Oprah going live on Friday nights


Oprah Winfrey

In an effort to gin up a bigger audience, the Oprah Winfrey Network announced Tuesday that it would expand its 8 p.m. “Oprah’s Lifeclass” to two hours on Fridays.

“Oprah’s Lifeclass” (now airing 8 to 9 p.m., after Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show) will continue to be what OWN describes as Oprah’s most personal revelations, new insights and life lessons gleaned from the 25-year history of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — or, as we like to call the new show, “a clever ‘Oprah’ clip job.”

Starting this Friday, from 9 to 10 p.m., an expanded “Oprah’s Lifeclass” will feature Actual Live Oprah, in a smallish studio, taking questions about the repurposed “Oprah” footage, from a smallish audience. Actual Live Oprah will also take questions — Tweeted and Skyped in from her millions of fans worldwide — about what they’ve just seen on the show.

The Friday Actual Live Oprah feature is an outgrowth of what OWN learned during the so-called Premiere Week of “Oprah’s Lifeclass” — or, as we like to call it, last week.

During the so-called Premiere Week of “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” after each episode, Actual Live Oprah took questions about the episode in the form of a live online chat. Imagine their surprise when the OWN show itself averaged 310,000 viewers and the online chat copped 1.6 million streams.

“Our first week of online discussions for ‘Lifeclass’ generated an overwhelming response,” OWN President Sheri Salata said in Tuesday’s announcement.

“Now, Oprah fans from around the world will be able to continue these powerful conversations every Friday night.”

But only four times. Because “Oprah’s Lifeclass” has only been ordered for four more weeks, according to an OWN spokeswoman.

Back in July, when OWN unveiled “Oprah’s Lifeclass” — then titled “OWN Your Life (The Oprah Class)” — Salata called it “a signature series” for the network, which is a joint venture of Oprah’s Harpo company and Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications.

As recently as September, Chicago-based Harpo Production’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, called “Oprah’s Lifeclass” an eight-week prime-time strip. “Strip” means it airs every night, Monday through Friday.

But the Own rep insisted Tuesday that the show had only been ordered for four more weeks. Five weeks is an unusually short run for a “signature” show. But it’s also unusual for a five-week show to have had three different names before it even launches.

Before “Oprah’s Lifeclass,” this one was first called “Oprah’s Encores,” then “OWN Your Life “The Oprah Class).”

But OWN has been a pretty unusual network from the get-go.

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