On Tuesday, Oprah taped two of her final three episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in front of 20,000 fans at Chicago’s United Center. Celebrities including Madonna, Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks all showed up to pay homage to Winfrey as she wraps up her epic 25-year run as daytime’s leading lady to focus on the network she created, OWN .
Winfrey taped episodes two and three, which will air as a two-part series on May 23 and 24, before her final episode airs on May 25. The event was hosted by Tom Hanks as Oprah’s pals Gayle King, celebrity chef Tyler Florence, NFL star Emmitt Smith and others all sat in the audience.
“Now, Oprah, I know you do not like surprises. Let me see if I can put you at ease. There was an English playwright who said there’s no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved, and that is what tonight is all about … pulling off this little show at the United Center has been the best-kept secret,” Hanks told the room, before Cruise, who infamously declared his love for Katie Holmes on Oprah’s couch, arrived.
His arrival, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was followed up by performances from “America’s Got Talent” singer Jackie Evancho, Patti LaBelle and Josh Groban.
Madonna then joined the celebration, telling the talk show host, “It’s no secret that millions of people are inspired by Oprah. I am one of them. She’s a self-made woman who’s been at the top of her game for over 25 years and she is still kicking ass. And she is still kicking ass!”
Other big names who showed up for the taping include Halle Berry, Katie Holmes, Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (who also acted as hosts at the event), Michael Jordan, Simon Cowell, Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Foxx, Stevie Wonder, Rosie O’Donnell, Maria Shriver (just two days after her husband Arnold Schwarzenegger ’s shocking admission that he fathered a love child with a household employee 10 years ago), and poet Maya Angelou, to name a few.
In between all the other star-studded appearances, Beyoncé took the stage to perform her new single “Run the World (Girls).” Her performance included a number of backup dancers and was taped twice.
Usher closed out the action, with Will Smith announcing his appearance near the end of the four-hour-long taping. He sang a medley of “O.M.G.” and “Oh Happy Day” as confetti fell onto the audience.
Do you plan to watch the final episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show”? Tell us in the comments.