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Oprah Winfrey joins CBS' '60 Minutes' as a special contributor

Oprah Winfrey is joining the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” as a special contributor.

The talk show host, actress, cable network owner and producer will appear in several segments a year on the program starting this fall, CBS News announced Tuesday.

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"I've been a big admirer of '60 Minutes' since my days as a young reporter," Winfrey said in a statement. "I'm so excited and proud to join forces with this historic news program, which for me represents the bastion of journalistic storytelling."

It's the first time in the program's history that "60 Minutes" has had a special contributor. Winfrey is not a working journalist, which also will be a first for the show.

Winfrey will add some marquee value to "60 Minutes," which has seen two of its signature correspondents — Bob Simon and Morley Safer — die in the past two years. In its 49th season, "60 Minutes" remains the top-rated news program on television, averaging 14 million viewers a week.

"60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager said his program will not run spots from Weight Watchers that feature Winfrey as a spokesperson, in the weeks that she appears. The commercials have run on other CBS News programs. Winfrey is also on the board of directors of Weight Watchers.

It's standard practice at serious TV news organizations that anchors and correspondents do not appear in commercials as product endorsers.

"Oprah is a dignified and discerning individual whose integrity is unquestioned," Fager said in a statement. "Like everyone else who works with us on '60 Minutes,' she would never do anything with even the appearance of a conflict."

Winfrey has been building a relationship with CBS in recent years. She has made frequent appearances on “CBS This Morning,” where her best friend Gayle King is a co-anchor.

CBS also carried Winfrey’s hourlong interview with then-First Lady Michelle Obama in December. The interview aired on CBS before it ran on OWN, the Discovery Communications-owned cable network. Winfrey is chairman and chief executive of OWN.

Winfrey hosted the most successful syndicated talk show in history from 1986 to 2011. During that run, she founded her own production company, Harpo Productions, which developed other successful programs, including “Dr. Phil,” “The Dr. Oz Show” and “Rachael Ray.” She also has produced films including 2014’s “Selma,” in which she also had a featured role.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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UPDATES:

10:20 a.m.: This article was updated with comments from "60 Minutes" executive producer Jeff Fager and background information about the show.

10:51 a.m.: This article was updated with information about Winfrey's Weight Watchers ads.

This article was originally published at 7:50 a.m.

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