With all this talk surrounding which network will end up with Katie Couric’s new talk show, it made me wonder. Why is no one – network or syndicator – going after Iyanla Van Zant and offering her a talk show.
Daytime is littered with tons of failures from sure things. Too many to name. One thing is clear, people with a new fresh voice or just engaging personalities usually succeed. Obviously Oprah is second to one. She’s a warm personality, a teacher, spiritual guide and your best girlfriend all wrapped in one But think about Rosie O Donnell when she first emerged in 1996 with a fun fresh, nice, show that was an antidote to all the negativity in daytime at the time. Most recently, Ellen DeGeneres also found her niche after years toiling in sitcoms. She brings her real personality – funny, warm, kind-hearted, someone who loves to dance – to TV every day.
Oprah also used her show to first showcase engaging personalities with something to offer like Rachael Ray and Dr. OZ and then spun them off into very successful shows of their own. Dr. Oz has lots of great wisdom and information to offer but he presents it in a way that everyone can easily understand and where it’s interesting and doesn’t feel like homework. Plus, he comes across as a real person and he also brings warmth to his show.
One of the first people Oprah gave a platform to was Iyanla Van Zant. She is a new age thinker with wonderful life lessons that we can all benefit from. Oprah actually would turn over her show to Iyanla and sit in the audience a couple of times a month. Iyanla also possess a kind heart, warmth, a witty sense of humor and most of all – relatability.
After some time on Oprah’s show, Barbara Walters courted Iyanla to produce a show for her and Iyanla accepted. It clearly wasn’t the right fit and in many major markets it didn’t even have decent time periods. In New York, for example, it was relegated to 12:35am. It didn’t really have a shot to succeed and it lasted only a season. There was much speculation that Oprah was hurt by her and Iyanla never appeared on Oprah again til this year.
Oprah brought Iyanla back to her show as part of her final season, earlier this year and it was what I would call riveting television. There was so much good stuff that they made it into 2 shows. Oprah’s OWN show “Season 25: Behind The Scenes” which aired this past Sunday displayed how even Oprah’s producer, Sherri Salata, was so wrapped up in the show, she stopped looking at the clock and before she knew it, they were out of time. Hence the second show.
What came across in both those hours was Iyanla’s warmth, humility, a kind heart and many life lessons she learned, especially in the last 10 years. In the years since her show ended she went from millionaire to flat broke. She suffered some awful personal tragedies. Yet amidst it all, she remains upbeat, funny, warm and full of more life lessons.
Outside of Oprah herself, there aren’t many personalities on TV with all that and more to share. Katie Couric is a wonderful newsperson and interviewer and I don’t question why she would be courted for daytime. But I am really surprised that people, even Oprah herself aren’t trying to so sign Iyanla to a deal for a daytime show. With the right timeslots, I can totally see Iyanla following in Rachael Ray and Dr Oz’s footsteps – another Oprah alum that ascends to great heights as a TV talk show on her own. With Oprah leaving the daytime arena, Iyanla represents the perfect and best mix of personality, teacher and spiritual guide since Oprah herself. To me there’s lots of potential for success, especially since many Oprah Devotees will be looking for a successor. It’s an even bigger bonus to a potential syndicators that Oprah’s audience already knows her. So how come no one is courting her?