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The Oprah Heroes Show

The Studio and the Big Trick

I forgot to mention that when we first checked in to the building, it was like voting in NC. Sharvonne and a couple assistants had a stack of papers, and we were all listed on them by the hero's name and the guest's name. They verified our driver's license, and checked us off the list, and then we were given paperwork to fill out with pens they provided. Each set of paperwork was numbered--I'm totally blanking on what my number was, but it was in the 100 range. Before we left the huge waiting room, we had to have our paperwork filled out. As we went down the stairs to go into the studio, the paperwork was collected. I had no idea why they were doing this, and I figured it was another security measure.

So after handing in our paperwork, we walked back down the stairs. The door to the studio was on the wall perpendicular to the bathrooms. They lead us down a small hall and into the studio--it's the same area that you can see Oprah sometimes come through or her guests. Oprah's name is in big letters on the back wall.

When we got into the studio, the first thing I noticed is that the people who had been called earlier in the small groups were in front of the stage. There was two black chairs set up on the stage, and I was really shocked at how small the stage was, and how close the chairs for Oprah and her guest were to the edge of the stage. When I looked around, I was also amazed by how small the whole studio is, as it looks much bigger on TV.

Barb and I were directed to sit in the second tier of seats, and we were one row down from the top. I was right next to the hallway where I was pretty sure Oprah would walk in.

While waiting on the rest of the audience to get settled in their seats, I had a good look around. I used to work in theater in Florida doing filming with a Night Hawk camera and setting up sound, so I was really into the high-end cameras and monitors everywhere. They had two KILLER telescoping cameras that cam
e from the back top of the studio right over the heads of people in the audience. In all the years I have watched Oprah, I never once saw these cool telescoping cameras. They also had several people with cameras on their shoulders, and some that were using the really big professional studio cameras that you roll around. There was a huge amount of nice lighting fixtures in the ceiling, and they were perfectly placed so that nothing was glaring at all. They had monitors everywhere too--really a very professional setup, of course, and the studio was also a very nice temperture--not too cold or hot.

Once everyone was seated, one of Oprah's people came in. She was dark-haired, really pretty and she seemed very excited to be there. I figured she would be the person who would get us all geared-up for the show, but of course we already were about half out of our minds by then.

"SO how is EVERYONE?" she yelled.

The audience yelled out "Fine!" or "Great!" with lots of clapping.

"So this is the Heroes show, RIGHT????"

"YEAH!" more clapping and some audience members stood up.

"OK, so what we are going to do is to practice what we are going to say when being filmed," she said.

I instantly got nervous about this, because I wasn't sure what to expect, and if we'd even get a chance to talk about the coming out support group, being that Barb and I were sitting so high up in the studio.

"So are there any questions before we start the practice?" the dark-haired woman asked.

"I have one!" a woman who was in the stands right across the hall from me said. She raised her hand, and the dark-haired woman on the floor pointed at her. Another woman with a mike on a boom came running over, and placed it up in the stands in front of the woman with the question.

"OK, what's your question?" Oprah's staff person asked.

"Well, when we were all outside, we saw the first audience come out with the Favorite Things bags. Since they are heroes too, I wanted to know if this show is also Favorite Things?"

Oprah's assistant looked really shocked by this question, and she shook her head and slowly walked the other way. "I was hoping you all didn't see them," I heard her say, then she turned around and said "I'm really sorry you all saw the members from the A Taping. They were not supposed to come out that door...We usually do not do two tapings in one day, so it couldn't be helped, but to answer your question, no, I'm sorry that was the first audience only."

A blond woman seated in the area in front of the stage yelled out "Oh COME ON! They are heroes and so are we--WE DESERVE IT TOO!" You can see her below in the coral-colored jacket below:

"Well aren't you happy to be here with Oprah?" the assistant asked, acting rather nonplused by the whole situation.

Most of us applauded and yelled "YES!" including me. I was happy to be there, and of course being rather oblivious about Favorite Things, I didn't know any better.

"I'm PISSED!" the blond yelled, She was kind of laughing, but also serious.

About that time the dark-haired assistant grabbed her ear bud and said, "Oprah's ON THE MOVE! EVERYONE please get QUIET!"

You could feel the anticipation in the room rising steadily, and we all sat there like we were about to jump right out of our skins. I was leaning over the isle-way, looking out into the hall that I believed Oprah might use to come into the studio. Out in the hallway, I could see big strapping security guards, and lots of her staff were standing against the wall to the right of the Oprah Sign. I kept hanging over the edge, waiting, and sure enough, I heard Oprah speaking to someone. In a few moments, she came gliding through the entrance into the studio wearing a tan-colored dress, and these gold spike-heeled shoes. People starting yelling, and I was hoping to shake her hand, but she was facing the other way, shaking the hands of people across from me, and those folks looked like they were about to flip over the rail and hit the ground.

Oprah went on up to the stage, waving at all of us and smiling really big. I was thrilled to be there right about then, and I thought, "She really looks good and rested today," because sometimes on her show I've noticed that she looks pretty tired.

She went up on the stage followed by several assistants, and sat down in one of the big black chairs. The assistants starting doing her hair, and making a few adjustments to her clothing and makeup.

"Hi, thanks for coming all this way," she said, and the audience broke into huge applause.

"So how many of your guys are from out of town?" she asked and most everyone in the audience raised our hands. "Wow, that is...That is... That's A LOT!" The audience started laughing, and then she said, "I'm so exhausted by that first show. We just did a show this morning..."

And most of audience starting saying things like, "Yeah" and "We heard."

"I know--So were you really ticked off when you realized?" Oprah asked.

Most of the audience yelled "NO!" including me and Barb.

"Now be honest, you saw the people leaving with all their loot?"

"Yes" most of us replied while nodding our heads.

Oprah pointed to the blond woman that had been pretty obnoxious, and I heard her say "I'm PISSED!" Everyone started clapping and laughing.

"She was pissed," Oprah said while looking out in the audience.

"I was--I was pissed!" the blonde woman repeated.

"Everyone else is saying no," Oprah stated.

"They're lying! They're LIARS!" the blond replied, and people were booing and hissing in the audience.

"They're lying?" Oprah asked, and she turned to look at the audience.

About this time, I noticed something coming out of the ceiling. I was looking at it, and it was white and cold like snow. I remember thinking "What in the world?"

I heard Oprah say, "Wait a minute. What's this?"

I glanced down at the stage, and Oprah had this big red Christmas ball in her hands. I didn't realize where it had come from until I watched the video, but it had bounced down the stairs on the right side of the stage. I was still trying to figure out what the white stuff was coming out of the ceiling for, and I heard her asking again "What's this?" while walking up towards the chairs at the front of the stage. "I got a leftover ornament!" Oprah said while holding it up, and the audience was yelling and waving their arms, like they wanted this rouge Christmas ball.

That was when the snow started falling out of the ceiling on the entire audience, and people started making a lot of noise.

"Actually, actually, it's beginning to look a lot like FAVORITE THINGS!!!" Oprah yelled, and the audience went NUTS!

People jumped to their feet screaming, some jazzy Christmas music started blasting, and the whole stage opened up! The panels moved up and slid to the sides to reveal a backstage that was totally decorated with huge presents wrapped in gold, lots of flocked Christmas trees and bows everywhere:

Oprah was dancing around chanting "Oh Yeah! Oh YEAH!" pointing at the audience, and then holding her hands out while she was catching the snow that was falling everywhere.

I looked over at Barb and she seemed about as dumbfounded as me. I'm not sure if either of us really knew that much about Favorite Things, but some of the audience was really over-the-top wild, and I figured this must be a pretty big deal.

"Oh yeah, oh yeah! I GOT YOU!" Oprah said while laughing. She kept pointing out at everyone and laughing while saying "I gotcha!" over and over again.

People were crying and screaming and hugging each other; others were jumping around and blowing Oprah kisses--it was wild!

"OK, OK!" Oprah says, like she wants everyone to calm down, but then she lets out a huge bellow and cracks up laughing while she is still pointing at us. "OH BOY! GOTCHA!" Then she started pointing at the lady who said she was pissed, and doing a little "I GOTCHA" dance.

The blonde woman nodded her head, and said something like, "You got me, all right!" It was really hard to hear what was going on down stage, because there was so much screaming and hysteria.

"That was beautiful," Oprah said while shaking her head and smiling. "Let me just say, I played you all like a fiddle!" She started doing an air fiddle, and we were all laughing pretty hard, because she really did play a huge joke on us. "That was beautiful! So since this is the farewell season, and the very last time I will EVER do a Favorite Things Show, I decided let's do TWO SHOWS WITH TWO SPECIAL AUDIENCES! HEROES, GIVERS, ULTIMATE VIEWERS!" she yelled while walking around the stage and pointing to us all; THAT'S YOU!!! THAT'S YOU!!! THAT'S WHO YOU ARE!"

I really teared-up on this, because even though I still really did not know about Favorite Things, it felt really wonderful to have someone as amazing as Oprah say what she said to us.

"So, I'm gonna kick this off with my number one FAVORITE THING EVER! Now I know it's wrong to be in love with a thing, and I don't normally recommend it, but from our very first moment together, I knew it had stolen my heart! Cue the ANGELS!" she said, and you could hear these angelic voices booming through the studio.

Suddenly something came sailing down from the ceiling. I had no idea what it was, but it had white wings! People in the front could see it, and they jumped up and started going WILD! The rest of us are looking around at each other saying "What is it?
" I looked over at Barb and we both kind of shrugged our shoulders.

Oprah started making this hooting noise and running around this thing on two strings with her two index fingers in the air, symbolizing the Number One Favorite Thing, and I was really starting to crack up, because Oprah is so over the top with joy, I couldn't tell who was happier, her or the freaking-out audience!

"OK! It's my BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL IPAD!" she said, and being a Mac person for years, that's when I got what Favorite Things is! "Words can not describe what I feel for this MAGNIFICENT DEVICE," Oprah continued. "I really think it's the best invention of the century so far, and I gotta tell you, Apple, you got 90 years to go! What you gonna do to top this? I don't know, but thanks to my IPad, I now read about 4 newspapers a day, I keep a journal on my IPad, I write my columns for O Magazine on the IPad way before the deadline because I love writing on it so much. I watch news on the IPad, I watch movies on the IPad, I watch TV shows on the IPad, and now I can watch O Magazine come to LIFE!"

She started going on about the applications and you could look up on the monitors and see that there was a whole little film illustrating what the IPad can do. She started talking about Scrabble for the IPad, and using it while she was working out in the gym.

Some guys with Christmas hats came out, and Oprah started talking about the second thing she loves, and how she had bought 400 pairs for her staff. The guys spun a big present around, and it looked like a fireplace on the back with these wild sparkly silver, gold and black boots hanging on the mantel. These models came prancing down the stairs next to the fireplace, and Oprah was saying "Aren't they just DAZZLING?"

Everyone was going wild, and I was thinking, "Lord, my horse would probably take off running, if I wore those sparkly wild things to the barn!" I could hear Oprah saying that these UGG boots are $175.00, and that was pretty shocking to me

Then Oprah walks over and pulls up a box that reveals a big red patent leather purse. All the women start shrieking, and I'm looking at Barb again thinking, "I can just see me and Barb in those sparkly boots carrying a big red shiny purse!--but what's a gay woman to do?" I concentrated on the IPad : )

Oprah was parading around the stage with the bag over her shoulder, and I was really appreciating what a wild and crazy gal she really is. "So whether you are heading out shopping, or to your next LA TE DA affair, the Patent leather Sophia bag by coach is the bag to have, and it cost $398!"

I distinctly remember thinking, "WHAT the _ _ _ _??? THREE HUNDRED AND NINETY EIGHT FREAKIN' DOLLARS?"

Then the Keebler elves started flying out through the hallway right next to me carrying all these gifts. Everyone was shouting and dancing around wild as maniacs, the Christmas music was blasting, snow was flying out of the ceiling, Santa came gliding out in some sleigh thing, and Oprah was chanting "HO, HO, HO!" Everyone was clapping to the music, and we all were having a blast!

Gift list of the first segment:
32 Gig IPAD with WIFI: $800.00, Ugg Boots $175.00, Carriage Bag $398.00

All the gifts were given out to mostly people in the front rows, and then we all had a break for a few minutes while the stage was reset. While this was going on, Oprah explained that the gifts were given out to the studio audience for show only, and that we were all on the honor system, because the gifts would all need to be given back, but that we would all receive them again after the show.

She then said, "When I came into the studio, I could smell all your new clothes...I know it was hard for some of you to get here, and I so appreciate that you could make it to my last Favorite Things Show, because this one is to honor you and the work you do in your communities every day."

Oprah was actually tearing up herself, and there wasn't a dry eye in the area where Barb and I were standing. I had noticed that there were Kleenex boxes under every chair, and we were passing around the tissues to each other.

"You know, you all do the same thing that I do," Oprah continued. "The only difference is that I have a bigger stage and a bigger mouth."

We all started laughing, and I was really amazed at these heartfelt things that Oprah was saying.

Oprah was so different than I expected. I'd seen her for years on TV, but this person was amazingly deep, and coming from a really sincere place. I could see joy and happiness coming from inside of her towards all of us in the audience, and it was then that I realized why she is who she is. She seemed really sad to me that her show was going to end after 25 years, and she left the stage for about 10 minutes.

During that time, most of us sat down. I felt like I was in shock myself, and I asked Barb "Can you BELIEVE this?" She shook her head no.

A few moments later, I heard a bunch of women making shocked noises, and then saying "There's GAYLE!"

Oprah's best friend, Gayle, came right by where Barb and I were sitting and sat on the back row right behind us, maybe 5 seats down!

Gayle is really cute, with a Carly Simon type mouth, VERY TALL and has a statuesque body. She had a red Santa hat on, and she was smiling like crazy. She was instantly adopted by our side of the audience, and she was perfectly at ease sitting with all of us.

And that's another thing that was amazing to me. Here are these mega famous and ultra-rich women, Gayle and Oprah, and they were just so down to earth, and not at all arrogant like some actors I've been around the few times I've done work for movies filmed in Asheville.

Oprah came back out and talked about Gayle flying in for the last Favorite Things Show. Then she said that it was such a big deal that Stedman had also come to the show, and that in 25 years he only ever been to three tapings and that this the third time. She said that both Gayle and Stedman had come to support her on the last Favorite Things Show, and again I knew that this show was a really emotional time for Oprah.

Stedman was in the control room above the studio, where a lot of equipment is. Oprah pointed up there, asking "Stedman, where are you?" and we all started yelling at him to come down. After about 5 minutes, he came walking out on the stage with Oprah. He is REALLY TALL, looked around 6'8". He waved and then left the stage as quickly as he had come on there. Apparently, he's not so into being in front of crowds, especially crowds as wild and crazy as our was that day...

The Oprah Heroes/Favorite Things Show:


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