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As expected, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced this morning that it plans to spin off AOL, a move that puts the final nail in the coffin of one of the most disastrous mergers in history. But if the mechanics of the deal strike you a little too complicated, The Times Bits blog has outlined it in easy-to-understand celebrity tabloid terms:

Time Warner said on Thursday that it would file for divorce in one of the most ill-fated marriages in the history of the media and technology business, its 2001 merger with AOL. The companies hope the separation is complete at the end of the year.

AOL has long since lost the allure that prompted Time Warner to contribute two-thirds of its equity as a dowry.

AOL, however, is heading into the unknown. The last time it was independent, it was the queen of the scene. Now it is simply another middle-aged Internet company with sagging revenue and stories to tell of its many suitors long ago.

So, basically, Time Warner is the rich banker in his 50s who is splitting up from his third wife, a former model 20 years his junior who lived the good life for a spell when the relationship was going strong. But now the marriage is over and the wife—AOL, of course—has realized that she's now in her early 40s, is looking a little worse for the wear from all the plastic surgery she's had, and can no longer count on a sugar daddy to pay her bills going forward. The banker will find a new object of his affection soon enough (although he'll be sure to sign a pre-nup this time). And the woman will spend her days reminiscing about the old days when every man in town had his eyes on her. Or something like that.

AOL and Time Warner Will Part Ways [NYT]