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Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey is waging a desperate fight to save her troubled stepdaughter from losing her battle with the bottle.

Oprah has checked Wendy Graham, her long-time lover Stedman Graham's only child, into a rehab facility and wants to keep her there in an extended-stay program, which could last for up to a year.

Wendy, 33, has been suffering at the hands of alcohol for a few years now, but it all came to a head recently when she joined Oprah, 54, and her spiritual guru Eckhart Tolle for a weekly internet event called Get Ready to be Awakened.

Wayward Wendy began a drunken rant, cursing and humiliating Oprah in front of a room full of her friends. Wendy has since admitted to a pal that she was absolutely plastered when she arrived at the event.

'When Wendy flew into Chicago she went straight to The Cheesecake Factory,' the friend explains. 'She kept drinking cosmopolitans, and when she got to the event she was rolling drunk. She cursed Oprah in front of everyone, then crashed.'

Oprah was understandably upset by the foul-mouthed tirade, breaking down into tears. But the star, known for her saintly ways, has managed to rise above it.

'Oprah was humiliated, but instead of getting mad she had Wendy taken to her apartment,' the friend says. 'The next morning Oprah talked her into going to rehab.'

The television tycoon quickly contacted several acclaimed
rehab facilities, finally selecting Seabrook House in New Jersey after reading through its website. On its home page it says: If you have a loved one that does not want help, don't give up!

Many have come to our rehab program and into full recovery as a direct result of a family intervention.

Wendy was soon on her way to the treatment centre, which costs more than $20,000 a month. It's a bill Oprah's believed to be covering, despite the fact she still feels insulted and upset by Wendy's behaviour.

'Oprah doesn't care what it costs or how long it takes, she wants Wendy to make a complete recovery before it's too late,'
an insider at Oprah's Harpo Productions says. 'She's worried sick that Wendy is losing her battle with the bottle and she's putting her life in grave danger.

'Oprah and Stedman have been going through hell with this for some time now, like any family would, and his daughter's illness has come very close to tearing them apart. But they have decided to stick together - for Wendy's sake.'

Indeed, the one positive thing to come out of all this is that Oprah's willingness to save Wendy when she could have very easily cut her out of her life seems to have brought Oprah and Stedman, 57, closer together after their recent relationship problems. The Harpo insider says Oprah's 'kindness and patience' has so endeared her to Stedman that it has 'rekindled the romantic spark', which is something that has been missing for quite a long time.

Although Wendy's behaviour is helping mend the relationship between Oprah and Stedman, it doesn't look like it will have the same effect between Oprah and Wendy. It's little surprise considering they have never really been the best of friends.

Wendy was born soon after Stedman married her mother Glenda in 1974. The marriage didn't last long, and Wendy was often shuttled between her parents' homes in Dallas and Chicago.

When Oprah began dating Stedman in 1986, she tried to take Wendy under her wing, treating her like the daughter she had never had but always wanted. Oprah has even claimed to have loved Wendy from the first time they met.

But the sentiment isn't mutual. During her teen years, Wendy became rebellious while Oprah played the role of her second mum and tried to discipline her.

And although Oprah is rumoured to have paid the more than $40,000-a-year tuition and boarding fee for Wendy to attend the exclusive all-ladies Wellesley College, Wendy usually rejects any of Oprah's generous offers for financial assistance.

The pair have even argued over rehab, with Wendy angrily telling Oprah she plans to stay for four weeks at the most rather than the extended stay Oprah hopes for.

'Wendy keeps fighting back and telling Oprah to keep her nose out of her business,' Wendy's friend says. 'They have often butted heads over the years, especially when Wendy was in her teens, and now they're clashing again over her alcohol abuse. But Oprah is determined to keep Wendy alive.'

Despite Wendy's constant rejection of her stepmum, Oprah has never stopped trying to help her. When Wendy graduated from Wellesley, Oprah gave a farewell speech to her class as a gift to her.

She also helped Wendy with a deal between Eckhart and her employer InWobble, the self-empowerment website that features a video testimonial by Wendy as well as an advertisement with Oprah's picture. Wendy was on the verge of closing the deal before her public meltdown.

'Oprah introduced her to Eckhart and was helping her set up the lucrative deal,' Wendy's friend says.

Yet Wendy continues to lash out at her famous stepmum - she's even blamed Oprah for her alcohol problems.

Regarding her recent outburst, Wendy told her friend: 'I drank seven cosmopolitans - a mixture of triple sec [an orange-flavoured liqueur], vodka, cranberry juice and lime - before going to see Oprah.

'The fact is I have to drink before meeting Oprah because I'm so intimidated by her. I have turned up drunk before.'

But Wendy's friends say the real reason for her drinking problems is her fiance's death in 2002. He drowned while Wendy was teaching him to swim during a vacation in the Virgin Islands. Wendy has blamed herself for his tragic death, and hasn't had
a lasting relationship since.

Her friends are now hoping her time in rehab will allow her to receive the treatment for her addiction and the psychological counselling she so desperately needs.

'Everyone is hoping Wendy will make a full recovery,' her friend says. 'And if she does, whether she likes it or not, she will have Oprah to thank.'

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