Oprah To End Talk Show After 25th Season Oprah Winfrey's production company says she plans to end her talk show in 2011, after 25 seasons on the air. Winfrey plans to announce the final date for her show during a live broadcast Friday. Matt Belloni, an editor at the Hollywood Reporter, talks with Renee Montagne about Oprah's decision.
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Oprah To End Talk Show After 25th Season

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Oprah To End Talk Show After 25th Season

Oprah To End Talk Show After 25th Season

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

After 25 years, Oprah Winfrey is calling it a day on her daytime talk show. The legendary TV host will end her syndicated broadcast in 201l when her show concludes its 25th season.

She's hardly leaving the media, though. Winfrey co-owns, with Discovery Communications, an entire cable network. The OWN Network - that stands for the Oprah Winfrey Network - is expected to launch its programs next year. Oprah's influence of course extends far beyond television. To see what might be in store for her next we have Matthew Belloni in our studio. He's features editor at the Hollywood Reporter.

Good morning.

Mr. MATTHEW BELLONI (Features editor, Hollywood Reporter): Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Oprah leaving network TV, of course, is a huge deal in a lot of ways. What would be at the top of your list?

Mr. BELLONI: Well, I think there's two major reasons that this is a big deal. First, culturally. I mean, more than seven million people watch her show every day. And she has a brand. She has a brand that people listen to. She has a brand that if it endorses something, people are more likely to buy that thing. A lifestyle, really, that she's created - that Oprah now means something.

Secondly, I think it's a major change in the television business. Oprah is one of the most famous people in America, and now she's going to be�

MONTAGNE: The world, actually.

Mr. BELLONI: Yeah, absolutely. And now she's going to be on cable. And I think this new network that she's starting it instantly puts that on the map. People are going to look for it. They're going to be able to charge bigger fees. They're going to be able to charge more to advertisers. It's going to be something that's now a destination for a lot of different people.

MONTAGNE: One of the reasons that people, you know, care for her so much, is that she's a little bit different than other talk show hosts in that she is, in the words that you hear, are inspirational, that it's something of a calling, that, you know, her TV show stands quite separate from others.

Mr. BELLONI: That's true. The Oprah brand does stand for something. And she has a very powerful voice. And she uses that brand to promote people and, you know, everything from books, to films, to products. Anything that carries the Oprah stamp of approval, people pay attention to those.

MONTAGNE: So why now?

Mr. BELLONI: Well, there's a lot of things at work. I think, you know, 25 years is a nice, round number. I think that the landscape of television is changing. Cable is a much more dominant force now. And she can go and be a big fish on cable. And as much power as she has amassed in television, now she's going to own the pipe as well as the water in the pipe. So it's a big deal for her.

MONTAGNE: And not a great deal for those stations that actually run her show. I mean, it's a rough time for the broadcast industry, and her show is, among other things, a huge lead-in for the local evening news, which is a money maker.

Mr. BELLONI: That's true. I mean, in addition to the station groups that air her show, the ABC stations, especially, which has nine of the ten top markets that Oprah's in, that's going to be a big loss. I mean, the scramble is on now to try to fill that spot and find something that people will want to watch in the greater numbers. And the fact is, it's just not out there right now.

MONTAGNE: Do you expect Oprah Winfrey to do a different kind of daily show? Because she still will be on the air on her network.

Mr. BELLONI: Sure. You know, I think a lot is left to be seen. She hasn't announced what she's specifically going to be doing. You know, she could do a show very similar to her current show. She could do something completely different. Having a talk show every day and having an entire network is a very different thing. And, you know, they have announced some shows that are going to be on the OWN Network.

And, for instance, one of them is something called �Master Class,� which is a show about extraordinary people that are, quote, unquote, �handpicked by Oprah.� So I think you're going to see a lot of the Oprah brand on that network. Whether it will be the talk show as we know it now remains to be seen.

MONTAGNE: Thanks very much for joining us.

Mr. BELLONI: Sure.

MONTAGNE: Matthew Belloni is the managing editor of features at the Hollywood Reporter.

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