If audience reaction can be taken as any indication, there’s no doubt that the high point of Apple’s TV+ launch in late March was when Oprah Winfrey took the stage to discuss what her role would be in the iPhone maker’s new streaming service. While it wasn’t a big revelation that Oprah was involved in doing something with Apple — in fact, in a very rare move for the otherwise-secretive project, Apple came right out and announced the partnership last year — but nobody was quite sure what form it would take, and seeing the venerable producer and talk-show host take the stage was surprising even despite an earlier appearance by Steven Spielberg.
At the event, Oprah didn’t reveal much other than that she would be working on at least two upcoming documentaries, one of which she was later revealed to be working on with Prince Harry, along with a new book club that she promised to be “the biggest, the most vibrant, the most stimulating book club on the planet.”
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published yesterday, Oprah provided some additional details into how she and Apple came to join forces, despite Winfrey already having her own network — The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), as well as the fact that Apple was able to essentially woo her away from a deal she had with 60 Minutes.
Apple exposes you to a whole lot more people. The thing that I’m really, really excited about — as I said that day — is creating the world’s largest book club. And if I want to do a film or a doc series … The best place for [my docuseries on mental health] is not on OWN. Because you don’t have the bandwidth and you have to create a completely different audience and then you have to have marketing.Oprah Winfrey, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter
One of Apple’s key advantages over OWN was its ability to not only reach a much wider audience in terms of raw numbers, but also in terms of the more diverse audience than OWN, which has traditionally attracted a very specific demographic made up largely of Oprah’s own fanbase.
Oprah also notes that after she made the deal with Apple, she approached 60 Minutes to let them know that she was going to be working with Apple now, and although she said that didn’t rule out still working with the news magazine program, she said she would “be taking [her] energies and putting them into whatever [she] wanted to do at Apple.” Oprah noted that she may still work with some of the freelance people from 60 Minutes on her projects at Apple, as she enjoyed working with them, but felt that the show wasn’t the best format for her, adding that they frequently accused her of being “too emotional” in the way she presented herself on the show, and didn’t like having to “pull herself down” and “flatten out her personality.”
Oprah also elaborated a bit on her upcoming documentary projects and some of the other things she’d like to do at Apple. She of course mentioned the book club, and added that her goal for her documentary about sexual abuse in the workplace is to be inclusive in telling the stories of everyday workers — “waitresses and factory workers and nurses and nuns and people who you’d never imagine” — so that everyday people feel they’re not alone, rather than only telling “the Hollywood story.”
There’s also the hint of the possibility that Oprah could eventually begin to do a regular interview series; she noted that although she doesn’t want to fall into the “daily rhythm” of trying to find people to interview just for the sake of doing a show, she often finds people she would like to sit down with and would like to create an outlet to do that.
Of course, Oprah Winfrey is involved in a lot of projects, but at this point it seems as if Apple TV+ is going to be a primary focus, and with a multi-year content deal and what appears to be a good cultural fit between the two companies, it will definitely be exciting to see what else comes out of it.