The Oprah Factor
When Jay Leno scored The Tonight Show gig, Letterman defected to CBS (CBS), securing more control and profit than Leno has ever had. His production company, Worldwide Pants, produces The Late Show, and Letterman retains the rights to every episode. The company also has a piece of syndication favorites such as Everybody Loves Raymond.
In 1970 the then-sports anchor produced Soul Train, a musical-variety show targeting African Americans. He encountered resistance—only seven cities aired it during its debut year—but Cornelius pressed on. He ended up hosting and owning one of the longest-running shows in history before selling it for an undisclosed sum in 2008.
Aiming her daytime program, The Tyra Banks Show, at younger girls, the model-turned-TV-personality avoided competing with big guns when she went on the air in 2005. Soon she, too, was a mogul, winning loyal fans for the show she co-produced through its finale this past June. Banks owns 25 percent of America's Next Top Model, now in its 15th cycle.
As host and producer of American Bandstand, Clark saw the value of a long-running, low-cost TV series. The famed DJ and master of ceremonies copied the model at his own production company, creating a spate of name-brand TV and radio shows, including Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, which has been on the air for 37 years.