Does Oprah Winfrey's interview with ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews reveal ratings anxiety?
Perhaps prickled by news stories over the summer suggesting she may no longer be the world's most powerful celebrity, talk queen Oprah Winfrey will return to new episodes with a blitzkrieg of high-profile events -- including the "first and last" interview with ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews after public release of a secretly taken peephole video showing her in the nude.
Read snippets, where Andrews calls the controversy a "nightmare" by clicking here.
Winfrey has also snagged longtime correspondent Lisa Ling to talk about the imprisonment of her sister Laura in North Korea, persuaded The Black Eyed peas to play a gig in the streets of Chicago and brought in Miami's "Father Oprah" Father Alberto Cutie, the telegenic Catholic priest and Spanish-language talk show host who left the church after he was discovered romancing a woman.
It all starts four days before her official fall debut Sept. 14 -- itself a two-part interview featuring notorious showbiz train wreck Whitney Houston -- with a Sept. 10 kickoff party in the streets of Chicago. Talks with Andrews, Ling and Cutie air Sept. 11, prepping audiences for Houston's confessional the next week.
All this star power may indicate some insecurity at Winfrey's Oprah, which scored the lowest ratings in its 23-year history during July reruns. This season may prove to be a crucial turning point for Winfrey, whose status as a broadcasting icon has been grounded in her longtime dominance of daytime talk.
Click below to read the press release from her HARPO Productions:
OPRAH'S CHICAGO KICK-OFF PARTY AND EXCLUSIVE SUMMER NEWSMAKERS
START TWO-DAY SNEAK PREVIEW OF THE ALL-NEW SEASON OF "THE OPRAH
--A special performance by three time Grammy Award-winning group
The Black Eyed Peas to be taped in streets of Chicago--
--Correspondent Lisa Ling returns for the "Oprah" show for the first time
since her reunion with her sister Laura—
--Exclusive Interviews with ESPN's Erin Andrews
and "Father Oprah" Alberto Cutie--
CHICAGO, IL – "The Oprah Winfrey Show" is giving viewers a sneak peak at
its all-new season, including the Sept. 14 season premiere exclusive interview
with Whitney Houston, in a two-day television event.
First, on Thursday, Sept. 10, Oprah hosts a Season 24 kickoff party in the
streets of Chicago, as a crowd of thousands joins her for a fun-filled, star-
studded celebration, including a special appearance by three time Grammy
Award-winning group The Black Eyed Peas. More information is available at
Then, on Friday, Sept. 11, the "Oprah" show features exclusive interviews
with the newsmakers who had people talking all summer long. Correspondent
Lisa Ling returns to the "Oprah" show stage for the first time since she and
her sister Laura were reunited, after Laura was set free following a 140-day
detention in North Korea. ESPN's Erin Andrews speaks out for what she
calls "the first and last time" about the peephole video filmed without her
knowledge and circulated on the Internet. Finally, Father Alberto Cutie, often
called "Father Oprah," opens up to Oprah about falling in love, falling out of
favor with the Catholic Church, and his new life with his wife and stepson.
"The Oprah Winfrey Show" has remained the number one talk show for 23
consecutive seasons, winning every sweep since its debut in 1986.* It is
produced in Chicago by Harpo Productions, Inc. and syndicated to 215
domestic stations by CBS Television Distribution Group and to 147 countries
by CBS Paramount International Television.