In recent years, I've been much more of an "Ellen" than "Oprah" person, when I record or view daytime television at all. But no matter what talk show team you belong to, it's impossible to ignore the big "O". Even Ellen Degeneres herself has an Oprah tribute on her web domain homepage. Oprah is a television force of nature, and the month long countdown to the end of her 25 year old series has become a genuine TV event. Every celebrity in the whole wide world wanted to be on her final, final show which was taped this past Tuesday in Chicago with an audience of over 15,000 adoring fans. It will feature such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Maria Shriver, Tyler Perry, Michael Jordan, Madonna and Tom Hanks. Writer Maya Angelou even wrote a poem for Oprah. The final program, marking the end of a TV era, will air on May 25th, next Wednesday....so get those DVR machines ready folks. I have a huge "gotta be there" desire for this event, having regrettably missed the final episode of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show many years ago. Everybody wants to be a part of O's farewell tour. David Letterman even fake cried that he wasn't invited on his own talk show last night.
I was just starting my career in television 25 years ago when the Oprah show first aired, so this series has a nostalgic glow for me personally. Most people have favorite Oprah show moments that they can point to, but I like Oprah best for the roads she paved for women who want (and wanted) to work in the television business. The empire she built (television, movies, print, website....and now cable network: OWN), made it possible for women everywhere to believe that they too could be "the boss". I don't have a favorite TV Oprah moment but I do have a treasured Oprah story. I love what she did to the publishing business. Oprah's endorsement of books, both current and classic literature, have had a solid gold effect on book sales and reading (including e-books). How cool that one of the biggest TV personalities of the past two decades is responsible for getting more people to read.
Not everybody loves Oprah. She has a hand full of haters (mostly men...boooo!) and maybe the assorted Tea Partier because of all the Obama endorsements. But hey...Tina Fey loves her and even featured her in an adorable guest shot on 30 Rock.
Final episodes of any long time series are "must see" events, as the promo below wonderfully illustrates. It just might make you cry, and that's where Oprah has always been the master. She has given us Emotional Television at its very best.