OPRAH BEGS GAYLE: “DON'T LEAVE ME!"

Published on: November 28, 2011
Photography by: Getty Images
OPRAH BEGS GAYLE: “DON'T LEAVE ME!"

“Please, please don’t leave me!”

A distraught OPRAH WINFREY begged her best pal GAYLE KING not to abandon her OWN network in favor of a brand-new gig on CBS’ re­vamped “The Early Show” – and she was reduced to tears when Gayle turned her back and walked out the door, sources told The ENQUIRER.

Now, Oprah, 57, is said to be devastated about what she feels is a personal betrayal, as well as the programming nightmare she now faces in fill­ing the slot once held by “The Gayle King Show.”

“Oprah is terribly hurt that Gayle could be so ungrateful,” a source revealed. “She begged Gayle not to go, but Gayle said she just couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a lifetime.

“And I think she stunned Oprah when she kept saying, ‘It’s a major network!’ ”

Gayle will be joining PBS interviewer Charlie Rose and “Early Show” holdover Erica Hill when the reworked morning show debuts in January.

As for Oprah’s floundering OWN network, it has seen several high-profile execu­tive departures recently as it struggles in the ratings.

“To lose Gayle and her talk show at this crucial time is just heartbreaking for Oprah,” continued the source.

Despite her personal grief, Oprah put on a happy public face when discussing Gayle’s departure.

“We are so happy for  Gayle’s opportuni­ty of a lifetime,” the network said in a statement. “She’ll be fantastic host for the new morning show on CBS, and we wish her all the best.”

But behind the scenes it was nothing but happy, the source maintained.

“I think at first Oprah thought Gayle was joking when she said she might be jumping ship,” the source divulged. But as Gayle launched into what seemed like a memorized speech, Oprah realized she was serious, and they both started tearing up.”

ALL the details are in the ENQUIRER – still on sale!