On Sunday 7th March 2021, the richest and most powerful woman in the world, the head the greatest empire ever known, Oprah Winfrey, will introduce to society a shy Z list mattress actress, Her Royal Highness, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. A society of networks, distributors, advertisers and agents will look on in dewy-eyed wistful anticipation. Their hearts will miss romantic beats while dreaming about the money, the money and more money.
Previously, during a life more interesting, your humble author was snowbound at New York City’s JFK Airport. His flight was cancelled, so was everyone else’s. I determined to proceed by train. A reasonably priced Carey shuttle connected with central Manhattan and stopped within walking distance of the railroad station.
I step off the bus and into a blizzard. Much time is lost enquiring of directions. Not only are passersby sparse, in between lefts, rights, blocks and landmarks, they insist upon telling me their life stories.
A lady had recently had a bile duct operation. A gentleman had been a mailman on an aircraft carrier and hadn’t realised he was at the Battle of Midway until after it had finished.
“Penn Station? It’s next to Madison Square Garden. Thataway. My wife and myself once met Frank Sinatra there.”
“Sorry sir, I’ve a train to catch.”
A girl speaking into a cell phone stops me, “Excuse me, mister. We’re having a family dispute. Is sixteen too young for a car date?”
At the ticket office, a lady in line had been shot last year. After I made the mistake of showing an interest, she begins to unbutton her top to show me the bullet hole.
Americans can neither play cricket nor defeat the North Vietnamese in war, but my God they can gush. The queen of such things being Medal of Freedom recipient and multi Emmy Award winning billionaire, Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah Gail Winfrey was born in rural Mississippi in 1954 and raised by her grandmother until aged six. A precocious child, she had learned to read by age three and a half, becoming a speaker in the same way that other girls may become singers or dancers. She spoke at church. She learned and recited sermons.
Later, after living with her mother in Milwaukee, she was sent to her father in Nashville, Tennessee. There, she became an honours student and part of her high school speech team. Age seventeen, as a confident and excellent reader with a perfect voice, she was hired to present, after school, for her local radio station at $150 a week.
From there her trajectory was assured. Having dropped out of college to further her career, ten years later (in 1983) we find her having moved from radio to TV and from presenting to co-anchoring news. Her next step forwards was an apparent step backwards from news to day time chat. Oprah is now the $22,000 a year host of the Chicago AM morning show on ABC affiliate WLS-TV.
If this was a fall, then it was the kind of fall that occurs when a square peg (make of hundred dollar bills) drops into a square hole full of diamonds.
How come? Those who know about such things say that Oprah enjoys an ESFJ personality type meaning her to be empathetic, warm-hearted and supportive. ESFJ’s are often social butterflies and highly aware of other’s needs, ideal qualities for a revelationary daytime chat show.
Within a month, Chicago AM had progressed from last to first in the local ratings, even beating networked chat show king Phil Donahue. Spotted by Quincy Jones, Oprah then played what was to become the Academy Award-nominated role of Sofia in Stephen Spielberg’s film “The Color Purple.”
Returning to Chicago, her talk show relaunched in September 1986 as “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Oprah was now a $100,000 a year host. The next stepping stone on the trajectory was to take the show national.
At the time, daytime TV in the USA was middling to awful. The aforementioned Phil Donahue was still shrugging his shoulders every episode saying, “What’s wrong with America, if he doesn’t go to hell nobody will,” while the curtain rolled back to reveal a little fat guy with pebble glasses who’d slept with ten thousand women.
An opening existed for a fresh and different approach led by a fresh and different talent.
At this point, Winfrey is on the cusp of becoming very rich indeed, not because she accepted an incoming $250,000 a year four-year contract from distributers Kingworld on behalf of the ABC network, but because she turned it down.
She took her unsigned Kingworld ABC contract to media and intellectual law guru Jeffrey Jacobs. He told her to take control of her own show, start her own studio and, on the strength of the promissory four-year contact, raise the start-up funds required through venture capital. Use Kingworld as distributors anyway. They will lease the show to ABC who will syndicate it to over 200 local stations. Everybody gets a piece. Everybody is happy. It was a deal. Oprah Winfrey’s very own Harpo Productions emerged and over the next 21 years produced a total of 4561 episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
As for the programme itself, part of the control that Oprah exerted was through her own snowstorm of non-disclosure agreements (NDA’s) covering anybody and everybody who had any connection whatsoever with the programme or with Oprah’s other business interests. However, on condition of anonymity, a small number of former employees are happy to talk.
Perhaps disappointingly, they report Ms Winfrey to have been extremely hardworking, professional and surrounded by the very best staff that she could find. And she paid them well. If you stood out in your area of broadcast, Harpo’s people would find you and give you an offer you couldn’t refuse. Oprah had a nice manner with employees and reassuringly, “If she does do crazy, she does it in her office with the door locked.”
Oprah used freelancers on day rates. If they messed up they didn’t receive a call back. If they were good, they did.
Although a daily 4pm to 5pm offering appearing as if live, the programmes were pre-recorded. Well researched, scripted, rehearsed, filmed and edited they were in the can well in advance. Completed programmes not up to the required standard were never used. Remember, much of the competition was garbage. Oprah’s production values were very high. Make-up, clothes and accessories were exceptional – and that was just the guests and audience – you should have seen Miss Winfrey.
The adopted format allowed for multiple spin-offs. If a guest shone, they became a regular. If a regular shone, they got their own show (Dr Phil, Dr Oz, Nate Berkus, Rachael Rae), produced and syndicated by a giant well oiled, money-making machine called Harpo Productions. In these spin-offs, Ms Winfrey is credited with a bewildering array of executive roles (ie she gets a cut of everything).
Some flies stuck to the ointment, including Oprah’s close associations with jailed Bill Cosby and jailed Harvey Weinstein. A Kitty Kelly biography managed to find everybody who didn’t like Oprah and hadn’t signed an NDA. Some of the revelations were too gushy even for America. Likewise, claims of being the richest and most influential woman in the world are over the top. Even by the most optimistic measures, Ms Winfrey is about one-tenth as wealthy as Mackenzie Bezos and all MacKenzie ever did was to get divorced. Similarly, her claim to be the first black billionaire. Others in entertainment and music will have got there before her, via the same ‘finger in every pie’ approach, but will have kept it to themselves.
Although The Oprah Show ended on a high, it did end. But it continues to generate revenue through ‘where are they nows’, re-mixes, radio versions being played on a loop et al.
Since that final episode in 2011, Oprah’s high profile has been maintained. There are Harpo films, teleseries, an FM radio channel, even an OWN (an Oprah Winfrey Network), now partnered with The Discovery Channel.
There was a Hearst Communications collaboration, a magazine called “O, The Oprah Magazine”, with Ms Winfrey on the front cover every month for twenty years. Puffins will be disappointed to hear that O’s reader, Karene, had no interest in model railways or craft beer.
At its peak, O boasted a very impressive monthly average paid circulation of 2.7 million, however, in line with the rest of the industry, circulation subsequently dropped. Print publication finally ended as recently as December 2020.
What is the next big project for Oprah? Step forward HRH Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex. And if you think that this collaboration hasn’t been in the pipeline for many years then you’re a sucker.
Know your customer. Despite what you may think, Oprah Winfrey has only ever had one viewer. The viewer is female, she is over 35, because this is America, and she’s more sophisticated than some, we will call her ‘Karene’.
According to Girlpower Marketing, Karene makes 85% of all household consumer choices, 91% of home purchases, 92% of vacation decisions and 93% of over the counter pharmaceutical purchases. She is 92% likely to pass consumer information on to others.
Karene is concerned with personal happiness, self-improvement, wellness and well being, both for herself and especially for her partner and children.
Karene does not buy products or services, she buys improvement.
And, most importantly of all,
Karene’s trusted best friend, whose advice she follows, is called Oprah Winfrey.
Interestingly, Karene places a very low priority on a male obsession of single-handedly saving the world. Therefore, we must not tell Karene that her buying power will change the world for the world’s sake, but for the sake of her own child. In the upcoming Oprah-Meghan interview, listen out for Meghan using phrases like “I want Archie to grow up in a world that …..”
Interestingly, Karene 91% thinks that advertisers (ie men) don’t understand her. You will see Oprah’s long understanding gazes accompanied by nodding (while Meghan pretends to cry). Oprah will tell a similar personal story to Meghan’s, and will not forget the hand-holding, the hug and the tear wipe.
Karene’s lack of interest in video games means that Meghan and Oprah won’t be playing Fortnite, but they will be together alone most of the time. Oprah is the trusted friend, not Prince Harry.
Harry is not a media professional. One almost admires his Uncle Andrew for turning up and saying the first thing that came into his head in a BBC interview with Emily Maitlis. But bear in mind, the resulting multiple wreck of the disabled ginger-haired orphan’s charter trains, destroyed Prince Andrew’s public life.
Harry’s part is that of the listening husband (and, by proxy, advertiser) that Karene aspires for her husband to be. Harry will appear briefly and agree with everything that Meghan says. He may even pretend to be more woke than she is.
Meghan and Oprah’s parts will be scripted, learned, rehearsed, shot, re-shot and edited to the nth of a degree. The programme will be ‘put to bed’ days, if not weeks, before transmission. If anything about it seems spontaneous that’s because it has been so well rehearsed. Harry and Meghan will have signed NDA’s. They will not say anything about the interview before transmission and nothing off the cuff about it afterwards.
The writers will have started on the script even before Mehgan and Harry married three years ago. They had plenty of material even then. Oprah’s invitation to the wedding was in order to promote Meghan’s career years later. There is so much money at stake that planning is long term and meticulous.
Hold on a minute. Why might Karene have to be tricked into taking a global view when the research shows that she cares more about herself, her home and her near family members? Because the sell is via global corporations with global reach run by globalists. Another round of that campaign starts on CBS at 8pm Eastern time on Sunday 7th March 2021.
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file