March 28, 2012
Attn: Oprah Winfrey
5700 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 120
Los Angeles, CA 90036
I recently heard about some of the difficulties you have encountered with launching your OWN network. Many people have criticized your content and others just are not as comfortable trying to find you on another channel after you left ABC. I think that part of the problem is your lack of music coverage on the network.
This concept is far from being new to your staff because in 2009 you hosted a karaoke challenge on your show and the winner was given $250,000 and a chance to record a song with Island Def Jam Music Group. On the OWN network, your most successful show thus far was the interview with Whitney Houston’s family on “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” You raked in 3.5 million viewers and set a ratings record but you were also able to capitalize on this by showing a previous one on one interview that you had with Whitney in 2009 where you discussed her life and legacy while playing her music in between commercials, revealing clips of her most popular videos and allowing her to perform at the end of the show. You need to keep this theme going.
I would like to see a monthly focus on a music release where we get to see what occurs behind the scenes before an album drops such as Usher’s upcoming “Looking 4 Myself” album. If you showed footage of Usher rehearsing for his recent Billboard Music Awards performance, the making of his latest video, and the RCA records staff preparing for his June 12 release date it would be entertaining and informative.
You could use this same concept for a new artist and then take credit for their success. Can you imagine having this kind of footage of Justin Bieber, Drake or Adele prior to the release of their first album?
On “The Oprah Winfrey Show” you often conducted interviews with artists. But you have also addressed certain topics in music such as the mysogeny and profanity in hip-hop. While I respect your intentions, I always felt that your coverage was not balanced. To interview Ludacris about explicit lyrics in rap when he was part of a roundtable of actors discussing their role in “Crash” did not seem fair. Ludacris even admitted that his response to you never aired so the fact that he looked uneducated or timid was not portrayed accurately. You tried to do the same thing with Jay-Z during his visit to the show and you were still dissatisfied with his use of the “N” word after he tried to defend it.
Rather than corner these guys, you can address a topic in music and keep it balanced. But let’s be fair. There are many female executives who work behind the scenes at these record companies and I think their response would be of interest to your audience. It would be great to discuss facets of hip-hop culture but when you want to delve into what you believe are negative portrayals of women, please interview the powerful women in the music business.
Please reach out to Debra Lee, the Chairman and CEO of BET, veteran record executives such as Sylvia Rhone and Julie Greenwald, tastemakers such as Mona Scott and Lisa Ellis, a provocative artist such as Nicki Minaj, and sought-after publicists such as Yvette Gayle who helped elevate the career of 50 Cent at Interscope records and Laura Swanson who promotes Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, and Ludacris at Def Jam.
If you need any help on this, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you or your staff.
The Launch Writer
cc: Gayle King