Is Oprah Winfrey mulling a return to movies? Maybe. Hollywood insiders say she is considering a role in The Butler, a biopic about Eugene Allen, a black man who worked as butler in the White House, serving eight presidents from 1952 to 1986. Winfrey would play Allen’s wife. She has not been on screen for over twelve years since she appeared in Beloved. Winfrey was very disappointed by the reaction to that movie. Soon after she launched her magazine O.
Currently Winfrey is having a tough time with her cable network OWN. Recently she tweeted her 9 million followers, begging those with a Nielsen box to turn to her channel. That's not allowed, and she deleted the message and apologized. But the ratings for that night will include an asterisk, noting that coercion had occurred.
The Hollywood Reporter commented that OWN’s struggles are “the biggest and most surprising ego check in recent entertainment history.” Even Oprah’s most loyal fans are not watching Oprah on her new channel. At the end of The Oprah Winfrey Show more than 8 million viewers tuned in each day. Now she can get barely 900,000 viewers for “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” her once-a-week interview with a celebrity. The numbers are surprisingly meager, considering the channel is available in 78 million homes.
In a way, Oprah is facing what a lot of successful baby boomer women have to handle when they leave a job in which they were very successful and try something new. Is the lesson that no matter how competent you are, you simply can’t do everything? Another bitter truth one may learn is that the present is not quite as terrific as the past.
Some have wondered why Winfrey, both philanthropic and caring, did not start a foundation and try to spread her concern for women and her positive self-help message in that way rather than trying to compete with cable networks which find success through shows like Jersey Shore or The Real Housewives.
But whatever Winfrey does next: resume her acting career or find a way to save OWN , it will be interesting to see how she handles these challenges. Even if we don’t want to watch the dreary line-up on her network, we can’t help being fascinated by Oprah. .