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Oprah's Final Shows: A Play-by-Play of Her Over-the-Top Goodbye

by Maggie Furlong, posted May 17th 2011 9:00PM
Oprah WinfreyWe still don't know what's happening for Oprah's big finale, but we've got a play-by-play of her penultimate episodes thanks to Lindsay Powers, Deputy Editor of THR.com.

They taped two huge extravaganza episodes today at Chicago's United Center, to air May 23 and 24 before the show's finale on Wed., May 25.

While these episode turned out to be huge productions, what will happen on her May 25 finale is still unknown.

Diehard Oprah fans, please know that MAJOR SPOILERS are after the jump. Not to say that it'll ruin the joy of watching this insanely celeb-packed episode, but just ... beware.

This is the order things were taped in -- might differ from final air versions:
20,000 fans stood in a line "literally a mile long!" to get into the United Center in Chicago. One woman shaved "OPRAH" into her head, while another super fan proposed to his girlfriend on stage before the show began.

To kick off the show, this announcement was made: "Oprah's producers are about to pull off the greatest, grandest, most spectacular surprise ever." That got a standing ovation before the show even started.

Oprah came out in a purple dress with a green jeweled neckline -- two of the colors of her OWN logo, which she's been wearing regularly since the network launched. Then Tom Hanks introduced a montage of Oprah's greatest moments, noting that Oprah doesn't like surprises, but ...

"There was an English playwright who said there's no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved," Hanks said. "And that is what tonight is all about ... pulling off this little show at the United Center has been the best kept secret."

Then Tom Cruise (who's been on the show 12 times) came onstage to sit next to Oprah as musical number after musical number got the crowd on its feet. (See all musical details below under Performers.)

When Madonna came on stage, Oprah's reaction was priceless: "GET OUT!" Madonna said she was excited that Oprah looked surprised, to which O replied, "Yeah, kinda!" Then Madonna went on to talk about how Oprah is her one living role model: "She has balls. And a wealth of compassion. I have learned so much from her."

There's video of Afghanistan's first female talk show host, who counts Oprah as her inspiration; after the clip, she came out on stage to hug Oprah, which was followed by a video message from Tina Fey and Steve Carell, a blooper reel and Dakota Fanning calling herself an Oprah Show baby.

Beyonce came onstage to perform in a tuxedo leotard, singing 'Oprah we can run the world,' and the crowd went nuts. Tom Cruise is still inexplicably on stage with Oprah. Later, Beyonce had to re-do her performance. Let's just hope they use Oprah's original reaction for air.

Tom Hanks joins Oprah to announce that the audience has donated 25,000 books to the Believe School in New Orleans, where singer John Legend is, via satellite, to say hello. It was also announced that Target will be rebuilding 25 school libraries across the country.

Diane Sawyer walked on stage, then a large tree appeared as Oprah announced that everyone in the audience was getting ... a tree. Huh. The tree-giving was upstaged by Halle Berry, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes coming out on stage.

While Rascal Flatts performed (details below), all the stars came back out on stage, and Oprah hugged each of them saying: "I feel the love! And I thank you for it. Thank you for being a part of this great night, this celebration for what you have done for the Oprah Winfrey Show. ... your being here tonight.... honors me in the deepest way possible."

A giant "O" appears on stage as they set up for something big -- part two!

To kick off the final hour, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith come onstage to cohost the rest of the show. Chicago Bulls music starts playing as Michael Jordan walks up from the audience -- "MJ in the HOUSE!" screams Oprah -- and shares the fun fact that they both started in Chicago the same year, 1984.

Jamie Foxx comes on stage and calls Oprah "sexy" and "beautiful," then gives us the first Stedman mention of the show. He also starts singing 'Isn't She Lovely,' which is the cue for Stevie Wonder to rise up on stage with his piano to join in. Wow. Then Stevie sings a song he wrote just for Oprah, and Lady O shoos the cameras away to enjoy a sweet private moment.



And lots of tears. If ever there was a day for waterproof mascara ...

Jerry Seinfeld comes up from the crowd to the 'Seinfeld' theme song, then praises Oprah for preparing him for marriage. "When you're in a disagreement with your significant other, learn to talk like you're a guest on the Oprah Show."

Simon Cowell shows up, and teases Oprah about being a good kisser. Then Rosie O'Donnell finally makes her entrance (she'll take over HARPO Studios in Chicago when Oprah wraps) and starts to sing, but it's a funny little song to the tune of 'Fever' about Oprah saving her from depression with the dynamic personalities she's launched.

Cue Dr. Phil, Nate Berkus and Dr. Oz, who all bow down to the great O.

Next up: Jada and Queen Latifah are back on stage, joined by Maria Shriver and Oprah BFF Gayle King. Yes, with all the insanity in her life, the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Schwarzenegger flew to Chicago for Oprah. That woman deserves her OWN show (ahem!).

There are more tears, rightfully so, and then Tyler Perry comes onstage, too. Then there's a fabulous musical performance by actress Kristin Chenoweth, surrounding by people holding bright lights.

Oprah starts to get fatigued -- rightfully so. "Break me down, you're trying to break me down. That did it. You're looking for the breakdown, that was it right there. All right, carry me on out of there. Oh my god there's still more! This is newsworthy!"

And just when you think Maya Angelou had some poetry emergency, she pops out and yells "Surprise!" then reads a poem she wrote for Oprah, accompanied by Alicia Keys on piano. Then Alicia sings 'Superwoman,' which Oprah deems "Ahhhhhhhhh-mazing!"

To top that, the one cameo no one thought we'd see: Stedman. "Honey, you are so special, and I am so happy... I'm so proud of you. I know all of us are so proud of her. And who you have become. It's amazing. The show has been No. 1 for 25 years ... I cannot believe a colored girl from the back woods of Mississippi has done all you have done with your show, your magazine, your film company, radio, and you're also hands on with your school in South Africa ... while launching a new network."

That got a great response from the crowd. Even greater? He introduced Aretha Franklin, who sang 'Amazing Grace.'
"Enough! Enough. Aretha Franklin and Michael Jordan in the same night? What is that?! I can't take it anymore," says Oprah, now completely in tears.

Will and Jada and Tom Hanks
join Oprah on stage for goodbyes. What an amazing night.

"I've never experienced anything like this and I say once again thank you for taking me to a place that's beyond joyous, i'm going to have to process it and look at it on tape to see what actually happened here, it feels like the rapture, so thank you all for that!"

But there's more! Out comes the orchestra.
And Usher. Singing 'OMG' mashed with 'Oh Happy Day.' Huh. Well no time to think about how weird that is to end on -- there's confetti and everyone's back on stage to say goodbye! Awesome.

Musical performers:
*Will.i.am opened the show singing 'I Gotta Feeling'
*'America's Got Talent''s Jackie Evancho sang from 'The Wizard of Oz'
*Josh Groban sang 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'
*Patti LaBelle came onstage singing along with Josh and the crowd went wild
*Beyonce made Oprah go crazy when she came out singing
*There's a huge set up onstage, all for Rascal Flatts to sing 'I Won't Let Go'

More stars in the audience:
*Jay-Z
*Rosie O'Donnell
*Dave Chappelle
*Wanda Sykes
*Tyler Perry
*Charles Barkley
*Food Network's Tyler Florence
*NFL's Emmitt Smith
*Chicago's Mayor Daley

What do you think? Personally I can't wait to see it all ...

Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl

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360 Comments

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G E N E V A

Hello Oprah, I am so Bless that you a SISTER IN DEED! TO GOD BE THE GLORY FOR YOUR LIFE LIVING HERE ON EARTH. A DIVINE GIFT FROM GOD AND YOU KNEW IT FROM THE BEGINNING. I SAY THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! KEEP THE LOVE! LOVE! LOVE!, PEACE! PEACE! PEACE!, JOY! JOY! JOY! FLOWING YOUR HEART TO EVEYONE !!!

May 29 2011 at 8:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
carremanu7

AFTER READING A FEW MORE COMMENTS , ABOUT OPRAH. I AM SURE WE NEED MORE OPRAHS. WE ARE A MEAN SET OF PEOPLE. SHE DID WHAT WE ALL SHOULD THRIVE TO DO . REACHING OUT TO OTHERS. SHE JUST HAPPENED TO HAVE BEEN PAID FOR IT.
MAY YOUR GOD FOREVER BLESS YOU, AS HE IS BLESSING MS O.

May 25 2011 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ulovetee2

wow! may I ask who on this board made the 1st pitcher of Hater-ade!

May 25 2011 at 6:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
skikjw

wow all them stars... what happen to the normal people she dealt with in the beginning.. sad isnt it. but i love oprah she did a lot of good being her real self and helping others... she is a good person... a little star struck... but a good person.

May 25 2011 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
annabelleo11

So long , Oprah, don'tlet the door hit your uhhhhhhhhhh chubby butt on the way out.

May 22 2011 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tattooednomad

Who cares how she goes out as long as she just goes. Adios, syanora, toodles, just go!!!

May 19 2011 at 5:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Pat

Oh and let me not forget...Gail...take her tag along ass with you, talk about riding someones coat strings.

May 19 2011 at 2:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Pat

I just wish she would go away. We alllllll know how popular you are, you feed on your hollywood stars who are getting free publicity from your show. Im so personally sick of her and her know it all attitude...Just go, I know alot of people who feel the same. Forget the glitz just go. In case your wondering why I feel this way, she has made comments about AIDS being over, which any educated person knows its not, its only rising, and she gives all this monetary help to Africa, when we have children who would love a computer and equipment right here in Washington Heights, but then that woulnt be big enough for her. So, go to your own channel and leave already!

May 19 2011 at 2:41 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Linda

Hi O, You have had a great run, I have watched you since you were on WTOP out of DC with Rene Carpenter. I compliment and comend you. You have come a loing way baby. FYI incase you are interested I am a 64 year old white widow ffrom Southeast Georgia, and I think you are great! Best of luck in your future endeavers & with OWN.
Respectfully Linda Wiggins

May 19 2011 at 12:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Barbie

You people are total idiots. Most of you who left a message can spell for anything. And seems you are very stupid as to your remarks. Grow up !!! The one person writes (SHOWES) what is that? Did you mean shows? Just sayin!!!! Hopeing? It's hoping fcs !!!!

May 19 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Barbie's comment

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