Inside Oprah’s Celebrity Farewell Shows
Oprah Winfrey taped her third and second to last shows on Tuesday night in front of more than 20,000 fans inside Chicago’s United Center.
The first one-hour show was hosted by Tom Hanks, who told the talk-show queen, “Today you are surrounded by nothing but love,” before noting that “pulling off this surprise [filled show] has been a mission impossible.” Enter Tom Cruise, who Winfrey said “looked like you were 10 when you on my show in 1988.” Cruise has been a guest one dozen times on the show.
Next up was “America’s Got Talent” phenom Jackie Evancho, who sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and was joined by Josh Groban and then Patti LaBelle. Not enough? Madonna walked on stage and told Oprah, “You look surprised,” before adding, “Millions of people are inspired by Oprah. I am one of them… She’s a self-made woman who’s been at the top of her game for over 25 years and she is still kicking ass.”
Dakota Fanning came out next to talk about “‘Oprah Show’ Babies,” the generation who grew up watching the program and learning “that girls can run the world.” That then segued into Beyonce, dressed in a tuxedo leotard, singing her hit, “Run the World (Girls).”
Diane Sawyer was also on hand to announce that 25,000 oak trees are being planted in honor of Oprah, who joked with the audience, “You get a tree, and you get a tree, and you get a tree. Everybody gets a tree!” Halle Berry,Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes came out to talk about viewers — who were in the audience — who’ve helped their communities through various charitable acts. Holmes and Cruise then introduced Rascal Flatts, who closed out the show with a performance of “I Won’t Let You Go.”
The second taped show on Tuesday, slated to the be next to last aired “Oprah Winfrey Show,” was hosted by Will Smithand Jada Pinkett Smith. And the first guest was former Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, who arrived in the Windy City the same year that Oprah did. Following the basketball great was Jamie Foxx performing “Isn’t She Lovely.” Foxx was joined on piano by Stevie Wonder, who later sang a song he wrote just for Oprah. Jerry Seinfeld followed Wonder with a standup routine.
After Simon Cowell made a cameo that included him saying, “You are a very good kisser,” Rosie O’Donnell took the stage to sing, “Fever,” with a number of special Oprah-specific lyrics. Joining O’Donnell onstage were Oprah proteges Dr. Phil,Nate Berkus, and Dr. Oz. And then — just hours after the shocking revelation that Arnold Schwarzenegger fathered a child out of wedlock — Maria Shriver hit the stage with Gayle King and told Oprah, “For more than 30 years, you bestowed the most amazing friendship on me, given me love, support, wisdom and most of all truth.”
Kristin Chenoweth sang a tune from “Wicked,” which was followed up by a poem Maya Angelou wrote and performed specially for Oprah. Alicia Keys then crooned the song, “Superwoman.” In a rare public appearance, Stedman Graham took the stage to laud his longtime girlfriend. “I’m so proud of you,” he told his “sweetheart.” Graham then introduced Aretha Franklin, who belted out “Amazing Grace.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” Oprah told the massive audience, adding, “Thank you for taking me to a place that’s beyond joyous.” But Will Smith told Oprah there was just one more remaining surprise… Usher, who performed a medley of “O.M.G.” and “Oh Happy Day” before confetti exploded across the audience.
The two taped shows will air on May 23 and May 24. Oprah’s last show is May 25. Will you be watching Oprah’s final shows?