You knew that there would be stars galore for the two almost-final episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” shot at Chicago’s United Center. The 20,000 people who managed to get tickets were not disappointed.
The final show is still a closely guarded secret, but the two shot Tuesday will air May 23rd and 24th before the final show in syndication airs on May 25th.
Twitter accounts tweeted excitedly as Tom Hanks came on to host the first hour. Tom Cruise was the first guest, although he refrained from jumping on the couch as he famously did on Oprah’s show in 1988. The musical entertainment kicked off with 11-year-old singer Jackie Evancho, appropriately in ruby red slippers, singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in what developed into a trio with Josh Groban and Patti LaBelle.
That was just the start of a star-studded farewell that included, to drop only a few of the names, Madonna, Beyonce, Halle Berry, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes (Mrs. Cruise and the subject of the couch-jumping incident).
Hour two was hosted by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. More names to drop: Michael Jordan, Aretha Franklin, Jamie Foxx, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O’Donnell, Simon Cowell, Maya Angelou and, of course, Oprah discoveries Dr. Phil., Dr. Oz and Nate Berkus.
The headliner, though, was Maria Shriver, appearing just a day after her estranged husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, disclosed that he’d fathered a child by another woman while they were married. Oprah, who’d worked at WJZ-TV Baltimore with Shriver when both were in the early years of their careers, kept an arm tightly wrapped around her friend’s shoulders as Shriver thanked Oprah for giving her “love, support, wisdom and, most of all, truth.”
RBR-TVBR observation: How on earth is Oprah going to top that on the final show?