Oprah, A-List Celebrities Wow Crowd At United Center
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UPDATED 05/18/11 10:53 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Screaming fans packed the United Center Tuesday evening, as Oprah Winfrey gathered a star-studded cast together for one of her last shows.
As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports, Oprah’s A-list guest list – a secret until the show began – did not disappoint.
Tom Hanks was among the first to appear.
“From Harpo to Hollywood, pulling off this little party at the United Center has been, oh gosh, one of the best-kept secrets on the planet,” Hanks said. “Some might say pulling off this party is, in fact, darn near a mission impossible.”
Tom Cruise came out next. Afterward, Patti LaBelle sang a Gospel-tinged version of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” along with Josh Groban, Madonna talked about what an inspiration Oprah is, and Beyonce gave a song and dance tribute to Oprah-inspired girl power.
The audience of about 30,000 went wild, just like it did outside in line.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Regine Schlesinger reports
“Oprah is such a warm person; I love her giving. That’s what really brought me out here, because she has such a heart to give,” one woman said.
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith also made an appearance. And while the show forced the Bulls to remove their hardwood playing floor and push Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat to Wednesday, the most famous name associated with the Bulls was in the house that he built back in the 1990s.
That’s right, Michael Jordan appeared alongside Oprah Winfrey too.
The list goes on – Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Seinfeld, Simon Cowell, Dakota Fanning, Katie Holmes, Diane Sawyer. Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx sang “Isn’t She Lovely,” and Rascal Flatts and Usher also performed.
Maria Shriver also made an appearance, in the wake of revelations that her husband, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, fathered a child more than 10 years ago with a woman who worked in his household.
Shriver did not address the controversy when she appeared onstage with Oprah’s best friend, Gayle King, but she did say Winfrey had given her “love, support, wisdom and most of all the truth.” Shriver said she knew she wasn’t “alone in receiving those gifts.”
Ally Wentworth, Lisa Ling, Carson Kressley of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” fame, and Bob Greene – the fitness guru, not the former Chicago Tribune columnist – were in the audience, as was recently-retired Mayor Richard M. Daley, according to the Melbourne Herald Sun.
Also in the audience, CBS 2 producer Beth Godvik and her husband, Ken Jennings.
“It was fun; the best part was Jerry Seinfeld, because he talked about what all us men go through watching Oprah and our wives, and how we should listen to Oprah, and our wives,” Jennings said.
Godvik described the experience.
“It was the best free concert – and who’s going to have this lineup again, and for free?” she said.
The doors to the United Center opened late, leaving the entry “not quite as smooth as possible,” Godvik said.
“But the good thing is that you make friends in line, so everyone’s like, ‘Oh, your outfit looks great; I love your shoes; where are you from?” Godvik said.
Once everyone did get in, the show was spectacular, Godvik said.
“There were so many great people; I think everybody was collective gasp when Aretha Franklin came out. She looked great. She was in all white; just looked gorgeous, and then sang ‘Amazing Grace,’ and she’s doing all the runs and everything we all wish we could do. Beyonce was just amazing, and then at the end, Usher was just so fantastic. He started with his ‘OMG’ song, and then went into ‘Happy Day,’ and everyone started singing along,” Godvik said. “It was a good time; it was a great spirit.”
The party kept going even after the cameras stopped rolling at the United Center.
Oprah and her A-list celebrity friends- including her Chicago talk show replacement – Rosie O’Donnell, Rascal Flatts, and Dr. Phil headed to the Four Seasons hotel for the after-party, which went on into the wee hours of the morning.
Tuesday’s taping will comprise two shows, which will air Monday and Tuesday of next week, before Winfrey’s final show on Wednesday, May 25. After she leaves the air for good, Rosie O’Donnell will begin taping a show at Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, 1058 W. Washington Blvd.
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