Oprah auctions Dr. Oz show

Media wizard shopping homegrown surgeon

Oprah is hoping that Oz will prove a wizard in syndication.

She’s shopping a health and wellness talkshow hosted by heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, a fixture on her own yakker.

The proposed show is being auctioned with the major TV syndicators vying to lock it in for a fall 2009 launch date.

Oz, head of the cardiovascular program at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, has made a number of appearances on “Oprah” as well as hosting “Second Opinion With Dr. Oz” on the Discovery Channel. A spokesman for Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Prods. declined to comment.

Harpo would have broad input into the production of the show with Oz, the way it does with “Dr. Phil” and “The Rachael Ray Show.” But CBS TV Distribution does the actual day-to-day production of “Dr. Phil” and “Rachael Ray,” as well as clearing the stations and selling the national ad time within each hourlong episode. Similarly, the winning bidder of “Dr. Oz” would do the production and line up stations and advertisers.

News of a “Dr. Oz” series first surfaced on the Broadcasting & Cable magazine website.

Insiders say Winfrey is looking for the best deal. CBS TV’s relationship with Winfrey doesn’t hurt, but it wouldn’t necessarily give it a leg up on its competitors.

Eye unit also has its own medical talkshow, “The Doctors,” launching this fall. But that program wouldn’t rule out CBS TV Distribution making a play for “Oz.”

Other syndicators also have ties to Winfrey. Disney-ABC Domestic TV is close to her because ABC’s major-market TV stations have carried “Oprah” since the show began and Winfrey produces her primetime programs with ABC, including the reality show “Oprah’s Big Give.” And Twentieth TV’s sister company HarperCollins publishes the book Oz co-authored, the bestseller “You: The Owners’ Manual.”

One of the likely clauses in any deal for “Dr. Oz” would allow Winfrey to schedule day-after repeats of each hour on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a 24/7 cable channel that kicks off next year as a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Harpo.

The one big question potential buyers are asking is whether Oz could hold viewers for an hour a day five days a week — a grueling production schedule he’s never faced in his occasional appearances on “Oprah” and his limited once-a-week chores on Discovery.

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