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Fans mourn end of 'Oprah'

By Jo Piazza, CNN
Oprah Winfrey's syndicated talk show isn't ending for another two years, but fans are already mourning.
Oprah Winfrey's syndicated talk show isn't ending for another two years, but fans are already mourning.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "The Oprah Winfrey Show" won't disappear until 2011, but fans already miss it
  • Rachael Ray, Lisa Ling and Ellen DeGeneres all expressed their admiration for Winfrey
  • Her viewers said they don't know how they'll fill that daily 4 p.m. "Oprah" time slot
  • Winfrey will transition to her OWN network once the talk show ends

(CNN) -- There will be no more car giveaways, no more tearful interviews and Tom Cruise will have to find someone else's couch to jump on.

Friends and fans alike are mourning the impending loss of Oprah Winfrey's syndicated talk show in 2011, sharing the sentiment that it will be very difficult to fill the Queen of Media's high heels.

Fellow talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who appeared on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine's December issue with Winfrey, broke the news to her in-studio audience at the taping of Thursday's show that she had received a personal phone call from Winfrey about the announcement. DeGeneres told her audience that she could not have achieved her own personal success if Winfrey hadn't been such a trailblazer before her.

"I don't think I could be here without her. I think she has blazed a trail. ... She is an amazing woman. She will always be the queen of daytime television," DeGeneres said. "She is an amazing woman. I love her and we've gotten very close over this ridiculous idea that I had of getting on the cover of O."

"Oprah" contributor Lisa Ling said she was surprised to find out about the talk show host's decision to end the show. The show's staff called her before the announcement broke in order to give her a heads up. Ling, who has worked on segments for Winfrey about bride-burning and child trafficking, said there isn't a television personality out there who will be able to take her place.

"I don't think anyone can fill Oprah's shoes," Ling said. "Really, she's someone who has maintained such incredible integrity throughout her career and that's the thing that I admire the most of her. I mean, she hasn't allowed herself to deviate and I'm really proud of her for that."

Actress Elizabeth Reaser concurred at the New York premiere of "New Moon," saying, "no one could fill her shoes."

Celebrity cook and talk show host Rachael Ray has promised to "enjoy every episode between now and 2011."

"Oprah opened the door for me to move into daytime television and I can't thank her enough," Ray said. "I look forward to seeing what she does next. There will only ever be one Oprah!"

Winfrey's friend Gayle King, who is also the editor-at-large for Winfrey's magazine, devoted her entire Sirius satellite radio show on Friday to fielding phone calls from devastated Winfrey fans.

"I am wearing black today -- I am going to have a brief period of bereavement because I still can't even believe the news myself. And I've known that this was coming, but even after you hear it it's still hard to believe," King said.

Video: Oprah calls it quits
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A caller named Pat told King, "I am in mourning. ... She meant so much to me, so much to us here in ... Chicago ... and it's just going to be so different without her. ..." A caller named Missy said she also wore black in mourning on Friday.

King comforted the callers by assuring them that Winfrey was "so at peace with her decision."

As segments of Winfrey's teary personal announcement were broadcast Friday morning, sad fans began flooding Twitter to lament the hole that will be opening in daytime television.

"Soooo sad, eternal depression begins now and will worsen on Sept 9, 2011," mrspalomino posted to Twitter.

"I really don't know what I'm going to do at 4 o'clock everyday now," jackiehanna24 posted.

"The Oprah Winfrey Show" wasn't just a talk show for many Americans. Every day at 4 p.m., Winfrey came into people's homes. She was candid about her own personal issues such as weight loss, child abuse and depression.

The "Oprah Winfrey Effect" extended far beyond her interviewing prowess and camaraderie with fans. The Oprah Book Club she founded in 1996 has become a powerhouse in publishing, able to turn even the most obscure new titles and forgotten classics into instant bestsellers.

"She did something no one had done before and no one will be able to do again," said Jane Friedman, founder of Open Road Integrated Media and former president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide.

"The show totally changed the way people viewed books over my decades in publishing. A book that may have sold 11,000 copies would sell 511,000 copies after Oprah talked about it," Friedman said. "Oprah gave people permission to read. These were people who didn't read before. I don't know what is going to happen in traditional publishing with Oprah not being there."

The millions of mourners worldwide will just have to remember that the "Oprah" legacy will live on in a different format. Winfrey will premiere the Oprah Winfrey Network, a partnership with Discovery Communications, in January 2011.

 
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