OPRAH TALKS: Oprah Winfrey rarely sits down for interviews, but now is as good a time as any. According to several reports (including a lengthy one on May 26 in The New York Times), her empire might be facing some tough times. Her ABC show “Oprah’s Big Give” was canceled; the circulation of O, The Oprah Magazine has fallen 8 percent in three years, to 2.4 million, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations (a decline mirrored by many of the title’s peers), and Nielsen Media Research ratings for “The Oprah Winfrey Show” reportedly show viewership has declined 7 percent this year.
As she preps for the 2009 launch of her own television network, OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), Winfrey opened up to Black Enterprise in the June issue to talk about lessons learned during her years in business. She claims none of her business ventures have come out of forethought: “I haven’t planned one thing — ever. I have just been led by a strong instinct, and I have made choices based on what was right for me at the time.” She also doesn’t judge a business venture by its profitability. “I don’t care about money,” said the woman who’s worth $2.5 billion. “It throws people off all the time in business meetings. They start shuffling papers.”
Speaking of meetings, writes Black Enterprise editorial director Sonia Alleyne, Winfrey takes them all: “In her 22 years of business, she remembers canceling only three meetings due to dire situations,” the article states. “‘The greatest fear for me of ever canceling is that you’re going to disappoint somebody,’ [Winfrey] explains.” She also believes in treating her staff well. At Harpo Inc. in Chicago, employees are treated to Google-esque office amenities. “There is a cafe on premises as well as Club Harpo, a workout facility, and the Spa at Harpo.” And according to Winfrey, “I don’t yell at people, I don’t mistreat people. I don’t talk down to people, so no one else in this building, in this vicinity, has the right to do it.” — Stephanie D. Smith
THE TIMES SINGLE-HANDEDLY TRIES TO BRING BACK MANNERS: The New York Times’ Sunday Styles will launch an etiquette column later this month, and though Philip Galanes, its writer, may not be a household name, it is difficult to imagine someone more primed to write about social mores alongside the sociological trivia, careerist self-revelation and spectator-sport consumption of that section. Galanes is twice graduated from Yale, was an entertainment lawyer at white-shoe firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, has two novels to his name and dabbles as an interior designer. (His work on a town house was featured in a well spread in House & Garden two years ago.) Galanes did not respond by press time, but a synopsis on his Web site describes his upcoming novel, “Emma’s Table,” as a “Park Avenue morality tale,” featuring a one-time “media darling…fresh from a year-long stretch in prison.” The Los Angeles Times praised his first novel, “Father’s Day,” published by Knopf in 2004, and described more Sunday Styles-ready material: “When [the protagonist] makes haste to a downtown sex club, it’s no surprise that he spends an inordinate amount of time folding his clothes into neat piles and comparing the claustrophobic buddy booths to the fitting rooms at Bergdorf Goodman.” Such range in real life will no doubt come in handy in the pages of the Times. — Irin Carmon