Facing a "product defamation" suit filed against her in Texas by a dozen angry cattlemen, Oprah Winfrey is moving her syndicated talk show from Chicago to Amarillo, so she can be there to defend herself in the trial that will get underway January 20.
Winfrey will base her show there until the battle is over. Pretrial hearings began this week.
The ranchers claim on-air comments made by Winfrey and a guest last April resulted in two weeks of significant beef price drops.
On that show, former cattle rancher Howard Lyman explained how the now-banned practice of feeding cattle processed animal parts could result in a mad cow outbreak in the United States.
Oprah then got a rise out of her always-volatile studio audience by responding, "It has just stopped me from eating another burger!" (Winfrey has subsequently said in court that she rarely ate red meat at the time of the show--Lyman's comments convinced her to give up beef altogether.)
The ranchers, citing the fact there's never been a reported case of mad cow in North America--that is, if you're not counting certain members of Oprah's studio audience--are using Texas perishable-product libel laws. These were enacted in the '80s when 60 Minutes was sued for airing a segment on growth-hormone-tainted apples.
Winfrey also has a legal hassle in Los Angeles to deal with--although this one probably won't require her to relocate the show.
Earlier this week, an actor sued Winfrey and her Harpo production company when his face ended up in a photograph in Oprah's fitness book.
Seems Winfrey's people caught the litigious thespian when they snapped a generic image during a 1995 "RunWalk" event sponsored by Winfrey in Los Angeles. The actor is suing for a chunk of the book's profits.