CHICAGO – “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” an iconic broadcast that grew over two decades into a daytime television powerhouse and the foundation of a multibillion-dollar media empire, will end its run in 2011 after 25 seasons on the air, Winfrey’s production company said Thursday night.
Winfrey plans to announce the final date for her show during a live broadcast today, Harpo Productions Inc. said, bringing an end to what has been television’s top-rated talk show for more than two decades.
A Harpo spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday on Winfrey’s future plans except to say that “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will not move to cable television.
Winfrey, 55, is widely expected to start up a new talk show on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a much-delayed joint venture with Discovery Communications Inc. that is expected to debut in 2011. OWN is to replace the Discovery Health Channel and will debut in some 74 million homes.
CBS Television Distribution, which distributes “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to more than 200 markets blanketing the United States, held out hope that it could continue doing business with Winfrey, perhaps producing a new show out of its studios in Los Angeles.
“We have the greatest respect for Oprah and wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors,” the unit of CBS Corp. said in a statement.
Over the years, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” grew from a newcomer that chipped away at talk king Phil Donahue’s dominance into a program that turned inspirational. The show covered a gamut that ranged from interviews with the world’s most famous celebrities to an honest discussion about her weight struggles.
“As that show evolved, it really kind of dressed up the neighborhood of the daytime talk show,” said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “There was a seriousness to it, as though what she was doing was a calling and not just a television show.”