Thursday my sister was at a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago (she gave me a phone report and will shoot me later for posting it on the blog). They arrived at 6:30AM for the 10AM taping. After waiting in line for an hour, people were called into the studio according to how they got their tickets. If you knew someone on the staff you were called in first, and so on all the way down to the doorman, janitor, driver and dog walker friends. If you were just one of the people who got their tickets through the email system and had waited 4 years on the wait list, well you were called last.
She and her BFF love Oprah, and as a surprise birthday gift the husband got them tickets to the show, backstage tour and lunch at the Harpo Cafe. **My sister said the studio was much more intimate than it looked on TV, and that every seat seemed to have a good view. There were some silly rules about no chewing gum, yelling out, going to the bathroom or coughing. If for some reason you needed to cough, you were supposed to notify one of the ushers beforehand and they would bring you a cough drop, under no circumstances were you supposed to accidently cough without muffling the noise. Oh and the no bathroom thing, there was no drinking or eating permitted an hour before they let you into the studio, so that you didn't need to go to the bathroom. There would be no CUTS, or reshoots, and there weren't, they taped the entire show uninterupted. (Photo by my friend Nancy Kaszerman/ZUMA Press Oprah and Letterman 2005 [I love this photo])
**Today's show (which was taped for a June 6th showing) featured Oprah's new book choice - The Road (Oprah's Book Club) (Paperback) and a taped interview with Cormac McCarthy
(Author) from his New Mexico home. Then there was a live interview with Michael Moore about his new movie "Sicko" on the subject of the USA's healthcare system. In anticipation of the interview the audience members were given special screening passes to see the film the night before. They were also treated to popcorn and a soda. My sister says the movie is GREAT, which is a true endorsement since my dad was a doctor, my sister is a nurse, my other sister works as a drug rep and well frankly she's a Southern girl from North Carolina.
After that Oprah presented more taped segments including what Oprah was going to do on her summer vacation. SURPRISE, she's going to Africa. **She then talked about the new Vanity Fair issue which will feature 20 different covers with celebrities that are making a difference in Africa. The guest editor for the issue is none other than Bono.
My sister said Oprah looked a little tired, and I explained that Oprah was in NYC all weekend. Saturday night she went to see the Color Purple with friend, Jane Fonda to see Fantasia in the starring role; then on Sunday she was given an award by The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity Award at the Waldorf-Astoria on Sunday night.
It was there that Oprah was asked about her father writing a book about her. According to the NY Daily News "I have a good relationship with him," Oprah told us Sunday, when she received the Elie Wiesel Foundation Humanitarian Award at the Waldorf. He would be the last person I would have thought would write a book about me!
So it's understandable if Oprah looked a little tired today at the taping. There are no photos from the taping, as most everything is confiscated at the door, with strict instructions on no photograph taking. They loved the show, said the stage was much smaller than they imagined, and even though Oprah was only on for about 20 minutes, were delighted that during the commercial breaks O talks to the audience.
**One of the things Oprah mentioned during the commercials is that she never goes by her real name when staying in hotels, going to the doctors or really anything that she doesn't want for public consuption (hmm would that be conversations with the audience during the commercial break?) To maintain her privacy Oprah travels under an alias
(Although in NYC the paps know which hotel she stays at, see above for the shot I took of her leaving her hotel) Some of the alias' that Oprah has used in the past are Billie Jo McAllister (which pays homage to the girl who commits suicide in the Bobbie Gentry classic "Ode To Billie Joe" by jumping off a bridge.)
and Billie Sue Cartwright (nothing on google, anyone?) **Furthermore
, Oprah never uses her medical insurance anymore because once after getting blood tests done she later saw a screaming headline in a rag, she said, with the headline, "Oprah tests negative for AIDs" which also listed the blood tests she took and the results. NOW she only pays CASH for all her medical procedures.
(above Oprah signs my Color Purple poster, someone else took this shot) Anyway, later the girls went on their backstage tour, again no camera's so we just get to enjoy the Oprah shots I have taken myself. **As they walked along the long hallways, they saw framed picture after framed picture of celebrities that have appeared on the Oprah Show. There were none of Tom Cruise famously jumping on the couch, but there was one of Aston Kutcher mimicking TC jumping on the couch. They also saw the two Green Rooms, which were really done in a muted gold wallpaper, with lovely Nate Berkus pillows and very soft couches. After touring the gym, a few offices and seeing the O car, the girls got to eat at the Oprah Cafeteria. To their delight they ate right near Dr. Oz, Michael Moore
and Bob Green. (My sister mentioned that several of Oprah's cousins were dining right next to her. She didn't catch their first names, but said they were all guys in their 40s and their last name was Presley. After a little googling I came up with this on the Lisa Presley site: Oprah had a surprise for Lisa Marie. "Did you know my family were Presleys? We're like 18th cousins or something," she said. "My grandmother was a Presley."Lisa Marie was excited to confirm the familial relation. "She was? I read that in the tabloid but I wasn't sure that it was true," she said. "You're my family."
[hmm more scoop Lisa Marie Presley reads the tabloids.])
There was no Oprah sighting at lunch, she was probably napping in time for this evening's Wrap Up party (the staff gets an 8 week paid break for the summer). My sister said the staff was very excited as every year Oprah gives them a nice gift and they know she has a big surprise for them again this year. If your around you can get the scoop as the party is at Morton's 1050 N. State St.Chicago, IL60610 between 6PM and 9PM