The Punchline

Oprah tapes celebrity-studded farewell spectacular

Katharine Crnko May 20, 2011

Oprah Winfrey recorded her last show this week — a star-studded Chicago gala celebrating her extensive career.

Oprah was visibly emotional as celebrity after celebrity surprised her during her farewell double-episode taping of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show.’ The farewell episodes will air May 23 and 24 before Winfrey’s final show on May 25.

Guests included Aretha Franklin (who sang “Amazing Grace”), Stevie Wonder, Maya Angelou, Beyonce, Jerry Seinfeld and Maria Shriver. Tom Hanks acted as host for the event.

The stadium was decorated with seminal images of Winfrey throughout the course of her career, and boxes of tissues were provided throughout the audience.

“Thank you is not enough, but thank you,” Winfrey told Chicago’s packed United Center. A crowd of 13,000 gathered to attend the show, called “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.”

Harpo Productions, Winfrey’s production company, received more than 154,000 ticket requests. Lucky attendees were selected by lotto.

You know who didn’t make it? The Spearings of Ontario, Canada, who went to Chicago for the taping.

Robert Spearing, 44, told Chicago Police that he was beaten up and robbed of two Oprah tickets.

But it was a hoax. Spearing didn’t have any tickets. Mr. Spearing believed he would be able to scalp tickets outside of the United Center before the taping. When he realized that was not the case, he used a rock to cut his own forehead and scrape his hands to make it look like a true crime.

Instead of seeing Oprah, Spearing spent the night in jail for filing a false police report.

His explanation? He didn’t want his wife to be mad at him.

Here are some images of the celebrities who appeared to celebrate Orpah’s final farewell.

Maya Angelou, Aretha Franklin, Diane Sawyer, Dr. Phil, Halle Berry, Kristin Chenoweth, Gayle King and Maria Shriver, Stedman Graham, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah, and Usher attend “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular” at the United Center. (Images courtesy of Getty Images.)

Below is an excerpt from “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular.”


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