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The Oprah Winfrey Show (often simply referred to as Oprah or simply just O) is an American syndicated talk show, hosted and produced by its namesake Oprah Winfrey, and is the highest-rated talk show in American television history. It is currently the longest-running daytime television talk show in the United States, having run nationally since September 8, 1986, for over 22 seasons and 3,724 episodes November 21, 2008. The show is renewed through 2011, but in a 2007 interview with Larry King, Oprah said that in 2011, she will not renew her contract, thus ending the show . she was very tearful about this announcement. The show, a production of Harpo Productions, is the last program currently on the air to be distributed by King World (only the name is mentioned in the Friday show's distribution credits), even though the latter company has been absorbed by CBS Television Distribution.

The show has its roots in AM Chicago, a half-hour morning talk show airing on WLS-TVmarker in Chicagomarker. Winfrey took over as host in 1983, and within a year took it from last place to first place in the ratings. In 1986, it was relaunched under its current title and was picked up nationally.

Oprah has been included in Time magazine's shortlist of the best television series of the twentieth century in 1998, and it made the top 50 of TV Guide's countdown of the greatest American shows of all time in 2002.

The show is highly influential, especially with women, and many of its topics penetrate into American pop-cultural consciousness. While early episodes of the show followed a Phil Donahue-style exploration of sensationalistic social issues, Oprah eventually transformed her series into one with an image of a more positive, spiritually uplifting experience by featuring book clubs, celebrity interviews, self-improvement segments, and philanthropic forays into world events.

The show airs on most CBS- and ABC-owned stations in the United States (as well as other stations contracted to KingWorld and its CBS Television Distribution successor), CTV in Canada, Diva TV in the United Kingdom and Network Ten in Australia.

The show began broadcasting in High Definition beginning with its 2008–09 season premiere episode on September 8, 2008, becoming one of the first nationally-syndicated daytime talk shows to do so.

On November 19, 2009, Oprah Winfrey's production company announced the show will be ending on September 9, 2011.


Winfrey has interviewed a plethora of political and public figures during the past twenty years. In the earlier seasons of the show, rather than offering a simple publicity platform, a celebrity would often feature after a period of intense media scrutiny, such was the case when the model Naomi Campbell appeared after there were claims she had a substance abuse problem. She often interviews celebrities on issues that directly involve them in some way, such as cancer or charity work.

Winfrey claims her worst interviewing experience was with Elizabeth Taylor in the fourth season. The actress refused to talk about her marriages and current relationship. Taylor later apologized and returned in a better mood on Winfrey's couch.

Winfrey's interview with Tom Cruise, which was broadcast on May 23, 2005, has also gained notoriety. Cruise — according to the The New York Times — "jumped around the set, hopped onto a couch, fell rapturously to one knee and repeatedly professed his love for his new girlfriend, Katie Holmes." This scene quickly became part of American pop-cultural discourse and was heavily parodied in media as diverse as MADtv, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy, Hannah Montana and the film Scary Movie 4.

Non-celebrity guests are generally individuals who have been involved in an extraordinary situation. Examples of these include an episode in the fourth season which featured Truddi Chase, a woman with supposed Multiple Personality Disorder who reported being violently and sexually abused beginning at the age of two. After introducing Chase, who was there to promote her book When Rabbit Howls, Oprah unexpectedly broke down in tears while reading the teleprompter, relating her own childhood molestation to that of the guest. Unable to control herself, Winfrey repeatedly asked producers to stop filming. Other non-celebrity appearances include guests who are chosen for being particularly un-fashionable and are given a fashion makeover by renowned style advisers Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.

Regular segments

Oprah's Book Club
Originally featured a monthly book highlight, including author interviews. Its popularity caused featured books to shoot to the top of bestseller lists, often increasing sales by as many as a million copies at its peak. It was suspended in 2002 and returned in 2003, now featuring more classic works of literature, with reduced selections per season. The old format was reintroduced in September 2005, but her selection of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces became controversial due to accusations of falsification. January 2006 saw Elie Wiesel's Night selected; Winfrey even traveled to Auschwitzmarker with Mr. Wiesel. The most recent selection is Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan.

What's The Buzz?
Winfrey introduces up-and-coming public figures generating industry buzz but not otherwise widely known. In what several media commentators have labelled The Oprah Effect, people appearing on this segment such as Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx and singer James Blunt have benefited from the extra publicity the show brings. Blunt in particular saw album sales increase dramatically and a top two spot on the Billboard 200.

Remember Your Spirit
Premiering and most popular during the mid-1990s, recurring guest and self described spiritualist Iyanla Vanzant emphasized the importance of self-affirmation and intrinsic worth.

Oprah's Favorite Things
Usually airs during the holiday shopping season or at the beginning of spring. Items personally favored by Winfrey are given away to the audience. Certain episodes of this type feature select groups of people; in 2005's Christmas edition Hurricane Katrina volunteer workers appeared in the audience. In November 2006 she opted to hand out credit cards of one-thousand dollars and camcorders to members of her studio audience, who were then told to help others creatively using the money; Winfrey has since called it her favorite giveaway ever.

Tuesdays With Dr. Oz
Mehmet C. Oz, MD, the Ivy-League educated head of cardiac surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC and better known to millions of Winfrey's viewers as "Dr. Oz", regularly appears on Tuesdays on the 2008–2009 season of The Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2009, Dr. Oz will debut in first-run syndication with a series co-produced by Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures Television and distributed by Sony.

Fridays Live
Panel: Mark Consuelos, Ali Wentworth, Oprah Winfrey, and Gayle King.

Wildest Dreams

One of the show's features in recent years has been the "Wildest Dreams" tour, which fulfills the dreams of people reported to her by producers, found mostly from viewers who write in to the show, be the dream a new house, an encounter with a favorite performer, or a guest role on a popular TV show.

During her nineteenth season premiere (fall 2004), Winfrey surprised her entire audience by giving them each a Pontiac G6. Winfrey famously exclaimed, "You get a car! You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!" It was named as one of the greatest television moments in history by TV Guide. Although Winfrey may be given credit for giving the cars away, they were donated to her by General Motors as a publicity stunt. In 2005, Tina Turner guest starred, allowing Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman to fulfill her Wildest Dream of singing backup to Turner. Another included a man named David Caruso who lost 300 pounds after weighing 525 pounds. He came on the show in 2003 and told Oprah that one of his wishes was to sit in a Porsche. Minutes later, a white 2004 Porsche Boxster S (worth about $63,000) was given to him. Winfrey named this one of her 20 favorite moments on a special DVD set.

Other famous moments

Tom Cruise jumps on to the couch during the taping of an interview

  • The surviving members of the Little Rock Nine confront some former classmates who heckled them on their first day of high school.
  • On December 25, 1986, a frail Liberace made his final public appearance on Oprah, dying six weeks later from AIDS.
  • In 1987, Winfrey traveled to all-white Forsyth County, Georgia, which had gained a reputation as being a hotbed for racism. It turned out that a majority of the county actually supported racial integration.
  • "The Weight Wagon" episode airing on November 5, 1988, showed Winfrey wheeling out a wagon containing fat, representing the weight she had lost.
  • Winfrey was moved to tears by the sight of her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Duncan, in 1989. She appeared just when Winfrey read her name on the teleprompter.
  • The highest-rated single episode ever was in 1993 when Michael Jackson made a rare appearance on the show, during which he attempted to dispel many of the rumors surrounding him and told Winfrey he suffered from the skin-pigment disorder known as vitiligo.
  • In 1995 Winfrey confessed to previously using drugs as a result of a relationship.
  • A. J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys appeared in 2003 with his mother to openly discuss his drug addiction and rehabilitation. Winfrey surprised him with the rest of the band coming out to give him support, making this the first time they appeared together in two years.
  • Jacqueline Saburido, a woman who suffered burns on her entire body after a car crash in 1999, appeared on the show in 2003. Winfrey later referred to her as one of her favorite all-time guest because of her shining inner beauty. The drunk driver Reginald Stephey's mother also appeared on the same show talking to Jacqueline about her son's mistake.
  • Tom Cruise on May 23, 2005, jumped around the set, hopped onto a couch, fell to one knee and repeatedly professed his love for his new girlfriend Katie Holmes. The "couch incident" was voted #1 of 2005's "Most Surprising Television Moments" on a countdown on E!.
  • In 2009 Kate and Gerry McCann appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to help a public appeal to find their daughter, Madeleine.
  • In May 2009 Scottish singer Susan Boyle appeared via satellite on The Oprah Winfrey Show after gaining worldwide media attention following her performance on UK television show Britain's Got Talent.
  • While taping the show's 24th season premiere on September 8, 2009, the entire audience of 21,000 people, gathered on Chicago'smarker Magnificent Mile, surprised Winfrey by breaking out into a synchronized dance set to the Black Eyed Peas' performance of "I Gotta Feeling" (with new lyrics congratulating Oprah on her show's longevity). The dance had been choreographed and rehearsed for weeks by a core group of dancers, which taught it to the entire crowd earlier in the day.


The show averages about 8.5 million viewers per original airing and about 4.5 million for repeats .


Some of Winfrey's detractors accuse her show of having a liberal slant; she has championed such liberal causes as the living wage, and featured filmmaker Michael Moore multiple times on the show. A controversial episode, which aired in 2005 (though originally aired to little apparent notice in October 2003), saw guests discussing the sexual act of "rimming", igniting criticism. The FCC received a proliferation of complaints from angry parents whose children watched the show in an early-evening slot in many television markets. However, most FCC correspondents were prodded to write by Howard Stern, a noteworthy target of the agency, as well as Jimmy Kimmel, in an attempt to expose an FCC double standard.

During the 2008 presidential election cycle, Winfrey was criticized for apparently declining to invite Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on her show until after the election. Winfrey also did not invite Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. Also, after endorsing Barack Obama for the 2008 presidential election, Winfrey declared that until the election was over she would not invite any Presidential candidate on her show. Winfrey had featured Obama on the show twice, in 2005 and 2006, prior to his announcement that he was running for President.

In the late 1990s, on a discussion of mad cow disease, Winfrey stated that the disease fears had "stopped me cold from eating another burger!" Texas cattle ranchers considered that quote tantamount to defamation, and promptly sued her for libel. As a result of the legal proceedings, and because the show still had to film new episodes and couldn't go into reruns, the show was forced to move to Amarillo, Texasmarker for a period of approximately one month, and furthermore, because of a gag order, Winfrey was not allowed to even mention the trial on her show. Winfrey was acquitted of all charges. However, the trial and move to Amarillo led to Winfrey meeting Phil McGraw; Winfrey made McGraw a regular guest on her show shortly thereafter, and eventually led to Dr. Phil getting his own show, produced by Winfrey's Harpo Productions.

Winfrey's program has been accused of providing health advice that is not scientifically valid or supported by medical research. Specific criticism include promoting "discredited" theories about non-FDA approved hormone therapy, having Jenny McCarthy as a guest to allege a link between vaccination and autism, and advising thyroid patients to adopt diets that actually blunts the effectiveness of their thyroid medication.


Although Discovery Chief David Zaslav said that CBS Television Distribution’s The Oprah Winfrey Show will depart broadcast syndication in fall 2011, Harpo Productions isn’t so sure. Zaslav told analysts: “The current expectation is that after autumn 2011 her show will go off of …syndication, and she will come to OWN,” the cable network that Winfrey’s production company is creating in conjunction with Discovery. Winfrey’s distribution deal, which she re-signed with King World (now part of CBS Television Distribution) in August 2004, expires in fall 2011. That marks the end of Oprah’s 25th season. In a statement issued, Harpo Productions responded: "While David Zaslav's comments are true that Winfrey's current contract to produce The Oprah Winfrey Show will expire in 2011, she has not made a final decision as to whether she will continue her show in syndication beyond that," says Lisa Halliday, chief spokesperson for Harpo Productions, Inc.

In 1997, Winfrey said she was planning to retire, but then renewed her contract through 2002. In 2002, she said she would depart in 2006 – the show’s 20th anniversary year – but in 2004 she ended up extending through 2011, after riding a wave of high ratings and a revamped program in 2003. In an appearance on Good Morning America on Sep 10, 2009. Oprah told Diane Sawyer that she will make the decision of retiring or renewing her contract before the end of the year; and finally, on November 19, 2009, Harpo announced the show would end in 2011.


Winfrey created a YouTube channel in November 2007 at that showcases some clips of her show and other relevant video features that are pertinent to a show's subject when aired.

See also


External links

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