Hearing the media drumbeat grow louder and louder, Oprah Winfrey has decided to stretch her Lance Armstrong interview from one night to two.
So clear your calendar for Thursday at 9 p.m. (as originally announced) — and now also Friday at 9 — for “Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive” on OWN network.
In Tuesday’s special-inflation announcement, OWN promised that the cyclist would address the “alleged doping scandal” that has plagued his career.
Armstrong is going to come clean to Oprah, but not go into great detail about specific cases and events, according to USA Today. Two nights is a lot of time to fill with not-go-into-detail about specific cases and events.
Over the years, Oprah has carved out a niche as the first Station of the Cross, on the Road to Redemption for celebrities.
And back in 2010, Jay Leno made his pilgrimage to Oprah before returning as host of “The Tonight Show” show in March of that year. Leno sought absolution after being blamed for Conan O’Brien’s resignation from the iconic NBC late-night show. Leno admitted to Oprah that he’d “told a little white lie” when he announced on the air in 2004 that he would “retire” after Conan took over “Tonight” in ’09.
Anyway, Armstrong’s sit-down with Oprah is the only interview that the seven-time Tour de France winner has given since he was stripped of his titles and dropped from millions of dollars in endorsement deals. That happened last year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released an extensive report accusing the cyclist of doping throughout his career.
Armstrong received a lifetime ban on competing professionally. Late last year, Armstrong resigned as chairman of the foundation he created, Livestrong, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to fight cancer.
Oprah herself told the gang on BFF Gayle King’s show, “CBS This Morning,” that she added the second night because her interview with Armstrong went on for 2 1/2 hours. Although the first night was scheduled for 90 minutes, she explained Tuesday, that includes only 65 minutes of interview.
Yes, 25 minutes of Other Stuff. So set your DVRs.
Oprah said the interview will run over two nights because “we felt that to leave over half of this on the cutting-room floor, after millions of people have been waiting for years for many of these answers, would not be the right thing to do.”
Speaking of Armstrong, during her appearance on “CBS This Morning,” show host Charlie Rose tried to steer Oprah back to “this question of this man” and “how was he different than you expected.”
He also asked Oprah where she ranked this interview in her long career interviewing celebrities.
And if you’re thinking Oprah dismissed the former to focus on the latter — you win!
“How was he different? I’ll let you be the judge of that,” she responded.
Then, she settled in: “Back in 1993, of course, I did Michael Jackson live around the world,” she said, but this Armstrong interview will be live-streamed around the world — and on OWN, she said, which means, she said, “I think the number of people who have exposure to it makes it the biggest interview I’ve ever done.”
To that end, she urged folks to go to her web site to find out where OWN is located on their TV menu, if they didn’t know already.
Oprah wants to make OWN ratings history with Armstrong this week. To date her biggest OWN number is the 3.5 million who watched her interview Whitney Houston’s daughter last March, followed by the 2.5 million she snagged with a Rihanna interview in August 2012.
Before it even airs, the interview is being dissected, based on the tease clip that OWN has sent out. One body language expert told Anderson Cooper on his daytime show Tuesday that Armstrong was very excited and needed pacifying during his meeting with Oprah – which is so obvious because he touched his nose and his upper lip.