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ABC does not renew 'Oprah's Big Give' -- at Winfrey's request


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/15/2008 

ABC was interested in renewing Oprah's Big Give for a second season, but Oprah Winfrey apparently put the kibosh on the idea.

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"We loved that show and we absolutely would have done another installment [but] Oprah felt like it was something she wanted to do -- she got a message out there, a movement started -- and it's not something she wanted to continue," ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson said during a Tuesday press conference announcing the network's 2008-2009 primetime schedule.  "We thanked her for it, it was a terrific project."

Oprah's Big Give premiered in March and at the time it was the third-most-watched series debut of the 2007-2008 television season -- averaging 15.6 million total viewers and a 5.3/12 rating/share in the Adults 18-49 demographics during its Sunday at 9PM ET/PT time period.  Although the show's ratings tailed off from there, Oprah's Big Give still ended up averaging 11.16 million viewers during its eight-episode run -- an average that currently ranks it 32th in the 2007-2008 season's viewership average rankings.

The reality competition series began with 10 people who were given money and additional resources before being challenged to find dramatic and emotional ways to spend it on others, with contestants being eliminated on a weekly basis.

Stephen Paletta, a 43-year-old real-estate developer from Bedford, NY, claimed the show's $1 million grand prize -- $500,000 to keep for himself and $500,000 to use for additional gives to others.

However, Oprah's Big Give's contestants ended up not being the only ones paying it forward -- which is, according to McPherson, is what Winfrey saw as the show's true goal.

"We seeded our affiliates $10,000 each in different markets -- $1 million worth of money -- and actually, in a pay it forward manner, it grossed $4.5 million dollars," said McPherson.  "I think for [Winfrey] that's what giving was, to get this giving out there and this idea setup."

Even though the show apparently did what Winfrey had intended, she still decided against moving forward with another installment.

"It was a success for us and we'd have loved to do it again but we understand her," said McPherson.

When Harpo and ABC first announced Oprah's Big Give in December 2006, the network had also ordered Your Money or Your Life -- an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition-like reality series that would help families in crisis -- from Winfrey's production company.

However despite Oprah's Big Give's success, Your Money or Your Life may now also never end up getting produced.

"Right now it's on hold. I don't know if it's going to go on or not," said McPherson.  "It's in their hands, [Winfrey] has a lot on her plate."

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