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Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 07/11/2011

Oprah hopes ‘Undercover Boss’ will jumpstart OWN ratings


Scene from “Undercover Boss” (DAN LITTLEJOHN - CBS)

Back in January of 2010, Oprah Winfrey helped a little reality TV series called “Undercover Boss” when she devoted a whole episode of her syndicated daytime talk show to previewing the series right, before its post-Super Bowl launch on CBS.

Now it’s time for “Undercover Boss” to return the favor.

Ratings-lean “OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has purchased telecast rights to reruns of the now-hit series to help attract viewers to its original programs.

Here’s the catch: OWN -- a co-venture of Winfrey’s company and Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications – will have to share access to the “UB” library with Discovery’s TLC network, which is also part of the deal with CBS Television Distribution – the CBS division that distributes its reruns, and other syndicated fare.

In Monday’s announcement, CBSTVD said the two cable networks would “determine their independent scheduling strategies with regularly scheduled episodes of the hit series” starting in the fall of 2012.

“The self-contained episodes will serve as strong anchors to complement OWN original programming,” OWN senior vp Scott Garner said optimistically in the announcement.

In case you’ve missed it: in each episode of “Undercover Boss,” the CEO of some big corporation – Waste Management, 7-Eleven, NASCAR, Subway -- goes undercover, with camera crew in tow, to mingle with his minions. And -- usually after the second ad break – this CEO discovers that some nincompoop of a middle manager is mangling His Vision and making life a perfect hell for his hard-working employees. After the third ad break, this “undercover” boss, with camera crew in tow, reveals himself and gives that middle manager the dressing-down he or she so richly deserves, after which cash is dispensed in the direction of some of the more put-upon employees -- right before the final commercial break -- and They All Live Happily Ever After.

“ ‘Undercover Boss’ is a perfect fit for OWN and TLC as it focuses on improving lives, which very much reflects both networks’ missions,” CBS Television Distribution president Scott Koondel said in Monday’s announcement -- putting to rest forever those rumors he does not have a sense of humor. Because, we’ve heard TLC -- the network of “Extreme Couponing,” “Jon & Kate Plus Eight,” “19 Kids and Counting,” “Toddlers & Tiaras,” “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding,” “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive” described as many things, but “improving lives” was not among them.

Here’s a clip from the “Undercover Boss” Subway episode:

By  |  03:00 PM ET, 07/11/2011

 
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