BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Oprah Winfrey is repackaging her now-ended daytime talk show to make it a key part of the lineup for OWN, her struggling cable channel.
Winfrey said she will host the new series that will recycle episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show as a “classroom” intended to help viewers improve their lives. The show, titled Own Your Life, will air at 8 p.m. weekdays starting Oct. 10.
Appearing at a session of the Television Critics Association to announce the revamped series and introduce Rosie O'Donnell and her new OWN show, Winfrey took the opportunity to reinforce her commitment to the channel.
Friends ask, “Are you enjoying your time in the Mediterranean?” Winfrey said. But she’s not on holiday, she said, “I’m here,” and working in the Los Angeles offices of OWN.
It was announced earlier this month that Winfrey was expanding her role at OWN beyond the position of chairman, taking on the additional roles of chief executive officer and chief creative officer.
Winfrey is claiming the title once held by Christina Norman, the former CEO who was dismissed in May in the wake of disappointing ratings for the channel. Norman’s position has been filled in the interim by Peter Liguori, the chief operating officer for Discovery Communications.
OWN, which premiered Jan. 1, is a joint venture of Discovery and Winfrey’s Harpo Inc. Since Winfrey’s syndicated talk show ended in May, she has pledged to devote her full energies to OWN.
Acknowledging OWN’s rocky start, Winfrey said that one of her biggest concerns was “aligning” the channel’s executive teams, “and now we have done that.” She cited the help of two executives who are with her Chicago-based production company, Harpo: Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, who share the title of OWN president.
Putting Winfrey on camera, as well as more prominently at the company’s helm, is an attempt to turn around OWN’s fortunes.
Plans had been in place to pull from the “library” of more than 4,500 Oprah Winfrey Show episodes in a show titled Oprah’s Encore. But Winfrey said she realized they could be better used if organized as an on-air educational tool about life.
“At Oprah’s core, she is a teacher,” Salata said in a release that announced a companion online course to the talk show reruns. Viewers can sign up “to reserve their spot” in class starting Friday at Oprah.com.
School starts with the show’s premiere, OWN said. Own Your Life will be paired with The Rosie Show, the new Rosie O’Donnell talk show that will air daily at 7 p.m. ET, right before Own Your Life, and will also debut Oct. 10.
Appearing before the critics’ group, O’Donnell said she was proud to join Winfrey, although she labeled the media queen “aspirational” and tagged herself “relatable.”
She joked about viewers saying to themselves, “Oh, if I could only be Rosie O'Donnell: an overweight lesbian who yells too much,” then added, “My job is mostly to entertain and be funny.”
O’Donnell made that happen Friday, drawing laughs when she said her publicist had fretted that the TV group’s members might resurrect O'Donnell's dust-ups with other celebrities.
“I want to thank you for not asking anything about Donald Trump or Barbara Walters,” O'Donnell said, smiling.
Photo: Oprah Winfrey