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    Oprah, Meghan and Harry Draw 17.1 Million Viewers to CBS

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The British Royal FamilyliveInterview and FalloutWhat Meghan and Harry DisclosedWhat We LearnedRace and RoyaltyAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyOprah, Meghan and Harry Draw 17.1 Million Viewers to CBSA two-hour special revived a faded TV genre, the “big-get” prime-time interview that once drew tens of millions for exclusive sit-downs with people like Michael Jackson and Monica Lewinsky.Meghan Markle and Prince Harry described racism within the royal family during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.Credit…Harpo Productions, via ReutersMarch 8, 2021Updated 4:36 p.m. ETOprah, Meghan and Harry drew a sizable audience on Sunday night, making for an old-style prime-time television moment in the age of on-demand viewing.Oprah Winfrey’s explosive two-hour interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, who had largely kept their silence after announcing last year that they would give up their duties as members of Britain’s royal family, attracted 17.1 million viewers on CBS, according to preliminary Nielsen figures.The number of viewers climbed as the show went on. It drew 16.9 million in the first hour and 17.3 in the second, Nielsen reported. That audience was about twice the size of the viewership for the prime-time ratings winner in a given week.In a time when Netflix and other streaming platforms dominate viewing habits, the ratings for “Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special” were strong — but they did not come close to the figures of similar prime-time exclusives from past decades. And the number of viewers fell short of the 22 million who watched a similarly ballyhooed interview in 2018, a “60 Minutes” episode in which Stephanie Clifford (also known as Stormy Daniels) told Anderson Cooper about her past affair with Donald J. Trump.Ms. Winfrey’s special aired after days of anticipatory coverage hinting at what the couple might reveal about their experiences with the royal family and their decision to leave the palace behind.Meghan did not hold back during the interview, telling Ms. Winfrey that she had contemplated suicide while living as a royal. She also blamed Britain’s first family for not providing her with sufficient protection from Britain’s ferocious tabloid press and described racism within the royal family, saying that, during her pregnancy, there had been “concerns and conversations about how dark” the skin of her child would be. Harry revealed a strained relationship with his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William.The high level of interest in a special on a big broadcast network was something of a throwback to a moment when prime-time television interviews, jampacked with commercials, became a gathering spot for a mass audience.The “big get” interview is a TV genre unto itself, in which a famous anchor or host elbows out rivals to land an exclusive sit-down with a newsworthy subject. It is also a genre past its heyday. Along with Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, Ms. Winfrey, an interviewer extraordinaire who started her TV career in the 1970s, was a major player when the competition for such shows was at its height.In 1993, Ms. Winfrey’s prime-time interview of Michael Jackson at his Neverland Ranch, broadcast by ABC, attracted an audience of at least 62 million. Six years later, also on ABC, Ms. Walters sat down with Monica Lewinsky for a two-hour special that drew 48.5 million.Since then, the rise of digital media and its infinite screen-time options has cut deeply into the might of the big broadcasters. As the viewing audience fractured, opportunities for must-see prime-time interviews became vanishingly rare. Even the biggest one-on-ones of recent years have lacked the drawing power of the specials from two decades ago and more. The audience of 17.1 million for Ms. Winfrey’s interview of Meghan and Harry matched the number of viewers who tuned in when Caitlyn Jenner revealed that she was transgender to Ms. Sawyer on a 2015 episode of ABC’s “20/20.”The Sunday night special was unusual in that it was not overseen by a network news division. Ms. Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions, produced it, and CBS paid at least $7 million to license the show, according to a person with knowledge of the arrangement. (The Wall Street Journal previously reported the figure.) The deal was also a gamble: It was taped after the network had bought the rights, according to two people with knowledge of how the show was made. During the interview, Ms. Winfrey said she had been trying to land the exclusive with the couple for about three years.CBS emerged the winning bidder despite Ms. Winfrey’s rocky experience at “60 Minutes,” where she was a special contributor in 2017 and 2018. In a 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Winfrey revealed that the show’s producers had criticized her delivery, saying she had “too much emotion” in her voice, even when she said her own name. (Ms. Winfrey has maintained a connection to the network through her good friend Gayle King, an anchor of “CBS This Morning,” and appeared on that show Monday.)Further complicating CBS’s attempt to get the big get was the thicket of media companies surrounding Ms. Winfrey and the former royal couple. Ms. Winfrey has her own cable network, OWN, and is a major part of the streaming platform AppleTV+. Recent episodes of Apple’s “The Oprah Conversation” have featured her interviews of Barack Obama, Dolly Parton and Mariah Carey.Meghan and Harry, for their part, signed a multiyear deal with Netflix last year to make documentaries and other shows. They also signed on to make podcasts for Spotify and released the first installment on Dec. 29. It included guest appearances by Elton John, Tyler Perry and other celebrities, as well as the first public utterance from their son, Archie.The pact between CBS and Harpo Productions was largely focused on TV rights. The interview ran live on ViacomCBS’s newly rebranded streaming service, Paramount+ but at least for now will not be available on Paramount+ for on-demand viewing. Instead, the special will be available on and the CBS app for 30 days, a CBS spokesman said.Originally slotted for 90 minutes, it ended up a two-hour show. Before the broadcast, CBS released teaser clips, and British tabloids that have been unfriendly to Meghan shot back with anonymously sourced items on her apparent misdeeds.The estimate of 17.1 million viewers will only grow after Nielsen tabulates some viewers who streamed the special, as well as out-of-home viewing.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    Prince Harry Finally Takes On White Privilege: His Own

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The British Royal FamilyliveInterview and FalloutWhat Meghan and Harry DisclosedWhat We LearnedRace and RoyaltyAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main storyCritic’s notebookPrince Harry Finally Takes On White Privilege: His OwnMeghan Markle and Harry’s interview revealed a catalyst for their reinvention, our critic writes: Harry’s racial awakening after attacks on Markle.Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak with Oprah Winfrey about racism and other issues in a blockbuster interview on CBS on Sunday night.Credit…Harpo Productions, via ReutersMarch 8, 2021Updated 4:30 p.m. ETIt was well worth the wait. The first joint interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle since they stepped down from royal life last year (a process that became officially permanent last month) did not disappoint.I, for one, watched this tell-all with Oprah Winfrey while texting with many of the same Black women with whom I watched their wedding in 2018. Back then, we shared OMG emojis because we were pleasantly surprised by the way Black culture was so powerfully celebrated and Markle’s African-American identity so thoughtfully integrated into their ceremony at St. George’s Chapel.Now, we were aghast at the couple’s allegations that racism toward Markle and its various consequences were a primary reason they fled their home to find freedom in sunny California.Based on Markle’s deep commitment to women’s rights and the interview’s promo clip — Winfrey asks her, “Were you silent or were you silenced?” — I went into this assuming it would be a feminist revision of the couple’s fairy-tale romance. “The latter,” Markle responded in the interview. Later, she’d compare her life as a royal to Princess Ariel losing her voice after falling in love with a human in “The Little Mermaid.” In that analogy, this interview is the final breaking of that spell, with Markle now fully in control of her voice. It reminded us that she never needed a Prince Charming to rescue her, while showing us that their very modern marriage is what saved and ultimately liberated them both from the trappings and the trap that is the Crown.But therein lies the true catalyst for their radical reinvention: Harry’s racial awakening. Here, I do not just mean the accusations from the couple about the deep anxiety some royals had about the potential skin color of their son, Archie — which resulted, they said, in him not being offered the traditional rituals of the royal hospital picture, the title “Prince” and the security that comes with that status. Rather, the second hour of the interview was a culmination of a process that Harry had been undergoing since their first date in 2016, when he was becoming more cleareyed, confrontational and emboldened to take on the British monarchy into which he was born, and the white privilege that holds it up and has benefited him his entire life.Typically, we see racial awakenings as a tragic rite of passage for Black people. In slave narratives and early 20th-century African-American autobiographies and novels, there is often a moment in which a Black child realizes she is not only different from her white peers but that her darker skin or African-American parentage makes her inferior to them. The literary critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. once described it as a “scene of instruction.” In books like W.E.B. DuBois’s collection “The Souls of Black Folks,” from 1903, or Nella Larsen’s novel “Passing,” from 1929, this traumatic rupture is always intimate and severe, the first and most formative experience in a lifetime of racist insults.An official wedding photograph released by Kensington Palace in May 2018.Credit…Alexi Lubomirski/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesAs Black parents, we try to prepare our children for these inevitable encounters with The Talk, the sage advice and survival strategies we hope might blunt the damage of these betrayals. But every Black person I know has had such a moment. Mine was my senior year in high school when my white classmates charged that the only reason I had been admitted to the University of Pennsylvania was because of affirmative action, an insinuation that equated being Black with being underqualified, and an injury that has caused me to obsessively overachieve in almost every aspect of my professional life.I’ve rarely heard white friends discuss their parallel experiences of first realizing their privilege. In fact, this summer was unprecedented in the sheer number of public figures and predominately white organizations that released statements or tweets acknowledging their role in perpetuating systemic racism. In private, I and many of my Black friends received more sympathetic emails or Black Lives Matter solidarity texts from our white colleagues than ever before. It seemed, suddenly, white people too were having their own version of The Talk.And in popular culture, these awakenings are appearing with more frequency. In this season of NBC’s “This Is Us,” Randall’s white siblings, Kate and Kevin, are, as a result of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, slowly coming to terms with how much their own white household, and their ongoing refusal to deal with racism, has harmed their African-American brother, who was adopted.Without such recognition by our white family members and friends, racial inferiority is merely thrust onto Black people as a unique burden that we must bear, disprove of and reject. This innocence is at the core of white privilege, and by extension, white power.Back in 2005, when Harry wore a Nazi uniform to a costume party, it would have been impossible to predict his trajectory. By last fall, however, his awakening was well underway, with him talking about how his marriage to Markle immediately changed his understanding of race. “I had no idea it existed,” he said of unconscious bias in British GQ. “And then, sad as it is to say, it took me many, many years to realize it, especially then living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes.”Last night, he took it a step further. First, he noted how “the race element” distinguished the tabloid frenzy surrounding Markle from others in the past. “It wasn’t just about her, it was about what she represents,” he said. Next, he indicted his family for not taking on the racist attacks hurled at their own, and then linked their institutionalized reticence or refusal to intervene to Britain’s much longer history of imperialism.“For us, for this union and the specifics around her race, there was an opportunity — many opportunities — for my family to show some public support,” he told Winfrey. “And I guess one of the most telling parts and the saddest parts, I guess, was over 70 female members of Parliament, both Conservative and Labour, came out and called out the colonial undertones of articles and headlines written about Meghan. Yet no one from my family ever said anything. That hurts.”With this provocation, Harry suggests the Royals were not merely unwilling to accept his biracial Black wife and their multiracial child but also what Markle embodied: the millions of Black people throughout Britain and the Commonwealth who finally saw themselves in the monarchy through Markle’s existence, finding optimism in this interracial union.And with that confession, Harry declared his independence from British racism — whether he realizes it goes beyond his family’s treatment of his son and is an essential ingredient to the monarchy itself, I don’t know. But I turned off the interview wondering how American race relations will further change him. That the couple landed in the United States during a pandemic that has disproportionately harmed African-American and Latino families, and in a period of racial protest and rising white nationalism, feels a bit like jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.But, maybe that’s the point.Freed from the constraints of not being able to confront racism head-on might mean that he will dedicate his life to dismantling it, not just out of necessity, but also as a way of writing a new chapter in his family’s history and bequeath his children a legacy of antiracism.And if that is the case, it really will be better than any fairy tale ever imagined.AdvertisementContinue reading the main story More

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    In Oprah Interview, Meghan Says Life as Royal Made Her Suicidal

    #masthead-section-label, #masthead-bar-one { display: none }The British Royal FamilyThe Oprah InterviewWhat Meghan and Harry DisclosedWhat We LearnedBehind the InterviewAdvertisementContinue reading the main storySupported byContinue reading the main story‘I Just Didn’t Want to Be Alive Anymore’: Meghan Says Life as Royal Made Her SuicidalIn a bombshell interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Duchess of Sussex said she had asked officials at Buckingham Palace for medical help but was told it would damage the institution.Oprah Winfrey’s highly anticipated two-hour interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, aired on CBS Sunday night.Credit…Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions, via Getty ImagesPublished More