Tonight at 9 p.m., the Tyler Perry era begins on the OWN Network. Perry has two scripted shows scheduled to debut this week – the 2-hour debut of the drama “The Haves and the Have Nots,” tonight at 9 and tomorrow, the first episode of “Love Thy Neighbor” is set to air at 9 p.m. Sixteen episodes of “The Haves” are on schedule and 26 of “Love Thy Neighbor.” This represents a new day on OWN, as this is the network’s first foray into scripted dramas after successes with reality shows like “Iyanla, Fix My Life,” and “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s.” Oprah and Tyler got together this morning on “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” and here’s what we learned from their conversation.
1. IT WAS TYLER’S IDEA TO COME TO OWN
OPRAH: “At the time he was thinking about dong his own network and when I was going through every single media outlet in the country labeling OWN as struggling, struggling, struggling and I was digging myself out of a hole, after just finishing the Oprah Show Tyler said ‘Let me help you. You know, I could write you something. ‘ I was one thousand percent supportive of him starting his own network but let me just tell you it’s more than a notion, starting your own network. While he was thinking about starting his own network, he said ‘Let me write something for you.’”
2. OPRAH IS NOT A CONTROL FREAK
OPRAH: “Actually, I have let go. Everybody thinks I’m a control freak and that is a bad rap for me. I really try to align myself, through all my work over the years, I have a reputation as a control freak, but I’m not. I try to get good people and let them do what they do. Tyler you can attest to that, can you not?”
TYLER: “Seriously, she is a person who lets go and she lets me do what I do. I know how to lead and I also know when to follow. It is the Oprah Winfrey network and it’s really great to be able to do a show like “The Have and Have Nots” and “Love Thy Neighbor” with Palmer Williams and Patrice Lovely and Hattie from my plays. Tonight is the big night of “The Haves and the Have Nots.” And to be able to tell these kind of stories and let go and then have the support of Oprah and OWN behind me, it’s really, really awesome. I can’t wait for people to see it tonight.
All my people out there listening, you know y’all been with me from the very beginning, I need you to watch tonight. I promise you this show will not let you down. It is what I do, it is what you’ve done for me and all you have to do is watch OWN. Check out “The Haves and the Have Nots” tonight and tomorrow “Love Thy Neighbor.” It’s going to be incredible.”
3. OPRAH DOESNT WATCH TELEVISION
“We’re not sure we believed it when Oprah said some years back that she didn’t own a TV but apparently, it’s true. Whether she ever broke down and bought one or not, the woman who became one of the biggest stars in TV history does not watch much TV. She did become a fan of “The Haves and the Have Nots,” though.”
OPRAH: “I’ve watched every one of the episodes of “The Haves and the Have Nots” and I’m normally not a television watcher. But as Tyler was producing them and getting them ready for air, he would send them to me and I got myself hooked to the point of I’m like ‘I’m at episode 6, where’s #7?’’
4. OPRAH BELIEVED IN IYANLA AGAINST THE ADVICE OF HER OWN PEOPLE
“Members of my team told me Iyanla would not work, but I knew the moment that Iyanla and I reconciled on the air that final year of “The Oprah Show,” I knew that that was a godsend. As I was sitting there, with her, on the air on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” I knew that that moment was going to allow us to work together in the future. I believed from the beginning that that show would work. That’s actually one of my favorite shows on OWN. “
5. TYLER CAME UP WITH THE IDEA TO HAVE MEDEA MEET SOPHIA
In a funny promo for those who can’t find OWN, the two iconic fictional characters are spoofed.
OPRAH: “That was Tyler’s idea, too! Tyler called me one morning. He has a plethora of ideas. He called me one morning and said “Hey I got this idea – when Madea meets Sophia. Some people say where is it, where is it they can’t find OWN. So Tyler said I have this idea to help people find own. Madea’s going down the road and she meets Sophia. And I told him the other day there should be more Madea meets Sophia moments. Get to work, Tyler.” (For Direct TV viewers, OWN is on channel 279.)
6. TYLER IS A SPIKE LEE FAN
Director Spike Lee has been vocal in his criticism of Tyler Perry’s work and Tyler has responded accordingly. But Tyler says, regardless that he appreciates Spike’s work.
TYLER: “I’m a fan of Spike’s, I really am. But then I have to tell him to “Go to hell.”
OPRAH: “I just did an interview with Tyler and he was very complimentary of Spike. There are different stories and depending on what your background is, you tell the story from your point of view. When I did “The Color Purple” we were picketed for “The Color Purple.” Black people were standing out there picketing. And now, it’s really a classic.”
7. TYLER’S NOT BIG ON TWITTER
OPRAH: “I love a Tweetfest.” @ Oprah
TYLER: “She’s going to make me tweet tonight.” @TylerPerry (Despite over 2 million followers, he’s only sent 500 tweets)
OPRAH: “I told Tyler we get to tweet every week and he was like ‘I don’t know about all that.'”
TYLER: “It just don’t sound right. A 6’5 black man tweeting. Something’s wrong with that. But it’s all good.”