Oprah Winfrey launches new COVID-19 series on Apple TV, featuring Idris Elba interview - USA TODAY

Oprah Winfrey launches new COVID-19 series on Apple TV, featuring Idris Elba interview - USA TODAY

5 April 2020

Gary Dinges USA TODAY

Published 1:06 AM EDT Mar 22, 2020

Got questions about the coronavirus? Don't fret: Oprah Winfrey is here to help.

The former daytime talk-show host revealed Saturday that she'll be producing a new streaming series devoted to answering questions and dispelling myths about COVID-19.

"Oprah Talks COVID-19" is available on Apple TV+,and can be viewed in more than 100 countries, according to Apple.

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Winfrey's first installment features FaceTime interviews with actor Idris Elba and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre. Elba revealed recently that he'd tested positive for COVID-19.

"Like millions of people all over the world, I've been staying safer at home for over a week now," Winfrey tweeted. "I know a lot of people are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, & uncertain. Bc of that, I want to offer some hope & gather thought leaders & people going through it to add some perspective."

In the opening of the first episode, she observed: "This is a big test for our humanity. We have an opportunity, in the midst of all our fears and disruption, to really rise."

The interview was an exclusive of sorts: Elba, who along with Dhowre, is currently quarantined in New Mexico, where he had been due to start filming a new project. He told Winfrey he been avoiding "the sort of mainstream media in terms of doing interviews."

According to Elba, he chose Winfrey so he could discuss his health with someone he considers a friend, "but also someone whose journalistic approach to doing things like this is probably one of the best." 

So why go public? 

"COVID-19 has come to a sort of pressure point right now but for the last two weeks, it's been a talking point and I really felt that a lot of people didn't know what was gonna come ... It didn't really feel relatable. There were a bunch of theories going around: it's a conspiracy! Is it even real?" Elba, 47, recalled. "And when I got tested and it came back positive, it became very real. It was always real for me but it became very real. And I just felt compelled to tell people this is very real. Someone like myself, in the public eye, can press a button and 30 million people will get a message the next day, I think is a really important component in the messaging around COVID-19 right now."

By way of an update on his health, Elba said, "I feel fine — been checking my temperature every day." (It appears he has not suffered from a fever, noting he has stayed around the normal range of 98?.)

"I really haven't witnessed any major symptoms," he said. 

The silver lining in all of this: he's had a chance to catch his breath. "The rest, if I'm really, honest has been incredible — just being able to sit still. I never sit still, and so from a mental point of view, I feel pretty focused and (have) been OK." 

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Viewers can watch the first episode at tv.apple.com regardless of whether they have a subscription or not. Additional installments of "Oprah Talks COVID-19" will roll out each week, Apple said.

Winfrey retired from daytime TV in May 2011, after hosting her own talk show for 25 years. Since then, she's focused on OWN, her cable TV network, and a number of side projects.

Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY


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