Saturday, November 8, 2008

Oprah's Extended Network

The queen of talk TV might be ready to vacate her throne.

That's what Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav thinks, at least. During a conference call with reporters yesterday, Zaslav said Oprah Winfrey will not renew her syndicated talk show contract when it expires in September 2011. Instead, she will focus on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable channel that she and Discovery are launching next year.

"The expectation is that after that, her show will go off of ABC in syndication and she will come to OWN," Zaslav said, according to TV Week. "We're talking now about what the presence will be and what kind of programming she would be involved in directly. But this is her Chapter 2, and building the OWN brand online and on-air is . . . a core mission for her."

Big news! But not so fast, says Harpo, Winfrey's production company. "She has not made a final decision as to whether she will continue her show in syndication after her contract expires in 2011," Harpo rep Lisa Halliday said.

The 2011-12 season would be Winfrey's 26th hosting "The Oprah Winfrey Show," TV Week notes.

A Winning Night for Charity

What recession? At Thursday night's Knock Out Abuse charity event, live auction items were going fast -- and it wasn't exactly a fire sale.

A three-night trip to Los Angeles for a taping of "Dancing With the Stars" went for $6,000 (fairly reasonable when airfare, boutique hotel accommodations and a private dance lesson with hunky Maksim Chmerkovskiy are considered; plus, "Maksim will sweat on you!" the auctioneer promised). For $8,500, someone snapped up a dinner date with Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell and his girlfriend, Miss D.C. USA 2007 Mercedes Lindsay. And one woman agreed to drop $9,000 on an "eyebrow party" for 30 friends at Erwin Gomez Salon & Spa in Georgetown. (That item was so popular that a second one went for $8,000.)

Several hundred women gathered downtown at the Ritz-Carlton for the 15th annual Knock Out, a sister event to Fight Night, which was also held Thursday; both raise money to combat domestic abuse. VIPs included Clinton Portis, Santana Moss and actress-turned-emcee Kathleen Turner.

"I've heard about you all. I can say anything I want here," Turner said in her signature rasp. "I'm so [deleted word meaning very] glad Obama won." (Many cheered, some didn't.)

The event raised $500,000, reps said yesterday.

Victory, Then Delivery

What a week for Obama campaign manager David Plouffe: Two days after his candidate clinched the 44th presidency, his second child -- a girl -- was born in Washington.

Plouffe's wife, Olivia, had been due to give birth last Saturday, but the still-unnamed baby did her parents a favor by waiting a bit longer. (On Sunday, Plouffe, 41, had told CNN he was "hoping that our new one will wait till after Tuesday, but either way we'll be thrilled.")

In other VIP baby news, actress Michelle Monaghan welcomed a daughter on Wednesday, People magazine reports. Willow Katherine White is the first child for Monaghan and her husband, graphic designer Peter White.

End Notes

Spotted: Pierce Brosnan and his wife, Keely, in town to attend last night's Jane Goodall Institute Global Leadership Awards, eating at Adour on Thursday night.

Quoted: "Everybody was quiet. I can't tell you how subdued it was. We weren't like the people in the stands -- you know, yelling and screaming." -- Michelle Obama 's mother, Marian Robinson, describing the mood among family members gathered around the television when CNN called the election for her son-in-law, Barack Obama, Tuesday night.

-- Marissa Newhall, from staff, wire and Web reports

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