They have been the best of friends since meeting fifteen years ago but Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry appear to be on the outs.
A source close to the two Hollywood moguls tells Daily Mail Online that the once practically inseparable pair barely speak to each other now unless it’s regarding business.
Working together on programming for Winfrey’s OWN Network caused the major strain in their friendship.
Perry, 46, has three series on the channel which include the sitcoms For Better or Worse and Love Thy Neighbor – along with the record-breaking drama The Haves and the Have Nots.
‘When Tyler first brought his shows to OWN in 2012, it was a love affair between the two of them.
‘Oprah was very involved in watching Tyler develop them creatively and they even shot promos together with her as Miss Sophia from The Color Purple and he as Madea.
‘But that relationship has soured in the last six months because Oprah finds Tyler difficult to work with and he doesn’t take constructive criticism well at all,’ a source explains.
Things grew tense with the pair late last summer when 62-year-old Winfrey suggested Perry hire some additional script writers to help develop his shows, particularly the top-rated drama The Have and the Have Nots.
She shared with him research from focus groups and the general consensus from executives at the company was that the writing could be ‘improved significantly.’
‘That’s when Oprah finally got to see a side of Tyler she hadn’t experienced yet. He resisted her feedback, the same way he resists the feedback of critics and media people who chastise his work, and became extremely defensive with her.
‘He told her, “Aren’t the shows delivering ratings for the network? Well, then let me do what I do and you can keep your focus group research to yourself”,’ reveals the source.
Winfrey reminded Perry that the reason he approached her about doing a deal at OWN was because he lost his TV deal at TBS.
When the former playwright first launched his sitcoms Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (2006) and Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns (2008) at TBS, he scored huge ratings and the network created a new fully-staffed urban division just to manage his programming.
By the time his third sitcom For Better or Worse came around in 2011 – his shows had dipped drastically in the ratings and TBS laid off its entire urban division.
Close knit: The two were best of pals – just two years ago Perry surprised Oprah with this over-the-top birthday cake for her 60th birthday
‘Tyler didn’t leave TBS because he wanted to go to OWN. His deal with TBS wasn’t renewed because his shows had stopped generating ratings and Tyler wouldn’t take network feedback to help save them when they tried to offer it.
‘So when his contract was up, they weren’t interested in re-signing it.
‘Oprah basically had to remind him, “you needed me as much as I needed you when we decided to do this partnership and don’t forget that”,’ tells the source.
The professional squabble caused the two to stop communicating as much personally.
The source adds: ‘Gone were the days of them having long phone conversations and texting late into the night.’
But things went from bad to worse when Winfrey caught wind of a feature story on Perry in the December 28, 2015 issue of New York Magazine.
With a headline that read: ‘The Brand Keeping Oprah in Business.’
Winfrey was outraged by the narrative presented in the article, especially because she conceded to be interviewed for the piece.
‘She knows Tyler is a micromanaging control freak and she felt that he was aware of the story’s title and didn’t make sure it was killed.
‘She believed it was done in spite and has told Gayle and her other close friends, she’s putting space between she and Tyler,’ says the source.
During the 2015 Christmas holiday, Winfrey took her longtime boyfriend Stedman Graham, best friend Gayle King and her two children, Hollywood director Ava DuVernay, actor David Oyelowo and his wife and children – along with her niece for a vacation together in Fiji.