NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: In this handout image provided by CBS News, (L-R)… (GETTY IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES )
Back in November, when CBS announced its latest morning infotainment series, “CBS This Morning,” at a New York news conference, co-host and Oprah Winfrey BFF Gayle King was asked whether she’d have Oprah on the show. Gayle said that she couldn’t see bringing Oprah on “just for the sake of having her on,” and that she would wait until it made news sense. In other words, they would not have Oprah on just because she happened to be in New York, taping an episode of her “Lifeclass” or something.
“CBS This Morning” announced Wednesday morning that it would interview Oprah on Monday.
What news warrants the interview at this particular time?
According to “CBS This Morning,” Oprah’s coming to “discuss everything from the latest developments at OWN, her Leadership Academy, and life after her daytime talk show.”
Plus, “CBS This Morning” added: “Winfrey is in New York for a live taping of her ‘Lifeclass’ series.”
It’s just possible that Oprah is going on “CBS This Morning” next week, in particular, to gin up some good press on a major broadcast network the same week that she has to appear at Discovery Communications’ Upfront Presentation. That’s where she’ll be trying to convince hundreds of advertising execs what a great idea it would be to buy more ad time on her struggling OWN network — a co-venture with the Silver Spring-based Discovery.
This will be a tough crowd, given she just finished laying off 30 people and reshuffling the OWN exec suite (again). She also recently pulled the plug on the net’s Rosie O’Donnell series, which, according to press reports, cost $15 million to settle Rosie’s contract.
Like clockwork, a couple of hours after “CBS This Morning” announced its big “get,” OWN put out its first-quarter ratings, which show improvement compared with the first quarter of 2011.
Compared with the first quarter of ’11, OWN’s prime time is up by about 20,000 viewers. Compared with the last first quarter when the network was called Discovery Health — the first quarter of 2010 — OWN averaged about 80,000 more viewers in prime time.
And as they say, practically everywhere, “Up is up.” But as one competing network suit suggested Wednesday, it has been a very expensive way to attract 80,000 more viewers to a channel.
For this ratings improvement, Oprah owes great thanks to Whitney Houston, “American Idol” and Texas mega-church pastor Joel Osteen.
When OWN premiered “Oprah’s Next Chapter” in January, she interviewed “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler and clocked 1.1 million viewers. A few days later, she interviewed Osteen and logged 1.6 million viewers — which, at the time was the biggest audience the network had ever scored.
One month later, after Houston’s death, Oprah interviewed the pop singer’s daughter and bagged a whopping 3.5 million viewers (about as many people as watched the premiere of “Mad Men’s” fifth-season debut).
It’s a knack. She’s the best.
Late-night FX comedy
FX has ordered another late-night series test, this one starring comic W. Kamau Bell and executive-produced by Chris Rock.
Like “Strangely Uplifting” — the Russell Brand late-night show FX ordered back in December — this new show also got a short six-episode order, will also be a weekly show and will star a stand-up comic who “dissects politics, pop culture, race religion, and sex.”
Bell, a founding member of the comedy group Laughter Against the Machine, is maybe best known for the critically acclaimed one-man show, “The W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour,” which he’s been performing for a few years. Last November, he and Rock tried to develop that into a TV series, but it didn’t fly.
The as-yet-unnamed late-night show will debut in August. Meanwhile, the six-episode test of Brand’s “Strangely Uplifting” is scheduled to debut June 28 — the same night FX launches its new prime-time Charlie Sheen sitcom, “Anger Management.”
FX announced in mid-December that it had ordered six episodes of the Brand-hosted late-night show, as duly reported in The TV Column.
The Stern PR tour
With about six weeks until Howard Stern makes his prime-time network debut on the NBC competition series “America’s Got Talent” on May 14, the shock jock announced he’s ramping up the publicity. He’ll visit the ABC gabber “The View,” NBC’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and NBC’s morning infotainment show “Today,” according to a tweet from his satellite radio show’s Twitter account.
Conspicuously missing from this list: “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Given how vocal Stern has been about his disdain for Leno, such an appearance is unlikely — which, WaPo TeamTV’s Emily Yahr notes, is unfortunate for everyone who loves train-wreck TV.
Stern has been traveling the country over the past few weeks for “Talent” auditions. NBC wound up moving the competition series from Los Angeles to New York so Stern could take part while also working on his N.Y.C.-based radio program.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/