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Oprah Hopes Her Midas Touch Gilds Her OWN Series, 'Belief'

Oprah Winfrey will join the board and will lend her name and image to Weight Watchers marketing.
Brynn Anderson

Oprah Winfrey lifts the popularity of almost anything she embraces. On Monday, Weight Watchers announced that the billionaire media mogul would be giving it her midas touch by acquiring a 10 percent stake in the diet company.

Winfrey will join the board and will lend her name and image to Weight Watchers marketing. Shares of the company more than doubled by the end of the day.

It's the latest addition to an Oprah empire that includes publishing, movie production, philanthropy and a struggling cable network.

But one thing she won't be gilding with her name — at least not yet — is a candidate in the 2016 presidential campaign. Winfrey famously campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 and helped lift him above his rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton.

This year, she tells NPR's Michele Norris, she has no plans to make an endorsement.

"I do not see a role for myself in this election cycle," she says.

Her Midas touch, however, has not quite worked for the Oprah Winfrey Network, otherwise known as OWN. This week Winfrey's network is taking a gamble with Belief, a seven-part series that explores religious traditions around the world.

This week Winfrey introduces Belief, a seven-part series Winfrey's OWN network. Billed as a landmark television event, The series is a sprawling examination of religious practices around the world. Each episode spotlights individuals who turn to or in some cases struggle with their faith when going through tough times.

Winfrey's network has been going through tough times as it struggles to find a broader audience.

"I assumed that the audience from the Oprah show would just automatically come to OWN, when in fact, most of them didn't even have the channel, or have the cable package, or understood what that meant," Winfrey says.

She hopes to change that with the Belief series.

Interview Highlights

On not making an endorsement in the upcoming presidential election

I do not see a role for myself in this election cycle. I've just decided to stay out of politics for now, and watch and see what happens. I'm being highly entertained, I can say that! People call me all the time, but I'm not planning on making any endorsements.

On making the deal with Weight Watchers

They called me and asked would I be interested in talking to them about establishing a relationship and I said, "Uh ... sure." ... I didn't even think about it. ... I've had many, many friends do Weight Watchers over the years and so we had a meeting, yes, and I said, well, I couldn't do anything with them without trying the program first to see if that worked for me. So far I've lost about 14 pounds on it.

On deciding from the heart

It was not strictly a business decision. It was a personal decision that allowed me to make a smart business decision. I always lead with my heart because the truth is, my heart is my brand. You know, the decision to do the network: I led with my heart. So, everything from me comes from what it feels in alignment with what is the truth of I want to represent and express in the world. And then, try to make the best business decision, negotiate the best possible outcome for yourself.

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