Oprah plans to cancel TV show, leaves future a mystery

Associated Press and Associated Press

CHICAGO– ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ an iconic broadcast that began as a local Chicago talk show and grew over two decades into the foundation of a media empire worth billions, will end its run in 2011 after 25 seasons on the air, Winfrey’s production company said last night.

Winfrey, who from a seat on the couch of her set in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood became a billionaire and one of the most powerful women in entertainment, plans to announce the final date for her show during a live broadcast tomorrow, said Harpo Productions Inc.

A Harpo spokeswoman declined to comment yesterday when asked if Oprah’s decision to end the show meant she planned to retire, or would move her broadcasting efforts onto a long-rumored Oprah network.

Winfrey’s 24th season opened earlier this year with a bang, as she drew more than 20,000 fans to the city’s Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue for a Chicago block party with the Black Eyed Peas.

She followed up with a series of blockbuster interviews – Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, exclusives with singer Whitney Houston and ESPN’s Erin Andrews, and just this week, former Alaska governor, GOP vice presidential candidate and best-selling author Sarah Palin. She found time between shows to lobby the International Olympic Committee in Denmark for Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

Winfrey started her broadcasting career as a teenager in Nashville, Tenn., reading the news at WVOL. Two years later, Winfrey started co-anchoring news broadcasts on WTVF-TV in Nashville. In 1976 she moved to Baltimore to anchor newscasts at WJZ-TV before becoming host of the local talk show ‘People Are Talking.’

In 1984, she relocated to Chicago to host WLS-TV’s morning talk show ‘A.M. Chicago’ – the show was became ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ one year later. She set up Harpo the following year and her talk show went into syndication, rising to become one of the most successful in the history of broadcasting.

‘I came from nothing,’ Winfrey wrote in the 1998 book ‘Journey to Beloved.’ ‘No power. No money. Not even my thoughts were my own. I had no free will. No voice. Now, I have the freedom, power, and will to speak to millions every day – having come from nowhere.’