Oprah hopes to recreate the success of her book club with a new documentary film club for her new cable channel. To debut on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, the new club will focus on films with “inspirational themes.”
The Oprah Winfrey Network will partner with Ro*co Prods., a division of documentary film distributor Ro*co Films International. They will do a prime-time monthly documentary film series on the cable channel. A co-venture between Oprah-owned Harpo Productions and Discovery Communications is scheduled to premiere in January 2011.
Footage from the films featured in the new documentary film club will also be put up on the cable channel’s official web site, OWN.tv. Some films will also get nationwide theatrical screenings. OWN also plans to create communities nationwide which will screen the films together and participate in a live, moderated panel discussion with filmmakers, writers, actors and directors.
Ro*co was founded in 2000 by managing director Annie Roney. The company has distributed eight Oscar-nominated feature documentaries including Born Into Brothels, The Garden, Jesus Camp, No End in Sight, Promises, Regret to Inform, Street Fight and The Weather Underground.
Winfrey recently announced that she will end her syndicated talk show in 2011 after 25 years on the air to focus on launching her cable network. The network is scheduled to roll out in 2011 in about 75 million U.S. homes.
She was recently ranked No. 234 on a Forbes list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion.
Oprah saw the movie Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire last January just before it debuted to raves at the Sundance Film Festival, where it went on to win the competition’s coveted Grand Jury Prize, as well as the Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize for Acting (for Mo’nique). Oprah was so taken with director Lee Daniels’ harrowing adaptation of Sapphire’s 1996 novel — which depicts the inspirational tale of an overweight African-American teenage girl nicknamed Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) who rises above poverty, pregnancy and physical abuse to find redemption — that she and fellow fan Tyler Perry helped in brokering ‘Precious’ a $5.5 million distribution deal with Lionsgate and even came aboard as executive producers.
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