Watch your back, Phil Donahue; Oprah Winfrey’s closing in on your record. The Queen of All Media announced Thursday that she’d signed a contract extension with syndicator King World for an additional three years, which will keep ”Oprah” on the air through 2011. That’ll mark the silver anniversary in nationwide distribution for the show, which went national in 1986. If she were to stay on for a 26th year, she’d tie Donahue’s record as the longest-serving daytime talk host in national syndication.
Financial terms of the deal were unclear, but billionaire Winfrey will be working for her money, doing 28 weeks of new shows a year, starting this fall, instead of 26, as in previous years. Also, there are apparently bonuses if Oprah spins off any more series, à la ”Dr. Phil.” Her contract encourages her to ”use the show as a launching pad to create and develop additional projects and potential future show,” she said in a statement.
Just two years ago, Winfrey, then 48, talked of retiring at the end of the 2005-06 season, her 20th year. But last year, she signed a two-year extension through 2008. Now, she’s coming off a season that has seen some of her best ratings in five years, so it’s no wonder she’s willing to stick around a while longer. ”The thought of taking the show to its 25th anniversary is both exhilarating and challenging,” she said in her statement.