Discovery Networks wasted no time on the second day of cable sessions at the Television Critics Association conference, announcing a Chicago-based spinoff of game show Cash Cab, with Second City alum and comedian Beth Melewski as host. It premieres this summer.
As reporters anxiously awaited the main event—Oprah Winfrey’s session about her recently launched OWN Network—Animal Planet presented a session on six-part docudrama Taking on Tyson, with boxing legend Mike Tyson and his passion for pigeon racing. Taking on Tyson debuts on Sunday, March 6 at 10 p.m. ET.
After, Science Channel announced that it has ordered an eight-episode series from director Ridley Scott called Prophets of Science Fiction, which will profile the great minds of science fiction. It premieres in the second half of 2011. And the cable net is also debuting An Idiot Abroad, an eight-episode satirical series from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 10 p.m. ET.
Then came the highly anticipated OWN presentation, which opened its block of TCA time with the 10 finalists from Mark Burnett–produced Your OWN Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star. This was followed by sessions with upcoming talk show host (and longtime Winfrey pal) Gayle King; and Lisa Ling, who is headlining Our America with Lisa Ling, which will feature the former View co-host traveling across the country, weaving herself into the lives of the people she meets.
The big gun, Oprah Winfrey, capped off the day, with a lengthy discussion on OWN, her career and what lies ahead. “I had much trepidation about doing this cable network,” said Winfrey. “And then I read the Nancy Griffin article in July’s Vanity Fair about Michael Jackson, and there was just one line where she said, ‘Michael Jackson’s friends always said that his biggest mistake was he never understood that Thriller was a phenomenon, and he spent his whole life chasing that phenomenon.’ I read that and…[and] it was more than an ‘a-ha’ moment. All of my fear, my anxiety…all of that left in that moment.”
Time will tell if Oprah’s gamble will pay off.