Oprah Winfrey will join “60 Minutes” this fall as a special contributor, the network and venerable news magazine announced. She’ll make her first appearance in the new fall season although in what format or specific role beyond “contributor” was not specified.
In a statement, Winfrey said: “I’ve been a big admirer of ‘60 Minutes’ since my days as a young reporter,” Winfrey said. “I’m so excited and proud to join forces with this historic news program, which for me represents the bastion of journalistic storytelling. At a time when people are so divided, my intention is to bring relevant insight and perspective, to look at what separates us, and help facilitate real conversations between people from different backgrounds.”
“60” chief Jeff Fager said in his statement, “She has achieved excellence in everything she has touched. Her body of work is extraordinary, including thousands of interviews with people from all walks of life. She is a remarkable and talented woman with a level of integrity that sets her apart and makes her a perfect fit for ‘60 Minutes.’ I am thrilled that she will be bringing her unique and powerful voice to our broadcast.”
As surprises go, this one ranks, and offers all sorts of tantalizing possibilities, too. Winfrey hasn’t had a regular broadcast presence since wrapping the daytime series in 2011 – there’s been plenty of Oprah elsewhere, especially on OWN, from “Master Class,” “Super Soul Sunday” and more recently “Where are They Now.”
As the world knows, she’s also close friends with Gayle King -- now a major star at CBS and part of the turnaround at “CBS This Morning” -- who likely had a role in this new venture.
Meanwhile, the term “special contributor” is a catchall that could mean all sorts of things, and in fact, almost anything. Anderson Cooper, for example, is also a “contributor” at the news program. Katie Couric was once one, too. Winfrey could offer commentary -- “60” has been without a regular commentator role since the death of Andy Rooney in 2011 -- however Fager has long said filling the Rooney role was more or less impossible, largely because Rooney was such a unique part of “60’s” history and TV history as well.
Political commentary is unlikely because it would ensure that half of “60’s” audience would embrace her perspective, while the other half would viscerally reject it. Except in a few rare instances, “60” over its long history has rarely been in the business of infuriating viewers.
More likely her contributions will be in-show pieces featuring interviews -- her specialty of course -- along with that other quality so uniquely her own: The human touch, or the Oprah one.
A CBS spokesman said she will appear “several times” this fall, but beyond that said there are no other specifics.