On January 30, 2008 it was announced that The Montel Williams Show will stop production on new episodes at the end of the 2007-08 television season. The show's cancellation marks the end of a seventeen-year run; the show will continue in reruns in select cities for the 2008-09 season.
In its early years, Montel was similar to most tabloid talk shows. As time went on, however, the genre became less popular, and so now Montel usually focuses on inspirational stories and subjects that are less controversial. Common themes seen on Montel include finding lost loves, reuniting mothers who gave their children up for adoption, or stories of strong women who faced certain danger (such as rape or murder) and fought their way free. Multiple sclerosis is also a frequent topic.
Every Wednesday (and sometimes on Fridays as well during the summer), self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne is Montel's guest, and performs psychic readings of guests as well as discussing her ideas about spirituality and the afterlife. Her predictions have been the target for much criticism, and her psychic abilities written off as cold reading. She has refused to partake in The Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge from James Randi, a prominent skeptic.
The first several seasons were distributed by Viacom Enterprises. After Viacom's purchase of Paramount Pictures in 1994, Viacom Enterprises was merged into Paramount Television's distribution arm, Paramount Domestic Television. PDT began distributing the show in fall 1995, and became CBS Paramount Domestic Television after the Viacom/CBS Corporation split in 2006. Its distributor changed names once again in 2007, as CPDT was merged with King World Productions to form the current distributor, CBS Television Distribution.
On January 30, 2008, during an appearance on the show Fox & Friends, Montel criticized the media's lack of coverage of the Iraq War and he took the hosts (and the media in general) to task for their excessive coverage of the death of actor Heath Ledger, contrasting it with their sparse coverage of the US Soldiers dying in Iraq. It was reported in Variety that CBS TV Distribution terminated the show when key Fox-owned stations chose not to renew it for the 2008-2009 season.
The final episode aired in most markets on May 16, 2008, with some markets airing it at a later date (one week later).
In June 2008, Ofcom ruled that ITV2 "breached standards with a repeat of the Montel Williams Show in which a 'desperate' couple were told by [self-professed psychic Sylvia Browne that] their missing son was dead - even though he turned up alive last year. The ruling concerned "breaching rule 2.1 of the Broadcasting Code, which relates to protecting viewers against offensive material."
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