Shrewd Oprah Winfrey is expanding her ballyhooed interview with Lance Armstrong into a two-night event, she announced Tuesday morning.
The interview, in which the world’s most famous bicyclist is expected to admit for the first time that he used performance-enhancing drugs, was previously scheduled to be showcased in a 90-minute special edition of “Oprah’s Next Chapter” scheduled for Thursday (Jan. 17), 9-10:30 p.m. (8-9:30c) on OWN.
But in addition to that, she’ll now produce an additional special — thought to be an hour in length — that will air the next night — Friday, Jan. 18 — at 9/8c.
The reasons: For one thing, it appears that Oprah got so much cooperation and material from Armstrong, far in excess of 90 minutes, that the prospect of carving out an additional special on another night was irresistible. She said as much in a Tweet she issued after she and Armstrong completed their interview in Austin, Texas, on Monday. “Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!” Oprah wrote on Twitter.
For another, savvy Oprah is well-aware of the coverage this interview is already getting in the worldwide media. It’s front-page news, and it hasn’t even aired yet. Producing a second special will boost ratings on an additional night, and also create a new batch of lucrative commercial time to sell too.
Already, interest in the interview has reached a fever pitch, with the Associated Press and others reporting that Armstrong will indeed admit that he used performance-enhancing substances. But questions remain about how far he’ll go in admitting his drug use. For example, will he admit that he used them specifically to aid his performance in the multiple Tour de France races he won?
Oprah talked about the interview Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “There were a couple times where he was emotional, but emotional doesn’t begin to describe the intensity or the difficulty, I think, he experienced in talking about some of these things,” she said on the show, according to this New York Post story.
And for viewers who intend to watch his interview with Oprah, there’s this key question: Will we get to see him make his admission on Night One? Or will Oprah and her producers leave us hanging — and waiting for that admission — until Night Two, after we all sit through the 90-minute show Thursday night?
There was no word on that on Tuesday.