Oprah Winfrey is featured on the cover of the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, and the 65-year-old media mogul speaks her mind on topics ranging from the backlash over her involvement in “Leaving Neverland” to her exit from “60 Minutes” to pal Gayle King’s explosive interview with R. Kelly.
“I sent her a text saying, ‘Jesus looooves you,'” says Winfrey of her reaction to watching King’s interview. “But [the R. Kelly interview] could not have been better if I had done that myself. I think every interviewer thinks, What would you have done in that moment? And what she did was absolute perfection.”
Winfrey also reveals the advice she offered King during her recent contract negotiations with “CBS This Morning”.
“I said, ‘Get what you want. Get exactly what you want because now’s the time. And if you don’t get what you want, then make the next right move.’ Even without me, she was going to do that,” says Winfrey.
“But that was my advice, and I actually called up her lawyer, Allen Grubman, and I said, ‘Allen, she should get what she wants.’ And Allen goes, ‘What the F do you think I’m doing here? I said the same thing to her!’ The negotiation was already happening before her R. Kelly interview.”
Meanwhile, Winfrey’s own role at CBS appears to be at an end, and she explains why she decided to exit “60 Minutes”.
“I’ve removed myself from that. It was not the best format for me,” she admits. “How should I say this? Never a good thing when I have to practise saying my name and have to be told that I have too much emotion in my name… I think I did seven takes on just my name because it was ‘too emotional.’ I go, ‘Is the too much emotion in the Oprah part or the Winfrey part?’ I was working on pulling myself down and flattening out my personality, which, for me, is actually not such a good thing.”
Winfrey also addresses the backlash following her interviews with Michael Jackson accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck following HBO’s airing of controversial documentary “Leaving Neverland”.
“I don’t regret it,” she says of her involvement with “Leaving Neverland”. “I saw it, and I was shaken by it. I wasn’t even shaken by the fact that it was Michael Jackson. I was shaken by the fact that [filmmaker] Dan Reed had done a really good job of showing the pattern, and for years, I had been trying to show people the pattern. I’d been trying to say, it’s not about the moment, it’s about the seduction. The first thing I said to Gayle when we watched it was, ‘Gayle, you’ve got to get those guys [on “CBS This Morning”].’ She Instagrammed about it, and I go, ‘No, you shouldn’t Instagram, you should just get those guys.'”
Of the backlash, Winfrey is circumspect. “Oh, the hateration? Honeeeeey, I haven’t had that much hateration since ‘The Puppy Episode’ with Ellen [Winfrey guested as the therapist on the 1997 “Ellen” sitcom episode in which Ellen DeGeneres’ character comes out], and it made me think, Thank goodness Ellen’s coming out was before social media, because can you imagine? During ‘The Puppy Episode,’ I had to take the people who were on my switchboard at Harpo off the switchboard because of the vitriol. They were scared.”
In addition, Winfrey reveals it’s unlikely we’ll see her return to acting any time soon. “No, it doesn’t feed me anymore,” she says. “I think, to be really, really good at it, you’ve got to do it a lot. You’ve got to work at it. And it’s got to be something that you have true passion about. I don’t think it’s something you can dabble in. It was fun to be Mrs. Which [in ‘A Wrinkle in Time’], and I did that because I wanted to go to New Zealand and wear the costumes. But no, it doesn’t feed my soul anymore.”
You can read more in the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter.