It’s been a non-stop week for Oprah Winfrey and excited media, but it’s already generating press overseas.
The idea of the big O in the big outback is the stuff editors love as a colour story, and Tourism Australia loves even more.
On Friday Winfrey met PM Julia Gillard and they were filmed by Oprah show cameras as they walked along the banks of the Yarra River. Winfrey asked Gillard about being Australia’s first female Prime Minister. They discussed the choices they have made in their careers and their lives and Gillard’s dream for Australia.
It’s always about the dream for Oprah, but she has marketed optimism to perfection.
Winfrey then made her only official public appearance in Australia at a free two-hour public event at Federation Square and appeared on stage with Gillard and newly-installed Victorian Premier Ted (Didn’t I time this win right?) Baillieu in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people.
“Hello Melbourne! I’ve never had a welcome like this in my life,” Winfrey said. “In. My. Life!” While she did check notes before mentioning ‘Federation Square’ her enthusiasm seemed genuine and the crow ate it up.
Winfrey said that when deciding where to bring her audience for the final season of her show, she chose Australia – where she had always wanted to visit – because this was the place outside the US that had supported her the most.
She also made a commitment to return to Australia.
The event featured performances by Jessica Mauboy and Human Nature, with some of Oprah’s Ultimate Viewers dancing on stage with Human Nature. Oprah even led the crowd in an impromptu mini-sing-along of “Hey Jude”. The event was hosted by Network TEN’s Carrie Bickmore, sans McCafe coffee.
Winfrey then visited Bebe baby and children’s shop in Toorak to deliver a big surprise. There she met expectant mum Catherine Schrank who had hoped to attend the Oprah show tapings in Sydney, but couldn’t travel because her due date is next Wednesday.
Winfrey gave her a surprise baby shower surrounded by Schrank’s sisters and friends, saying: “You couldn’t travel to us, so I’m coming to you for your own baby shower.”
A surprised Schrank – who described the situation as “surreal” – exclaimed: “But you’re supposed to be at Federation Square!”
Then Winfrey made her way to the home of Megan Castran, her husband, a local real estate boss, and two children, to surprise her and approximately 20 guests during their weekly “Taco Night.” Castran had visited Harpo Studios in Chicago in 2008 for a taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show and at the time extended an invitation to Oprah to come visit Australia, an invite she didn’t forget.
Over tacos and margaritas, Winfrey and Castran talked about family life in Australia. Guests included Stuart Appleby and Ross Wilson, with the latter singing “Eagle Rock.” Singer Paris Zachariou then serenaded Winfrey with his own special rendition of the hit song “Billionaire”. Was that Aussie irony?
Surrounded by a pool and tennis court in Toorak, Winfrey is said to have been stoked for meeting a real Aussie family.
Oprah then did her thang and shocked the party guests by inviting all of them to attend her Tuesday shows at the Sydney Opera House.
It’s believed nobody said ‘No.’
Winfrey has since touched down in Sydney with a function at the Botanic Gardens hosted by Premier Keneally.
photos: harpo productions