TV

Realscreen Summit: OWN’s Lisa Erspamer tells producers to “come and play”

OWN's CCO Lisa Erspamer discussed building up the new network with non-fiction primetime and original documentaries during her interview session at the Realscreen Summit.
February 2, 2011

(Photo by Rahoul Ghose)

OWN’s CCO Lisa Erspamer discussed building up the new network with non-fiction primetime and original documentaries during her interview session at the Realscreen Summit.

“Five weeks in, we’re proud of where we are. It’s been a journey,” she told author/journalist Lisa Ling in the interview session. Ling will host her own show, Our America with Lisa Ling, on the net, set to launch in February.

“I’ve worked on the Oprah Winfrey Show for so many years and that was the question [Oprah] asked, ‘Why?’ I do believe [asking that] can translate to ratings and it’s about how deep you can go into the story and how well you tell it. That’s why people watch. Oprah’s done it for very many years,” she said.

Answering the question that is asked often of both Ling and Erspamer,  how involved is Winfrey in the new Discovery Communications net, the exec stated that the TV icon looks at everything and is “a producer at heart.” “She’s more involved than anyone would believe,” she said.

OWN is currently acquiring docs for its doc club, which launches in May with World of Wonder’s Becoming Chaz, and is partnering with assorted celebs to make original documentaries.

Erspamer says levity, drama and stories which evoke emotions out of the audience are key. “We’re not looking for anything mean-spirited,” she said, stressing that OWN programming is about enhancing and uplifting one’s life.

“I really want OWN to be a place for creative people to come and play and do things they’d never done or thought was possible. We hope to give people like you an opportunity,” she told the audience, adding, “We have a lot of landscape and now we only have a few houses and we need to build more.”

The OWN team is programming all the way into 2013 and for the present slate, and is currently focusing on building series nights, with day time centered around Gayle King’s talk show, Rosie O’Donnell’s show and the Oprah Winfrey Show catalog coming in the fall.

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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