For a quarter-century, it's been an American institution that has transformed its host into one of the wealthiest, most influential people on the planet. Now, Oprah Winfey is pulling the plug on her massively successful syndicated TV show.
The president of Harpo Inc. — the backward-spelling production company that has overseen "The Oprah Winfrey Show" since its 1986 debut — confirmed Thursday (November 19) that 2011 will be Oprah's last season on the air. In a press release to the television stations that air the show, Harpo head Tim Bennett said that the talk-show queen will announce her decision live on the show Friday afternoon, according to multiple media outlets.
The move is widely expected to give Oprah more time to concentrate on her own cable channel, as well as the almost endless list of media ventures that she currently fuels with her hit-making reputation.
"We have the greatest respect for Oprah and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors," CBS Television Distribution said in a statement. "We know that anything she turns her hand to will be a great success. We look forward to working with her for the next several years, and hopefully afterwards as well."
The New York Times reported that Winfrey, 55, informed her staff of the decision on Thursday.
Winfrey has recently been working hard on planning the launch of "OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network," a joint venture between Discovery Communications and Harpo. The channel is scheduled to premiere on cable in January 2011, which could give Winfrey about nine months to publicize the channel on her talk show before it leaves the air.