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DeGeneres, Heche Split Up

August 19, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche have split up.

``Unfortunately, we have decided to end our relationship,″ the couple said in a statement in Saturday’s Daily News. ``It is an amicable parting, and we greatly value the 3 1/2 years we have spent together.″

DeGeneres, 43, was the first openly gay lead on television. A year after declaring her homosexuality in a Time magazine cover story in 1997, ABC canceled her ``Ellen″ series, citing declining ratings.

Heche, 31, and DeGeneres collaborated on an HBO film ``If These Walls Could Talk II’ in April. Heche directed DeGeneres and Sharon Stone in the story of a lesbian couple trying to have a baby _ a tale said to mirror the plans of Heche and DeGeneres.

Heche also filmed a three-month cross-country standup comedy tour of DeGeneres, which culminated with an HBO cable special that aired last month.

The Daily News quoted unnamed friends as saying no third party was involved in the breakup.

Heche had been romantically linked to actors Steve Martin and Richard Burgi before hooking up with DeGeneres.

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