Oprah, Erica Kane and McDreamy

Nadia Neophytou
You know your day is going to be good when it involves meeting Dr McDreamy. Only mine started out with me not knowing this little nugget of information, when I headed out to the Discovery Upfront at the Jazz Centre at the Lincoln Centre on Thursday.

Every year, Discovery Communications likes to show off their latest slate of shows coming soon to a small screen near you. It’s usually a big affair, with singing and dancing (last year Rosie put on a cabaret act) and big names (hello, Oprah). This year may not have been as spectacular, but the programming still looks strong, with a number of new shows that are sure to attract interest – at least a number of them certainly piqued my mine.

Nadia Neophytou
With Cake Boss' Buddy Valastro

Like the one involving Patrick Dempsey. Okay, so I may not be the most knowledgeable on racing cars, but he seemed so enthusiastic about the documentary Road to Le Mans that I couldn’t help but get excited too. We were unaware he was going to be at the event, and I felt my thoughts drift off when the Velocity channel manager started speaking about this new auto racing series. One mention of ‘Patrick Dempsey’, who follows exemplifies the “timeless cool” of other stars who’ve competed on film and in real life, including Paul Newman (Winning), James Garner (Grand Prix) and Steve McQueen (Le Mans), and I suddenly found myself very interested in the art of racing.

It didn’t hurt that upon our meeting, Dempsey was a complete gentleman – sincere and genuine. Looking into my eyes, he expressed his desire to visit South Africa, and held my colleague Lihle Mtshali, and I tightly as we took a pic.

A show that will hold particular relevance for South Africa, and indeed anyone who wants the future generation to grow up with rhinos still being a part of the animal landscape, is Rhino Wars. In 2011, nearly 400 rhinos were killed, and this series follows a group of private game reserves who band together to try to take down poachers by bringing in former U.S. Special Forces operatives. I spoke to the GM of Animal Planet, Marjorie Kaplan afterwards, and she said there are hopes for it to screen in South Africa. In the meantime, it’s slated to show in the US within the next couple of months.

Fighting a battle a little less epic, but still challenging in itself is Oprah, who addressed the crowd, looking a little worse for wear than she did last year, when the idea behind OWN was still fresh and untainted. Oprah, her dogged determination still an example to behold, said she was facing the “climb of her life”, referring to the troubles her network has faced in building an audience since its launch in January last year. “I’m climbing Kilimanjaro…you know that song, The Time of My Life? I’ve had the climb of my life,” she joked, but added that she’s started to see the summit, thanks to restructuring and some necessary changes they’ve made.
Discovery, OWN
OWN announced the new series Six Little McGhees as one of 4 new prime-time series. Pic: Discovery Communications

Not surprisingly, Oprah didn’t stay to mingle afterwards, but Erica Kane, er I mean Susan Lucci, did. The soapie queen is hosting a series called Deadly Affairs about just that on Investigation Discovery channel. I asked the pint-sized star her secret to looking so good. Her reply? Pilates.

And I suppose no sweet delights from the Pink-Aproned Gals, Sophie And Katherine or Cake Boss‘ Carlo’s Bakery either, I’m sure.

Randy FenoliSusan Lucci with Say Yes to the Dress’ Randy Fenoli      


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