Bow out

I don’t watch Oprah.  Never have.

So, I wasn’t aware she had announced plans yesterday to cease production of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” at the end of 2010 until a friend mentioned it later in the day.

Did you realize “The Oprah Winfrey Show” has been on the air for almost 25 years?  Twenty-five years…it seems like only yesterday she took her Chicago show national.  And now she is calling it quits because — as she told the audience — ” it feels right spiritually.”

I respect her for quitting while she’s still on top.  I think the best ones do.  Look at Johnny Carson.  He left “The Tonight Show” and quietly returned to private life.

Or Tom Brokaw.  He left NBC Nightly News in Brian Williams’ capable hands and has gone on to write books and host a special now and then.  He is not as invisible as Carson was, but he has left the day-to-day consciousness of the viewing audience.

But is Oprah really leaving?  Rumor has it she’s shutting down her daily talk show to start a new network where she plans to launch yet another talk show. That doesn’t exactly sound like she’s leaving daytime television.  And it certainly makes a mockery of the tearful speech she gave to her studio audience on Friday.

Oprah’s situation sounds a bit familiar, too.  What is it…oh yeah!  Jay Leno.  He supposedly left “The Tonight Show” to heir apparent Conan O’Brien.  And then three months later — BAM! — he pops up 90 minutes earlier doing a pretty darn similar show, Monday through Friday, on the very same network.  Too bad it sucks.

Why can’t these people simply leave?  Don’t they realize by coming back and doing lame copies of their original work they risk destroying their earlier legacy?

Everyone loves an audience, guys, but be careful — yours may turn on you.

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