Less than three months after Oprah Winfrey revealed to the world just how tumultuous the launch of her OWN television network has been, the talk-show queen says the network is now moving forward and credits her one-time rival with the positive change.
“Let me just say, we have made the pivot,” Winfrey said today on “Good Morning America.” “It’s been really an exciting challenge and I am really so happy to announce to the world, ‘We have made the pivot.’”
Putting a bounce in Winfrey’s step is the year-old network’s newest show, “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” hosted by Iyanla Vanzant, a best-selling author and spiritual teacher who rose to fame in the 1990s thanks to appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” but saw both her personal and professional lives crumble after a falling out with Winfrey and her daughter’s death from cancer.
Vanzant was touted as the “next Oprah” and made 20 appearances on the show before disappearing from viewers for 11 years after a contract negotiation with Winfrey’s Harpo studios came to a sudden halt. The two made a dramatic on-air reconciliation on Winfrey’s show’s final season in 2011 that led to guest appearances by Vanzant on Oprah’s “Life Class” program on OWN and, now, her own weekly program.
“We are a living demonstration of what it takes to mend a relationship breakdown,” Vanzant said today on “GMA.” “We did it publicly and now we’ve been able to move on.”
Vanzant’s “Fix My Life” program, airing this Saturday and Sunday in a two-part premiere, carries on the self-help mission of shows like “Life Class” and “Super Soul Sunday” that OWN has relied on since canceling Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show and laying off 30 employees earlier this year.
“It’s participatory television,” said Vanzant, whom Winfrey now calls her “biggest supporter from the very beginning.” “Not only do the guests participate but there’s an opportunity for the audience to participate. It’s a feeling process
Winfrey, now on location in New Orleans filming “The Bulter” with Jane Fonda and Forest Whitaker, says the show, which promises to “pull back the curtain” on people’s lives, has the signature “A-ha” cache that made Winfrey herself a worldwide star and billionaire businesswoman.
“It has everything that viewers love in a reality show,” she said. “[It has] those jaw-dropping moments that cause you to say, ‘I can’t believe I’m watching this on television,’ and it also has everything that I love about the power of television, entertainment plus ‘a-ha’ moments.
“It is Iyanla at her finest,” she said.