Frenchboro to be featured on Oprah

Posted April 27, 2009, at 1:15 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:09 p.m.

FRENCHBORO, Maine — Only a few dozen people call this remote offshore island home, but for a few minutes this week it is going to be the center of the universe.

The center of the Oprah universe, that is.

Frenchboro, which is seven miles offshore from Mount Desert Island and has only about 40 year-round residents, is going to be profiled Wednesday, April 29, on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

According to Doug Finn, a teacher at Frenchboro Elementary School, the town’s small size and isolation are among the reasons why it is going to be on national television. The facts that Winfrey wanted to do a segment on an unusual and interesting community and that one of her producers had visited the island years ago also helped, he said Monday.

A production crew from the show traveled to the island last month on St. Patrick’s Day, Finn said, and learned about the island’s school, its lobstering industry, and its history, among other things. A few days later, about 30 island residents gathered at the school to be interviewed via Skype, an online video conferencing service, by Winfrey herself.

“That was about 75 percent of the population,” Finn said. “She asked questions about our one-room school house, how we cope without having a store or anything like that. It was fairly quick.”

The interview with Winfrey lasted between 10 and 15 minutes, Finn said.

He said that people were nervous then, when they were interviewed by Winfrey, and are getting nervous again now that their interview is about to be broadcast. He said that, if nothing else, the show could help boost tourism to the island, which has about 150 residents during the summer.

“Overall, I think it was a positive experience,” Finn said of talking to Winfrey. “A majority of the people were pretty open and inviting.”

The show is expected to air on Channel 5, WABI-TV, at 4 p.m. Wednesday. According to the show’s Web site, the same program also will have segments on the infamous Bunny Ranch brothel in Nevada and “the greeniest guy” in Hollywood.

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