Oprah's Next Big Thing

The girl from Mississippi has conquered daytime TV, publishing, radio, film and next, at noon on January 1, Oprah Winfrey launches what she calls "one big old challenge." The media mogul and philanthropist introduces OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a 24/7 cable channel devoted, according to its website, "to connecting you to your best self and to the world."

The inspirational channel, complete with its iconic name, was first conceived by Winfrey and her longtime companion, Stedman Graham, in 1992, as they bemoaned the lurid tabloid talk shows in vogue at the time. "I always knew The Oprah Winfrey Show would lead to the next thing," she recalls. "'I would be a light carrier,' I wrote in my journal." It wasn't until 2007, when Discovery Communications chief David Zaslav suggested they partner in a new network (to replace the low-rated Discovery Health), that her dream became a real possibility. "What we're trying to do with OWN," explains CEO Christina Norman, "is extend what it is that Oprah's done on television so well for the past 25 years: celebrate our audience, give them tools to live their best life and entertain them."

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