Lisa de Moraes
Lisa de Moraes
The TV Column

Oprah’s goal for OWN: ‘I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me’

(Paul Beaty/AP) - Oprah Winfrey talks with Paula Zahn at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association's Cable Show 2011.

Oprah Winfrey wants to interview O.J. Simpson on the Oprah Winfrey Network to help put the network on the ratings map — on the condition that he promises to use the opportunity to say he killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson.

“I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me,” Winfrey told an enthusiastic crowd of cable industry suits attending the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention in Chicago, according to news media reports.

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Pulitzer Prize winner, Peabody recipient, Medal of Freedom honoree -- Lisa de Moraes is none of these, but she is an authority on the bad direction, over-acting, and muddled plot lines being played out in the TV industry's executive suites.

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“And I am going to make that happen, people. I don’t just want the interview. I want the interview on the condition that you are ready, Mr. Simpson,” she added.

Oprah’s announcement was by way of demonstrating to the cable guys that she is now committed “full energy, feet first, body immersed” to “the OWN mission,” the reports said.

OWN — a joint venture between Oprah and Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications — has struggled to find an audience since its launch in January. Last month, the network’s top programming exec, Christina Norman, exited amid reports about the net’s ratings challenges.

Oprah acknowledged Thursday that the launch has been harder than she expected. That’s partly because she had little energy to focus on the kickoff, she explained, while focusing so much attention on the final season of her long-running syndicated talk show.

“I’d probably do it differently,” she said of the simultaneous launch and sign-off.

Paula Zahn, who hosts a show on Discovery’s Investigation network — and who interviewed Oprah during her appearance at the convention — wondered why Oprah thought that Simpson would agree to the interview and its terms given that Simpson was found not guilty by a jury in the 1994 stabbing deaths of his ex-wife and her friend Ron Goldman.

Oprah cited a photo she saw recently of a little Oprah, growing up in poverty in Mississippi.

“The fact that that baby girl from a shotgun house in Mississippi can get to the OWN network means that the O.J. Simpson interview is possible,” she responded.

Zahn wondered whether Oprah thought the network could reach its full potential within five years, media outlets reported. Oprah said it would take only three.

“I have committed everything I have to this cable venture,” Oprah said without being specific as to what that meant. “I wouldn’t bet against me.”

O’Donnell to White House

NBC News vet Norah O’Donnell has been named CBS News’s chief White House correspondent.

O’Donnell will also become the principal substitute anchor for CBS News’s Sunday Beltway show “Face the Nation,” which is anchored by chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer.

O’Donnell will report for all CBS News broadcasts, including occasionally for “60 Minutes,” CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager and President David Rhodes announced Thursday.

O’Donnell, who joined NBC News in 1999, has been the chief Washington correspondent for MSNBC and appears regularly on “The Chris Matthews Show.” She’s also been a contributing correspondent for NBC’s “Today” and “Weekend Today.”

Before joining NBC, O’Donnell — a Georgetown University alumna — was a staff reporter for the Hill newspaper Roll Call.

 
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