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    DeGeneres and Heche Split

    Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, the once inseparable pair whose public coming out was a groundbreaking move in sometimes homophobic Hollywood, are calling it quits.

    Their camp released a statement confirming the former star of ABC's Ellen has parted ways with Heche, the trim, blonde star of such films as Six Days, Seven Nights and the 1998 remake of Psycho.

    "Unfortunately, we have decided to end our relationship," the pair said in a statement. "It is an amicable parting, and we greatly value the three and a half years we have spent together."

    The New York Daily News on Saturday quoted unnamed friends of DeGeneres, 43, and Heche, 31, saying there was no third party involved in the breakup.

    The news puts a slight crimp in their onetime plans to get married. The pair said last October they would tie the knot in Vermont if the state's Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages. The high court allowed it, but apparently, that wasn't fast enough for Ellen and Anne.

    DeGeneres, you'll recall, is best known for breaking network-TV barriers by becoming the first openly gay lead character on a sitcom. But a year after she came out in a 1997 Time cover story, DeGeneres' show--plagued by creative differences and sagging ratings--was canned by the network after five seasons.

    The experience led DeGeneres and Heche to voice their frustration about the difficulties associated with coming out in Hollywood. Despite the town's rep for liberal open-mindedness, DeGeneres and Heche found that the establishment wasn't as accepting as they thought. DeGeneres told the Los Angeles Times that "there is not complete acceptance of openly gay people playing anything other than openly gay characters."

    The pair became so unhappy with Hollywood that they threatened to leave the show-biz machine altogether and move somewhere like San Francisco or Ojai (an artistic community north of Los Angeles). "We've quit our agents, let go of our publicist, we're selling our home and leaving town," DeGeneres told the Times.

    They never ended up straying too far from Hollywood. Most recently, the pair collaborated on several projects including the HBO movie If These Walls Could Talk II. In it, Heche directed DeGeneres and Sharon Stone as a lesbian couple trying to have a baby. Heche also recently filmed DeGeneres' three-month stand-up comedy tour, which ended with an HBO special that aired last month.

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