Screen savors farewell to Oprah

By RUTH BELOFF
June 17, 2011 16:44

In her final season, Oprah Winfrey pulls out all the stops.

4 minute read.



Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey

Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey 311. (photo credit: Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

In her final season, Oprah Winfrey pulls out all the stops If you have not been watching The Oprah Show (HOT 4), the next few weeks (months?) will be your last opportunity to do so.

After 25 years of reigning supreme as the best talk show host on TV, Oprah Winfrey is packing up and leaving prime time television. In fact, she has already packed it in, but we are a few months behind so we still have a chance to see more episodes of her final season. Her closing episode aired on May 25 but we just saw her Christmas show, so we still have some good viewing ahead of us.

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Oprah told her television audience that her final season “will knock your socks off,” and so far it has. For example, in December she took 302 of what she called her “ultimate viewers” and 200 crew members on an eight-day trip to Australia. From the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru to Melbourne, Sydney Harbor and the Opera House, we were treated to two episodes of seeing fabulous scenery and sharing the warm welcomes they received everywhere they went.

And in typical Oprah style, she paid surprise visits to a few of her unsuspecting Aussie fans and lavished a roomful of baby gifts on one devoted fan in Melbourne who had been crestfallen because she was too pregnant to go to see Oprah’s show on her final day in Sydney.

And what a spectacle that show in Sydney was. With an astounding audience of 6,000 Aussies packing the plaza of the Sydney Opera House, they greeted her with endless cheers and applause. And they were rewarded with the local superstars who joined Oprah on stage, namely Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Olivia Newton John, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, who made his grand entrance by swooping down via parachute.

Another reward was a diamond pendant in the shape of an “O” – for all 6,000 audience members.

Oh, Oprah! Famed for her unbridled generosity, Oprah has a special Christmas show every year where she heaps dozens of her fabulous “favorite things”on her incredulous studio audience.

Needless to say, for her final season she really pulled out all the stops.With an invited audience of hand-picked viewers whom her researchers knew to be selfless, giving people in their own communities, she had a two-day Favorite Things show where the gifts just kept on coming. Jewelry, computers, cameras, watches, gourmet food, clothes, shoes, a week-long Caribbean cruise, for goodness sake. Don’t ask what that woman handed out! And to cap it all off, everyone in the audience was given the keys their own new Volkswagen Beetle. Oh, Oprah!! All she asked was that they continue to go out into the world and spread the love.

Some of her other shows this season have included what she is most famous for – insightful interviews with celebrities, as well as ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

Of the shows I have seen, she had an intense interview with Lisa Marie Presley and talked about Michael Jackson in hindsight. She had a riveting show with millionaire actor/producer Tyler Perry, who bared his soul about his past as an abused child. Ad she had a one-on-one with actress Portia de Rossi, who talked about her lifelong eating disorder and other intimate issues.

Oprah also took the opportunity to show excepts from some of her most meaningful past programs.

One of the most poignant was her interview with John F. Kennedy Jr, which aired on November 25th on what would have been his 50th birthday. That interview had been done 14 years ago, when he was not yet married and was publishing his magazine, George.

What I found so interesting about that show was not just the conversation she had with John John, but the way Oprah handled the interview. She was awful! She was talking a mile a minute, she kept interrupting him with more questions and was trying way too hard to look cool and in control.

So what did I like about that? The fact that Oprah, watching herself in the present doing that show, said, “I can’t stand myself there! I was so nervous and I was trying to make him feel comfortable, but I hate what I was doing!” But she continued to show the tape because it was about him, not about her – and she was woman enough to cringe and bear it..

All that and more are what make Oprah Winfrey the international icon she is today. So if you can, tune in to see what more she has in store. Knowing Oprah, it really will knock your socks off.


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