“There’s a group of 12 oak trees on my property in California that I call ‘my disciples,’ ” says Oprah Winfrey. “Their branches form a canopy over the ground, and I sit underneath them for inspiration.” TV’s most lauded billionaire will need more ideas than ever, now that she’s left her talk show to focus full time on the $285 million Oprah Winfrey Network. The cable channel, which launched January 1st, aims to counter what its founder has called “a [television] minefield that just zaps your energy”–think catfights on the Real Housewives series–with programs that are smart, provocative, and inspirational. (She famously banned the word bitch.) In Oprah Presents Master Class, for example, celebrities such as Diane Sawyer and Simon Cowell impart wisdom to the camera. Viewers have proved hungry for first-run shows, not reruns, so Winfrey, ever the motivator, is prep ping more than 25 new series–presumably while sitting among her disciples.
Was there a book that changed how you think?
The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. It has been for me one of, if not the, single most powerful book I’ve ever read, except for the Bible, of course. It’s a book that’s always by my bedside.
Who is the most creative person you know?
Quincy Jones. Q has the most interesting life of anybody who’s still alive to talk about it. He’s worked with the giants of yesterday and today and has discovered some of the industry’s brightest new stars. As a composer, arranger, score writer and producer, he has embraced every kind of music, from jazz to blues to pop to hip-hop. As a friend, you just want to be around him. He has a big, open heart and treats everybody as if they’re the most important person he’s ever met.