Oprah returns to hard-hitting interviews for OWN ratings

theGRIO REPORT - OWN viewers should expect similar hard-hitting interviews like the Shaquan Duley and Houston family interview in months to come....

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network received its highest ratings to date from her exclusive interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, during a special episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter. Keeping the ratings momentum going, on the next episode of her prime-time series, Oprah will air an exclusive interview with Shaquan Duley, a South Carolina mother who has confessed to murdering her two young sons.

The interview is set to air April 1, one week before her sentence is announced, and will be Duley’s first television appearance since she murdered her 2-year-old and 18-month-old sons in August 2010.

During the interview Oprah asks why she killed her two children, and talks with Duley’s mother Helen and sister Adrian, as well as Duley’s 7-year-old daughter Saniya. Oprah interviewed Duley’s family in September 2010 on the now defunct The Oprah Winfrey Show, where the family discussed her erratic behavior days before the shocking crime she committed.

A police report and confession from August 2010 revealed that the 29-year-old mother of three had an argument with her mother, before storming out of her house and taking her two sons, Devan, 2-years-old, and Ja’van, 18-months-old, and leaving her 5-year old-daughter Saniya behind.

According to reports, Duley then checked into a motel, where she smothered her sons to death by placing her hands over their mouth and nose. She later buckled her son’s bodies into their car seats and drove to a rural boat ramp 15 miles away, where she ran her car into the river where it sank, along with the bodies of her sons.

Duley originally told authorities that the children drowned when their car careened into the river and that she couldn’t manage to get the children out of the car, but days later confessed to the murders and the cover up, telling Sheriff Larry Williams that she was “distraught” after a dispute she had with her mother. On March 16, 2012 she pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and begged for forgiveness from her family, the community, and the judge. Duley now faces 60 years to life in prison for the murders.

Oprah’s interview with Duley is being touted as another “big get” for OWN and just one more example of the talk show queen breathing life back into her network by doing what she does best.

She has been on an uphill battles to build ratings for OWN since launching the network in January 2011. In an attempt to gain more viewers, Oprah introduced her new prime-time series months ago, Oprah’s Next Chapter. On the show, which airs once per week, the queen of talk steps outside of the studio for enlightening conversations with news makers, celebrities, and real-life families.

Thus far, Oprah has interviewed Sean Penn, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Steven Tyler, Paula Deen, and George Lucas, but her Houston-family interview generated the highest ratings for OWN.

So viewers might expect similar hard-hitting interviews like the Houston family and Duley interview in months to come. In June 2011 Oprah was candid about other major exclusives that she wants to land. “I have a dream of O.J. Simpson confessing to me, and I am going to make that happen, people,” said Winfrey to cheers from the crowd at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center.

Last week she took to Twitter to say that she wants to land an exclusive interview with George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch member who shot the Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. “Anyone who’s lost a loved one knows their pain. I’d interview them too, but want the eyewitnesses & Zimmerman,” Oprah said.

OWN made headlines last week when Oprah announced that she is cancelling Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show after only five months on the air, and eliminating 30 staff members in a recent network restructuring.

Oprah’s Next Chapter with the Shaquan Dudley will air Sunday at 9/8C on OWN. Will you be watching?

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC