It’s nothing but the best for the reigning queen of talk show TV! A who’s who of Hollywood’s A-list and the biggest names in music joined forces to give Oprah Winfrey one of the most star-studded send-offs in television. As you know, Oprah is wrapping up 25 years of her successful talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, to focus her energy on her network, OWN. She just taped her third and second-last episodes at the United Center in Chicago, which are set to air next week (Channel Ten will screen them around the same time), and as the title Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular suggests, all the guest appearances and performances were kept hidden from Oprah until she saw them on stage at the same time as the audience.
The arena was filled with some 13,000 lucky guests who were able to experience the historical TV moment. Tom Hanks acted as MC, telling Oprah, “Today you are surrounded by nothing but love.” Then more big names took their turns on the stage, gushing about Oprah and all she had achieved during her quarter-century on air, including Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Madonna, Diane Sawyer, Dakota Fanning, Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Jerry Seinfeld, Simon Cowell, Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Jordan, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith. There were performances from the Black Eyed Peas, Beyoncé (who had to tape hers twice due to technical problems the first time), Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder, Josh Groban and Patti LaBelle, Kristin Chenoweth, Alicia Keys, Usher and Aretha Franklin.
Keep reading for more about the taping . . .
Stars who couldn’t be there in person were either included via satellite (John Legend) or pre-taped packages (Tina Fey and Steve Carell), and one of the last-minute surprise guests was Maria Shriver, who put on a brave face less than a day after Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to fathering a child with a former household staffer. She appeared with Oprah’s BFF Gayle King and said, “Over the years, you have shared that very generous spirit . . . you’ve believed in others, so they can believe in themselves.” Then towards the end of the night Oprah’s long-time partner Stedman Graham took to the stage, and he affectionately said, “It really does amaze me that I get to be around a woman who changes people’s lives every day and who also takes her own lunch to work. She says she takes her lunch to work because she wants to save money! That really is amazing!”
Oprah will tape her final episode next week and it will air in the US on May 25.