Whether you call them reruns or "repurposing," not letting old work go to waste is a fine old TV tradition, but trust Oprah Winfrey to put a new spin on it.
Winfrey was in Beverly Hills Friday to introduce Rosie O'Donnell, who's starting a talk show on Winfrey's OWN channel in October, and to remind reporters she's on the job as CEO ("I get emails from friends. . . 'I hope that you’re somewhere relaxing, enjoying your time off from the show. I hope that you’re enjoying your time in the Mediterranean or whenever,' and I’m not").
And to announce that she'd finally figured out what to do with all those years of "Oprah Winfrey Show" episodes.
Seems she's always had the dream of "creating the world's biggest classroom" (which is not, I trust, an endorsement of larger class sizes in public schools).
"So I was standing at my my kitchen sink thinking about the library and how to do that in such a way that isn’t just throwing your shows up on the air, and came up with the idea of a show, which will be a strip show on OWN," Winfrey told reporters, knowing that we would know she meant a show that would air five days a week, not a show involving scantily clad women.
"We're going to call it 'OWN Your Life: The Oprah Class' and take the 4,561 shows of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' and use them as a teaching tool, repackaged and rehosted by myself in ways that we can teach people how to live their best lives, teach them about their potential, about forgiveness, about raising children, about divorce, about their relationships, and really, I think, magnify the potential and deepen the potential of that library," she said, possibly without taking a breath.
The new CEO of OWN has also given herself a primo time slot -- 8 p.m. Monday through Friday -- leaving 7 p.m. to O'Donnell, whose "The Rosie Show" -- "hometown heroes," "current events," "well known and upcoming talent," blah, blah, blah, sounded a lot less interesting when Oprah was describing it than when Rosie herself came out and basically killed, confessing that "I'm still nervous when [Oprah] calls" and that she'd gotten a pedicure just to impress her.
O'Donnell's impromptu ode to the Schick Intuition razor brought down the house (and we are, as comics too often note, a tough room) as did her explanation of why viewers relate to her: "Nobody is at home going, 'God, if I could only be Rosie O’Donnell, an overweight lesbian who yells too much.'"
Still, she said, "it’s going to be different from the old show in that when I was 33 I think the appeal of my program was there was an authentic, genuine appreciation of pop culture. I loved these people, like Streisand and Tom Cruise, the concept that I could meet them was really beyond my belief, and now I’m 50, and both of those people have stayed in my house, right? So the enthusiasm that I had for celebrities is changed. I have evolved and grown, and the show is going to be reflective of that."
Sounds good. Because, really, who needs to repeat herself?