S: Ultimate Favorite Things
BC: For the first time ever, one more deserving audience gets the hottest tickets in television! The Final Oprah's Favorite Things is the biggest and grandest ever!
FC: One magical day....Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things 2010
1: The story of two good friends,an amazing teacher, an email, a Girl's Trip to Chicago and one magical day!
2: On the website I saw a note inviting readers to nominate someone who was a "Community Hero" for an upcoming show on "Heroes." I wrote up a quick note about Kathy and what a great teacher she was and how she gave tirelessly of herself and truly had a passion for the kids she taught. And then I completely forgot I had written the email. Three or four weeks later Kathy and I were shopping on a Saturday morning and I suddenly remembered I had written in to the show. We actually bent over laughing while we were joking about how cool it would be to get on the show....we knew that would never happen but it was fun to think about! | It all started with my (our!) favorite musical "The Sound of Music." I saw that the Oprah show was going to feature a reunion of the original cast so I went to the website to look for further information.
3: The very next day, November 7, I received an email inviting Kathy and I to be in the audience for a show about "Heroes." I looked at the email and instantly dismissed it...it honestly looked like a mass email or an advertisement. A few hours later I went back and read it again and this time forwarded it to Kathy. Over the next few hours, we grew more and more excited about the possibility of the show...especially since a quick internet search revealed that people had desperately been trying to get audience reservations for any of the shows in the last season. The Oprah show in the last season, an impromptu "Girls Trip" to Chicago...why not ? A flurry of emails with Becky Ahasic (audience coordinator), a few phone calls to confirm authenticity and then faxes to confirm our identity and it was BOOKED!
4: Monday and Tuesday morning we were busy sending in confirmations . Harpo staff requested we send in our drivers license and our social security numbers. Kathy and I didn't hesitate to do this....we were just so excited to be having an impromptu girl trip! It dawned on us later that we could totally be giving out info to identity thieves! Once our flight and hotel were booked, it was time to get down to the important business of SHOPPING for what we would wear to the show. We were told to dress nicely and wear bright colors. We spent most of Saturday shopping and putting together outfits and accessories. Monday was a crazy day with both of us doing the normal mom scene of getting the girls to school and then going in for a busy day at work. We both left work a bit early to rush home, finish packing, hug our families and then get to the airport. | Leaving For Chicago! | "Did we really just send in our drivers license and social security numbers to people we've only met via email? Our husbands are gonna kill us !!"
5: The flight to Chicago was both exciting and entertaining. The guy behind us talked incessantly and we got to hear about his many careers in computers, travel adventures and wacky relationships. Once the flight attendants heard we were going to Oprah show, they gave us complimentary champagne and snacks..woohooo! Let the girls trip begin! After we landed, we took an escalator down to the ground level. We passed a chauffer holding up a sign that said "G. King." Later we realized he was picking up Oprah's best friend Gail for the show! | A little "O"bedtime reading....11 pm. Finally in Chicago. We had NO idea what was in store for us the next day.!!!
6: THE SENECA HOTEL | 200 East Chestnut Street Chicago, Illinois | The Seneca Hotel
7: We were pleasantly surprised by the hotel. The price was great, it was located right off of "The Magical Mile" and they upgraded our room to a suite!
8: We were up bright and early the next morning. We had breakfast at the hotel, got ready in our new clothes and headed out to catch a taxi. | This parking garage about gave us a heart attack...the cars were right over the river!
9: We arrived at Harpo Studios around 8. We posed for pictures in front of the studio sign and met two nice ladies from Michigan. We went around the corner and found there were already four people in line at the door but we were still among the first to line up. The ladies in front of us offered to hold our place while we went over to the Oprah Store...that almost turned out to be a big mistake because when we emerged 30 minutes later the line was almost around the block!
10: This is where we waited in line for at least two hours! Even though it was a long wait, it was still fun because we got to meet such interesting and gracious people from all over the country. We met two retired teachers from Chicago and a woman who ran an adoption agency. | While we were IN line, camera crews from the show came out and started filming us. We had no idea what was going on UNTIL the early a.m. show started letting out. They came out with smiles on their faces but trying noticeably to be calm. They had clipboards in their hands and then disappeared around the corner. About 25 minutes later they emerged....hands full of "Favorite Things" bags. It was CRAZY to be right there and realize THAT show had just filmed and we missed it. While it was hard to realize we had missed the show, it was actually really exciting watching them come out...we were happy for them! While we were waiting in line there were two ambulances who arrived to take out audience members who had gotten ill during the taping!
11: The pictures end at this point. After what seems like forever, they started letting us into the building. The front desk was actually a security checkpoint where we had to turn in all cell phones and cameras and the contents of our purses were searched. From there we were ushered upstairs to a huge room where there were box lunches waiting for us. This was a nice surprise since we had been told to eat well before we came since the filming would last a long time. We sat and ate lunch and visited with our new friends.
12: Once we were finally seated in the audience, a show coordinator came out and got us all pumped up with some fun songs. When things quieted down, she asked the audience if we had any questions. One person in the audience asked if we had missed the "Favorite Things Show" and she said that yes, we had missed it but hey...we were there to see the show, right ? THEN a woman in the upper part of the audience asked: "Is there anything left over for us ?" We were shocked that someone could be so rude! Finally, Oprah came out, sat down and her "people" started fussing over her hair and dress and she said.... | The blond woman in the picture above answered "I was PISSED." Most of the audience "booed" her, but some laughed and agreed. When Oprah said "they say they weren't angry" the blonde lady said "They're lying !" | "I'm so exhausted from that first show we did. " Oprah said, playing along with the crowd. "Were you really ticked off-be honest- when you saw people leaving with their loot ?"
13: At that point, a lone ornament rolled down the stairs from a side of the stage. Oprah picked it up and said sarcastically.... | "I've got a leftover ornament for you!"
14: "It's beginning to look a lot like ...Favorite Things!" yelled Oprah. As she said this, the snow started falling from the top of the studio and the audience just went crazy! It took a few seconds for it to truly sink in that we were actually there at THE show we had watched for years and years.
15: "I got you! I played you like a fiddle. That was good!" | To say we were shocked doesn't even begin to describe the scene !We alternated between screaming and speechlessness! We had pretty much given up on the Favorite Things show early in the day when we saw the other audience parading past with their bags and here we were....knowing that hours of fun craziness were in front of us! | OPRAH'S ULTIMATE FAVORITE THINGS 2010
16: The set instantly transformed from an empty stage to a beautifully decorated stage complete with hundreds of wrapped presents. We learned that Oprah wanted to "go out big" for her final season and had decided to decided to do "TWO Favorite Things shows for TWO audiences full of heroes, givers and ultimate viewers!" Everyone in the audience had been chosen because of their volunteer work, dedication to their job or because they specifically used an idea from the show to change the lives of others. Because there were so many of u AND because this was the last season, she wanted to thank us in a BIG WAY. She had planned it all along so that our audience would watch the other audience coming out. She wanted to see what our reaction would be when we realized we had been "this close" to being in the "Favorite Things" audience."
17: The show started with Oprah giving away her "favorite" Favorite Thing...the iPad. Other first gifts were Ugg Boots, a Coach purse, cashmere sweater and then "Miracle Jeans." | In between each "set" the Keebler Elves would come rushing out with armloads of gifts. It was unbelievable to be sitting there with boots, purses and iPads in our laps!
19: The gifts just kept coming...each one crazier than the one before. Ballet dancers brought out the jewelry box with the diamond earrings. | Oprah made it clear that she did not purchase these things for us, that the companies generously donated the gifts for her audience members. | One of our "Favorite Things" of the show was the two $500.00 gift cards to Nordstroms for lingerie. Oprah is "all about the power of a good bra."
20: Sophia Coach Satchel | iPad | Hope in a Jar | Pottery Barn Jewelry Box | Miracle Body Jeans | Magaschoni Cashmere Sweater and Silk Leggings | Two $500.00 Nordstrom's Gift Cards | Centerville Pie Co. Chicken Pot Pie | La Creuset Cookware Set | Herb Savor | Croissants | Garrets Popcorn Chicago Blend | Talbot's Teas | Ugg Boots | Jessica Leigh Diamond Earrings | Josh Groban CD | $100.00 Donors Choose Gift Card | Book of Awakening | Scrabble App for iPad | Johnny Mathis CD
21: At one point, after hours of taping, Oprah announced that her favorite Christmas songs growing up were songs by Johnny Mathis....and he was going to be on the show! Johnny came out and started singing a Christmas song. Halfway through the song, Josh Groban made a surprise entrance out from the side stage and they started singing a duet ! I think you could have heard a pin drop....we were all just speechless to have such a private concert with two amazing artists. Honestly, this was the best part of the show so far....what a treat !
22: After the duet, Josh Groban stayed behind to sing a new song "Higher Window" from his new album. Our own private concert, by candlelight, with Josh Groban! .. | We were so busy enjoying our private concert, and honestly we assumed the show was over at this point that we didn't EVEN expect what happened next....
23: Oprah & Santa came riding out on the stage in a VW Beetle!!!!! | "Calm down...it's not what you think" Oprah said to the audience as she got out the car. "I wanted to give one of these to you, but VW said no. They did. They said: 'Sorry, Oprah, we cannot give everyone this Beetle. But maybe we can do one better....'
24: THE BEETLES ARE COMING !!!!!!!!! | They said "We cannot give you *this* Beetle, but how about we give each person in this audience the BRAND NEW TOTALLY REDESIGNED 2012 VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE | "Shut up! Shut up!!!" We were speechless...we just kept looking at each other and saying "I can't believe this !"
25: The 2012 Beetle design was apparently a big secret. We were only allowed to see a shadow of the car we would be receiving. Oprah got a sneak peak at the car and said "This is one powerful, sexy car." | The audience went completely nuts!! A new car ????? The lady behind us was crying as she told us that her car was literally taped together because she didn't have the money for a new one.
26: 2012 Beetle They opened a huge box to reveal only the shadow of the re-designed Beetle.
27: The new 2012 Beetle is supposed to have a sportier shape that is less rounded. This is a "spy picture" taken supposedly during a test drive. | "I would take this Baby down the Pacific Coast Highway!"
28: Once the show was over, the financial / legal guy came out. We were scared at first because once the excitement wore down we realized the $$$ would add up when tax day came. He came out wearing a "Grinch" tie so we were super scared about what he was going to say! After a long speech he broke it to us that Harpo would pay ALL of the taxes and Volkswagen would pay TTL and income taxes on the car. Huge relief! | We were then led out back through the front door, had our belongings returned to us and were given a clipboard as we were escorted to the parking garage that was now empty of cars and full of purses, iPads and Volkswagen representatives.
29: We had to decide that night what color car we wanted. Volkswagen did a complete security and drivers license check on us. If you had any warrants, DWI's or legal issues, you weren't allowed to receive your car information. Moving through the line we were allowed to pick the color of the purse (burgundy!) and then we received a manilla envelope and then two of the white Oprah bags. Because the show was still a secret, we were required to then put the white bags into non-descript brown bags to carry them out of the building. There were police offers covering the whole block waiting for us to leave the garage. Taxi cabs were lined up down the street. We dropped into the first available cab...we had NO idea we were carrying diamond earrings, gift cards and iPads in our bags as we drove through downtown Chicago! When we got to the hotel, we posed for pictures with out bags and said "OH MY GOSH I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS" about a hundred times! We each called our husbands and spilled the whole story (Oprah had said we could tell our husbands "because Men can keep a secret." ) | After we posed for pictures and put everything in the safe, we realized we were STARVING and we needed to figure out how to get everything home. We came up with a plan to go and eat and then find an extra bag to use as a carry on. We celebrated with Deep Dish Chicago style pizza!
30: Chicago Deep Dish Pizza | Celebration Dinner after the show!
31: The Sights of Chicago | We had to lay out a plan to figure out what to do the next day. We wanted to do some sight seeing but we also had to go back to the studio to ship our stuff home and pick up some stuff we left behind at the store the previous day. After breakfast we went up into the Hancock tower to take a tour of the city via the lookout windows along the top floor of the tower. Then we took a taxi back to the studio. We wanted to take some fun pictures in front of the sign and had to lie to the ladies who took our pictures about why we were acting all excited.
32: Harpo Studio Sign Pictures, Take Two!
33: There were two ladies outside the studio sign who had just come out of the morning taping. Their show had been about "Weird Marriages." We felt bad for them because they were aware the "Favorite Things" show was yesterday and they asked us what our show had been about. We commiserated with them and told them we had missed the show too and our show had been a Christmas concert show with Johnny Mathis and Josh Groban. In a way, it was almost nice to not be able to tell them because we felt so badly for them! We asked them to take our picture and we posed for these pictures while saying "this is what we would have looked like if we would have been on the 'Favorite Things' show! "
37: Trying on our new diamond earrings for the first time ! | We decided the safest place for our earrings was on our ears...
39: Chicago November 2010
40: Goodbye, Chicago...we had a GREAT time.....!
41: Hello, Texas....hello girlies! | It was so hard not to tell our girls what the show was really about. We told them it was a Christmas show and we got to hear two famous people in concert but they weren't really impressed!
42: "It's not really about the stuff. | and knowing that something really
43: HOPE | It really is about | MAGICAL, JOYFUL AND WONDERFUL | can happen to you when you least expect it." | Oprah's final words to our audience