Oprah Winfrey gets demoted, is no longer in executive control of OWN network

Oprah Winfrey

Here’s some photos of Oprah in New York City in early April to promote her OWN Network. Just the fact that Oprah was hitting the talk show promotional trail is a sure sign of panic because Oprah never had to promote her own show. For decades, people went to Oprah to promote their own crap, you know? Now Oprah’s in their shoes and scrambling to save OWN, which has been a disaster from nearly day one with terrible ratings and Discovery quickly learning that their supposedly brilliant acquisition was quickly transforming into a money pit.

Just in the past year, the signs have been pointing towards OWN’s imminent demise. First Oprah begged Nielsen viewers to watch her flailing network, and then Oprah bitchfought with Rosie O’Donnell over the latter’s cancelled show. Then Oprah offered Rosie’s slot to Wynonna Judd, who told her to shove it, and it was later revealed that Oprah offered reality shows to John Travolta, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise, all of whom were decidedly not interested. Now the Enquirer has a story about Oprah being demoted and stripped of her decisionmaking powers at OWN, where she remains CEO in name only. Uh-oh:

In one of the most humiliating developments of her legendary career, Oprah Winfrey has been stripped of executive powers at her struggling OWN network. The media mogul was reduced to tears when her chief financial backer decided to curtail her control over the network she had worked her fingers to the bone to launch, say sources.

As ratings sputtered and hundreds of millions of dollars spiraled down the drain, execs at Discovery Communications, which co-owns the Oprah Winfrey Network, made the strategic move in a desperate, eleventh-hour bid to save it. While Oprah retains her titles of CEO, it’s in name only, revealed an insider.

Oprah had exercised complete control over OWN since its launch in January 2011, and Discovery bigwigs supported her even as it turned into a financial disaster.

“They now realize that she was too inexperienced to run the network,” said the insider. “So she was stripped of her power. She’s no longer in a position to make executive decisions or hire staff without consulting top Discovery executive first.”

After getting the bombshell news in a closed-door meeting, Oprah “came out feeling as if the wind had been knocked out of her,” said the insider. “For Oprah, this is a bitter personal failure and a devastating blow to her ego. The unexpected demotion has sent her into an emotional tailspin so severe that friends are deeply concerned for her. They fear it could trigger one of drinking and eating binges.

As The ENQUIRER reported in our May 21 issue, Oprah has turned to alcohol more and more as OWN tanks, and she’s recently taken to doing shots of tequila!

[From Enquirer, print edition, June 9, 2012]

Surely, this is not the beginning of the end for OWN but perhaps the middle of the end for the network, and it’s only a matter of time. Sure, it’s gotta be a major blow to Oprah’s ego to realize that she doesn’t truly rule the television world, but I honestly don’t see why she didn’t just retire after ending her own show. There’s still time to do that, of course, but I doubt she’ll truly give up until OWN is officially put out of its misery by Discovery.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet and WENN

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35 Responses to “Oprah Winfrey gets demoted, is no longer in executive control of OWN network”

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  1. I.want.shoes says:

    I have OWN and never watch it. It’s just so boring and preachy. I don’t know what Oprah was thinking with her “Life Classes” but sometimes, I suspect her of trying to start her own religion.

  2. cupidtyrox says:

    This is what having a messiah complex does to you. She should have retired

  3. Len says:

    If you’re gonna say goodbye so dramatically and extensively, then people expect you to leave and be gone. Now leave and be gone.

    • Lilyb says:

      So well put, Len! I really thought that she was going to hole up for at least a year after all that hoopla. But then I remember the ego.

  4. Jayna says:

    The network seems to have some better content lately. I do love the show that is about couples whete one spouse cheated and how they survived it. Most have gone on to be married for years and years. Of course a few didn’t. But it’s so honest.

  5. Jackson says:

    Maybe she could go on “Dr. Phil” and he could spew some witty, redneck remarks at her and then send her to a ‘top notch clinic’ that he is heavily invested in. Or she could just retire and be gone, as Len said above.

  6. Adrien says:


  7. Adrien says:

    “Oprah offered reality shows to John Travolta, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise”

    – hmmm, does the show have something to do with closets?

  8. AudreyS says:

    I’m not her biggest fan, but she pulled herself up from a VERY humble and difficult childhood to become one of the most famous and powerful women in the world. So, she failed at OWN. She’ll be back doing something else. I don’t think many things can keep her down.

    • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

      Agreed. I’m not running out to get a subscription to her magazine, but of all the people on TV to loathe, there are so many people who are exponentially worse than her.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        I disliked the Secret pandemonium, the Live Your Best Life stuff was dull to me (but I wasn’t part of her demographic) and celebrity fellatio as much as anyone, so there really wasn’t anything *for* me by the end of the show’s run, but at this point I’m at a loss to define how watching this donnybrook of a network fail saves the universe.

      • Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

        I don’t know what’s going on with my comment.

        Every television personality has a persona, remember the Queen Of Nice? Just because an actress can make nice with the kiddies and their grandparents it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s no put-on. I’m sure that (for a while, at least), all sorts of people behind the scenes were constantly micro-analyzing Ellen DeGeneres’ every move, not just to ease her transition into a new phase in her career, but to come off as non-threatening, non-militant and honestly bland personality so as not to alienate her conservative or older potential fanbase who may harbour some bigotry towards a family-safe performer who is also an out lady.

        So at this point Oprah is more important as a symbol and a story for me than as an individual.

        I have a lot more contempt for your ‘Make Minorities Look Bad’ hosts–Maury Povich, Jeremy Kyle, Geraldo Rivera, etc.,

        ‘Patron Saint Of The Daytime Reality Ho Stroll’– Kardashians, Paris Hilton, Funky See and Funky Do from The Hills etc.,

        ‘Antics of Weave Snatchery and ‘Lemme take my earrings off, first’-style Conflict Resolution’–Real Housewifes of Novgorod, or something.

        ‘Herpes Incubation Initiatives’ like The Bachelor.

        ‘The Blubber of Old Sad Ho’–shrieking harridans like Nancy Grace, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, frigging Ann Coulter, Chelsea Handler etc.,

        The ‘They Weren’t Slavers, They Were Job Providers’-style fuckery from Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson (have you ever met a Tucker who wasn’t a complete buffoon?’, Sean Hannity and that arse cartoonist.

        I just think there are people more deserving of some of the bile slung at Oprah than she was of it because even at her most irritating, she ain’t Ann Coulter.

        The contempt thrown at her really devoted fans strikes me as little more than self-fluffing a lot of the time. If there is a Cult of Oprah (and there is), there’s definitely a cult of I’m Way Better Than The Oprah Acolytes, Who Of Course Are All One Person And I’m Better Than All Of Them. I’ve met people who denied themselves of the pleasures of literary works like One Hundred Years Of Solitude because after a whole day’s worth of looking, they couldn’t find a copy without the sticker. That’s frigging idiotic, to let someone else’s fame shame you out of doing something that you’ve previously wanted to do. Wasting gas money to look cool is a far better use of time than not judging a book by it’s cover? Stupid. You can never read Faulkner because you found the A Million Little Falsehoods fallout distasteful? It was supremely annoying, but come on! And you say her fans are brainless? Why would you let a stranger have that kind of jurisdiction over your entertainment and enjoyment?

        I think my eyes rolled hardest over the The Corrections boondoggle. Rather than just graciously decline the offer to be on her show, Jonathan Franzen had to be a little bitch about things and make sure that everybody knew that he and his DEBUT novel were way too intelligent, complex and challenging for any mere Oprah fan to grasp. Couldn’t he just be classy and say ‘no thanks’, as is his right? No, he had to write a disseration about all of the mouthbreathers who didn’t deserve his genius. Long walk, short pier, bitch. There were myriad better ways of handling that.

        I don’t know if we’re truly surveying the land accurately when we’re looking down upon from such a high assumed position.

      • Ally says:

        @ Jo Mama, it really made me like Franzen. He turned down a major bump in book sales, because he found the way novels were discussed on the show absurd. I agree.

        Every discussion was basically, “Here’s how the book made me think of my life.” which is so navel-gazing and narcissistic, it really encapsulates Oprah’s whole approach. These are the people she selected for the discussion. Some people also read to get outside themselves, to think differently about the world, not to have confirmation of their self-pity and self-obsession.

        Franzen’s not perfect, but he called it right on that one, IMO.

  9. apsutter says:

    Good…Oprah has needed a reality check for a long time. I stopped watched her CBS show when she would only have celebrities on and she thought her audience was so enamored by them. Oh and around the time she started spouting that Secret bs. “I’m a billionaire because I’m a positive thinker so why are you so poor. It’s because you’re negative” F off lady.

    • littlestar says:

      I agree with you. I especially detested her “live your best life” schtick. Ya, it’s easy to live your best life when you’re a friggin’ billionaire and don’t have bills/debt/life to worry about.

    • Ally says:

      There’s an old sociological/political book called “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, which talks about how people build up a moral relativism to justify their hogging of resources, i.e. wealth corresponds to goodness, and if I’m really wealthy it’s cause I’m really good. It’s handy in absolving you of any social responsibility.

      Dealing with people like that is why the tax code for the top income bracket was around 90% in the 1940s, a time conservatives now think of as the Golden Age (http://ntu.org/tax-basics/history-of-federal-individual-1.html). Because it’s better to spread the money around to malnourished kids in inner cities or in rural areas, than have Oprah build a 10th mansion for her cocker spaniels.

  10. Azurea says:

    Strange, then, because OWN just showed up on my cable package. Haven’t watched it, though.

  11. Nash says:

    Karma is the biggest bitch of them all.

  12. barb says:

    Oprah is all about how she can be of service to others, and I’m sure she felt that she could do a lot of good with her ‘own’ network. She’s not perfect so don’t expect her to be, and I never liked it when she fawned over celebrities, or when she came across as a self-help guru herself. But then again, she does know a helluva lot more than most other people simply because she’s had the privilege of learning from spiritual masters.

  13. Lushus L. says:

    I thought Whitney Houston’s family also backed off of a deal with Oprah and went with someone else. Haha! Maybe she dodged a bullet with that one but still… I can’t stand her. After that Hermes-Paris incident, I knew for sure that she was a fake and a bully. Who among us has not been treated rudely in Paris? It’s okay for the general public but not for her? Then she had the nerve to physically say “Shame on you” to anyone who thought she was full of it! Unreal.

    • RdyfrmycloseupmrDvlle says:

      I agree with you.
      However, my husband is French and I spend a lot of time in Paris and I can tell you that if you bear in mind that the french run things differents and force yourself to be very formal youll get along very well in Paris.
      Americans too often are FAR too informal, overly familiar and entitled. Parisians get tired of dealing with them.
      If anyone was rude in the Hermes situation it was Oprah. By a Parisian way of thinking OPRAH was rude for trying to force her way into the store after she knew full well the store was closed. Anyone else of any color would have been treated exactly the same with a rsounding no, you cant come in.
      Leave it to oprah to turn it into her “crash” moment. Ridiculous……and, actually, very insulting to black people who genuinely are discriminated against. She has no perspective anymore.

      • Lushus L. says:

        @ Ready for my close-up, I was worried that my post might offend someone French. I should have worded it more carefully . I lived in Paris for a year and I loved it. Thanks for understanding.

      • Jackie says:

        parisians are not the only ones tired of dealing with them.

        in my younger days, i worked in tourism and clerks use to fight over who would have to serve ‘the americans’…they were always the worst. unfortunate, but true.

  14. Amanda G says:

    I probably haven’t watched OWN in 6 months, but there were a few shows that I enjoyed. I get that she’s trying to add some class to TV, but if she wants that network to survive she’s going to have to turn to reality shows like all the other networks have.

    I think after she ended her talk show she should have made a deal to do interview specials for a network to keep her name out there. She does have a lot of connections to celebs.

  15. Pau says:

    I totally agree with Barb! Oprah has long been disconnected from the people she “aims” to reach. I loathed the way she treated celebrities (“my FRIEND Willlll Smiiiiittthhhhhhh!!!”) versus her other, non famous guests. The fawning, over-the-top-ego-stroking used to make me so mad I stopped watching her show. Ellen Degeneres does it completely right (she treats everyone the same). Think about those times when someone in Oprah’s staff introduced her to something pedestrian or “cheap”and how shocked she would be that it even existed (“Wow. This whole outfit for 150$?!?”) Gimme a break. This woman has no clue what it’s like to live day-to-day anymore… So save the preachy bullshit for your other bijillionaire friends O!

  16. Jag says:

    I stopped watching Oprah when she had Desmond Tutu on her show and she talked over him the entire time. I wanted to hear what HE had to say – not what she felt about a book he had written.

  17. GIrlyGirl says:

    The circle of celebrity goes on….

  18. Savannah says:

    I would probably be more inclined to watch OWN if there was in HD channel, but where I live there isn’t one and therefore it’s not an easy channel to find.

  19. tudorfan says:

    Frankly, I would rather have the Discovery Health network back on.

  20. Olivia says:

    I personally never watched her talk show but LOVE many of the shows on OWN. I think it just depends on the person but I think a lot of what these shows offer are great to a broad audience.

    If you don’t find anything being said, “interesting” or “preachy” then it’s just not something for you at that moment in your life.

    I think she’s done great things with the network. Good for her.