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TV Outlook Ending show like 'ending a love affair,' Winfrey says

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Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2011 12:00 am

For Oprah Winfrey, ending her daytime talk show after 25 years isn't like quitting another job.

"I feel like I am ending a love affair," Winfrey said recently about the ending of her show. "I don't feel sad. I feel like it is time."

Rarely has daytime TV had a hallmark moment like the final episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The ratings for the syndicated talk show (seen most places at 4 p.m. weekdays on ABC affiliates) could come close to setting a record. Even given the hype of the last go-around and the overwhelming audience devotion to Winfrey, it's doubtful the event could eclipse the daytime-drama-record 30 million who watched Luke and Laura marry on "General Hospital" back in 1981, but the audience will be supersized.

Commercial time for a 30-second spot is going for $1 million, according to reports.

Set for Wednesday, May 25, the installment will feature superstar guests such as Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

Winfrey, whose Oprah Winfrey Network launched in January, said she intended to be original from the beginning.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" took a leap from a local program in Chicago to national syndication, taking Winfrey into a new realm of stardom. "In 1986, I went from someone nobody knew to someone everybody knew," Winfrey said.

With that came money and more responsibility. She joked that she spent the money on shoes early on. Then, Bill Cosby asked her, "Once you are done buying enough shoes, then what?"

Though "Oprah" followed shifts in daytime tastes, Winfrey grew from just another talk-show host to a pop-culture force of nature in the 1990s.

Her specialty became segments about self-help, diets, forgiveness and emotional renewal. She distanced herself from the run-of-the mill daytime talk shows that specialized in bizarre guest confessions aimed to shock. Presenting life-affirming segments became her signature, and she said she wanted to use her platform to help improve the lives of her audience.

In the beginning, someone had asked her if she aimed to be the next Phil Donahue (who had the top-rated talk show 25 years earlier).

"No. I wasn't," she said. "I created my own way of doing it."

Other highlights for the week of May 22-28 (all times EDT; listings subject to change; check local listings):

SUNDAY

"Billboard Music Awards" (8 p.m., ABC). Winners are determined by sales and airplay. Cee Lo Green and Beyonce are on tap for the evening.

MONDAY

"House" (8 p.m., Fox). The doctors wonder if their latest patient is really sick, or just a performance artist pulling them into her latest project.

"Too Big To Fail" (9 p.m., HBO). Based on the book of the same name, the film looks at the 2008 financial crisis and the over-the-top personalities from Wall Street behind it. William Hurt, Ed Asner and Billy Crudup star.

"The Bachelorette" (9 p.m., ABC). Lonely Ashley Herbert, the lady "Bachelor" Brad Womack rejected, now has 25 dudes after her.

TUESDAY

"Glee" (9 p.m., Fox). The New Directions glee club goes to Nationals in the season finale.

"Dancing with the Stars" (9 p.m., ABC). A new couple will get the mirror-ball trophy.

WEDNESDAY

"American Idol" (8 p.m., Fox). Congratulations, America. You're about to learn the name of the winner -- whose album you probably won't buy.

"Cougar Town" (9:30 p.m., ABC). Another season of wine-drinking comes to an end.

"Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior" (10 p.m., CBS). In the season finale, the team tracks a serial killer who murders in crowds. Suddenly, walking alone in a dark alley doesn't sound so dangerous anymore.

THURSDAY

"So You Think You Can Dance" (8 p.m., Fox). Well, do you? If so, you may want to check out this whole-new season.

FRIDAY

"The Young & The Restless" (12:30 p.m., CBS). Genie Francis returns to daytime as a grieving mother with an agenda.

"VH1 Storytellers: Death Cab for Cutie" (11 p.m., VH1). The band performs for 150 and tells the tales behind each song.

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