Oprah Winfrey: A philanthropic streak

Published: January 13, 2012

Oprah Winfrey’s new show is bringing in high ratings. PHOTO: FILE

JOHANNESBURG: 

Oprah Winfrey feels a new freedom after leaving her wildly successful daily TV talk show behind and taking a new course. The host now conducts interviews with newsmakers on their own turf and zooms into the humanitarian activities of these public figures.

“I love the freedom of not being tethered to that chair and having to do an interview just to fill a time slot,” Winfrey told Reuters in South Africa, where she will attend the first graduation of high school seniors from her Oprah Winfrey Leadership for Girls.

Less than a year after she ended “The Oprah Winfrey Show” (in May 2011 after airing it for 25 years), Winfrey launched a new weekly show “Oprah’s Next Chapter” in January on her fledgling cable TV channel Oprah Winfrey Network (Own).

So far the host, who rejuvenated the concept of talk shows, has interviewed Aerosmith lead man Steven Tyler for her new programme and visited Sean Penn in Haiti to see what he is doing to help relief efforts in the impoverished country that is trying to rebuild from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

“Oprah’s Next Chapter” has brought the best ratings ever for Own which has struggled to find an audience. According to Own, 1.6 million people watched Oprah converse with US televangelist Joel Osteen last Sunday — the viewership was 220 per cent higher than it was in the same time slot last year.

Winfrey — who spent millions on the sprawling campus near Johannesburg on the school for girls from disadvantaged background — believes her new show could be a springboard for philanthropy. “Oprah’s Next Chapter” will also take her to India and China is also in the cards. 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.

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