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Ebersol to again go on ‘Oprah’

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, April 20, 2006

Notre Dame graduate Charlie Ebersol will appear on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” this afternoon to discuss his documentary film, “Ithuteng” – approximately two months after a emotional first appearance where he and his family discussed the death of his youngest brother, Teddy Ebersol.

Ebersol’s film follows the lives of four students for two weeks at Ithuteng Trust, a school in Soweto, South Africa. One woman runs the school of 6,500 students, whose population includes rapists, murderers and rape victims, Ebersol said. Ithuteng, which means “never stop learning,” is the only school in Africa with a 100 percent graduation and retention rate.

The film will be presented at the Tribeca Film Festival May 2 and will air December 2 on HBO.

Ebersol shot the film during the summer between his sophomore and junior years at Notre Dame. He said he decided to chronicle Ithuteng’s unique story in a film after interviewing a student who attended the school.

“At the end of the interview he just looked right into the camera and said ‘I’m going to change the world,’ and I just totally believed him,” Ebersol said.

On “The Oprah Winfrey Show” this afternoon, Ebersol will appear with his brother William who directed the film,friend Kip Kroger, who helped with producing, and his parents. The Ebersol family spoke to Winfrey in a show that aired Feb. 2 about the plane crash that killed youngest son Teddy Ebersol and injured Charlie and his father Dick Ebersol.

Ebersol said after the plane tragedy he was motivated to edit some parts of the documentary and also add to it to reflect his new outlook.

“After the crash we were kind of inspired to change the film,” Ebersol said. “We added music and that kind of changed everything.”

Ebersol showed the film in its new version for the first time to students and administrators at Notre Dame in February of last year. He said students reacted positively to the showing and asked good questions about the film and its subject. Ebersol said he hopes the documentary gives viewers a “sense of peace.”

“I think people, especially students who are living in the United States, look at this film and realize what it is to truly be happy and that happiness is truly a function of your desire to be happy,” he said.

Winfrey will show clips from the film and the Ebersols and Kroger will discuss Ithuteng. At the end of the show, Winfrey and Ebersol will introduce the Geier family, who have become involved in Africa at the Agape Orphanage after the death of their daughter. At the Tribeca Film Festival, Ebersol and the Geier family plan to announce a project they will work on together.

Ebersol praised Winfrey, calling her “remarkable” and “completely unselfish.” She was genuine and personally interested in her approach to him and his family, Ebersol said.

“I found in spending time with her and doing the show that it’s true,” Ebersol said. “It’s not in any way an act or a façade. She’s really the real deal.”

“The Oprah Winfrey Show” airs weekdays at 4 p.m. on WSBT Channel 22.