“What is important to me in this entire year and the conclusion of this show is not me,” Oprah says. “What is important is the message that this show and the platform of the show has represented to the culture. What I am most proud of are the lives that we have touched and the people we have impacted…” So, Oprah’s fine with the surprise show…as long as it does that. Celebrates The Oprah Winfrey Show.
Star-studded, musical, thousands of people…and hard to keep from Oprah. So, this is really Harpo’s love letter to Oprah to give to her what she has given to the rest of the world. Tom Hanks, the first call made and we have confirmation. “Tom would love to do it…he wants it to be fun…he’s all in,” Cindy Mori tells us. “Tom Hanks hosting an hour…right off the bat, you’re in homerun city,” Sheri tells us. “But Tom is coming to the Oprah Show so he needs to be aware, Oprah’s looking for clues,” Sheri says. Shhhh…Tom, Oprah’s looking for GOLD and by gold we mean information.
As Amy Coleman, Supervising Producer and Candi Carter meet with Oprah, they go over the pre-meeting stuff about the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts coming to the Show. Julia has been on 20 times. Tom only 13…but Tom wins numerous awards. “The biggest laugh of my life with Tom Hanks. He also has the best dinner parties in the world. Tom’s the best dinner party guest, the one you want to be seated next to at a dinner party…the best dinner parties of anyone in the world,” Oprah tells us. Here’s the fun…Julia wants to give away some favorite things…HOW fun is that!
Four weeks before the surprise shows, we get to see BTS at a meeting. Responsible for the look of the show, Production Designer, Tara Denise is under pressure! Transforming the United Center into an Oprah Extravaganza is going to be FUN! Andrea Wishom and Jill Van Lokeren are both supervising the UC show and they have their hands FULL! With their teams, they are working day and night to make this happen. Terry Goulder and Lindsay Feitlinger are bringing their A -Games to this tribute…and it’s amazing. Along with 30 to 40 celebrities and amazing ideas…Sheri is bringing the magic!
Welcoming Tom Hanks, he already has us rolling on the floor laughing. Is the man NOT funny? Julia Roberst arrives and I swear she looks camera ready already! BIG stars are in the house. Candi’s last show, we find out, as she hugs it out in the makeup room.
“The meetings are getting bigger and bigger and bigger as we bring more staff in to work on it,” Sheri says. With Ken Ehrlich, a Consulting Producer, has been brought on board to give his expertise and guidance. As the star team sits around the room and brainstorms this exciting surprise…this amazing spectacular. “I’ve been asked by the press how to describe this and I’ve use the work “fantastical and wondrous”,” Sheri tells the team. So…it has to be those things (and it was that AND more!)
Sitting down with friends…Oprah tells us it’s a little strange interviewing them but it’s what’s amazing about Oprah. We all feel that WE could be that person sitting next to her…talking to her…laughing with her…THIS is why we love her.
With Cindy Mori, she has hundreds of people who need flights, accommodations, transportation, scheduling…and Joe Terry needs rehearsals for EVERYONE. Cindy gets to jugle the scheduling. Joe has to make the rehearsals happen. 2 weeks before the show, Oprah reminds Sheri, “Let me remind you…this is what YOU wanted to do.” Oprah keeps guessing and Sheri Salata keeps giving her a stone face stare…amidst all the laughing. GREAT job Sheri!
From a website (NOT OURS) Andrea Wishom tells us that there is a leak…an email on a conversation with details. So, with crunch time, they are going info-silent on some of the details. You can’t call it a surprise if everyone knows. Jill tells us, “There is so much pressure on the team…it’s almost hard to breathe…” but Jill’s team loves her…and Harpo loves Oprah. As the teams wait to find out if the Bulls win or lose and when they can get into the United Center…it’s another nail biter. Two days before…Sunday…Oprah comes in and everyone is GONE…but Oprah is signing invoices. “I still sign all invoices over $100,000,” Oprah tells us. So, whoops…some of the surprise invoices are coming in. Surprise….it’s expensive to throw you a Surprise!
With a miracle turn around of the United Center…we have hours, not days. We have minutes…not hours. It’s coming! Are we ready? Tune in next week for the rest of the story!