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Nov 13, 2008

Oprah Winfrey Retiring and Ditching ABC for OWN Network?

Oprah Winfrey
is expanding her media empire and launching her own television network.

Discovery Communications, which is partnering with Winfrey in the OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) cable channel starting next year with distribution in 70 million U.S. homes, announced yesterday "The Oprah Winfrey Show" will cease to air via syndication on ABC by September 2011.

"The expectation is that after that, her show will go off of ABC in syndication and she will come to OWN," Discovery CEO David Zaslav said on the company's first earnings call as a public company. "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."

Zaslav said Winfrey now is "very involved with us and focusing on what the channel is going to be, as well as developing"

The move is a blow both to CBS-TV Distribution, which syndicates the show, as well as to ABC, which airs it, reports the NY Post.

But Oprah's company, Harpo, said in a statement that although her production contract is up in 2011, "she has not made a final decision as to whether she will continue her show in syndication beyond that."

The deal between Winfrey and Discovery was originally described as a "cashless transaction" for a 50-50 joint venture that will be independent of other Discovery channel holdings. Winfrey will have full editorial control of OWN and oversee its programming - a sticking point when she was involved with Oxygen. Winfrey sold her Oxygen stake to NBC because its programming didn't reflect her creative vision, according to the Post.

Oprah favorites like decorator Nate Berkus and Dr. Mehmet Oz are expected to have shows on the new network, as is her best friend, Gayle King.

'Real Housewives of Atlanta' Reunion: Lisa and Kim Throwdown

If you missed last night's episode of Bravo's hit reality show "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," we've got your Wednesday morning fix. As normal, the hour-long series consisted of the usual backbiting chatter between the ladies, with Lisa Wu Hartwell being the exception.

Hartwell has managed to steer clear of any drama on the show, but the mother of three says she was pushed past her limit by costar Kim Zolciak during the recent taping of the reunion show.

"I’ve been extremely diplomatic and there are horrible things I could have said but I have chosen not to and still do," Wu Hartwell tells "When you come after my integrity or my family, then you’re going to see a different person."

Lisa says viewers will likely be taken aback by her sudden unleash of emotion on the reunion show, which is scheduled to air Nov. 25.

"People will be surprised because I was surprised and somewhat embarrassed myself," she says. "But I’m human and you have to let people know that they can’t just say whatever they want to you."

Wu Hartwell says the season – also featuring co-stars Sheree, NeNe and DeShawn, was a true eye-opener.

"I was na├»ve coming in and I’ve learned some people just have ill intentions," she says, "so I will deal with each individual accordingly. But people need to know that yes, I’m a businesswoman but I’m also a sparring woman!"

And she means it literally. "I have a brown belt, one belt away from a black belt in Kajukenbo," she adds. "That’s a combination of Karate, Judo, Kimbo, Chinese boxing and Kung Fu."

Paris Hilton: Pampered Princess

When she wants to just chill out and relax, Paris Hilton knows just how to do it. And yesterday the “Simple Life” cutie was spotted visiting several pampering places.

The paparazzi caught up to Miss Hilton as she was leaving a spa on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, smiling and chatting with a few patrons before she hopped into her car

Before that, the “Hottie and the Nottie” was over at the Portofino Tanning Salon for a relaxing and beautifying tanning session.

Earlier in the day, Paris had an appointment at the Kate Sommerville Skin Clinic, and as she left, she chatted on her mobile phone. With such a busy schedule, a girl’s gotta keep in touch with her peeps!

Zac Efron’s Pricey Present for Vanessa Hudgens

It looks like his big paychecks are starting to come in handy, and Zac Efron made sure to make a statement with his recent housewarming gift for girlfriend Vanessa Hudgens.

The “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” stud reportedly shelled out $50,000 on a swanky vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunk to go with his sweetie’s new $3 million house.

A source close to the couple told press, “Vanessa loves Louis Vuitton, but she wouldn’t spend the money for it.” But thanks to her hunky boyfriend, she didn’t have to drop a dime.

The source also explained that, to Miss Hudgens, it’s way more than just an old piece of furniture. “To her, it’s a piece of art.”