can work in new areas. On the plus side, she has discovered a lot of talent and launched various syndicated shows with them.

"It's a little harder making that judgment about what other shows can do," she said.

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