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 Thursday 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 on Friday, said Harpo Productions Inc.
A Harpo spokeswoman declined to comment Thursday 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. Oprah’s much-anticipated interview of Sarah Palin brought her the biggest “Oprah” ratings in two years. She found time between shows to lobby the International Olympic Committee in Denmark for Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics.