Oprah aims for "mindful TV" in OWN network gamble

Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:36pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - She is already the most influential woman on television, publishes a magazine, has starred in movies, opened a school in South Africa and is one of America's biggest celebrity philanthropists.

So why is Oprah Winfrey taking perhaps the biggest gamble in her life and launching a cable TV network this weekend? Because she believes people are hungry for shows that entertain, inspire and offer what she calls "mindful television."

"What I want to do is build a channel that is a respite for your mind, an oasis of stimulation that you come away from with little pieces of light.

"I'm aiming for a moment where somebody could say, 'I never thought of it that way before.' I just love that," Winfrey 56, told Parade magazine in an interview this week.

Three years in the making, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) kicks off on January 1 with a weekend of "sneak peeks" into the array of largely female-oriented original series, lifestyle, and advice shows that viewers can expect in the first year.

OWN, a venture between Winfrey's Harpo Inc and Discovery Communications, will be available in some 80 million homes.

The OWN launch has brought with it some uncharacteristic anxiety for Winfrey, who will end her popular U.S. daytime chat program, "The Oprah Winfrey Show" -- which airs in some 140 countries -- in May after 25 years.

She told her magazine "O" that she has "never felt such fear in all my life" than she has in launching OWN in a crowded TV market packed with hundreds of cable channels.   Continued...

<p>Television host Oprah Winfrey speaks to an audience of 6000 people during a taping of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" at the Sydney Opera House in this handout photograph dated December 14, 2010. REUTERS/Copyright: All Rights Reserved/George Burns/Harpo, Inc./Handout</p>