Live updates from the Farewell Season premiere

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The long goodbye kicked off Monday with the season premiere of the 25th and final season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Winfrey promised more of her famous surprises, though the first one was revealed online before the show -- a clip of Winfrey and John Travolta dancing demurely to "Love Train" by the O'Jays before a thrashing crowd of super-Oprah fans.

Follow our live updates >>


Celebrities and powerful politcos are all hoping to get an invite to what has now been dubbed 'the wedding of the century.'

In fact, some reports say the guest list has been made secretive because political powerhouse couple Bill and Hillary Clinton did not want those not invited to get their feelings hurt.

Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky will be wed July 31 in front of 500 guests -- which will include "President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and ex-British Prime Minister John Major," according to the New York Daily News.

I wonder what wedding gifts they'll bring!

Seems as if Jay Leno has made tentative plans to catch the Emmy Awards at Oprah Winfrey's house, after not receiving an award last week.

While Conan O'Brien got the very-public boot from 'The Tonight Show,' his short tenure as host got him a nomination as best variety, music or comedy series, while resurrected Leno was snubbed in the category.

David Letterman's 'Late Show' also was missing from the nominees, after a season in which the host turned an admission of affairs with female staffers and a blackmail attempt into high broadcast drama.

"I guess Dave and I will be watching the Emmys at Oprah's house this year," Leno said, a reference to their Super Bowl commercial, according to USA Today.


Click here to look at the top nominated shows.

Reporting with Natasha Korecki & Sarah Osterman

Rod Blagojevich and John Harris are floating names for the U.S. Senate seat on the next tape. Blago suggests Oprah Winfrey.

"That's crazy," Harris says.
"That's where you're wrong," Blago replies.

Blagojevich is increasingly out of breath while he's talking; the sound of weights clanging is audible in the background. It sounds like he is working out at home while discussing the appointment.

Rod: "She made Obama ... she's a Democrat."
Harris: "You're looking for a celebrity to be your friend?"
Rod: "She's so up there, so high ..."

Later, Rod keeps brainstorming: "Maybe a black Albert Einstein," he suggests. At that, one African American juror gently shakes her head.

Blagojevich is insistent that they "bolster the list" of potential candidates -- even if it means looking outside of Illinois.

"Who outside of Illinois might fit the bill?" he is heard asking Harris. He mentions Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as an example.

Harris tries to talk him out of it.

"Picking somebody outside of Illinois has a whole host of problems," Harris tells him. "(They'll say), 'There are 13 million residents (in Illinois), Rod hates them all.'"

Read more about the Blagojevich trial here.

Voters of the hopefuls trying to get their own show on Oprah Winfrey's new network are accusing the Queen of Talk of rigging the contest.

Winfrey's new cable channel, OWN, has been holding online casting calls for 'Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star.' The reality show will premiere next year and get a prime spot on Winfrey's channel.

Last week, fans started to speak up against Winfrey--stating that people were fraudulently stuffing the online ballot box, according to the New York Times.

Some fans have even suggested that Winfrey herself was behind the scam.

In a statement, the OWN channel spokesperson said that no "contestant has been favored in this competition," but that an investigation would be undertaken and that all votes would be verified twice. The five most popular online contestants will go before a casting director, but only one is guaranteed a spot on the reality show, though OWN could choose to add more than one. A total of 10 in-person and online contestants will vie for a spot; eventually the show's winner will be hired by OWN."

As of Sunday, the top two runners Zach Anner and Phyllis Wick-Turner were separated by two million votes.


BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter

Chicagoans appreciate Oprah Winfrey, but they also respect her privacy, Mayor Daley said today, disagreeing with Stedman Graham's portrayal of his longtime partner as the Rodney Dangerfield of Chicago.

Graham says Oprah gets no respect in her adopted home town as she prepares to pull the plug on her syndicated talk show and pull up stakes for California.

Daley respected Oprah so much, he closed off Michigan Avenue for two days to make way for her 24th season premiere. He also invited her to Copenhagen for, what turned out to be Chicago's failed Olympic sales pitch.

Today, the mayor was asked about Graham's remarks and took issue with them. Respect is one thing. Appreciation is quite another, Daley said.

"One thing about Chicagoans -- we respect your privacy. She could be in a restaurant. She could be at the East Bank Club, walking down the street. People don't run up to her. ... They respect your privacy. That's unique about Chicago," he said.



Oprah's longtime partner, Stedman Graham, says Chicago doesn't "appreciate" the daytime queen of talk and that she hasn't gotten her "just due."

"I think they take her for granted a lot," Graham said in an interview this week on Fox Chicago News as he discussed Oprah ending her show.

"I really don't think they appreciate her," Graham said. "I don't think they understand the value of who she is as a human being and what she's done."

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There's more to "Dancing with the Stars" than fancy footwork and learning new routines. Brooke Burke, who co-hosts "Dancing" with Tom Bergeron, revealed on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" Monday that there is much planning and prep work that goes into each show, making "Dancing" a seven-day-a-week production.

Burke took cameras backstage on "Dancing" to show rehearsals -- during which she was shown wearing large curlers -- and what the stars do to get all dolled up for each show.

Mother of eight and reality show diva Kate Gosselin, who was cast off the show last week, revealed "Dancing" concocts its own spray tan so that each star and dancer doesn't look fake-baked.

They get hosed down with the special tanner on Sunday and can't take a shower for 24-hours, leaving them greasy and smelly, Gosselin explained.

With all that grease from the spray tan and sweat while dancing, it makes using sticky tape to keep those costumes in place impossible, according to the show's costumes department.

Therefore, the costumes are sewn very tight so no one has a Janet Jackson moment, said Burke, referring to Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the end of her performance during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Burke said the stars work with the costumes department to design their own outfits for each dance.

Even the guys get some work done, according to Gosselin's dance partner Tony Dovolani.
Despite having some definition in his abs, Dovolani removes his shirt and shows how makeup is applied to further define his muscles. While he said he hates having makeup applied, pro dancer Cheryl Burke shook her head no.

As Dovolani was having his abs done up, Gosselin was shown with strips on her face, which Dovolani said with a smile was to help reduce wrinkles.

And what about their hair? Well, the show has a variety of hair extensions so any hairdo is possible.

Brooke Burke won the disco ball trophy with partner Derek Hough in November 2008. She told Winfrey that afterwards, she campaigned -- including on twitter -- her desire to become a cohost of the show. It was among the items on her bucket list, Burke said, and so was being a guest of Winfrey's show.

Oprah reacts to Kitty Kelley's bio

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Has Oprah's money bought her happiness?

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Kitty Kelley spoke at Borders on Michigan Ave. this morning. NBC Chicago was there as she pondered the age-old money vs. happiness debate ...

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Octomom talking to Oprah for show next week

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Nadya Suleman's attorney says the octuplets' mother will appear on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" next week and discuss how she is raising her 14 children.

Jeff Czech told the Orange County Register on Tuesday that Winfrey sent a TV crew to film at Suleman's La Habra home last week. He says Suleman went to a Los Angeles studio to film a remote interview with Winfrey that is scheduled to air April 20. The attorney says the interview covered "straight talk" about surviving with her family of 14 and Winfrey asked his client "some hardballs."


Oprah's chilling effect on Kitty Kelley's book

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Perhaps you saw Kitty Kelley discussing her new, unauthorized Oprah biography this morning on the "Today" show. Hope you enjoyed it, because you're not likely to see Kelley on too many other shows pimping her book.

That's because a lot of the big outlets that might seem like naturals for a long, two-commerical-break Oprah discussion -- from "The View" to David Letterman -- aren't giving Kelley the time of day. Apparently, they don't want to get on Oprah's bad side.

51309270AW001_Kitty_Kelley.jpgKelley's 544-page look back, Oprah: A Biography, of Winfrey's life hits shelves tomorrow. She's written juicy books about the Bush family, Nancy Reagan, and Frank Sinatra and she told The New York Times this weekend that no one has been as secretive and protective of her private life than Oprah. Not even Sinatra -- and he allegedly threatened to have Kelley killed.

"In promoting this book, we have already been told by Barbara Walters's producer, 'No, you cannot be on "The View," I cannot disrupt my relationship with Oprah,'" Kelley told the Times. "Joy Behar, the same thing. Charlie Rose; Larry King said, I will not do it, it might upset Oprah. Even David Letterman. ... Well, if you had a choice between being a friend of Oprah Winfrey or Kitty, no contest, right?"

See photos of Oprah Winfrey's life here!

A Larry King insider said Friday: "Larry King hasn't spoken with Kitty Kelley in five years." I guess we're supposed to assume that that's a trend and it will continue.

Kelley says she's even been snubbed by Rachael Ray, "which is kind of understandable because she's an Oprah acolyte."

"All said very openly that it was because of Oprah," Kelley says.

ABC has even banned Kelley and promotion of her Oprah book from any show on its network.

So for now, the "Today" show is it. Kelley's next stop: Bill O'Reilly. (Ouch.)

See photos of Oprah's big moments in Chicago here!

What could these media organizations be so afraid of? Oprah's launching her own cable network. No one needs her approval, nor does she really require anyone else's at this point. If Oprah's mad at you, she ... what? Fights fire with fire and doesn't have the cast of "Desperate Housewives" on a very special episode of "Oprah"? OK, that explains ABC's decision. But what could Oprah do to "The View"? Or Letterman? Is she so powerful behind the scenes now that her personal opinion has become an actual commodity?

The Times article touches on the "cult of secrecy" around Oprah and makes it all sound very cloak-and-dagger. It's as if Oprah can take out enemy targets at will. She could shutter a TV show or pull the plug on a blog, if she felt crossed. Which really is kind of a frightening thing to

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Oprah reveals new show on her OWN network

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The long haul of Oprah's farewell over the next year won't be much of a farewell, after all. She'll be leaving network television, sure, but her role on cable's new Oprah Winfrey Network won't just be behind the scenes. She announced today she's planning a new show -- at night.

That's just part of today's announcement of new programming planned for the cable venture, which finally goes live next January.

"Oprah's Next Chapter" will liberate Oprah from a sofa and a studio. The show will spotlight her in conversation and exploration around the world. "From the Taj Mahal to her beloved oak tree, the Great Wall to her own teahouse, it's a whole new kind of Oprah show," according to the network. "If she can dream it, she'll do it!"

Thumbnail image for PR NEWSWIRE.jpg"My vision for OWN is to create a network that inspires our viewers and makes them want to be who they are on their best day," Winfrey said as part of the statement.

"Oprah's Next Chapter" is scheduled to premiere in late 2011 -- not long after she shutters her syndicated network talk show at the close of its 25th season.

A joint venture of Winfrey's Harpo Inc. and Discovery Communications Inc., OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network is now set to sign on Jan. 1 after missing two earlier deadlines. It will be available in approximately 80 million homes, replacing the Discovery Health Channel.

Other shows announced Thursday for OWN include:

  • "Visionaries: Inside the Creative Mind" -- on which big-name talents take viewers inside their creative process, offering an opportunity to see how they bring their art to life. Included on the roster are Academy Award-winning director James Cameron, Grammy Award-winning musician Lady Gaga and photographer Annie Leibovitz.
  • "Your Own Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star" -- produced with reality TV giant Mark Burnett, will mount a nationwide search to discover the next big TV personality.
  • "Gayle King Live!" -- brings to TV the morning radio show of Oprah's best friend.
  • "Why Not? With Shania Twain" -- a reality show chronicling the trials and triumphs of the top-selling country music star.

These new series join a slate of previously announced shows including:

  • "Behind the Scenes: The Oprah Show Final Season," a "docuseries" that takes viewers behind the scenes of the final season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

  • "Breaking Down the Bars," billed as a prison show whose women inmates have a shot at rehabilitation and atonement.

  • "Enough Already" sends home-organization guru Peter Walsh on a quest to help people declutter their lives.

  • "In the Bedroom With Dr. Laura Berman" aims to help couples improve their relationships and sex lives.

  • "Inside With Lisa Ling" brings viewers reports on unexpected people from far-flung locations.

  • "Kidnapped by the Kids" sets the stage for parents caught up in a world disconnected by technology and hectic lifestyles to get a wake-up call when their kids take drastic steps to reclaim Mom and Dad.

  • "The Miracle Detectives" sets a believer and a skeptic on the trail of amazing events that couldn't possibly have happened -- or could they?

  • "Oprah Presents: Master Class" features prominent personalities hand-picked by Oprah (including Bono, Simon Cowell, Lorne Michaels and Condoleezza Rice) who share their stories, insights and lives.

  • "The Swell Life" takes a look inside the family of former competitive surfer Izzy Paskowitz, his wife Danielle and their three children (one of whom is autistic), as well as their surf-school business.

  • "Searching" puts search specialist and genealogist Pam Slaton on the trail of long-lost friends and family members.

Contributing: AP

More 'Glee' than usual on 'Oprah'

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Here's a snippet of the "Glee" cast on today's Oprah show ...

Oprah lands John Edwards mistress

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John Edwards' mistress and his wife soon will have more than one thing in common: appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

Edwards' baby mama, Rielle Hunter, will be a guest on an upcoming show, Oprah's camp has announced. This will be Hunter's first TV interview since the scandal broke.

Oprah's people say no date for the show has been set, but The National Enquirer reports that Oprah will visit Hunter in her Charlotte, N.C., home for a show to air during May sweeps.

"Rielle is super excited to have Oprah come into her home," an insider told The Enquirer exclusively. "She's excited about giving her account of how she met John, how the affair began and what's in store for her future. Rielle also wants to clear the air about the GQ photos -- she's basically doing it to get the truth out and tell her side of the story."

That would make Oprah's talk with Hunter exactly a year after Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, appeared on the show in May 2009 to talk about the affair and Elizabeth's book.

The GQ article Hunter refers to above was a tell-all interview accompanied by some alluring photos.

Stayin' alive: Oprah narrates 'Life'

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For some of us, Oprah inspires our lives. Well now she's narrating it.

Oprah's voice provides the narration for an upcoming 11-part nature series, "Life."

"More than four years in the making, filmed over 3,000 days across every continent and habitat, with narration by Oprah Winfrey, 'Life' is an epic BBC/Discovery Channel production that illustrates the extraordinary tactics animals and plants use to stay alive," the network said in a joint statement. "'Life' tells 130 incredible stories from the frontiers of the natural world, 54 of which have never been filmed before."

The series will air across the six Discovery cable channels beginning March 21, wrapping up by April 18. The DVD will hit shelves by June 1.

This new series is an extension of the "Life" programs narrated by David Attenborough from the 1970s to the '90s.

Who wants to be a billionaire? Oprah does

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Forbes magazine's annual list of billionaires is out today, and Oprah is No. 400, clocking in at $2.4 billion.

The annual list ranks individuals by their estimated net worth as of Feb. 12.

Other Illinois residents on the list include philanthropist Lester Crown, hedge fund manger Kenneth Griffin and toy maker Ty Warner.

See the full list here.

Oprah and Gabourey at the Oscars

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Oprah, of course, was at the Oscars on Sunday night. She took to the stage as part of what turned out to be the coolest part of the show -- fellow actors delivering brief testimonials about each of the nominated best actors and best actresses. Oprah described "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe as a classic Cinderella story and welcomed her to the big time.

Oprah's appearance on stage was a surprise to Sidibe, as the two discuss here outside the Governor's Ball after-party:

Later in the night,Oprah was clearly impressed when "The Hurt Locker" upset "Avatar" to win the Oscar for best picture. She was overheard backstage shouting: "Wowee kazowee!"

Then again, that may just be her superwoman cry.

Jessica Simpson: OK, I'm 'a little angry'

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Jessica Simpson says she's not angry with ex-boyfriend John Mayer for an interview he gave to Playboy magazine in which he called the singer "sexual napalm."

Well, she adds, maybe "a little bit angry."

In quotes provided by Harpo Productions, Simpson says on the Wednesday episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" that she doesn't want people "to know how I am in bed." In the interview, Mayer talked about Simpson's sexual ability and said Simpson "is like crack cocaine to me."

Simpson said her phone rang "off the hook" after Mayer's interview came out, according to Us mag. "I guess it could have been a lot worse," she says.

Simpson also told Winfrey that she is "absolutely" comfortable with her weight and that she loves her curves. The singer says she's "not going to ever be size 0 and I don't want to weigh 90 pounds."

Winfrey then comments that Simpson looked as if she weighed 90 pounds when she made "The Dukes of Hazzard" in 2005. Simpson says: "I didn't weigh 90 pounds. But I was -- I was definitely smaller. But that was Daisy Duke, that's a role. I was playing a role. I don't want to look like Daisy Duke every day. I don't want to wear a bathing suit every day."

Contributing: AP

Ebert finds his voice again with Oprah

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Roger Ebert is asked how he's doing today. "Terrific," he says.

The famed Sun-Times film critic is talking with Oprah using a special type-to-speech computer system. He's discussing his eight-year battle with cancer that took his lower jaw and eventually robbed him of, as Oprah said, "that voice we know and love."

Ebert and his wife, Chaz, came onto the set and sat with Oprah after a segment showing his life at home, his "eating" regimen (dinner from a gravity-fed IV bottle), and his still-rigorous schedule of hitting the screening room for two to four movies a day. (We also saw him running errands that included "meeting with television executives to talk about the possibility of a new show." To which we say: ???!!!)

He's got his laptop in his lap, and he types "terrific." Here's the first exchange:

Ebert then tells a story about how he still talks in his dreams -- and he still enjoys root beer. After losing his ability to eat and drink, he says he was taunted by a boyhood memory of going to the A&W with his father and savoring a root beer. His brother-in-law, he says, suggested that God gave him that memory back as comfort after taking that pleasure form him.

Oprah then announced that Ebert is, as only she could it, "CAN-CER FUH-REE-EEEEEEE!"

We then see Ebert and Chaz tinkering with a new technology from CereProc, a Scottish company, that has sampled dozens of syllables from Ebert's old TV shows to create a synthesized voice for him -- his own voice. (Hear an interview about it here.) Ebert types in a few sentences, and we hear his own voice, slightly synthesized and rough around the edges, reading them back. The lower portion of his face naturally sags now, showing almost constant astonishment, but we can see the real amazement shining in his wide eyes.

"It's uncanny," he says. "It's a good feeling."

Chaz says the last time she heard his actual voice was July 1, 2006.

Then Oprah gives a shout-out to Chaz: "I would like to say, from one woman to another, you are incredible! You make me proud to spell my name w-o-m-a-n. This woman refused to let him die. She refused to let him die. Years ago ... she called me and said, 'I refuse to let him die.' She stood by him and has been with him and has taken care of him, and has shown what true love is."

Ebert says he's done with surgeries, that he has no desire to go through complicated rpcoesses to reconstruct his face. "Nobody looks perfect," he says. "This is the way I look, and my life is happy and productive."

He then, of course, gave us his annual Oscar predictions!

It was a loving gesture and an inspiring story with two friends who go way back.

Bonus: Esquire has added some nice photos of Ebert taken in conjunction wth the magazine's recent acclaimed profile of him.


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