You’ve got to hand it to Oprah — she shares all of her favorite things, she gives away cars, trips and schools. And, with this new reality series on her eponymous network, she teaches regular folks how to be her. Every week for eight weeks, 10 contestants selected from more than 15,000 Oprah wannabes will get the chance to prove they deserve their own show.Unlike “American Idol,” however, their immediate fate isn’t up to the public. The power lies with host-judges Nancy O’Dell and Carson Kressley, who aim to prove that TV celebrity ain’t all coffee klatches and chitchat. The contestants will have to produce, host and orchestrate a series of talkshow segments, including style makeovers, cooking tips and interviews that culminate with producing their own series pilot. There to lend a hand, at least in the first episode, is Oprah herself. She offers motivational tips and self-improvement bon mots, along with the promise of mentoring each week from graduates of the Oprah school of fame, including Dr. Phil, Suze Orman, Gayle King and Arsenio Hall. Oprah’s “Own” show on OWN is proof that pop will indeed eat itself. Her Midas touch, paired with Mark Burnett’s production savvy, creates a slick hour of reality TV, and the 10 finalists in the premiere seg include some immediate standouts — not all of them positive. Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who describes herself as “hungry like a wolf.” Her idea for a thought-provoking segment on sex and relationships is comparing hand size with penis size. Dr. Phil offers tips to the contestants and helps with the first round of judging. The series offers enough insight into the creative process to convince people why it isn’t an easy venture. Personalities bigger and better than these here have failed at the genre. Still, the winner will get a shot at his or her own show, a new car (naturally, it’s Oprah) and $100,000 from Kohl’s. With the line between celebrity and notoriety ever more blurred, “TV’s Next Star” seems to be more about distinguishing between those out to fulfill their dreams from those whose aim is to be another Kardashian or Gosselin. And you’ve gotta to ask if the world really needs more of those.
Oprah Winfrey Network; Fri., Jan. 7, 9 p.m.
Filmed in Los Angeles by Mark Burnett Prods. Executive producer, Burnett, Lee Metzger; Co-Executive Producers, Amanda Zucker, David Eilenberg, Jim Roush; Supervising Producer , Dean Houser; Producers, Meagen Gibson, David Offenheiser, Tara Siener, Kanika Utley; director, Jay Hunter;
camera, Alex Van Wagner; production designer, Anton Goss; editor, Hudson Smith; music, Clyde Lieberman; casting; Scott Salyers. 60 MIN.
With: Carson Kressley, Nancy O'Dell, Oprah Winfrey, Phil McGraw.
Data provided by:Nielsen Media Research (Preliminary Results)