Producing The Oprah Winfrey Show is one thing, but Harpo executives Harriet Seitler and Ellen Rakieten say producing the reality show Oprah's Big Give is unlike anything they've ever attempted before. Gayle talks with Harriet and Ellen about the unique idea behind Harpo Productions's new primetime reality series.
For about eight weeks, contestants travel around the country and are challenged to think of and carry out innovative ways to help others and give back. Harriet and Ellen say the goal of the show is to promote philanthropy—the contestants's goal is to stay in the competition by "out giving" each other. "What's happened is, these regular people—just like us and the people listening—have been put in a situation to give big and help other people and do things for other people," Ellen says. "And of course, as Oprah always says, 'When you give, you get more back for yourself.' This is what these people are experiencing."
So far, Oprah's Big Give has made stops in cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Atlanta, Miami, New York and Chicago. While details of the competition are top secret, Ellen says contestants have already given away more than $4 million dollars and are helping many people in need. "[The contestants] don't even know if there is a prize waiting for them at the end," Ellen says. "Nobody has asked. They are motivated by the idea of trying to be a better person."
Like other reality shows, there is a host and judges. However, Harriet says the rest of the show is unlike anything you've ever seen before. "I think this might be one of the most ambitious things that anyone has ever tried to put on television—because there is no model for it," Harriet says. "It's not what we do on The Oprah Show, it is not what anyone has done on television before, and it's really a whole new invention."