In keeping with its self-empowerment roots, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network presents an exciting new advice show hosted by Dr. Deepak Chopra’s son Gotham Chopra. Help Desk features world-renowned inspirational leaders including Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein, OWN star Iyanla Vanzant (Iyanla, Fix My Life), Panache Desai, Wild author Cheryl Strayed and Gary Zukav sharing insight and advice from a simple desk set up in random public places around the country such as New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
Gotham explains that the show’s producers sent out notices that they would be in town through local organizations and the experts’ social media followings. But he admits he was still impressed by the turnout.
“People’s willingness to sit down and talk about something usually very personal, I think is surprising to me,” Gotham says, noting that the experts, though familiar in some cases, are still total strangers. “I think it’s also a testament — people are out there dealing with things in their lives and they want help. They need help. They need guidance.”
Gotham says Help Desk will be relatable to everyone thanks to its common issues of relationship trouble, balancing work with having a fulfilling life, and dealing with loss — whether that is due to someone passing away or withdrawing because of addiction or other life problems.
“These people are out there — and they’re not abnormal people; they’re our neighbors, they’re the people that we work with — and they need help,” he says. “It’s been pretty cool quite frankly to help build the platform. We’re trying to point people in the right direction. We’re not claiming that you come to five minutes at the help desk and we’re going to solve all your problems. … What the experts are saying is, ‘Here are some tools and here are some tips on how you should think about these problems,’ and pointing them in the right direction.”
Gotham says he never takes working with this diverse group of experts for granted, and while his famous father only appears in one episode (and he is used to working with him), it was a humbling experience for him to see the connections Deepak and the others could make, spending such a short amount of time with total strangers.
“It’s not necessarily the advice that they’re giving as much as what their presence will do,” he says. “Their ability to listen and, in some cases, figuratively or literally reach out and touch somebody and tell them, ‘I’m here. I’m listening to you. I care’ That’s something we’ve seen in person and you can see it in the shows.”
Gotham also makes it clear that, while the experts resumes are impressive, this is still a television show and viewers should not compare what they do on Help Desk to the experience of going to therapy. What he does hope audience and participants do take away from the show is some the tools and advice to use work on their problems.
“We try to find people who speak to larger issues — not just relationship issues,” Gotham says. “If I’m articulating it right, then the viewers are able to connect with the person sitting at the help desk.”
Help Desk premieres Sunday, Sept. 7 at 12pm ET/PT on OWN
Image/video: OWN Photo credit: Todd MacMillan