How Hard Does Oprah Really Want to Work?

May 12, 2003  •  Post A Comment

News that Oprah Winfrey was considering an extension to her storied career by possibly adding two years to her contract with King World raised eyebrows among industry insiders wondering how much work, exactly, the reigning queen of daytime will be willing to do? Ms. Winfrey is currently contractually obligated to offer stations 100 original episodes, 100 repeats and 60 Best of Oprah episodes for the 2004-05 season. In 2005, the number of originals drops to 75 episodes, or 15 weeks worth of new programming between September and May. The question is whether Ms. Winfrey, as part of her renewal package, will want even more time off?
Meanwhile, the CBS station group has expressed interest in spiriting The Oprah Winfrey Show away from the ABC owned-and-operated stations. However, sources said that remains extremely unlikely despite King World’s nest under the Viacom tree. In any case, sources said that at the price King World will demand, the CBS stations would only enter the fray if Ms. Winfrey agrees to do more originals, not fewer. They will also want assurances that she would stay on for more than two additional seasons. A King World spokesperson declined to comment on the negotiations.