OPRAH BETRAYS DR. PHIL

Published on: May 20, 2003

Dr. Phil is furious that Oprah Winfrey has changed her mind about retiring in 2006 and extended her talk show contract through 2008.

The TV shrink was expecting to inherit Oprah's coveted time slots after she stepped down, which could allow him to dominate the talk show scene.

But her sudden about-face wrecked his plans, television insiders told The ENQUIRER.

Now the popular psychologist could use a little therapy himself, to help him handle his anger and frustration.

"Oprah's move has shocked and angered Dr. Phil because he was under the impression that she was grooming him to take over in three years' time," an insider told The ENQUIRER.

"He makes a lot now, but Dr. Phil was looking forward to hitting the big time, the $100 million plus contracts that Oprah gets. He's really ticked off."

"Dr. Phil" is syndicated by King World and produced by Oprah's Harpo Productions, and operates under a non-compete clause that prohibits the balding Texas psychologist from going up against her show anywhere in the country.

"This essentially means that, despite the incredible success of 'Dr. Phil,' the show will always be out-ranked by 'Oprah,' no matter what," said an industry analyst. "That's got to be infuriating to him.

"There's little doubt that Dr. Phil was eagerly anticipating taking over Oprah's time slots. It would have meant more money, more prestige and higher ratings." Now he has to wait another couple years for the queen to step down before being crowned the king of daytime.

Oprah's unexpected change of heart caught tough-talking Dr. Phil by surprise, a source close to the "Dr. Phil" show said. The two stars have been close friends, but the psychologist got no advance word of her contract renewal, the source revealed.

"Dr. Phil feels hurt and betrayed by Oprah," said the source.

"He thought he would at least get a heads-up from her.

"But when he finally spoke to Oprah, she claimed that her decision was spur-of-the-moment -- that she hadn't decided to do it until shortly before the announcement was made."

Meanwhile, Oprah will walk away with an estimated $280 million for the extra two seasons.

But it wasn't just the money that caused Oprah to change her mind about abdicating the throne. She was reluctant to give up the prestige and power of her top-rated show, the insider revealed.

"This is all about ego for Oprah, much more than it is money," said the insider. "She doesn't need the money -- what's another couple of hundred million to her?

"Two years ago, when she announced she was quitting, she said she wanted to do something different. What happened with that?

"She's extremely competitive. And there's definitely jealousy between Oprah and Dr. Phil.

"Everything Oprah had done up till now was to establish 'Dr. Phil' and make him successful," the insider said. "She supposedly even pulled herself out of the daytime Emmy nominations so that Dr. Phil could win.

"He's eternally grateful to her, but Dr. Phil wants to stand on his own.

"More importantly, he was rubbing his hands in anticipation of making 'Oprah money.'

"He's had a taste of Hollywood fame -- now he wants the fortune that goes along with it."