Who Will Be America’s Next Top Oprah?


All across these great United States, stay-at-home moms are heaving a deep sigh of relief. Oprah may be gearing up to leave her unbelievably popular daytime talk show in September 2011, but don’t worry: She’s not going to leave her loyal viewers high and dry. Ms. O will be naming a successor, and she’ll do it the 21st-century way — via reality TV competition. The Mark Burnett-produced Your Own Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star won’t debut until January, but we’ve decided to give Her Oprahness a hand in selecting the finalists. Our picks for O’s replacement are after the jump. Add your suggestions in the comments.

Tyra Banks

Ms. Tyra is, of course, the obvious choice to replace Oprah. She’s spent her entire career training for it, after all. Back in the day when she was a young model and sometime Will Smith foil on Fresh Prince, Tyra was also a youth correspondent on Oprah. Last year, the ladies teamed up again for an episode on teen relationship violence. And between her TV shows, recent book deal, and modeling, this savvy businesswoman has built her Bankable brand into a mini-Harpo Productions. We know Tyra has shut down her talk show, but we wonder if perhaps she’s pulling a Sarah Palin: getting out of one commitment to focus on training for something much bigger.

Liz Lemon

If there is one person Liz Lemon is obsessed with, it’s Oprah. Her greatest dream is to hear O shout, “Please welcome Liz LemON!” On a plane ride a few seasons back, a doped-up Liz sits next to Oprah, spills all her incoherent anxieties, and the ladies hug. The only problem? It was all a hallucination, and the woman sitting next to her turns out to be a tween girl. We know that Oprah, never one to underestimate her own importance, would appreciate a replacement who properly reveres her. Plus, Liz has talk-show hosting experience. “That’s a dealbreaker, ladies!” (Oh, and Tina Fey wouldn’t be a bad pick, either.)

Maya Rudolph

Many Saturday Night Live cast members have impersonated Oprah — including some dudes. But by far the best was Maya Rudolph’s. Check out a snippet from her spoof on O’s obsession with The Secrethere. An added bonus would be Rudolph’s gorgeous singing voice, which we know would lead to some fantastic duets with her musical guests.

Elvis Costello

Speaking of musicians who do great duets with their musical guests! Have you seen Elvis Costello: Spectacle yet? In two seasons, the living legend has sat down with everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Bill Clinton to She & Him to Lou Reed. The show is fantastic. But there have been too few episodes, and not enough of us get the Sundance Channel, where the series airs. Sure, he might need some practice at comforting wronged women and investigating harmful youth trends, but we’re confident that Costello can do anything he sets his mind to.

Wanda Sykes

Let’s be honest: When we think about a lesbian fit to replace Oprah, it’s Ellen, not Wanda, who comes to mind. Now, we have nothing against DeGeneres (except perhaps some awful American Idol one-liners). But the time to see Wanda Sykes on afternoon syndication has come. Fox’s The Wanda Sykes Show is fantastically funny and often thought-provoking, yet it tends to get lost in its Saturday night time slot. (Luckily, you can watch the episodes online a day after they air.) Sykes may have a sharper tongue than Oprah or Ellen, but that’s what would make her a real alternative to the standard daytime gabfest formula. Middle America could use a smart lady who tells it like it is. Hey, she was good enough to entertain the president

Conan O’Brien

Listen, we know he has a great late-night gig coming up with TBS in the fall. We’re counting down the minutes. But if there’s one thing Team Coco proved, it’s that America has a lot of love for O’Brien — and it may just be a love that can’t be contained in a single show. Call us crazy if you must; we think the redheaded funnyman is gentle and empathetic enough to feel the pain of ladies everywhere. And is there anyone better to take over Oprah’s Book Club than this Harvard grad?