Oprah Premieres Final Season with Special Guests, Largesse for Audience
Oprah Winfrey kicked off the first show of her 25th and final season on broadcast television by dancing on stage with one of Hollywood's most famous hoofers, John Travolta, to the delight of her studio audience.
The crowd of 300 select fans stood, cheering and screaming during Monday's show. Some wiped tears from their eyes.
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Oprah harked back to her first show in 1986, when she tried to line up Don Johnson as her first guest since he was a huge star on Miami Vice at the time. He declined, and she told the audience that she couldn't even "bribe" him with rhinestone sunglasses, adding that he never returned them.
Johnson then popped up, returning the sunglasses and wisecracking: "I understand things have been going OK for you."
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The biggest surprise of all was what the giveaway queen awarded the audience: all-expenses-paid trips to Australia. She of course famously gave every audience member a car in 2004, an event that was once voted the greatest surprise, fiction or nonfiction, in TV history.
The announcement provoked paroxysms of squealing, hugging and more tears in the crowd as confetti fell from the rafters. Travolta came out dressed as "the real Qantas airline pilot" that he is. The audience still mustered cheers when they got smartphones a little later.
Another surprise: Paul Simon turned up to sing a song he'd written for her 10th anniversary.
Then it was Winfrey's turn to cry.
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The 56-year-old self-made billionaire isn't going anywhere, really. Winfrey — who made some $315 million last year not only from her show, but also her magazine, website, radio channel, TV specials and movies like the Oscar-nominated Precious -- is launching her own network, OWN the Oprah Winfrey Network, on New Year's Day.