Can O.J. Simpson Save the OWN Network?

By Seth Abramovitch

Jun 17, 2011

After a year of farewell episodes that culminated in one breathtaking display of celebrity bukkake, Oprah Winfrey has finally left the building. But her plans to decompress on a remote isle with Gayle in a double-wide hammock will have to wait: As she admitted to a crowd at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association convention in Chicago yesterday, Oprah poured all her energy into her own show, leaving her new cable network to flounder. Now it’s time to turn that ship around.

"I need to be there,” she said. “I need to be engaged and be involved. I let other people worry about the ratings.” One obvious area for improvement lies in the fact that there is almost no Oprah on the Oprah Winfrey Network. That will be corrected, however, with a new interview series—called Oprah’s Next Chapter—that will air several times a week.

Asked who would be her dream interviews for the new show, Oprah gave an interesting reply. First, she named Susan Smith, the woman from South Carolina who's currently serving a life sentence for drowning her two young sons in 1994. The second, equally lurid, would be O.J. Simpson—whom she would only interview if he promises to admit to one, little thing.

“I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me,” she told the crowd. She then put the pitch out directly to Simpson: "I want the interview on the condition that you are ready, Mr. Simpson. And I am going to make that happen, people." It was a pledge met by cheers of approval.

How, exactly, do those two interviews jive with the sentiments of her last episode? You know, the ones where Winfrey encouraged us to “connect. Embrace. Liberate. Love somebody. Just one person. And then spread that to two. And as many as you can”? Well, the easy answer is that it doesn’t. This isn’t touchy-feely Oprah; this is Oprah in ratings predator mode. The Oprah who refuses to fail.

Could she make good on her promise to deliver an O.J. confession? I don’t doubt it. Simpson is a textbook narcissist in addition to being a sociopath (the two are soulmates), and, as he sits in a jail cell for a lesser crime, the allure of an hour or two spent in the presence of the Big O might prove to be too great to resist. But whether or not she gets him, her intentions are clear: If Oprah wants to pull in eyeballs, she’s going to have to let go of her “live your best life” New Age mumbo jumbo and start getting her hands dirty.

We should hardly be surprised. While we tend to associate Oprah with audience giveaways and celebrity tongue baths, she has always demonstrated an appetite for the sensational and a flare for the sinister. For example, a recent episode of her talk show was dedicated to the relatives of serial killers, and featured Rev. Jim Jones’ son and John Wayne Gacy’s sister. This is the kind of material that A&E; has spun into ratings gold. But can OWN move in on that territory without tarnishing Winfrey’s brand? She’s set herself up with quite the challenge. No other network has ever attempted to align itself with a single person’s point of view.

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  • KAM0001 Jun 26, 2011

    She dreams of OJ confessing to her? Seriously - is her ego THAT big???!!!

  • oprahsucks Jun 22, 2011

    The media made a lot of money off the O.J. case. They show you the story how they want to. They have never given him a prominent voice despite all of the many interviews he has done on the topic. They don’t play them.

  • JandSman Jun 20, 2011

    I'm just saying the courts found him innocent and who are we to disagree with their decision. We're not better then any of them and if they think he was not guilty then who are we to say that they're clearly wrong. I'm not saying he was guilty or not guilty because i don't know because i wasn't there but i'm tired of people acting like they know 100% O.J. did it because they weren't there so they don't know what happened.

  • superflyLee Jun 19, 2011

    Ok what part of the words "not guilty" does Oprah not understand! I guess in her dreams the man was found guilty. "confess"???/ give us a break OP.

  • buddydragon26 Jun 19, 2011

    please jandsman dont tell me you actually think for a minute that the oj is innocent he did it he wrote a book that told how he did it. all the blood adn dna evidence pointed to him. you dont run if you are innocent you go to the station and give your statment only the people that have something to hide run. but it does not matter becuase he can't be charged for the same crime twice.

  • dimushi Jun 18, 2011


    innocent? That woman was cheating, that doesn't sound innocent to me.

  • CJ42090 Jun 18, 2011

    Oprah, stop worrying about that stuff and just play Tammy 1 on Parks & Recreation like Nick Offerman suggested.

  • Kastigador Jun 18, 2011

    It's sad that people want a murderer our courts let go get paid crap tons of money to admit to something we all know he did... all the while an innocent girl is dead.

  • aliSuz Jun 18, 2011

    Um yeah he did it. He wrote a book about "doing it" or should I say "how he would do it". Ridiculous!

  • Karenlucy Jun 18, 2011

    We dont need to hear him confess......we all know he is guilty and are probably all ready to puke by now just hearing his name ......I just wish one day soon all reporters would agree to never give him the time of day, not even mention his name and certainly not by his "nickname"...that always bothered me. He doesnt deserve our time at all.

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