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Interview With Oprah Winfrey

Aired December 9, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Oprah Winfrey.
Do we have to say the last name?

She's here for the hour live to talk about her ground breaking career, her no. 1 talk show, her recent trip to South Africa, her future plans and more. We'll even take some phone calls. The one and only Oprah, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

You realize something after bumping into each other on the street today in New York, Oprah and I, neither one us have a cell phone.

OPRAH WINFREY, : Hey. Maybe we're the only two people left.

KING: It's great, ain't it.

WINFREY: It's great. If you can't reach me, you can't reach me.

And what did everybody do before cell phones?

KING: All the time we been together split screen at your studio, in the old studio in Baltimore, this is the first time on this set.

WINFREY: Ever. Ever. Worldwide. This is what's so amazing. I just came back from Africa. I've been in other countries. No matter where you are, CNN is there your friend and there's Larry. No matter where you are.

KING: Isn't nice to know.

WINFREY: It's nice to know.

KING: I want to cover a lot of bases.


KING: How do you explain the show -- your show rebounded?

I mean, your no. 1 but you're up like 14 percent.

WINFREY: Isn't that good?

It is extraordinary after 18 years, this is the 18th season. And we just came out of the door. This season. Had a new executive producer who's been with me, actually, since we started Ellen Rakieten . And Dianne Hudson who had been producer of the show for 10 years took over my foundation. And we made a decision this year that we were going to be more celebratory about life. We were going to have more diversity in our shows. That I was going to be more actively involved. I was going to take some things out of the studio and celebrate life in a way that we hadn't in past years.

KING: Did you almost give it up.

WINFREY: Yes. There have been several times when I almost gave it up. I don't actually -- after I finish "Beloved" around 1988, I had a revelation about this idea of giving it up and what it meant to have a voice like this in the world. And I thought then that's when I came the theme of run on and see what the end will be. Because I just thought, look at where I came from. My, You know, history, my ancestry. Look at how hard it was to get to where I am. It doesn't make sense to give it up. And so what I try to give myself an option. I have a two-year deal so that there will come a time when I know that it's over. When the ratings will tell me. When the voice of the people will tell me. I'll know it's time.

KING: Will it be the your ratings or you just saying I've had enough?

WINFREY: I think maybe a combination of. I think as long as I can use television and not be used by television, to use it as a platform, it's a wonderful vehicle.

KING: Not bad.

WINFREY: Not bad.

KING: We're 18 years old, too. I just thought about.

WINFREY: Are you?

KING: June 1st, 1985.


KING: When did you start?

WINFREY: September 8th, 1986. So maybe I'm in the -- going into the 18th year.

KING: OK. The -- the show does more newsy things, doesn't it?

WINFREY: Yes, we do everything.

KING: You do Elizabeth Smart. You do Scott Peterson. There were times you didn't.

WINFREY: Well, you know, this is what has happened. It is like you every day. Every day you're only as good as your last show. I mean, look at Laura Bush last night. That was pretty great. Then I'm on tonight.

KING: Tomorrow night is Cosby. We moved things around. We have Cosby tomorrow night and then we got Brokaw, then we got President Carter.

WINFREY: You've got a great week. A great week here in New York but I am just saying every day you have to work at making it great. There's not one day when you sort of lay back and say, that was it. That was a really great show because you still have tomorrow. And so, we have -- you know, we do everything.

KING: Do true crime stories bother you?

WINFREY: You know what, it's important to remain current. It's interesting to do crime if it's something the whole country is talking about. For example, Elizabeth Smart or in the Scott Peterson case. But just doing crime for crime sake it does bothers me because you end up repeating what's already been done and said. And really I don't like putting negativity out on the air if I can help it.

KING: Michael Jackson, that's a story because it's a story?

WINFREY: Uh-huh.

KING: That's big.

WINFREY: And, you know, what's interesting is in 1992, I remember before there were ever any allegation about Michael Jackson and his -- his supposed involvement with children, I did an interview in 1992 live around the world. And I remember that because everybody was saying, oh my goodness, you have got this Michael Jackson interview.

What will you talk about?

And i never really prepare questions. I just kind of sit and have a conversation.

KING: That's the way we work.

WINFREY: Yes. That's the way we work. So, I wasn't nervous until I had announced live there was like a promo like three minutes before we went on air. And I said, coming up, live around the world, Michael Jackson. And then, my knees started to shake because I thought, OK, I don't know him. I don't know how he's going to respond. I don't know if I ask him a question, if he's going to answer it or not. So, it's the first time I'm ever nervous in an interview.

KING: Do you feel sorry for him?


KING: What do you feel?

WINFREY: You know, I try to basically keep my opinions to myself when it comes to people who are charged with crimes that I don't know anything about.

KING: Good idea. WINFREY: Yes. And so, I don't -- I don't feel anything.

KING: What do you make of the onslaught of celebrity-dom- tabloid-justice-Martha Stewart-Kobe Bryant?

We seem to be flooded.

Is this a new era?

WINFREY: This is interesting. You know, I've been sort of in the public's eye now for going into my 18th year, and I noticed around 1988 a definite difference, a definite change in the press. Prior to the 1988 season for myself, all my -- all the tabloid stories were ridiculous things. You know, you know, babies from different planets and all that. And then, I lost a lot of weight on that diet where I...

KING: And you gathered all the...

WINFREY: Pulled out the fat. And it just changed. And what I realized is it changed because the tabloid press realized that that sold papers and so it's all about what sells. And it's all about what I think the particularly tabloid media feels is in the public's interest and the public -- what is the public pulse. And so they print over and over -- I get the same stories over and over.

KING: Recycled?

WINFREY: I get the she's too fat, her friends are worried about her being fat.

KING: Her boyfriend is leaving.

WINFREY: Her boyfriend is leaving her. Dumped. I get the same either dumped or headed...

KING: Or dumper.

WINFREY: No. I've never been the dumper. I've always been dumped because that's a better story. Or I've been -- I've been secret wedding. I've been secret wedding, wants to be married. Pines to be married. Wants to have children.

KING: Do you laugh at them or do they still get you?

WINFREY: No. They don't get me anymore. I know the moment I say that does get me. I was a little ticked, I think, back in July. I happen to be out of the country and there was an Oprah dump story and I was a little unnerved by that because it just was so false. It was -- the story was about how there had been a big fight between Stedman and I. And the truth of the matter is we were all together on the 4th of July, you know, having a picnic with his family. And so I couldn't fathom how they could come up with that story unless someone personally fed them that story.

KING: Do you frankly -- there's so much to talk about. I want to get to South Africa and your philanthropy.


KING: Do you pinch yourself saying, come on, you're one of the most powerful women in the world. Maybe -- certainly in the top five. Do you ever say to yourself, wow?

WINFREY: Larry, that's a good -- no. I don't say to myself wow I'm in the top five. I don't think...

KING: I don't mean that. I mean, that you've made it.

WINFREY: I think -- I marvel every day of my life. Because first of all, I start out the day with a form of meditation or prayer. Some kind of thoughtful inward look at myself and something bigger than myself. I try to do that every day. Not just wow but marvel at this life. I mean, I was born in Mississippi in 1954. And all that means. There are people watching that knows what that means and people that don't know what that means. Well, 1954, Mississippi was the most racist state in the United States. We had more lynchings in that state per county than any state in the union. And I was born during the year of Brown vs. Board of Education which was the year that really brought about a sense of hope to then colored people. We were called at the time. To believe that life could be better. That you would no longer have to go to a school that was segregated with you having books that were less than the other children. With you not having the right -- the proper facilities and the proper tools to which to learn. I was born in that year.

KING: And now look.

WINFREY: So, when I hear Paul Simon sing "Born at the Right Time" I think, he is singing about me.

KING: Speaking of by the way, our dear friend Senator Paul Simon died today.

WINFREY: Really.

KING: Your former Illinois senator.

WINFREY: Yes. From Illinois. I hadn't heard that.

KING: He had heart surgery and then passed away today. Sorry to hear.

WINFREY: I'm sorry to hear from that.

KING: We'll be right back with Oprah. We'll talk about South Africa, her feelings being in South Africa. What it was like. What she did there. The special coming. We'll talk about her philanthropy. We'll include your phone calls.

She's our special guest. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back. Before we talk philanthropy, we were discussing during the break about Dr. Phil, who Oprah mentions she was in Africa when he hosted my surprise birthday party.


KING: They told you about that, right? You were on that show, you did a tape for it.

WINFREY: This was what -- yeah, I did a tape for your birthday, but this is what's so amazing. I'm in Africa, I'm sitting in Johannesburg, in a hotel lobby, and somebody comes running up and they say, Dr. Phil is on Larry King. Not only is he on Larry, he's doing Larry.

KING: He's the host.

WINFREY: He's doing Larry. Yeah.

KING: Then you said to me something interesting. Dr. Phil was the second best business decision of your life.


KING: First of all, what was the best?

WINFREY: The best business decision was to own myself.

KING: King world?

WINFREY: And own my own show. That was the best business decision.

KING: Not a bad move.

WINFREY: Not a bad move.

KING: And why was Phil second?

WINFREY: Phil is second, because you know, I have over the years just like you talked to thousands of people and therapists and seen, you know, books come and books go and psychologists and counselors and so forth, and during that trial in Texas, for the beef trial, Phil was my counselor for that trial.

KING: That's where you met him, right?

WINFREY: Yeah. That's where I met him. And every day we'd get in our white van and ride off to the courthouse, and I'd sit in and be counseled in the morning by him about whatever was going to be happening during that day, and I'd say to him, you know, you're really good. You are good. You should put some of this stuff in a book. I mean, really. He was like, aw, shucks. You know? And so I encouraged him to write his first book. Now, I mean, he has I don't know how many best sellers out.

KING: And making him a regular on your show?

WINFREY: And then made him a regular on our show. And that started out as just I thought that he'd been very helpful for me, and I felt that his advice was sound and he was a solid person. And had everything to back it up in terms of, you know, he has more degrees than, you know, a thermometer, as he would say. And I just over the years had run across a lot of people. I'd never run across anybody who was as qualified and as able to get to the point. I mean, he just was so direct and helpful. And so I'm in the business of trying to be helpful. And so I thought that he could be helpful to our viewers. And that's how it all started.

KING: So his success has not surprised you?

WINFREY: Not at all. I felt it from the very beginning. I remember on the very first show I did with him, I said, you need to unleash yourself. You need to just let yourself go and tell it like it is. You know, the very first time that we did him on our show, I got a lot of calls, e-mails from people saying, how can you dare let him stand up there and say that and talk like that to people? And I said, you know, the next time we do him on the show, I said to the producers, I can help the audience to understand who he is and what he's trying to say. So I said to Phil, you know what? You just have to tell it like it is, and I'll say to the audience, that's what you're doing. You're Mr. Tell it like it is. and that's how we made it palatable to people to accept. He's a guy who's going to tell you like it is. And I'd say, oh, that's what Phil did to me. He just told me like it was.

KING: Do you produce his show?

WINFREY: I'm not the producer. Paramount is the producer. I...

KING: Investor?

WINFREY: I own the show.

KING: Oh, kind of an investor?

WINFREY: Yeah, kind of an investor.

KING: It's your baby?

WINFREY: Harpo Studios, we partnered with Paramount and Phil in order to have them produce the show. Because I couldn't produce that show and also do my own show. That was a good business decision, but for the best business decision was -- was working in cooperation with Phil. I understood early on in the -- I think second year that we were doing Phil on our show, this guy is really, really good.

KING: What do you make of his critique of his product endorsements?

WINFREY: Well, this is what I think. I think that anybody who has the ability to, you know, reach an audience, be that you or I, I've been asked by every single person and manufacturer in this country to endorse products or to, you know, use my name. And I made the choice that I would do a magazine, because that is how I felt I could best use my voice. And Phil owns himself, own his name, owns the right to do whatever he chooses to do.

KING: So you don't criticize the route he takes?

WINFREY: No. I think that's a choice that he made, and I think that his book is absolutely -- actually, he sent the gullies of the book, the...

KING: About weight?

WINFREY: About weight. And I was in a conversation with him, and I said, you know, Phil, what is it you really want this book to be? And he said, I think it's the ultimate weight solution. I go, there's your title. There's your title.

KING: So speaking of books, I spent a whole day with you once at a party for you, for your book.

WINFREY: Oh, yeah, and then I didn't have it! I didn't -- you know what happened?

KING: What?

WINFREY: I decided that I was doing the book for the wrong reason. I was 40 years old. And I had a lot of people saying, you're 40, so you should do a book. So I started the process of, you know, working on this book.

KING: It's 10 years now.

WINFREY: It's 10 years now. And I didn't do the book. I didn't release the book, because I felt like I was in the learning curve and just the heart of the learning curve of my life. And that it wasn't time.

KING: Have we now edged as we approach 50.

WINFREY: Fifty. We are not approaching it. We're just about there.

KING: I have ties older than you. Are you going to write one now?

WINFREY: I don't know if I'll write a book. I was recently in South Africa, and Nelson Mandela was telling me that I really should do it. And he carries a lot of weight with me, so maybe I'll think about bringing it back to life again. But it's not important to me. You know, I have kept journals since I was 15 years old.

KING: You could publish them.

WINFREY: I could just publish them.

KING: You could. WINFREY: Yeah, I could. So I think it's important for me personally just to sort of keep a documentation of my life and what's going on, but the idea of releasing a biography of myself doesn't really appeal to me.

KING: When we come back, we'll talk to Oprah about her visit to South Africa, what she brought to the children of South Africa, the special that's coming with her on ABC.

And as we go to break, here she is with a fellow you may know.


WINFREY: I have such a deep affection for this country, because of all that the people of this country have been through. In spite of the suffering, in spite of apartheid, the spirit of the country and the people in it is still so strong. Madeva (ph) is my strongest living mentor. I want to be like him when I grow up.




WINFREY: One, two, three.


KING: There's Oprah giving presents in South Africa. Her trip there -- what was the purpose?

WINFREY: The purpose was I wanted to share some of what I have with children who don't have. And so, I believed that everybody has an opportunity to do that in some form in their life, and I have in a big life and so, I can do things in a big way.

KING: And you're going to do the December 22nd show -- I saw some of it tonight on tape.


KING: Devoted to it. Your going to do a special?


KING: On the 17th with Diane?

WINFREY: With Diane Sawyer...

KING: And that is about he trip.

WINFREY: It's about the trip. It's called -- I forgot what it's called but it is really good.

KING: What's the motivation to give? WINFREY: The motivation was just because, Larry, there's so much sadness in the world and I wanted to be able to do something. I wanted to be able to bring a joy to children who would not have had a day of joy. Because I remembered in my life there were times when people did that for me, so I wanted to be able to extend myself and kindness. One of the things I ask on my show all the time we have something I call -- I have a public charity and then my private foundation, but I have a public charity called the Angel Network.

And I ask people always how can you in your own life make a difference in somebody else's?

What can you do?

KING: Nothing like it.

WINFREY: Yes. Nothing like it. So I think, I don't just ask that question of other people. I also try to do it myself. So, the answer for me last year was to go to Africa to try to bring -- spread joy to children who wouldn't have it. Because I understood and do understand that the epidemic there is devastating a continent. And I think most of the people wanting us around the world really don't understand the level of devastation that's going on. You are going to have an entire continent, you have 11 million children in Sub Sahara Africa now suffering as orphans. And what I realized when I went to Africa is that when we hear the stories about orphans, you think, orphans, somebody's taking care of them. Well, they're AIDS orphans. What I realized is they're children left to take care of themselves. I followed children home who are you know, 12 and 14 years old taking care of their siblings. There's a definition for it now called sibling families where children who are 9 an 10 taking are taking care of the 6-year-old, 4-year-old and 3-year-old.

KING: How do they do it.

WINFREY: That's -- how do you do it?

So, if your a young girl you have to prostitute yourself or you're out on the street and your begging. But you have an entire continent that's faced with this kind of devastation. And I think when we hear the stories, we just think, OK, they're orphans, you hear 11 million, 5 million children died. The numbers don't register to faces, into real people. So, that's one of my goal is to make people understand they're people, these children just like your children. They're cute little boys. Just like everybody's watching, their children who want to have a life. If you do not -- if we as a nation do not do whatever we can to support these children, you're going to have social chaos in 10 years.

KING: Don't you think frankly all of us with breaks in life owe it back?

WINFREY: Yes. You need to do whatever you can. I think that every person watching, listening, hearing us, that's a different thing. You know, I can pack up 50 people and move them to Africa and spend a month over there visiting orphanages and then hire 50 more people over there to help us. That's a thing I can do. I can build a school for girls as a model which I'm doing right now. I'm in the process of putting a school together there, and then build other schools. That's what I can do as one person. But there are many people watching that write a check, write their Congressman, who can get involved in a way that will change the lives of millions of people.

KING: What was it like when you gave them the gifts?

WINFREY: Single happiest day of my life. Single happiest...

KING: No bigger thrill than giving?

WINFREY: No bigger thrill. You know, not only giving, but to give to children who have never received a gift. Who have never received a gift. So that the very idea of them being able to say this is yours, I've come from across the ocean and wanted you to have this wonderful day. At first, they didn't know what I was talking about. They don't know who I am, AS far as television is concerned. So it was extraordinary. And I say that, you know, I can do that in Africa and people watching can do it in their own neighborhoods. But just reaching out a little bit to the continent makes a world of difference. I mean, getting the drugs to children who need them, being able to keep mothers alive. That's one of the things I'm interested in doing. Because you're going to have millions more children orphaned. When I say orphans, I mean nobody. They're on the streets. On the streets. And it is unnatural for children to...

WINFREY: Is UNICEF is there? They're there do what they can. CARE is there. I was just there three days ago working with the UNICEF team, working with team from CARE, working with Allan Rosenfeld (ph), from Colombia going to clinics. Everybody -- there are a lot of people on the ground doing what they can, but none of it is enough because the consciousness of the world has not been raised.

KING: You gave 50,000 gifts?

WINFREY: Yes. I gave 50,000. My intention originally was I wanted to do a million. I wanted to do a million. My goal was I want to go there and see a million kids and going to give gifts to a million kids so that a million kids will have the best Christmas of their lives. I couldn't reach a million in 30 days, I only had 30 days off. So, but I could get to 50,000 in 30 days.

KING: Are you going to do it more and more?

WINFREY: I will do if more -- I just came back. You know, I think, I'm always looking for ways that I can use myself, use my life, use my money, use my time, use my energy. So, this time, I gave money to schools. I gave money to organizations to support teachers. I gave, you know, money to build dormitories for college and so, I will use myself and use what I've been able to acquire in life in different ways. I would do that again. I would do that again but what I'm interested in doing now is creating a lasting impact.

KING: Like the school? WINFREY: My efforts -- my efforts going into schools, because education is freedom.

KING: Now, the show, December 22, "Oprah Show" of December 22nd features this. And we saw some it tonight, it's terrific. And her special will air on December 17th.


KING: ABC. Dealing with the same topic.


KING: And Diane Sawyer will be the co-host with you.

WINFREY: That's right. I think it's "Oprah and Africa: Personal Journey, Global Challenge." That's the ABC special is.

KING: Sounds PBS.

WINFREY: But it's not.

KING: I know. The Discovery Channel presents...

WINFREY: Global Challenge. Right.

KING: It's Oprah. You, don't need a last name.

WINFREY: You know what, as a kid, I hated that name. As a kid, I hated my name. And it's really worked out for me.

KING: Was it Harpo backwards?

WINFREY: It was not supposed to be Harpo backwards. It's supposed to be Arpah, from Ruth first chapter, 14th verse in the Bible.

KING: You're biblical.

WINFREY: It was supposed to be biblical.

KING: They spelled it wrong?

WINFREY: And they spelled it wrong on the birth certificate.

KING: Who knew?

WINFREY: Who knew.

KING: You wouldn't have been a hit if it was the other one.

WINFREY: No, on a first job in Baltimore, my job in Baltimore, I was 22-years-old, went there to anchor. And the news director asked me to change my name. All the suits are sitting in the room. And they asked would I change my name to Suzy because nobody would ever remember or pronounce Oprah. That was another good decision I made, to keep my name.

KING: We're going to break with Susie Winfrey.

WINFREY: They said Susie's friendly. Susie brings you the news.

KING: Here's Oprah with a special little lady. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Coming from another country to help us make our dreams come true will make this world even a better place to live in. Once again, thanks a million. May God bless you.



KING: We're back with media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who puts her money...

WINFREY: Media mogul?

KING: Media mogul.

WINFREY: Media mogul.

KING: ... puts her money where it counts.

WINFREY: It's interesting to be described that way.

KING: How do you describe yourself? Broadcast person.

WINFREY: You know what, it's so funny, Larry. Every time I go out of the country and you have that little thing to fill out and it says, you know, what is your business? I always, like, hesitate. I don't know what to call myself. You know?

KING: Mogul is a good word, though.

WINFREY: Well, I will not be putting "media mogul," that's for darn sure. They'd say you have to, like, pay more people.

KING: Before we take some calls, book club. Now it's back, but it's just great books.

WINFREY: Yeah. Well, they were pretty good before. They were pretty good before.

KING: Yeah, but now you're going to Steinbeck.

WINFREY: Yeah, I'm doing -- I am trying to do -- I'm not calling it classics, because I don't want to have to listen to the hoity- toities telling me what a classic is and what isn't. What happened is, for all those years I was doing the book club, I never could read an author who was dead, because I'd given myself the perimeter here of only talking to authors who obviously were alive. And so, I got frustrated with only being able to read books that were current and only having to be able to select authors who were -- be able to select an author to come and talk about the book.

So I ended it and I really shouldn't have ended it. That was a mistake. And after, I mean, like, two days after I ended it, I thought, gee, I should have thought about that more, because then I started reading Steinbeck again. And -- because for six years, with the book club, I would never read an author who's dead. Because I thought, waste of time, becuase you can't get them on the show.

KING: That's the way we think.

WINFREY: Yeah, can't get them on the show. I'm wasting time reading this. So I had started to read "East of Eden." And I had never read "East of Eden." I had read all of the other Steinbecks, and I thought, gee, I wished I had someone to tell about this book. And I called my friend Gail, who isn't the biggest reader in the world, because she's a mom and running the soccer -- so she takes a long time to finish reading things. She watches more TV than she reads.

And so, I was like, well, are you finished with the book yet? Because I want to talk about it. And so that wasn't very rewarding. Just telling a friend about it. I thought, well, I had a book club and I let it go. I'm going to bring it back.

KING: You're going to make me feel old. I interviewed John Steinbeck.

WINFREY: Get out.

KING: Yeah. And John O'Hara.

WINFREY: You interviewed John Steinbeck?

KING: I did.

WINFREY: What year was that?

KING: I'm old. '64, '63.

WINFREY: My God, Larry.

KING: Before he died, '70, I think.

WINFREY: Yeah. That is -- and how was he?

KING: He was a great guy.

WINFREY: Was he great? OK.

KING: Wonderful man.

WINFREY: Because you know, sometimes people are better in their...

KING: I know.

WINFREY: ... with words. Was he -- did he live up to it?

KING: I remember asking him, I said, when you wrote "The Grapes of Wrath," did you realize you were writing a book that would change they way we look at the poor white in this country and the South?

WINFREY: Did he?

KING: And he said, "all I did was tell a story."

WINFREY: Really?

KING: I write a good story.

WINFREY: You know, what is interesting is that "East of Eden" was written to his sons, and he thought that "East of Eden" was his best book ever.

KING: Yeah, he did. Oh, he did. He loved "Travels With Charlie."


KING: King Mountain, North Carolina, as we go to calls for Oprah, hello?

CALLER: Yes, Oprah.


CALLER: The way the world is today, would you consider ever running for an office like the Senate or maybe even the presidential office?

WINFREY: No, ma'am. I would not.

KING: Why not?

WINFREY: Thank you for asking that, though. No. I would not, because as Larry and I was just sitting here vibing on the tube all around the world, this is the best forum in the world. I think all the senators wish they had that for themselves.

KING: It ain't bad.

WINFREY: It ain't bad. So I just believe, for example, what I'm trying to do in terms of raising awareness and getting people to change the way they look at AIDS in the world, I can do a much more profound job sitting here on the LARRY KING show and using my own show than I can trying to be, you know, in politics. I just feel like it's the best forum in the world for reaching people. I mean, because here we are in, what North Carolina? In this woman's home, sitting here in the middle of the night.

KING: Can't buy that. WINFREY: No. No. Politics isn't for me.

KING: Boonsboro, Maryland, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Oprah. How are you doing today?

WINFREY: Hi. Very good, thank you.

CALLER: My question for you is, first of all, I just want to say that I admire what you do for people. Spiritually, if anything else. My question for you is, I'm 24. At 24, Oprah, what were you doing? Because I am lost.


KING: Lost.


KING: She was in Maryland, I think.

WINFREY: Yeah, I just looked at the stage manager who's 29. So...

KING: You were in Maryland, right?

WINFREY: I was in -- no. I want to say -- yes, I was. At 24, I was not lost. I have to tell you. I've been in TV, not as long as Larry, but I've been in TV since I was 19 years old. And by the time I was 24, I was working in Maryland at WJZTV, which I had come there at 22 years old.

KING: Channel 13.

WINFREY: Channel 13. But I will say this, because I have god daughters and nieces who are in their 20s, and I would say that the 20s are the time when you feel the most lost. As I was saying to Larry earlier, I have kept a journal all these years, and so since I was 15, and my journal when I was 24 and 25, I go -- I look back at that journal and I weep for that woman. Because I was so pathetic. Even though I was working in news, I was so disorganized. I mean, I drove this little Chevy Chevette (ph) and my car was the junkiest car in Maryland. I would, like, roll my hair and leave the windows down, because I didn't have air conditioning.

KING: I guested on your show.

WINFREY: During that time.


WINFREY: That's right. That's -- but 24, the 20s are the time when you're finding out who you are. And so if you're ever going to be lost, 24 is the time to be seeking and finding yourself. So don't -- this is what I say to people in their 20s, don't beat yourself up about it. That's a time when you always feel like that's why this -- I remember writing in a journal once, that's why they call that show "The Young and the Restless," because you always feel like you're not doing enough, you're not getting ahead. You wish you were doing more, and why -- why aren't things more settled? They're not supposed to be in your 20s.

KING: Last time you were on, you said you'd think some day maybe about adopting.

WINFREY: Yeah. Did I say that?

KING: Yeah, you did.


KING: And you see my two little boys right there.

WINFREY: Oh, they're cuties.

KING: How would you like to take one of them home? Come on.

WINFREY: I'd like to take them home and then send them back to you.

KING: You don't want them?

WINFREY: I don't think that that's for me, Larry. I don't think that -- first of all, you know, I'm going to be 50 next year, so my eggs are a little dried.

KING: No, but adopting. We discussed that last time. You said you might do it.

WINFREY: And now I feel -- I just feel that first of all, when I went to Africa, and I was telling you earlier that that was was the biggest moment of my life, truly there's a moment where all of those kids are in the room and they open their presents, and nothing like it. Nothing like that in the world. Just you could just feel -- feel the spirit of every child. The hope and just the delight in their eyes. I could feel all of that. And I feel that I have a calling. I feel that part of that calling certainly has been to be on television, and to use television in a way that can make a difference. I want to be a voice for those children who don't a voice.

KING: You're mother Oprah to many?

WINFREY: Yes. Actually, they call me mother Oprah. At first, I was like, I don't know about this mother thing. But now, you know, the African custom is to -- they don't address an adult by the first name. So if they met you for over five minutes, you'd be called Uncle Larry. And so, you either auntie or uncle or mum. I think the closer your relationships are, they call you mother. So...

KING: Wonderful.

WINFREY: So, all the children call me mother.

KING: We'll be back with more of Oprah and more of your calls.

Bill Cosby tomorrow.


KING: Cos.

WINFREY: I'll be watching that.

KING: He has got a very funny book out about losing weight.

WINFREY: About losing weight.

KING: It is hysterical. We'll be back with Oprah. Don't go away.


WINFREY: "East of Eden." "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck (ph)! Yes! "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck!



KING: A couple of other things before we take some more calls.

WINFREY: OK, good.

KING: A rumor you were going to buy "The Chicago Sun Times."

WINFREY: That was just -- it's a rumor I haven't heard.

KING: Would you want to own a newspaper?


KING: Like owning a magazine?

WINFREY: I love being partners here with a magazine because part of the reason you have a partner is because you need distribution, and so you need other people. And for me, I need other people that knew what they were doing.

KING: And you let them run it.

WINFREY: And I let them run the business end of it and I still have a very strong voice -- yes, sitting there today. Sitting at my table in the hotel room.

KING: Do you turn every page?

WINFREY: I read every page before it goes to print. Probably read every page twice.

KING: What did you make of the Rosie thing? WINFREY: I didn't make very much because the truth of the matter is, I really didn't follow the case. And I'm so concerned with my own stuff and business that...

KING: You understand the difficulty she went through? Apparently it's not easy.

WINFREY: This is what I didn't understand. I didn't understand -- I was surprised she didn't have editorial control. I was really surprised because...

KING: You wouldn't have done it without that?

WINFREY: No. You couldn't have because -- it's your name on there. So you're ultimately responsible. People aren't going to think -- many times, you know, I have Gayle, my best friend, Gayle King, is editor at large and Amy Gross is a wonderful editor-in-chief. I mean, she is outstanding. She gets me. And I have a great staff of support. But there are many times when we don't all agree. And sometimes Gayle will even call up and we'll be back and forth on the phone. And I'll say, is there a G on the cover of the magazine or is it an O?

And she'll say, OK, it's an O. It's an o.

KING: It's your baby?

WINFREY: Yes. Yes. And so, ultimately, I think you have to be the person, if your name is on it, and you want to be impeccable with your own name and your word, you have to have the control. So that's what surprised me about that whole situation.

KING: Many are annoyed you don't do more film.

WINFREY: Well, you know what, Larry? I did "Beloved."

I remember having -- I had lunch with Harper Lee. Harper Lee -- "To Kill a Mockingbird." Because I was trying to get -- yes, one of my favorite books of all time. I was trying to convince her to let us do it an as a book club selection and have her come on and be interviewed. She won't do it. She won't do it. And Harper Lee said to me, in a private lunch, she said, I said, you never wrote another book. She says, honey, because I said everything I wanted to say. And so, I feel that way about...

KING: Acting.

WINFREY: About "Beloved." After I did that, honey, I said everything I wanted to say. And so I feel strongly that, you know, that was -- that was the moment for me. And "The Color Purple." I saw "The Color Purple" for the first time in 15 years the other day. I thought, I did a really good job. And I thought Whoopi was amazing.

KING: Yes, she was.

WINFREY: She was just amazing. KING: But you don't have a desire to...

WINFREY: I don't have any desire to return. What I have a desire to do is produce good films for other people. I'm now in the process of working with Kay Forte (ph) who runs my film office. And we are now readying ourselves to do a wonderful film based on the book by Zoro Neil Hurston.

Do you know that?


WINFREY: Zora Niel Hurston, called "Their Eyes Were Watching god." And we are doing that with Halle Berry as our star for an Oprah Winfrey presents for ABC next year. So, that's going to be really fun.

KING: Houston, Texas for Oprah. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Oprah. You are an angel.

WINFREY: Hi. Hi. Thank you.

CALLER: I would like to ask you, what motivates you on a daily basis?

What motivates you to get up everyday and do what you do.

KING: Yes, because you don't have to financially.

WINFREY: Well, I think this. I think everybody has to figure out a way -- I think the real job of your life is figuring out what is the job of your life. What is your calling? And I think everybody is called here to earth to do something special. I think there's not a person born that doesn't have a gift to offer in some way. And so, your job is not just to do what your parents say, what your teachers say, what society says, but to figure out what your heart calling is and to be led by that. And for me, from a very early age, it was talking, talking in the church. I'm grounded, you know, spiritually having been brought up through the church. But spirituality means more to me than religion or church. Knowing yourself and known there's something bigger than yourself. So, what motivates me as a human being is being able to understand that I am here and what a gift it is. What a gift. Every single day. And that's not just rhetoric or, you know, blah blah celebrity stuff. It is just, jeez. I just sometimes I...

KING: Do you ever not want to go in?

WINFREY: I never not want -- first of all, back to the question of what motivates me. What motivates me is being able to fulfilling my potential. And keep growing into myself. I finally, feel like now I'm going to be 50 so maybe I'm grown.

Was there a time when you said, am I an adult yet?

KING: Still haven't figured it out. Still not sure.


KING: What do you want to do when we grow up?

WINFREY: What motivates me is trying to best what I've always done.

How do you get better?

How do you grow better?

And so...

KING: Top yourself?

WINFREY: Not even topping as much as it is fulfilling the potential. We all have great potential here on earth.

KING: Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Miss Winfrey. You absolutely inspire me, and I was wondering what are some of your inspirations outside of Mr. Mandela as well as Miss Angelou. I was wonder what are your inspirations.

WINFREY: You already know them all. Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou. Well, as I was just saying to the last caller, I'm really inspired by life. I really just think that particularly being able to pray or meditate or whatever you call it. Spending a moment with yourself every day allows you a sense of appreciation and because over the years I have talked to so many thousands of people like Larry has, not as many as Larry, but what I realized is that a common denominator for me, as I have seen it in the human experience is everybody is looking to be validated.

I mean, you will find this even with your boys, Larry, whether they're arguing with one another or fighting about something or having an angry moment with you. That if you can just stop and say, I hear what you're saying, this is what you want. Even if you can't give it to them. That everybody, whether you're 3 1/2 like your sons, 3, 4, or 44, that you want to be heard. You want to be heard. You want to know that you matter. And so, I try to do that in my personal life. I try to do that on the show. I try to do that as I extend myself out to the world.

KING: Shawn is better at that than me. Shawn does it well. Almost naturally. Because she's very faith-based.

WINFREY: Really?

KING: You're faith-based. Right?

WINFREY: And I'm faith-based.

KING: I'm drifting.

WINFREY: You're drifting?

KING: I drift, yeah.

WINFREY: How can you drift, Larry, when you know how valuable life really is? You who went through the whole heart thing? Didn't -- wasn't that life changing for you?

KING: Yeah. But it didn't make me...

WINFREY: It didn't? Well, we'll talk after the show. Surprised. OK.

KING: I knew she'd do this to me.

WINFREY: No, I'm surprised. Because normally when that happens, that is a really life changing...


WINFREY: Wake-up call.

KING: It did...


WINFREY: I don't mean just -- I don't mean just, you know, eat less fat. I mean, that you understand in a deeper sense.

KING: Let me get a break, OK?


KING: It's my show.


KING: As we go to break, she received a distinguished Marion Anderson award, the annual prize, an artist and humanitarian, good. Watch.


WINFREY: I believe that we've all been called to greatness in our own way, and I believe that God has a plan for all of us. My prayer is, God use me. Use me to a good that is greater than my own, greater than I know. So, it is my hope and my prayer that I can take the beacon of possibility that became a torch of greatness in the symbol of Marion Anderson's life, and take that torch and carry it forward and light up the world.



WINFREY: It's almost over, right, isn't it?

KING: Yeah. We're back with Oprah Winfrey, who also got the Bob Hope Award. Right?

WINFREY: Yes. That was a moment...


KING: I was there.

WINFREY: Yes, and you know what, Cos got it this past year, too.

KING: Yeah. I know. There you are getting it.

WINFREY: There I am. You know what? That was an amazing moment for me. It was amazing moment.

KING: Because?

WINFREY: Because.

KING: You've gotten so many awards, why this one?

WINFREY: Because I looked out into the audience, and all of these people -- all of these famous people were standing up, and they were, like, applauding me. And I had...

KING: There they are.

WINFREY: Yeah, and I had one of -- yeah, I'm getting ready to go into the ugly cry. Right there. I'm getting ready to go into the -- oh, I'm going to go into the ugly cry, where you, like, try not to cry and your face starts to contort.

And just as I walked off the stage, with Tom Hanks, I remember turning around and looking back and thinking, did that happen? That just happened. It just was like one of those out of body things that -- and also, when I accepted it, I knew that I planned to do a lot of great work in Africa, with orphans and be the voice of children, so I felt like I don't even know why I'm getting this, because I haven't even done anything to deserve to get this award.

But just the respect that I felt from all of the other people in the room really kind of knocked me over in that moment.

KING: What is it from coming from economically deprived chaos to not being asked what something cost? To hit that in life? What is that like?

WINFREY: You know, what's interesting about it, I don't know if this happens to you. But I could basically...

KING: Buy anything.

WINFREY: Buy anything. And I still check the prices on things that I used to check the prices on. It's just...

KING: You never change.

WINFREY: You just can't get over some things like that.

KING: Delight having you.

WINFREY: Thank you. Thank you.

KING: Let's not so long (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

WINFREY: Not so long. And let's match up the next time.


WINFREY: This is pretty good, without a conversation.

KING: OK. We should plan this. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


KING: Oprah Winfrey. What a lady.

I'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night right after this.


KING: One change in the week's lineup. Jimmy Carter, scheduled originally tomorrow, will air on Friday. Tomorrow night, Bill Cosby will be our special guest for the hour.

Aaron Brown will host "NEWSNIGHT."


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