Oprah Winfrey shone a spotlight on Sydney. Photo: Getty Images
After we published details of how to obtain tickets to the Oprah shows, Oprah's website was swamped with Essential Baby members clamouring for tickets. Incredibly, out of 350,000 applicants, several of our members were successful. Here is Kat's story.
After seeing a post in the Essential Baby forums about obtaining tickets for Oprah’s Australian shows, I headed on over to the Oprah website and registered, and then completely forgot about it. When the email arrived stating that I had won tickets, I didn’t understand how big of a deal it was until the news reports starting rolling in with articles about the hundreds of thousands of disappointed fans who had missed out.
This is probably a good time to insert my confession: I am an Oprah fraud. I have not watched an episode of Oprah for approximately three years. Oh sure, I’ve had my Oprah days and then some. I’ve even lived in America where Oprah was scheduled into the day… breakfast, lunch, Oprah, dinner. But the truth is I never quite reached the screaming, fanaticism of a devout Oprah follower.
In the weeks leading up to the show, I felt more excited about the fact that I was spending a child-free afternoon with a fun girlfriend, than actually seeing Oprah. But in the days leading up to the show I did a little more research and began to recall some of the things this woman has done in her life. As I went in to collect my tickets a couple of days before the show, I saw a woman actually crying with rapture. I realised that Oprah’s story isn’t just inspiring, but that her actions and example have changed lives. One can’t begin to describe the outreach or influence she has. All of a sudden it hit me…this is epic, this is television history, this is OPRAH.
The day of the Oprah taping we set off from the Sydney suburbs and rode the train into Circular Quay for the evening show. We compared our colour coded wristbands to other ticket holders and realised with glee that we were in the forecourt area. Despite instructions not to join the queue for another two hours, we decided to check out the start of the line. And it was packed! We got into the queue and waited and waited and waited some more, whilst soaking up the atmosphere of thousands of people high on Odrenaline. Even the harsh reality of the queue (dehydration, full bladders with no toilets, a few whiffs of BO, and a few crazy psycho fans) were not enough to dampen our spirits. After the cattle prods had herded us through the final barriers (wait, there were no cattle prods, just polite security personnel), we ran (walked calmly) to our section and found some excellent seats with a great view of the stage.
After doing the obligatory studio noise recordings, we waited in anticipation for the queen herself to arrive. And then, someone did arrive… and it was Ross Wilson.
Finally Oprah herself arrived. Dressed in a Collette Dinnigan creation she looked… exactly like she does on tv. We were very excited. And then Bono arrived. And we were even more excited. Not mass hysteria… but only one or two notches of frenzy away. Some of us (yes, ME) were fortunate enough to have attended the U2 concert the night before, and so the interview was extra gratifying.
When Bono left, Hugh Jackman decided to drop by and hang out with Oprah. Literally. He flying foxed his way down from the top of the Opera House to the top of Oprah’s set. Although the dress rehearsal went smoothly, during the actual show he got a bit excited whilst waving to my friend and I, and forgot to apply the brake. The crash looked painful. There were paramedics involved and they medicated him with hugs (lucky them!) Oprah’s army quickly iced and patched up his small abrasion, and then he was in front of us smiling that smile. I thought my heart melted, but really it was the Calippo I was holding.
During the break we witnessed an unfortunate incident involving the loosening of one of Oprah’s fake eyelashes…the crowd sympathy was palpable. And suddenly the cameras were rolling and Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman were up on stage for their first interview together. Nicole actually did have frown lines in her forehead, and they both talked about their plans and Australia and were much more refreshing and likable than I had previously assumed.
Next up was a live interview with Olivia Newton John. Yes, I am a closet ‘Grease’ fan (it IS the word) and seeing Olivia in person was pretty darn neat. We got to see ‘those’ pants…you know those tight black hip/thigh/calf hugging pants that she wore as a hotted up Sandra Dee? I don’t know what size they were but wow…they were tiny. After seeing various clips about what Oprah’s 302 Crew were getting up to in Australia (the 302 guests she flew over from Chicago) she explained that she was gifting the entire audience with pink diamond necklaces, in the shape of an O of course. We whooped in mass appreciation as though we had just won tickets to see Oprah and been given diamond necklaces.
The gorgeous kids from the Qantas choir appeared and I instantly cried. Then Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton-John and Oprah herself were all there singing a perfect mass rendition of “I Still Call Australia Home”, the audience was swaying, there was a giant flag being opened over the audience and then, the show was over. As we were dismissed, we glanced over to the big O that had been placed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge just for Oprah.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and I still feel buoyed days later. I never really ‘got’ Oprah, until I saw her in person. She has such a huge amount of charisma and grace, its not difficult to see how she ended up where she is today. Her message of selflessness and her generosity towards strangers is a reminder we can all use. So although I may have started out feeling like a fraud, I definitely left as a huge fan. And although many other fans despaired over not getting tickets, the encouraging news is that she WILL be back in Australia- she promised, and Oprah doesn’t mess around with promises.