When BlackEnterprise.com readers were given the choice between Ellen DeGeneres, Tyra Banks, and Wendy Williams, to replace Oprah Winfrey as queen of daytime television, a majority of respondents to a recent poll chose none of the above.
“The Oprah Winfrey Show” is produced by Harpo Productions Inc. (No. 14 on the BE Industrial/Service list with $340 million in assets), which was the BE 100s Company of the Year in 2008.
“Even before Oprah announced that she will be ending her talk show there has long been speculation about who could possibly steal the ‘queen’s’ crown,” says Robin Coleman, a professor of media studies and popular culture at the University of Michigan. “Rolanda Watts, Tempestt Bledsoe, Mother Love, Wendy Williams, Tyra Banks…all have tried. But just as there is only one King of Pop, Queen of Soul, and Godfather of Soul, there will be only one Oprah.”
Becoming successor to Winfrey means a lot more than taking over the national time slots that she has filled since 1986. Her popularity drives consumer and political opinion. Winfrey’s endorsements have been known to increase or decrease sales of products overnight; and her endorsement of then-Sen. Barack Obama’s run for president gave him a huge boost in the Iowa primary.
Tyra Banks, who has run her eponymously named Emmy award-winning show since 2005, pulled in 28% of the vote. But a host’s popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to influence, says Coleman. Also, viewers are looking for a daytime host who is “a little more of the people,” says Tracy Christian, a Hollywood talent agent.
“Unquestionably, Tyra has been grooming herself as the younger, hipper Oprah, but…Oprah has always been your best friend who you were never in competition with,” says Christian. “Despite Tyra’s efforts, I think many women are still awed by her beauty.”
Christian says that talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who received 17% of BE voters’ confidence “can do no wrong.” DeGeneres has been a guest on Winfrey’s show and appears on the December cover of O Magazine.
Newcomer Wendy Williams siphoned off the remaining 3% of responses.
Although Winfrey’s stretch on network television is soon to end, don’t count her out just yet, says Coleman. Winfrey,has big plans for OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, a 24-hour cable network that reflects her values and interests.
In other words, the next queen of daytime television just might be “Oprah” repackaged.
POLL: Who should replace Oprah Winfrey as the queen of daytime TV?
None of the above 52%
Tyra Banks 28%
Ellen DeGeneres 17%
Wendy Williams 3%