Oprah Courting Maria Shriver for OWN Talk Show

Plus, the network could face $142 million in losses, analysts say.

Posted: 03/23/2012 10:45 AM EDT
Talk Show, Celebrity News, television, Rosie O'Donnell, Oprah Winfrey

She had to give Rosie O'Donnell the pink slip, but Oprah Winfrey may be courting another one of her high-profile friends to join her struggling OWN network. RadarOnline.com reports the media mogul is trying to create a show for Maria Shriver to help boost low ratings.

“Oprah knows she needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat,” a close source tells Radar. “She has been in discussions with Maria for a very long time about doing a news and special interest driven show for OWN. However, Oprah has ramped up the pressure in the past several weeks. Maria definitely wants to get back to work, but she has to make sure that it’s the right project.”

The journalist — who went through a messy separation from husband Arnold Schwarzenegger last year — and Oprah have been friends for decades, with Winfrey being one of the few people Shriver confided in when news broke that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child out of wedlock. Now Winfrey is hoping Shriver will return the favor.

“Oprah called Maria recently, and said in her most serious voice, ‘Look Maria, I’m sinking, and I need you to do a reality show for OWN.’ She carried on for 2 to 3 minutes about what the show would be called. Oprah is quite the actress, and Maria was just silent, and Oprah eventually burst out laughing, and said, ‘Ha, I had you, didn’t I? I would never ask you to do a reality show, but that shouldn’t stop you from volunteering to do it,’” the insider tells the site.

While most would leap at the chance to be a part of Oprah's professional family, Shriver — who has kept out of the public eye since her separation — is still deliberating whether or not she's ready to face the media.

“Maria just can’t give Oprah an answer yet,” the source confides. “She has been offered book deals and several offers from the major networks. Maria needs to do what is best for her, and she just doesn’t know if working for her close friend is a good idea; she values her friendship with Oprah so much. Oprah was Maria’s first non-Kennedy friend that she ever made when she was a young adult. Maria will choose her friendship over work.”

Meanwhile, if reports from SNL Kagan are true, Oprah could be getting increasingly desperate. The financial analysis firm estimates OWN could lose $142.9 million this year.

“OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network’s staff reduction and the cancellation of The Rosie Show are clear signs the network is struggling,” SNL Kagan analyst Derek Baine wrote. “Reining in costs will only do so much to keep Discovery Communications from pulling the plug on the network if ratings continue to remain low.”

Not true, says David Leavy, a spokesman for Discovery.

“The report is riddled with inaccuracies and bad information,” Leavy said in a statement. “The venture is on more solid ground with more business momentum than ever before. Last Sunday, OWN was the number-one cable network for women and people at 10 P.M. We remain confident in the future of OWN and the long-term value we are building.”

Hopefully, "women and people" will continue to watch OWN and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel for the network's remaining staffers.


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