CHICAGO (AP) — Having brought her wildly successful talk show to a close after 25 years, Oprah Winfrey said Thursday says she's ready to devote her full attention to nurturing the six-month-old cable TV network that bears her name.
The Oprah Winfrey Network launched on Jan. 1, taking over what had been Discovery Health. As OWN was under development, Winfrey said she was also trying to finish the last 130 episodes of her syndicated TV talk show, the last episode of which aired on May 25.
With "The Oprah Winfrey Show" out of the way, Winfrey said she can be "all in" at OWN.
"I now have the time to be committed to the nurturing of this network," Winfrey said Thursday in an interview with Paula Zahn at a cable industry trade show in Chicago. "The vacation I thought I was going to have is kind of over ... at least for the time being."
Rosie O'Donnell, Shania Twain, Sarah Ferguson and Winfrey friend Gayle King have first-season shows on the commercially-supported OWN, which offers a mix of talk and reality shows, films and original documentaries.
Winfrey will appear in "Oprah's Next Chapter," in which she travels the world in search of interesting stories, and "Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes," a chronicle of her final talk show year. She will also be seen in the series "Oprah Presents Master Class" and "Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star."
Winfrey said there are two people she was never able to get on her talk show she'd still like to interview — O.J. Simpson and Susan Smith, the South Carolina woman convicted of drowning her two young sons.
She said she's been surprised by the "bumps along the way" in launching her network, which has seen low initial ratings and the abrupt exit of its top executive. But she said her focus has always been on her audience, not numbers.
"I let other people worry about ratings," she said. "For me, it is always about service to the viewers. I have committed everything I have to this cable venture. I wouldn't bet against me."