UPDATE, 6:50 AM: Not much from the conference call with analysts about the most interesting story at Discovery: the recent changes at its struggling joint venture with Oprah Winfrey, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. Oprah recently named herself CEO and Chief Creative Officer. Zaslav says that “she is in place as CEO already,” and “we now have her creative team in place.” That means Discovery COO Peter Ligouri — named OWN’s interim CEO in May when the partners dumped Christina Norman — can “spend more time with us.”
UPDATE: Discovery Chief Says 3D TV Growing “Slower Than Expected” As 2Q Company Results Beat Estimates
Four months ago, Rosie O’Donnell, who hosted the syndicated The Rosie O’Donnell Show and did a stint on ABC’s The View, teamed with syndication veterans Dick Robertson and Scott Carlin for a new syndicated daytime talk show. Now they have found a buyer, Oprah Winfrey’s upstart cable network OWN, a co-venture with Discovery Communications. Interesting move by Winfrey, who once competed with O’Donnell for the title of daytime talk show queen at the height of The Rosie O’Donnell Show in the late 1990s.
O’Donnell is a polarizing figure with strong political views and aggressive style who had previously indicated that she planned to stay true to herself on her new show. So giving her a daily talker on OWN, a network built on the premise of inspiring women and helping them better their lives, is somewhat surprising. But the description of the new show supplied by OWN seems to indicate that there will be more of the 1990s “queen of nice” bubbly persona than the darker, more controversial O’Donnell we’ve seen in the final stage of her daytime talk show, on The View as well as on her radio show on Sirius XM.
For Deadline today, freelance journalist Diane Haithman covered the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s Newsmaker luncheon at the Beverly Hilton:
What will the TV industry have left to buzz about after fallen NBC talk show host Conan O’Brien’s new 11 PM show launches in November on TBS? And the world finally finds out whether his young, hip, Twitter-happy fans will follow him from NBC to cable? Once again, NBC and Conan launched the discussion at yet another industry gathering. O’Brien’s choice to sign with TBS instead of Fox after the “fairly catastrophic” NBC debacle (as FBC’s Kevin Reilly called it) was used as a starting point for a discussion about whether cable TV represents the television industry’s sweet spot in 2010. Oprah Winfrey’s move from syndication to starting her own cable network got a mention, too, but that was announced way back in 2009 — and she’s just not as much fun to talk about as Conan.
On the panel billed as “a post-upfronts look at the business of the business”: O’Brien’s attorney Leigh Brecheen, partner and head of television at the law firm Bloom Hergott; Paul Lee, president of ABC Family; Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television; Kevin Reilly, president of Fox Broadcasting Company; Chris Silbermann, president of ICM; and Tim Spengler, president of Initiative USA.
Well, time will tell whether cable is good to Conan – but what about everybody else? The rest of the discussion revolved around whether 2010’s promising upfronts mean that traditional, scripted broadcast TV series are back on top – and whether the networks can exist in happy harmony with cable channels, online TV options and VOD.