TV talk show titan Oprah Winfrey talked directly to her legions of loyal viewers about her reasons for ending the Oprah show at a live taping Friday.
"After much prayer and months of careful thought, I have decided that next season, season 25, will be the last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show," the popular host said. "Over the next couple of days, you may hear a lot of speculation in the press about why I am making this decision now...and that will mostly be conjecture...
"So why walk away and make next season the last? Here is the real reason: I love this show," she said. "This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it's time to say good-bye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones, and it feels right in my spirit...So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me right through to the final show."
As far as Winfrey moving her talk show elsewhere, Harpo Productions says she "plans to appear and participate in new programming for OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a 24-hour cable network that reflects her vision, values and interests." The launch of that project has now been set for January 2011."
But Oprah isn't going anywhere just yet -- especially without thanking her viewers. "These years with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond all measure," she said. "And you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens, and into your lives. And for some of you long time Oprah viewers, you have literally grown up with me — we've grown together... you had your families, had your children and left a spot for me in the afternoon... I just wanted to say that whether you've been here with me from the beginning or you came on board last week, I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear. And your trust in me, the sharing of your precious time every day with me has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known."