Hey B!tch, I was totally shocked to hear that Oprah was ending her talk show in September 2011. Who, if anyone, do you think could become the next Oprah? How about Tyra Banks?
—Abe from Arizona, via the Answer B!tch inbox
No one else I spoke with about this topic even mentioned Banks as a possible contender to take over Oprah's gigantic, elegantly appointed queendom—outfitted, no doubt, by an array of Oprah's favorite French-milled soaps and 800-thread-count cushions.
Tyra herself has reportedly said that she sees Oprah as a mentor, but also as a towering icon with huge shoes, shoes Tyra can't necessarily fill.
So where does that leave the millions of quavering hausfraus who turn to Oprah for directions on how to live?
You may not believe it...
...but the only real answer is nowhere.
In limbo. Divided. Between the "doctor" shows, like Oz or Phil, and the celebrity interviewer daytime types, like Ellen.
No one, ever, will likely recapture the exact formula that makes Oprah such a huge juggernaut, says David Scardino, entertainment specialist at ad agency RPA.
"Some of that audience might be picked up by Ellen DeGeneres," Scardino speculates. "She's very good with format, she makes people comfortable, and she's funny." But, Scardino adds, Oprah has a major plus that Ellen lacks.
"I don't know if Ellen is as aspirational as Oprah," Scardino explains. "There's something about Oprah, where she doesn't even need to be talking about her life, but her life and life story empowers viewers, and that's not something I'm sure any of the others can do."
People who love Oprah's celebrity interviews will likely drift to Ellen or Tyra, while viewers who prefer Oprah's self-help segments will find their way to Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil. And those who just like Oprah's lifestyle nuggets? They'll head on over to the empires currently being built or maintained by Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart.
And there's something else to consider: The next Oprah may actually be...Oprah.
She technically isn't going anywhere. Instead she's simply moving her efforts to the OWN—the Oprah Winfrey network, where, it is reported, she could launch another talk show and start her lifestyle dominion all over again. So if Oprah falls in one forest, but pops up in another forest, do the trees turn into pine-scented French-milled soaps?
There's also yet one more very interesting possibility.
Oprah actually isn't going away until 2011—a lifetime in TV terms—meaning, as Scardino puts it, "if there is another Oprah out there, we may not know who it is today."
Could it be...me? Quite possibly. Tweet at me and tell me whether I have what it takes to recommend French-milled soaps for the masses.
Relive them all: Oprah's Memorable Moments!