Photos: Behind the scenes at Oprah's farewell show!

Photos: Behind the scenes at Oprah's farewell show!

Photos: Behind the scenes at Oprah's farewell show!

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by Yetta Gibson

azfamily.com

Posted on May 19, 2011 at 8:47 AM

Updated Thursday, May 19 at 8:58 AM

PHOENIX -- I’m just back from Chicago and I could hardly wait to give you the scoop on all of the behind-the-scenes details on what happened at two of the last Oprah show tapings I sat in on!

First of all, there were THOUSANDS of THOUSANDS of people standing in line for that spectacular event! I don’t think I’ve seen that many people in a line in my life. Everybody in line was overwhelmed with excitement that (a) they’d actually gotten tickets to the Oprah show, after 25 years, (b) that they were going to be attending the one show touted to feature the crème de la crème of Hollywood, and (c) that they were going to see Oprah in the flesh!

Some of the most interesting parts of my experience were the things happening before the show even started. There were the producers on the microphone getting some 12,000 people all revved up for the show. There were also some directions we, the audience, were given to help make several of the moments planned in the show a success. We were given "prop bags" that were strategically placed on our seats shortly after we walked in. (I’m not gonna lie, I was hoping there was a key to a car or a house or somethin’ in there, but there wasn’t. Darn!)

What was inside of those bags was a book, an O magazine, and two rings with tiny, but very bright bulbs in them. I won’t spoil everything for you in this story, but you will see how each of these items were used by the audience when the shows air on May 23 and 24.

During the pre-show, there was a guy who planned out with producers beforehand to propose to his girlfriend on the Oprah stage! Amazing moment! The pre-show pep rally went on for about an hour.

Finally, when it started, there was a pre-produced spot that explained the fact that Oprah was going to be simply present at this show that was planned for her and that she had no involvement in the process of planning it. That must have been tough for her!  That announcement , of course, got everyone mentally ready for amazing, unscripted reactions from Oprah, and unbelievable surprises for us, the audience!

When Oprah walked out, hear me when I say this: I GOT CHILLS!!! And before I almost fell out of my chair, I unknowingly squeezed the arm of the gal next to me so hard, I nearly severed it! That gal, by the way, was my friend and former colleague, Shelby Croft, of WISN in Milwaukee, also a former Phoenix TV anchor. Shelby, like me, was another privileged journalist who got the opportunity to be a part of this big event.

Right after Oprah got her standing O, Tom Hanks made a short speech, ending with something like “pulling this [show] off has been a ‘mission impossible,’" and then out comes, who else, Tom Cruise! Amazing!

And the hits just kept on coming, after Tom Cruise -- Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Madonna, Be-FREAKIN-Yonce, Katie Holmes, Halle Berry, and Queen Latifah! It just never stopped! Amazing!

People keep asking about my favorite moment of the Oprah Surprise Spectacular, and aside from Oprah’s entrance, the Jamie Foxx/Stevie Wonder moment gave me my second chill of the night. Honestly I think I shed a tear. The second tear shed came after Alicia Keys, with that ridiculously amazing voice of hers, belted out her "Superwoman" song following Maya Angelou’s special poem for Oprah.

I can go on for days -- I really could. but I will end this on this note: I have always been one of Oprah’s biggest fans, admirers, (my friends call me “The Oprah stalker”), and to see this woman in person and to be a minute part of this event was the biggest experience in my career! I will never ever forget this for as long as I’m around. Thanks go out the folks at Harpo and here at 3TV. Thank you!

 

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