Every time a new episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show airs in 2010, we will blog along with it. If you have plenty of time, read the long version. If you are pressed for time, read the “What we learned today” summary. If you are really, really pressed for time, read the Twitter-sized summary.

Date: September 14th, 2010
File Under: Celebrity, Entertainment
158 comments

Episode 87: The Farewell Season Begins

It’s the 25th Season Premier of the Oprah Winfrey Show. They show a montage of the Oprah show over the last 25 years. Oprah comes out from behind the stage, dancing with John Travolta to Love Train. The crowd scream and scream. Hello, hello shouts Oprah. The crowd scream, some are crying. Thank you says Oprah, it’s their season premier. She says thank you repeatedly and urges the crowd to sit. She says that they are on the Love Train today with Oprah’s dear friend John Travolta. Oprah says that there is no one on earth that she’d rather be with today- 25 years later he still makes her heart go pitter patter. John hugs her. Oprah says that it is with deep joy and gratitude that he is here today. The 300 people in the crowd are the “ultimate” loyal fans. Oprah is going to treasure for the rest of her life the emails that have been sent to her- the crowd have grown up and raised their children with Oprah, and they have been on this crazy ride with her, for which she has deep gratitude. Johnny, as she calls him, has been voted their favorite guest of all time. They take a walk down memory lane. In 1996 John Travolta danced his way into Oprah’s heart. Over the years they have danced and danced. He is so special because he has a huge heart. Oprah says that she has been accused of harboring a secret crush on him, and she can see why because he is so lovable. After 11 appearances on the stage, and more “moments” than they can count, he is their favorite guest. John says that coming here makes him feel like home. He says that she makes everyone feel that way and that there is only one of her. You are our queen, and we thank you for allowing us to be part of your life. And we’re lucky to be a part of your life,” he says.

Oprah says that you can’t predict what moment will change someone’s life. Linda in Alberta, Canada would work 12 hours a day and rush home for Oprah, watching for about 55,00 hours in total. The show that she has watched over and over is the toast that John Travolta gave to Oprah on her 50th birthday. It brings tears to Linda’s eyes, for a friend to say that you are a hero. It inspired Linda to be a better person. She booked a trip with her daughter to Africa, to help in an orphanage. They decided to build a house for the kids that they fell in love with. Now Linda has a purpose and it brings her joy to make a difference in the world. She feels a better person because of those words spoken by John to Oprah. Linda in the audience stands up, and John gives her a hug and says that is so amazing.

Oprah says that is what she means, that you never know which words will resonate with someone. Linda thanks John for being here and he says that it is his pleasure and privilege.

Footage is shown from the first nationally-broadcast Oprah show in 1986. When she promoted the show, the pressure was on as to who would be the first guest. Miami Vice was all the rage so they tried to get Don Johnson. He turned them down so that they did a show about everyday people. Which is what they have been doing since, says Oprah. Oprah says that she sent her rhinestone sunglasses to Don, and they were expensive and she wanted them back.

Behind her, walking on to the stage in rhinestone sunglasses is Don Johnson. “no they didn’t!” screams Oprah. Don hugs her and Oprah repeats “No they didn’t surprise me!” Don says that it has taken 24 years to give the sunglasses back, Oprah hugs him. Don says that he was shooting 18 hours a day and they wouldn’t let him come, but that he thinks she’s been doing ok. He is doing well, his new film Machete just opened. He says that Oprah is the greatest and she thanks him. She puts on the sunglasses and the crowd roar.

In Boston, 6 women who have been friends for 25 years are the ultimate group of Oprah fans. Gayle goes to the cafe where they have their weekly meet-up. The women scream and scream and scream. Gayle says that she heard a rumor about the group, that the road trip episode was their favorite. Chevy is making it possible for them to take their own road trip from Boston to Chicago. Oprah wanted them there for the premier of the last show as she kicks off the last season. The group scream and scream.

In the studio, Oprah says that the group think the premier is tomorrow. Over the last few days the crew have transformed the loading dock into a fake parking garage so real that cars have been trying to park there. It’s all fake, so the fabulous viewers have been driving for 2 days and now they are in Chicago and they have heard that the driver is taking them to their hotel to freshen up before the show. What they don’t know is that the driver will drive them directly onto the set. They are pulling up into the parking lot, entering the building. Oprah thought that this was impossible. There are other cars parked there. The car drives up behind the stage which splits to let them in. Unbelievable shouts Oprah over and over. They get out the car, scream and hug Oprah. They says that they are going to cry. Oprah tells them that they are on the air right now, they say that they wanted to get changed and showered and dressed. Oprah says that they have 6 front row seats for them. Big thanks to Chevrolet, says Oprah.

Today they are celebrating some of the most loyal viewers, including the man fans, including Larry. Larry is a man’s man, an ex-marine hunter fisher, griller and Nascar fan. He quotes her all the time, according to his kids. At 4pm he is in his man-cave watching Oprah from his blue barber-chair. Oprah says that they pulled some strings… His friends and family had to move quickly to keep him out of the garage. Jimmie Johnson, Nascar superstar, pulls in to deliver a package- Larry watches a DVD sent from Oprah. She invites him and his chair to come to Chicago for the season premiere. He rides with Jimmie. Larry and his barber chair are here in the studio. Oprah thanks Larry and Jimmie Johnson, and thanks Larry’s wife for sharing him with her all these years.

17 years ago, Crystal Brooks was one of Oprah’s original ultimate viewers. She wrote a class paper on how Oprah started out and changed so many lives for the better- she got an A for the paper. Yesterday they popped in on Crystal at work. Oprah is on the screen at the Middle School where Crystal works. Oprah shows a photo of Ms Brooks at nine years old. Oprah says that Crystal needs to come to Chicago for the season premier. Crystal is in the audience with Oprah and Oprah holds a photo of them together 17 years ago. Oprah has tracked down some of her original guests to see how they have changed. They recount some snippets of the experience.

In 1994, one of Oprah’s favorite surprises was to take the whole audience to Philadelphia. They all flew together, went sightseeing, ate lots of cheesesteaks and got them all home by bedtime. All summer long, Oprah has been wracking her brains as to what they could do to top that. She thought maybe they should go to Philly, or New York. The crowd scream in anticipation. Oprah says that she should think bigger- the crowd scream and leap out their seats. This really is her 25th season, after all and this is her last chance to do something big. The crowd scream and scream. If you want to do something big, says Oprah, you’d want to take along your ultimate viewers. The crowd are screaming and crying. Oprah says that maybe she should take all of them with her, to the other side of the world, to Australia. The crowd go insane. Confetti falls, a plane drives onstage. Australian flags appear. The crowd scream and scream and cry. Oprah shouts “We are going to Australia” over and over and over.  The crowd scream. John Travolta steps out the plane dressed as the pilot. Oprah says hello to Captain Travolta- who is a real Quantus Airlines pilot who has flown to Australia many times. Oprah has been planning this for over a year and the group at Tourism Australia have been getting ready to roll out the carpet for all 300 people. John loves the airline with it’s comfortable award winning aircraft, and the wonderful warm people that you meet when you get there. The director of Tourism Australia gives Oprah an Australian bush hat and says that they are looking forward to hosting her.

The Oprah Show is going to Australia – Quantus airlines will fly them to Sydney and they will tour Australia for 8 days, including the Great Barrier Reef. At the Oprah House, thousands of their Aussie viewers will join them. Oprah say that the new Motorola phone, the Defy, which is water resistant, will be given to each of them. The audience scream again and Oprah thanks Motorola.

Oprah says please read the prompter out loud- and say that she always does. It says with love from the staff and crew and a legendary mystery guest.Oprah looks baffled. The auto-prompt says that Oprah agreed that she could be surprised this year. Don Johnson was the first, and one of her favorites is waiting in the wings. Oprah screams as the curtain goes up on Paul Simon. He wants to sing the song he wrote many years ago to commemorate her tenth season, with some new adjustments. Oprah stands crying as Paul Simon sings and plays guitar. Behind him a montage of Oprah through the years plays. Oprah wipes away a tear as she sits with the friends from Boston in the front row. Paul sings that 25 years have come and gone and her suitcase is packed and the story is still unfolding. Oprah puts her hand on her heart and goes to the stage to hug Paul Simon. Oprah says that she’ll have to stop the surprise thing. She says that this is all because of the audience and that Paul Simon is her favorite and that Graceland is her favorite album of all time. She thanks everyone.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

You can’t predict what moment will change someone’s life

The Oprah Show is about everyday people, and always has been.

Today’s everyday guests include John Travolta, Don Johnson and Paul Simon.

The audience of “ultimate viewers” are going to Australia for a week and Captain Travolta will be flying them there.

The first episode of the 25th season of Oprah had more audience screaming than the last year combined.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Oprah shouts, the audience screams, Oprah cries, the audience cry. Everybody screams.

Date: June 9th, 2010
File Under: Celebrity, Public Service Announcement
195 comments

Episode 85: Sarah Ferguson Speaks Out About the Headline-Making Undercover Video

Oprah sits down with Sarah Ferguson and asks her how it feels to be in the eye of the storm. Sarah says that the fear is not real, so she has to calm down her heartbeat rather than going into an anxiety attack. She says when you look back at what you did, that person is unrecognizable. Oprah spoke to Sarah on the phone yesterday and it is her understanding that Sarah has not seen the tape. Sarah has seen parts of the tape in airports, but she hasn’t sat down to watch it all. Oprah says that she is going to play it now, and that Sarah can have whatever response she wants and be as truthful as she can be.

The video plays showing Sarah agreeing to be paid large amounts of money for access to Prince Andrew. She is drinking and smoking. The video is 3 minutes long, at the end of the tape, Sarah takes the computer case with $40,000 inside.

Sarah thanks Oprah for showing that to her, and she speaks in the third person about the person on the video who looks so tired and exhausted. She says that she had drunk too much, she thinks she was drinking wine. She had been on the road for so many months that she is now in the gutter, she is exhausted. She tried to be prefect for 25 years. As a 12 year old she made food her friend.

Oprah says that it is interesting that Sarah talks about the person in the tape as “she” in the third person and that Sarah said that it’s sad, really sad. Sarah says that there aren’t that many words to describe an act of such gross stupidity. She just called her girls and they said that it is a fresh clean start. Sarah says that she is a good mum and that her daughters can learn from her mistakes. She has got to the middle of the onion, all the skin has been pulled away and that people are seeing the dark and light of Sarah merged together. She has made a mistake and has to forgive herself, she is in the eye of the hurricane right now. Oprah says that this video made her sad because by the time you get to this point you have been spiraling downwards to this point. Sarah thanks her for realizing that.

The video tape was seen around the world. This is the first time that Sarah has seen it all. She says that she was not drunk, but she had been drinking. She remembers that she was in floods of tears when she was rubbing her eyes. The interviewer had come recommended by a friend of hers. A friend needed $38,000 urgently, and Sarah was crying thanking him for helping the friend who also knew the interviewer. Sarah says that this is about how her actions have hurt millions of people, she believes that from this she has freed Sarah from the treadmill of her life. Diana, her mother and her best friend all died at the same time and she felt very alone.

Three weeks prior to this, a friend called and said that she had a friend who liked Sarah, who wanted to help Sarah. She said that the friend was recently divorced with 3 kids and wanted her advice. The journalist took on the identity of a man in India who was a family friend of her friend, a big business man in India. They met earlier and talked about his fictitious wife and children. Oprah asks her to clarify why she would meet a stranger to talk about his wife and problems. Sarah says that a friend introduced them and that the man wanted to help her invest in her children’s books and animations. He was introduced as a business man. In her first meeting she thought that he was a News of the World journalist, and she had him sign a confidentiality agreement. She thought then that she wouldn’t see him again.

She says that she instinctively knew that he was a reporter, and she told him that. She says that she met him again in London, he said that he had just flown in for dinner. She sent friends to have him sign a confidentiality agreement and he said he’d do it in the morning when his lawyer was available. She went ahead anyway, that is how desperate she was.

Oprah asks how come Sarah doesn’t have access to $40,000, and says that it seems incomprehensible to the world. Sarah says that she is divorced from the royal family and cant ask them for money. She did WeightWatchers work for 12 years and loved that, and then she started a business but it was built on sand. She is substantially in debt, she says. She is sort of aware of the number, she thinks that she has a huge uphill battle. That is why she now has to look at bankruptcy now, but before she was looking for a quick-fix in places that she wouldn’t normally look.

Oprah wants to be clear that Sarah started this encounter to help a friend not herself. Sarah says that initially she did it for a friend and then she took a long shot to try and get money for herself. The News of the World say that they received a tip that Sarah had done something like this before. Sarah said that she doesn’t think she has, no she never has done that. Oprah asks why Sarah thinks that they set up this sting to get her? Sarah says that they are still in the middle of it, and that she has been a hugely idiotic, over-trusting woman.

Oprah says that Sarah was in a room with someone that she had instinctively not trusted asking for $500,000. Sarah says that she got to the point where you sabotage yourself and you are out of control. She hopes that people will be able to see that she was out of control and at the end of the rope. It is her and it is extraordinary to see it, she will embrace it and beg herself and the universe for forgiveness. It happened and now she has to find a way forward.

Oprah asks how she heard that it was a sting. She was on the way back from France with Beatrice when she heard. Sarah was ashamed and didn’t want to leave the room, but her daughter looked at her with her big eyes and said, “Mum, why did they do this to you?”

Oprah asks what Prince Andrew has said. Sarah wouldn’t dream of quoting him, but he is one of the finest gentle men. Andrew is a man that has always taken a matter of fact view of everything and he knows her and he reached out with such understanding. She has spoken to him many times, he wouldn’t be here without his blessing. Oprah asks if her family was aware of the spiraling and the pain. Sarah says that there was self-hatred and chronic abuse and not understanding who you are from an early age. Oprah asks if Sarah has been living beyond her means. Sarah says that she has been living as the Duchess of York, trying to keep it up. Sarah says that she has out of control behavior, running up huge debts all those issues have to be looked at. She didn’t have a plan for the $500,000, because she plucked it out the sky just sitting there. She says that the whole thing was wrong, even sitting down for dinner was wrong.

Oprah asks Sarah if it is true that she got a settlement of $20,000 a year from her divorce. Sarah flounders a little and says that she can’t break her confidentiality clause but she chose friendship with the boss, the Queen. It was more important to her to keep in with the family. Her work with WeightWatchers was her financial income. She lives now with the Prince because she couldn’t afford rent on her house. It is a short term agreement, Sarah does not want to be a burden on Andrew, he needs his life, they are divorced. Sarah has the same expenses as everyone else, and she has written lots of children’s books. Oprah is surprised that Sarah went to the Book Expo last week, but Sarah says that she must go forward from this point.

Oprah asks if Sarah will continue the charity work. Sarah says that charity work is the safest place for her, the innocence and goodness of dying children can not be negated. She has 72 schools where she learns from the true celebrities, the children. She learns from the child who forgives the person who cut his leg off. Her grandmother always said if you feel bad about yourself, give to others. Sarah says that Oprah of all people should understand that. Oprah says that she understands that sentiment. Sarah says that her Dad died of melanoma and prostrate cancer, when she was on her way to a job in Australia. She went to see him and said he didn’t look too good and he said that the show must go on. Sarah cries a little and says that the show must go on.

Oprah says that none of us are defined by our mistakes, what defines us is if we get the lesson and move forward. Oprah asks Sarah if she has learned the lesson that the spiraling was there to teach her. 1000% says Sarah, but her words are cheap, her actions will show. Oprah asks what the lesson for her has been, for her and God. Sarah says that the lesson has been chronic abuse to herself, she hasn’t dealt with her issues, she has kept going when she should have stopped to address her problems.

Oprah asks why Sarah made the decision to out herself and have this conversation with Oprah rather than go home and wait it out. Sarah says that to go to that level of gutter, you have to address why and you have to apologize. She has to say sorry. Oprah asks how the lesson begins to manifest itself, we cant just wake up and say ok today I am going to love myself. Sarah says that she is like a newborn chick, whenever anything now comes in, like a bill or an article, she is going to look at it and deal with it from a place of Sarah, not from a place of egotistical fear. Already she says going bankrupt is not the worst thing that could happen.

Oprah says that she just had an epiphany- looking at Sarah on the tape, that was a spiritually, morally, bankrupted person. Sarah says that is genius. It’s just a show, they agree. Sarah says that she remembers a wonderful lady in Sierra Leone who said that they can take your country but they can’t take your soul. She feels that she can come back from this, that she is now being authentically herself. Oprah asks if she’d like to say anything else, and Sarah thanks Oprah. That’s all. They thank each other and hold hands.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

If you are caught on camera asking for $500,000 in exchange for access to your ex-husband, you are in a bad place.

Sarah Ferguson speaks about herself in the third person when watching the video of her trading money for access.

Being an ex-Princess is not financially rewarding.

Oprah had what she called an epiphany- the person on the tape was spiritually and morally bankrupt.

Sarah says that observation is genius.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Being stung by a News of the World journalist has freed Sarah Ferguson from the treadmill of her life.

Date: June 8th, 2010
File Under: Betrayal, Public Service Announcement
267 comments

Episode 84: Women Who Claim They Were Child Brides in the USA

Standing behind Oprah are 4 women who share a secret. Jeanne is 31 and works the front desk of a popular hotel. Amy is 26 and is a working mom. Desiree is an 18 year old who wants to be an FBI agent. Nikki is a 26 year old bartender. They have only been identified as Jane Doe 1,2,3, and 4 in the federal court. They are bonded by a deep dark secret, so heinous that its hard to imagine it can happen right here in America.

The four women were all born into the Tony Alamo Christian Ministry. Some say that he is a crazy madmen. In the height of the church’s popularity, there were thousands of followers. By the nineties, Tony had more than a dozen wives at the small compound in Fouke, Arkansas. Many followers believe that there is no higher honor than becoming one of Tony’s wives. When she was 14, Amy became Tony’s wife. When she was 15, Jeanne became his 8th wife.

Jeanne says that he had 13 wives, over half were minors and he had sex with all of them. He preferred the younger ones. She had painful sex with him four days after their marriage. She believed that God wanted her to be Tony’s bride. Tony shocked even his most devoted followers when he chose 8 year old Desiree to be his bride. She was the youngest, she was still playing with Barbies and dolls. He laid her on his bed, they said marriage vows and gave her a wedding ring. She says that instead of a marriage license he finalizes his marriages by having sex. On CNN, Tony justified it by saying that puberty is the age of consent according to the bible. He then said he doesn’t know what age girls go through puberty, maybe age 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. God inseminated Mary around age 10 or 12. “Should we get him for having sex?” he asked. Desiree thought that what Tony was doing was wrong, but that he was a man of God so maybe it was right.

Jeanne was 15 when 59 year old Tony made her his spiritual wife, she is now 31. Amy exchanged vows at 14, she is now 26.  Desiree was only 8, now she is 18. Nikki was 15, she is now 26.

They went to Fouke, Arkansas, to find out who Tony Alamo really is. Reporter Lynn LaRowe of the Texarkana Gazette has been covering his story for years. In LA in the late sixties, Tony said that God appeared before him and told him if he didn’t spread the word, he would surely die. Alamo married Susan and they set up the Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation. He would do guest appearances as a gospel singer on her TV evangelist show. When she died of cancer, Tony kept her body in his dining room, and that is when people say that his dark side was unleashed.

Elishah, a former member of the ministry says that they had to pray over Susan’s decaying body for two years to make her raise from the dead. Her eyes and mouth were sewn shut and someone kept dusting her and reapplying her lipstick. When Tony announced that it was their fault that she didn’t raise from the dead, they were devastated. The followers were blinded by their devotion and were physically and psychologically exhausted, so there was no room for independent thought. The compound moved to Fouke, Arkansaw in the late 90’s. The mayor says that they didn’t know if those in the compound were armed, their minds just wandered.

Inside the house, he destroyed many lives. Tony Alamo did not respond to a request for an interview, but his church sent the following statement.

“Tony Alamo has no secret world or child brides. He is the least secret person in the world. His church and he are open daily to the public, and he is very outspoken, as an open book. Oprah and the government media and the Roman Catholics are in conspiracy against him and his whole church.”

Some have compared Alamo to David Karesh in Waco, Texas. Both led suspicious anti government organizations that many call cults. Tony controlled every facet of his congregation’s lives, using violence and threats of eternal damnation. The town were concerned about what was going on there.

Before Jeanne was born, her mother was 12 when her grandmother joined the church. Jeanne knew Tony as their pastor, she had not been introduced to him. Her family did not see it as an honor, for her to be a child bride, but they had put their whole life into the ministry and they didn’t know if Tony really was of God. Jeanne lived in the house. Amy was told that she should work in his office, that is how it started for her. Amy’s mom thought that it was a great honor- she was always told as a child that she would marry Tony. At 8 years old, Desiree was playing with dolls, wanted to go outside and go swimming and play with her friends. She was raised in the church, but she knew nothing of sex or marriage. It wasn’t exactly explained to her what was happening. Her mom said that Desiree was unruly and possessed by the devil. After a couple of months of being in the house to be disciplined, Tony laid her on his bed and started putting his hands up her shirt and down her pants. Desiree was told that the most important prayer was that of a child; she prayed that it would stop but it didn’t. Just before she turned 9, Tony asked her to marry him,and she said yes as she was afraid of him. He had sex with her once or twice a week and it went up and down a lot. Oprah asks the others what they thought of Desiree as an 8 year old bride. Jeanne says that she questioned him that day, even if she would be beaten. She said that he was not doing what he preached, that Desiree had not yet reached puberty. Tony said profanities and he said God will tell his prophet to do things that everyone will question but no one had better question.

Oprah says that at 14 or 15 you are a little more advanced in the world than an 8 year old. Prior to moving to the house, Desiree had a good childhood. She couldn’t call her parents more than twice a week. She needed permission to visit, she was only able to visit them twice.  In the house, they were as fearful of Tony as anyone can be of a person. They would get hit all the time, his face was crazy as they were beaten. They had to take nude photos for him, and he would take photos of them too. Jeanne would lock herself in the bathroom and cry so hard that she’d break blood vessels in her face. She would pray that God would take her in her sleep as she didn’t believe in suicide but she no longer wanted to live.

Nikki goes back to the compound with the TV crew. Nikki was chosen to be his next child bride, and she risked it all to escape that fate. She thought if this was heaven, she’d rather go to hell. She returns to the compound for the first time. It just looks like a home, but hell was inside there. Utter, utter hell. She implores people to pay attention and poke their nose into other people’s business. That is what they desperately needed, and nobody interfered.  If they hadn’t talked, it would still be going on. Tony would be sitting in there with the next line of little girls.

Last year they faced Tony in federal court, he was found guilty with trafficking minors across state lines with the intent of having sex with them.  Going against their families, friend and the church they testified against him and he is facing a sentence of 175 years. Oprah says that everyone has an internal guideline system which they should follow. If something seems odd at home or at a neighbor’s home, make it your business.

Oprah applauds their courage, Nikki was the first to break free. She realized that it was all a lie when Tony hit her in the face after she made an unauthorized phonecall to try and get out. He sat in front of her telling her the things that God had said about her, that she was a prostitute and a whore and other outlandish things. Then she thought that is all a lie. They were so brainwashed that they were told that they and their families would go to hell if they left. Oprah says that for her this is about intuition and guidance knowing that something is right or wrong. These girls were raised in one way but their inner guide told them to question that, to think that something is wrong.

To escape Tony, Nikki first had to escape his spell. He controlled his followers with violence and manipulation. Nikki found the courage inside herself to risk it all to get out of there. She shows where she escaped from the side door. A follower tells them to get off the property. She tells how she ran from the guards and Tony’s cameras and hid in the woods. He sent everyone out to look for her in every shop and fast food joint. She met Vince and Karen Coker who lived at the final house, they took a leap of faith and took her in for the night, They bought her a bus ticket so she could get back to her mother in California. Nikki thought that her mom would figure it all out, but she didn’t realize that her mother was being controlled by Tony and his followers. On the phone, Tony told Nikki’s mum Liza that she should have Nikki arrested otherwise Liza would have to leave the church too. The mom said to Nikki that Tony wouldn’t let her on the property. She had two boxes of stuff labelled Nikki’s stuff. Her mom put her on a bus and hugged her goodbye and walked away. One of the saddest moments of Niki’s life, that absolutely broke her heart. Liza now says that she was out of her mind to let it happen like that. Liza is no longer involved with the Alamo Ministry.

Oprah can’t imagine how that must feel, to risk her life, be helped by strangers and to be turned away by her own mother. Nikki says that it is very hard to understand if you have never been brainwashed. Her brother, mother and father were all part of the church. If her mother had left the church, she would have been abandoning her brother. Her mother thought that Nikki would be ok.   Some of them still have siblings in there, in hiding. Nikki went over the country for 3 months trying to find somewhere to stay.

Desiree had nothing when she escaped, no ID at all. For 2 years from 13-15 she had been planning to leave. She told the girls that if Tony got her Dad to come over and beat her again for trying to leave, that she would leave. She called all the doctor’s that she had ever seen to get her medical records so that she could exist in the real world. She knew that at 13. Jeanne was not a minor anymore so Tony couldn’t force her to stay. She was very vocal, she thought that she could question him in front of others, the congregation and other wives. She told them that they were beaten, he made them watch pornography, and told of the photographs. She said all she could in five minutes and then he asked her to leave.

Amy was married to Tony for nine years and her mom is still part of the church. Amy doesn’t talk to her mom now, Amy thinks that her mom hates her because she testified against Tony. In the courtroom her mother called her a stinking weasel.

Amy and Desiree‘s mothers both testified against them in court.  Oprah asks what that does to them. Desiree said it was really hard. She hadn’t seen her mom for 3 years and she got up and called her daughter a liar. Oprah says that we are all outraged by the way that Desiree had been treated. Her mom thinks, still, that Tony is a man of God, and that he would never do something like have sex with an 8 year old girl.

Nikki reunited with the two strangers who helped her, she calls them her angels. They hug and cry. Nikki doesn’t know what would have happened without them. The Cokers vividly remember the night Nikki came to their door. Nikki was very scared, she didn’t trust anyone. She was all cut up from the fences and the woods. Nikki had nothing, not even clothes.

The Cokers join Oprah live by Skype. Oprah applauds them for helping a child. Karen says she was timid and scared but Nikki needed help. Karen’s motherly instincts kicked in to help Nikki. They had a 9 month baby at the time. The Cokers could tell that Nikki wasn’t being forward with what she was telling them. But she looked like she was scared to death and that she had run for her life. Nikki didn’t want to tell the truth until she was out of Fouke, until she was sure that she wouldn’t be sent back. Oprah congratulates the Coker’s for buying Nikki a ticket and thanks God.

Elishah was the first child born into the cult. Life there was terrifying. Her worst day was when Tony got a close family member to beat her for trying to escape, over and over on the same side. Her back was bloody, she passed out. She saw a glimmer of hope when she was 15 and she met Steven a newcomer to the church. They had a connection. They were caught talking and Steven had to leave. She got a letter from Steven via a member of the congregation saying that he would come for her. He rescued her and they drove over the state line. They married but she had no idea how the outside world worked. Elishah is now a teacher and joins the others on the couch. Jeanne remembers being babysat by Elishah. Elishah says that this is a great victory. She says that the others overcame things that amaze the first generation. She says that the courage to stand up against Tony in court with their mother’s testifying against them is astonishing.

Oprah thanks them all for putting a face to this. The beauty of this is that you are not your past, that you can create from now whoever you want to be. You can use your past to strengthen who you want to be. Oprah says again that if you think something strange is going on in your house or neighborhood, make your voice heard. Sign the No Phone Zone, Thanks everybody.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

Tony Alamo controlled all the members of his cult with violence and threats of eternal damnation.

He blamed his congregation when after two years of prayer they failed to raise his dead wife from the dining room.

He took spiritual wives by marrying with no legal paperwork, finalizing the marriage by having sex.

Of his 13 wives, the youngest was 8 years old.

If you think something strange is going on in your house or neighborhood, make it your business and make sure that your voice heard.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Oprah says that you are not your past, that you can create from now whoever you want to be, even if you were once a child bride.

Date: June 2nd, 2010
File Under: Transformation
162 comments

Episode 83: Oprah Says Goodbye to Nate Berkus: The Grand Finale

Well it was 8 years ago on Oprah’s show that a young decorator set foot on their stage- they brought him in him for his incredible style and grew to love him for his big heart. He is known for showing us all how to love the way we live. His new show debuts September 13th, The Nate Berkus Show. He is another son of the Oprah Show- first Dr Phil and then Dr Oz and now Nate, not Dr Nate, but a terrific guy, come on out Nate, says Oprah. They hug.

Oprah asks if it feels like graduation day- it does, says Nate, and it does feel like it has been 8 years. He says that in the pictures of him he looks 5 years old. Oprah says that our homes should rise up to meet us, and Nate takes that further and says that our lives should rise up to meet us- we should love the lives we live. Oprah says she loves that and that she will be watching, even though she doesn’t watch TV.

Nate has performed 127 makeovers over the years, including yards, basements, playrooms, lounges and kitchens. Oprah’s all time favorite is the first one ever. Claudia’s whole house is 319 square feet, with a 6 x 6 foot kitchen. They sent Nate to “un-cramp her style.” In 48 hours Nate and his team worked and worked, Claudia loved it and couldn’t believe her new space. Her studio with no storage is now an innovative home with space to spare. The audience gave him a standing ovation. Oprah says he looked about 11 there. 8 years later Claudia is still living in her teeny Boston pad. She still gets chills thinking about it. She still can’t believe how beautiful it is. She loves that everything has a double function- she can entertain easily. She has left everything in its place, she wants it exactly as Nate left it. She wants Nate to know that he is a genius who transforms lives as well as spaces.

Oprah says she loves her home in California which is over 3000 square feet- when she leaves she literally says goodbye to the house and the furnishings because she loves it so much. Oprah’s housekeeper loves her own house as much as Oprah loves her house. Nate says that your house should be a reflection of who you are, you are what you live. Your house should rise to meet you.

Nate was nervous the first time he did a makeover on the Oprah Show. They didn’t order a dumpster, There was no place to put what they took out or all their trash. He ran after a garbage truck at 4.30am offering $100 or $200 for them to take all the trash away. He was terrified that the headlines would be about the trash.

Oprah asks his best advice for how to live big in small spaces. Everything has to be multifunctional- double or triple duty. He doesn’t like to use small scale pieces because they remind you that the space is small. A large sofa is more gracious and gives you more places to be.  Oprah is surprised.

They show extracts of makeovers that Nate has done, where no one has changed anything at all that he did in the years afterwards. Nate is not nervous about his new show- he is ready and excited. That is good says Oprah, thats how she felt when the Oprah Show went national. Bring it on, she said. They show Nate going to Mr and Mrs Brown’s house to bring the 45 year old kitchen into the 21st century. He also rescued the Couch family and their country frou-frou clutter. Both families were dazzled by the makeover. Oprah loved the green ceiling, she says that it was a bold move. Oprah does not like white ceilings. The Police Chief Officer got a lot of flack for the stuffed animals on his bed, he got his office stuffed with animals when he got back. The Couches have transformed the rest of their house, room by room according to Nate’s advice. Nate loves that they were inspired to update and modernize. Oprah said that she realized she had dried flowers for ten years in her home in Indiana, it is an easy trap to fall into.

Some of Nate’s top tips include: Pillows, a rug and a slip cover can be bought for the price of a new pair of shoes.  New drapes in a neutral color can transform your space. Hanging window coverings higher than the window, and wider, gives the illusion of bigger windows.

In 2003 Nate gave a back yard makeover to the patio, and the giant hill which was like a cliff in Lauren’s house. They had to level the hill. The Davenport’s were dazzled by their outdoor living room. Oprah says that this makeover took her breath away when she saw the bill, it made her scream. Leveling is a key word to either move or go to the bank, says Nate. Dirt and mature trees are expensive.

2 years ago, in the biggest Oprah makeover in history, Nate blew the roof off a house outside of Seattle. In 15 days he raised the roof and almost doubled the square footage. Everyone screamed when they saw what he did to the house. He transformed the cramped living area for the whole family. The master bedroom took up the entire floor, and the four kids all finally had their own rooms. The kids screamed when they saw their playroom. The entire family is their from Skype, with big news. They have a new baby to add to the family. The baby is currently sleeping in their closet. The master closet was so enormous they couldn’t fill it with clothes so they took out some shelves and put in the crib. The kids love their play area. The house transformation let the family feel that anything is possible, it reminded them all that good things are around the corner, even when times are tough.

They show a montage of people screaming and crying when their makeovers are revealed. Oprah says that Nate has never let them down, he does not disappoint. In 2005 Bernadette, a single mom of 3, was looking after her  kids, her brother’s 7 kids and her elderly mother in an apartment so tint they slept three to a bed. They surprised her with a new house decorated by Nate. In 2004 Sherry’s 80 style bedroom was turned into a timeless classic. Oprah asks for Nate’s all time favorite- he says that it was the Seattle makeover where the community brought them food on the site, doughnuts and Thai food and so on.

Nate’s favorite guest of all time was Brayden. The two year old that he watched for the day, when he played Mommy. For 12 hours Nate did all of Dana’s duties for the day. Nate had a lot of things to do on the list. After 12 hours he felt like he had been hit by a truck. Oprah says that Mothers, Fathers and caretakers need a reward. Nate said on the original show that Mom’s need an assistant, and Oprah said that Mom’s need a wife. The whole family are here, Nate picks up Brayden. Dana says that Nate helped her for a lifetime- when she shops she thinks do you want it, do you love it, will it make you happy? It’s changed her thinking. Nate says that he loved hanging out with Brayden, that the family were great to spend time with and that he has always wanted kids, he loves kids.

They show clips of Oprah repeatedly calling Nate Cutie-Pie. 6 days after Hurricane Katrina, Nate visited New Orleans and helped pet owners who rescued their animals but couldn’t take them on the buses with them. They took a few dogs in a limousine to a house in Baton Rouge where they were staying at Lisa Ling’s friend’s house. They took as many dogs they could and they were all reunited with their owners. Oprah says that everyone on the staff and all the people who he has worked with wanted to express their gratitude for him- so they each wrote a note to him saying what he has meant to them and made it into a special coffee table book. Oprah says that he has enhanced their hearts and lives and that Nate is going to make her so proud, may he continue to dazzle. Nate wipes away a tear and thanks her.

Oprah says that Lowe’s have been there for Nate and Oprah throughout the whole time. Nate says that their dedication is amazing. A viewer named Trudy lost her son Derek who was distracted driving while talking on his cell phone. She says that she was overcome with grief until she watched the show in January where Nate gave advice to another mother who had lost her son. Nate said that he realized that the date has no power, the memory can come when it wants to come, so he took the power back. That resonated with Trudy, she realized that she was remembering Derek with pain and they should have been remembering him with joy. In the audience Trudy thanks him for a personal makeover, wishing that she was their to thank him for a room makeover. Oprah hopes to add the Romeo clause to the No Phone Zone Pledge, in the future. Jonathan, Derek’s brother signed a pledge two years ago to say that he will always drive responsibly and safely and respectfully, not under the influences of anger, substances etc. He will never talk or text while driving and he will respect the privilege of using the car. Oprah thinks that this is great. Trudy wrote this in memory of Derek, Oprah and Nate say that this is the first No Phone Zone Pledge. Nate says that there is always a moment on TV where you decide whether to lay yourself open and reveal your most private feelings. He says that he is so sorry for their loss, but thanks them for thanking him, as something can come from their loss- he knows now when he is out there, people are listening. Derek’s fraternity brothers in the University of Albany in New York have taken the pledge. By Skype one of them, Mike, says that they loved Derek to death and they will do their best to make the family proud. Every chapter of their fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, the largest in the world, will sign the No Phone Zone Pledge. Oprah wishes them the best and thanks Nate. She says that her son, her boy, has a new show, and she hugs him and wishes him good luck.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

Oprah’s “cutie-pie” “son” Nate Berkus, is leaving the Oprah Show after 8 years of makeovers to star in his own show, The Nate Berkus Show.

Our homes should rise up to meet us, says Oprah.

Our lives should rise up to meet us, says Nate.

Nate says that your house should be a reflection of who you are: you are what you live.

To live big in small spaces, everything has to be multifunctional- doing double or triple duty.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Oprah does not like white ceilings and she believes that every Mom needs a wife. Goodbye Nate Berkus!

Date: May 24th, 2010
File Under: Celebrity, Transformation
13 comments

Episode 82: Julia Roberts and the Men of Eat, Pray, Love

OK. She is one of the biggest movie stars of our time. Oscar winner Julia Roberts plus one of the biggest selling books of all time Eat, Pray, Love. Put them together and you have one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer. Come on out Julia. The crowd scream, Oprah and Julia hug and hold hands. Wow, you look fantastic says Oprah. Oprah says that she said to their shared agent that at the end of the movie she teared up because Julia is her friend and she is a bona fide movie star, which she could tell just by the way Julia rode her bicycle. Julia says that it was all consuming and she had a great team. When Elizabeth did the journey she had a carry-on bag, and Julia did it with three children and about 16 bags, full of snacks and medicine. Julia says that it is a bummer that the movie is all her, but Oprah says that is what is extraordinary.

Oprah asks how they all are, Julia says that they are great and that they missed Oprah last night. Her twins are 5 and Henry is 2 1/2, Oprah says that she loves 2 1/2 and Julia says that she loves it all. Oprah asks what she has learned from them lately. Julia says that kids are so fresh and interested and engaged as they are so new into the world. As we get older we get grumpier and concerned with being late while the kids just want to look at a tree. Henry woke up at 5.30 and said it’s a beautiful day, momma. Their day starts at about 5.30 then it’s the big party to get everyone up and teeth brushed and breakfast, including the mom. 2 days a week they all attend preschool for a few hours and Julia picks them up for an afternoon snack and a nap. They carpool and have playdates like every other family. Oprah says that it is so normal in that house. Julia sews because kids clothes are so expensive and the dresses Hazel wears are just two pieces of fabric together. She uses patterns or figures it out from a dress that Hazel loves. Oprah asks why she sews, Julia says that it is soothing and fun and not necessarily for financial reasons. It is her new skill to keep her brain firm- after 40 they say that both the brain and the tush go saggy. She sews big pillows and some simple pants for Danny, which Oprah is very impressed by. That is love, she says. Julia says that Danny is perfect.

People magazine has just voted Julia the world’s most beautiful person for the 4th time. Oprah says that we all say that we don’t care about the list, but as a 42 1/2 year old, Julia must have liked that. Julia says that at her age she’ll take every compliment that she gets. Oprah says that Julia is more beautiful now than ever and that something happens when you come into your 40’s and you become more of your true self. Julia agrees and says that she has a great family with so much fun and that you look like where you come from. Oprah says that she’ll remember that when she next sees someone who looks haggard. Or those days after she has been traveling and her face looks like it has been left behind in Cleveland or Chicago and she’s waiting for her face to catch up.

Oprah asks if aging concerns Julia. Not yet, although obviously society works hard to instill panic as quickly as possible. Her husband doesn’t seen concerned and that makes her calm about the whole thing. She is also the new face of Lancome. She felt reluctant to be the ambassador for a brand, now she calls herself a supermodel at home. It is a fun new avenue. Shockingly, Julia says that she ran a half marathon because her husband is so powerful. She says that she was so happy for 13 miles, how did that happen? The crowd applaud. She trained during the movie when it was so hot so by the time she ran the marathon it was to her advantage. She wanted to show her kids that the power of the female body is greater than just giving birth, which is a great power. It was awesome. The New York Times article Mother and Mega-Star, Happily Balanced was a great article, according to Oprah. Oprah smiled when she read the line that Julia is fulfilled by her life on an hourly basis. Julia says that she has a big family who appreciate and inspire each other- they are filled with gratitude. Oprah says that she loves watching Julia and Gayle have such respect for her kids as well as to love them. Julia thinks that they are fascinating people and that they are spiritually closer to the earth than us, maybe as we get tall we grow dumb. Oprah feels that we are born into the world trailing grace, as if we come from the angels, and the older we get the world reminds you and you forget where you come from. Julia agrees that her kids are heavenly and kind and dear. The chaos and the quiet in the house. Her favorite thing is to watch them wake up and to watch the day come upon them.

Eat, Pray, Love – four years ago the story of Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey to rediscover herself struck a chord with millions of women all over the world, including Oprah. Over 7 million copies have sold in 40 languages and now devotees see it on the big screen. She goes around the world, to Italy, India and Bali. You will not be disappointed says Oprah.

Oprah says that she loves the book and that it cast a spell on Julia too. Julia got a copy from her agent and sent a copy to her best friend Paige so that someone she loved was reading it at the same time. Paige panicked that she had to read the book fast to catch up, but says that it came at a good point at her life. Oprah likes to read that way too. They didn’t really talk about it but they shared moments. In India they met a woman reading the book and Julia’s 4 year old daughter said I know what that says, “Mommy’s Work.” Julia says that she surrenders to the book and there is a resonance, it’s like a bell which keeps ringing. Oprah says that it has become a spiritual companion for many people. Julia says that as a family they had their moments of passage during this odyssey. 5 months was a long time to travel together and play Candyland. Her kids were very interested in the culture of everywhere they went. Julia says that the permission to eat with gusto was a gift. Oprah remembers the famous pizza place, did they go there? They went to that place. Oprah shows a clip of the pizza eating scene. The crowd applaud. Julia ate a lot and says that she gained weight. She loves the food in Italy, it’s so fresh and tastes like Momma is in the kitchen. Next she went to India for the praying part, and she loves it there. The children love it, Hazel wants to live there when she grows up.

The story is as much about her journey as the men she meets along the way. Billy Crudup plays her needy husband that she walks away from. She rebounds with David played by James Franco. In India she connects with spiritual friend Richard played by Richard Jenkins, and Javier Bardem plays Philippe, the man who makes her want to love again. The movie was shot in sequence, Ryan made it easier for her to do it in sequence. The scenes are loving scenes, rather than love scenes says Julia. Oprah asks what Julia believes about love. Both Julia and Oprah adore Julia’s husband Danny. She adores him, and he gets better looking year after year. Julia says that no one calls her to do sex in a movie, they just don’t. Julia doesn’t even want to pretend all that stuff- it makes her feel 12. Oprah asks if she still loves acting- Oprah now sees Julia as a mother first. Julia still loves acting, but she loves her family more. She is fortunate that she doesn’t have to make a choice, and that she can choose when she wants to work. It has always been ok with Julia to take some breaks between films and be more relaxed.

The leading men say what Eat, Pray, Love means to them. Javier says his favorite dish is fried eggs, fries and the best Spanish ham in the world. Richard finds his pray in his home in Rhode Island where it is peaceful and spiritual. They have a screened house in the woods with a chair built by his son when he was in 8th grade.  Javier says love is found in books painting, literature, music- love is about putting ourselves in a place where you haven’t been before. James would eat the Cafe Borrone in Palo Alto’s soup and sandwich for the rest of his life. For his prayer he goes to Palo Alto where his family is from, where he gets a lot of spiritual strength. And his girlfriend grew up in the same city so he gets his Eat, Pray and Love in the same spot.Javier thanks Julia in Spanish for everything and for making it so easy to work together.

Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert is here- she just watched the movie for the first time. She is still misty and emotional about it. She isn’t a visual person, she didn’t take photos of her journey, so it is as if an amazing director made a home movie of her travels and Photoshopped her out and put in someone with perfect skin and 38” legs. Plus, she got to watch herself make out with Javier, which is not a bad way to spend an afternoon. She was an emotional wreck. She saw it with her husband alone in a theater and they were crawled up in a ball together laughing and crying. They didn’t expect that. Oprah says that the book has become larger than Elizabeth. The movie embodied the best time of her life- she cried, went home, drank lots of wine and went to bed. They decided to talk about it in the morning. For the first time, Elizabeth realized why this story is so popular- she suddenly saw that getting over love and disappointment is everyone’s story. She only saw that it was everyone’s story through the movie, not just her own introspective journey as she’d previously thought. It was easy for her to give autonomy to Julia Roberts, Oprah says that when Julia prays you can almost hear what God is saying. Elizabeth says that is Julia’s gift: she takes the personal and renders it universal. Liz says that it makes her happy that Julia can be Liz Gilbert and that she does it so well. Liz can’t contain her feeling about the story, it grew bigger than her a long time ago.

Julia’s favorite all time meal, her Eat, would be a big meal, she likes steak, garlic, anything in a crock pot. Her Pray is hearing her kids sleeping and breathing, holding her husband’s hand and knowing that they get to do it again the next day. Her Love is her family that she belongs to and the family that she has, and her good friends. The writer and director of the movie Ryan Murphy is also the man behind Glee. Oprah welcomes him back. He is bathed in relief that Liz appreciates what he did. They were always about the book, they felt such an obligation to Liz and the book because it is more than just a book. James Franco  says that Julia was pretty shy in the kissing scenes. He thinks that Julia thinks he only did the movie to kiss her, and that’s only half true. He says that he’ll just be sitting there, looking at his photograph of him with Julia.

Oprah and Julia can’t believe that the hour has gone already. Julia mentions her other two costars who have not yet been mentioned. Julia took the whole no phone-zone pledge online  the day after she watched the Oprah show episode. She has signed it. Oprah says that Julia is a responsible mother, Julia says that when she sees people texting, she wants to shout “Don’t you watch Oprah.”

August 13th, Julia’s mom’s birthday is the day that the film is released. Oprah says that everyone should watch it with their girlfriends and then eat and pray and love together.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

You can tell bona fide movie stars by the way they ride their bicycle.

A movie star sewing pants for her husband displays true love.

You look like where you come from.

The permission to eat with gusto is a gift.

Making a movie of a book that is more than a book is quite an undertaking.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Getting over love and disappointment is everyone’s story, it is universal.


Date: May 21st, 2010
File Under: Celebrity, Entertainment, Transformation
122 comments

Episode 81: Fridays Live: $266 Million Lottery Winner and Living Legend Dolly Parton

It’s Friday everybody, shouts Oprah. Two weeks ago life had a ginormous twist in store for Jackie and Gilbert. It all started when Jacki asked her husband what he wanted for dinner. He was going for dinner and got ten lottery tickets. She works overnight at the local TV station. A wire came out that someone had won the lottery in her home time. She called her husband to get the ticket and everyone was crying. Her boss says that it’s never good when you get a call at night, she said that they won the lottery and was it ok if she left early?

Jacki and Gilbert come out and meet Oprah. The odds were 1 in 175 million, they won $266 million. Wowser kazowser says Oprah, that is amazing. Jacki says that it is amazing. Jackie worked as freelance, averaging $40,000 a year. Oprah asks if people are coming out of the closet to ask for money. Gilbert says that he’s already told his family not to bother, the answer is no. The crowd laugh. Oprah says really. Oprah asks if they had the conversation about what they would do. They said that they had dreamed of winning $50,000. They wanted to buy a nice house, like in the magazines, an “Oprah house.” They like to travel. Oprah says that they can do it all now, they need to dream bigger dreams. Oprah’s advice is that everybody will come and ask for help, and that they get to decide who they want to help and who they don’t want to help and then they get to make the plan, otherwise it is overwhelming. You can’t say that you don’t have it anymore. Jacki wants to keep working for now, they don’t have the money yet, so she needs to pay the bills but she knows their focus will change. Gilbert says that they can decide what to do now with the money for the greatest good. Jacki says that being on Oprah is more her dream than winning the lottery. Oprah is really flattered and sees that they are stable, happy people and she hopes that it can bring them joy. Oprah says that there is great property in Santa Barbara. She thanks them and they thanks her.

Oprah says she loves it when nice things happen to nice people. Hang on to your britches, everything about her next guest is big, from her hair to her personality. Dolly Parton is a national treasure who grew up dirt poor in the Smokey Mountains. One of 12 children in a one roomed cabin with no electricity or water she was born with the voice of an angel. She graduated high school on a Friday night and by Saturday morning she was off to Nashville. She went on to conquer all of showbiz- television, movies, Broadway and her Dollywood theme park has been thrilling fans for 25 years. She is a one-woman empire and has written over 3000 songs including I Will Always Love You, one of the biggest songs of all time.
Dolly comes on stage and the crowd scream and scream. She drove in from Nashville on her bus and all of her homes are fine, but they are working so hard to help after the floods in Nashville. She has started a relief fund through Dollywood, the crowd cheer. Oprah has family in Nashville and says that many people feel that the crisis is not getting enough attention. Dolly is good, she is here with all her sequins. She says that she would never be seen without make-up unless she was electrocuted in the bath. She has been married 44 years and together for 60, the crowd applaud. Oprah thinks that it is interesting that we never see Paul, Dolly respects the fact that he doesn’t want to be in the limelight. Oprah asks if they have an open marriage- Dolly says that it means that they are both free to be themselves, but they would kill each other if there was any infidelity. She knows he loves her for her, they met the day she went to Nashville before she was a star. Oprah says that Dolly came from a one-room shack. Dolly says that coming gradually into money, she finds it hard to spend. She thinks about every dollar, she’d rather get a whole bunch of clothes from Walmart than one $5000 outfit. She says that she’ll still look cheap, no matter what she wears. It costs alot of money to look this cheap, says Dolly.

They play a duet of Oprah and Dolly in 1987 singing This Little Light of Mine. Neither of them had watched it for a while. Oprah said that she was lip-synching. Dolly is 5’ 1”. She once lost a Dolly Parton look-alike contest when she lived in Santa Fe. She over-exaggerated everything and thought it would be so much fun. Next to all the 6 foot drag queens she looked like a little gay midget. She was lost in the shuffle and she lost her own drag-queen night.

She has celebrated 25 years of Dollywood, her 150 acre theme park near her childhood home in the Smokey Mountains. Her financial advisors told her not to buy it as it was too risky. She says that they do wonderful work down there. They have the Dollywood Foundation where they have an Imagination Library where they give books to children once a month from birth to kindergarten. They are giving their 25th million book away, which Oprah says is amazing.

Standing outside the Oprah studio is Dolly’s tour bus. Oprah says that it’s like a double-wide. There are three bunks and she has her own shower. All her wigs are in the cupboards. She loves to travel by bus where she does all her work and reading and praying. She has a little prayer alter. Oprah has a prayer chair for morning prayer and meditation, with her prayer ornamentations. Sometimes she’ll pray in bed like Dolly. Oprah says that the chairs are so small, she has the same cross as Dolly. Dolly usually cooks, she is on a low-carb diet right now so she has cheese and quiche. She eats what she wants at the weekend, after a no-carb week. She hardly ever checks into hotels anymore, she loves the bus. She’d love to take Oprah on a trip sometime.

Dolly has sold over 100 million albums and has had 25 number one singles, here she is with a guitar and her biggest hits. Dolly says that she wrote 9-5 with the sounds of rubbing her acrylic nails together. She asks the audience wearing false nails to help her out.  She then sings 9-5 followed by a verse about celebrating 25 years of Dollywood and hoping to make a million dollars after being on Oprah.  She tells Oprah about how Elvis was set to record I Will Always Love You but that they wanted her to sign away the rights and she wouldn’t. She gets money every time the song is played. Oprah congratulates her for the decision not to sell, even to Elvis. Dolly says that she cried for days. She then goes on to dedicate I WIll Always Love You to Oprah, saying that she will be dearly missed and that she is one of the most amazing women in the world. Oprah cries as Dolly and the audience sing to her. Dolly stands up and Kenny Rogers joins her on stage for a duet. The crowd go wild.

Oprah asks Dolly what the best thing is about working with Kenny, and she says everything, plus she loves his gravelly voice. They joke about who has had the most liposuction and Dolly says that at one point she was going to install a liposuction machine on Kenny’s bus. They laugh. As a 71 year old, he has 5 year old twin sons who he says are about to break him. Oprah asks what he has learned from them and he says that the other day he spent the day telling one of them not to throw balls inside, get off the table and on and on and on. At bed time, his son turned around and said, “Daddy I am really getting tired of you.” He says that they are like Dolly, they are blatantly honest. Kenny says that Dolly is one of those rare, wonderful people, who is what you see. Kenny says that we are all three people- who you think you are, who others think you are and who you really are. The closer those three are together, the longer you can last in this business. He says that if there is an example of someone who is all those things, then Dolly is one of them. Kenny is celebrating 50 years in showbusiness with a TV special. Dolly is on his show and he is on her 25 year Special. Dolly says that they just can’t be separated. Oprah thanks Kenny and Dolly.

The June issue of O Magazine is all about saying yes to life and getting in touch with your wild and adventurous side. They could count on Ali Wentworth to spend the day at Cirque de Soleil having a photographic shoot on a high wire, dangling over fire and never losing her cool. Read the June issue and do something unexpected. Well done Ali, says Oprah. Here is one of our all time favorites, The Gambler, with Kenny and Dolly says Oprah. Kenny sings and Oprah stands with Dolly. Oprah sings with the other two. Dolly says that Oprah knew every word, to the verses too. Oprah says bye everybody and don’t text and drive.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

If you win the lottery, you can now do it all. You need to dream bigger dreams.

Oprah’s advice is that everybody will come and ask for help, and that you get to decide who to help and how, otherwise it is overwhelming.

Dolly Patron would rather buy lots of clothes from Wal-Mart than one expensive outfit.

Oprah has a prayer chair, both she and Dolly Parton sometimes pray from bed.

We are all three people- who you think you are, who others think you are and who you really are. The closer those three are together, the better.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Even Oprah thinks it ridiculous that a recent lottery winner said that being on Oprah is a bigger dream for her than winning the lottery.

Date: May 20th, 2010
File Under: Entertainment
116 comments

Episode 80: Oprah and Simon Cowell: The Farewell Interview

It’s the end of an era in Primetime TV, next week will be Simon Cowell’s last at American Idol. Oprah has always liked him, a few days ago they sat down in LA over a pot of English tea. This is the first time that they have sat down together without an audience. They are both well and good. He is leaving American Idol because he knows that his time is up. The first year it was like an adventure, it was like they were making it up as they went along. He loved the buzz, the adventure and fun of not knowing if it would work or not. About 2 years ago he decided that it was time to go, he always wanted to go before he was pushed. Oprah asks about the numbers going down, Simon says that no one likes it. Paula leaving may have had something to do with it, she had her own reasons for going. She’s a survivor, says Simon, she’ll come back on top. The show has to change and it takes time for people to find their balance. The timing with Ellen was terrible- he announced that he was leaving the day she started. Oprah asks who will replace him and Simon says that it has to be about who knows talent, who understands music. It has become too much about casting the nasty person or a British person etc. He feels that he has good judgement and can spot a star. He feels that he has grown as much as he can in this role and too many times he was bored. He can’t fake it and pretend not to be bored and viewers deserve better.

Simon has always been brutally honest. Oprah say that he has always just been himself. He says that he has a few regrets about the things that he has said, when he hasn’t known the back story behind the situation. Most people say that Simon says out loud what they are thinking. Oprah says that people say that he has a big ego and is out of control and arrogant while others say that he is warm and generous. She asks which is the real Simon. He says that he is a combination of the two, of course he has an ego and ambition, he has to.

Oprah asks Simon, in an English accent, to pour  some tea. Oprah has Earl Grey, like the Queen drinks, and Simon drinks PG Tips. He drinks it every day with scones and cucumber sandwiches. He says that it calms him. Simon has been single for along time, but he and Idol make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy have recently revealed that they are in a relationship and she looks to be sporting an engagement ring. He says that he has never been good in relationships, although he is friends with all his exes. Never before has he thought that he’ll be with only one person. Oprah thought that he was never the marrying kind. Simon says that he is quite weird and selfish. He needs time alone to think and works all night long. Oprah says that he can’t have a high-maintenance kind of woman. Simon says that all women are a little high maintenance. Oprah says that he needs someone independent enough to have their own life or to be happy by themselves. He says that his work can become like a girlfriend- he’ll view tapes from 10pm then at midnight he’ll call London and these conversations will continue till 4am. He says that it would drive him mad, he couldn’t deal with himself. His girlfriend suggests conference calls, but he doesn’t like that idea so he’ll have the same conversations over and over with different producers. Oprah asks if he wants kids and he says that he worries about it because of his age. He’s fifty, his Dad used to play soccer and games with him as a child. Oprah says that 50 is the new 40, and he is strong and fit and healthy. Oprah asks if he has the patience and ability to sacrifice what you have to in order to be a good parent. He said he would if the child was born at 5 years old. He likes them when they can talk and know what’s going on all around them. He does like kids when he can talk to them, he genuinely likes them. Oprah asks if his girlfriend has softened him and helped him see the world differently. Yes, but his year has been full of up and down moments. He is moody, and gets very dark and down. Like a bear in a cave, he wishes that he could hibernate. It can last days or weeks. Oprah asks if its depression and he says yes. He then says he shouldn’t take himself too seriously but also that he shouldn’t put on a painted smile. He feels drained by all the people who depend on him. He would never take a pill to deal with it. He gives himself a mental slap and tries to get on with that. He says that to go out and pretend everything is fine is the beginning of madness.

Simon Cowell is one of the richest and most powerful people in entertainment. He has a major stake in Britain’s got Talent, America’s Got Talent, India’s Got Talent, Slovakia’s Got Talent… the list goes on and on. Then there’s the X-Factor franchise, those 2 dozen shows are also his. Beyond the TV shows, Simon has worked a deal that every artist who gets a start on one of his shows, signs to his label, which is worth a reported 1 billion dollars. Oprah says that everyone thinks this great thing happened in his life, but he has made some serious mistakes. He lost everything and had to move in with his parents when he was 30- he’d had a Porsche, the lifestyle, the credit cards,- the whole lot came crashing down because he believed his own hype. Oprah shows a photo of Simon when he was younger, and he agrees that it is not a very good look, and he wasn’t even a mechanic. He reads a letter that he wrote to his younger self saying that he was the cliché of 80’s excess. He was overconfident and far too cocky and dressed in labels, but it hadn’t occurred to him that he couldn’t afford any of that stuff. He says that he was an untouchable Jack the Lad but it was all borrowed, it was all nothing and it all came crashing down. He had literally nothing except a half a million loan that he had to repay. It was based on hype not substance. Oprah quotes that not being in debt is better than having nothing.

He missed nothing, it took 3 or 4 years to pay off the loans and in a weird way it was one of the happiest times of his life, having no responsibility. Then he was ready to start again.  He never imagined that he would have this level of success. He says that he and a partner in business realized that they have been really lucky. He believes in luck a little bit. Oprah says that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Oprah says that he learned from his mistakes and prepared himself better and when the moment of opportunity came along he was ready. Simon says that maybe he was lucky that he didn’t remain an idiot. Oprah grants him that. She asks how he can be lucky when he works so hard? She says that it had to happen, he had to lose everything to be able to build it up again. He says that he is superstitious, and that if what happened to him had happened in his thirties he would have unravelled.

Oprah asks how he knows that he has spotted a star and who he spotted immediately. He says that the best examples are Carrie Underwood and Fantasia. With Carrie it was like everyone else was in black and white and she was in color. With Fantasia it was slightly different as she is so likeable and is not afraid of being emotional It is so difficult to define, you can only hope you can recognize it. On the day that Susan Boyle came on he was so bored and he judged the book by its cover. He judged her from the way she walked on, and he was so not interested and the audience were the same. And then she started to sing, and they thought they’d got it all wrong. When they played the tape back it was a wake up call and he hated himself as they were all judging and snearing. He was happy that she gave them that wake-up call.

Oprah asks why he is leaving to do another talent show. He believes that he can find one person and make them into a star and he is doing it here as that is where the best singers are. Oprah asks how it makes him feel when American Idol stars totally succeed. He says that it’s a process and that if they didn’t succeed then the Idol machine would be failing. It reminds him why they make the shows in the first place. Oprah asks what his real intention is? He actually likes doing it, for 3 minutes when Fantasia sings Summertime, for 3 minutes he lost himself. He loves to be part of the buzz, it was great TV.

Oprah asks if he worries about his success and the competition from Idol. Yes, but he is making a show that he would like to watch. If he was staying with Idol he would do things differently, but he won’t say what they are. The new show is different because there is no upper age limit, a sixty year old could enter the show. It is for over 14 year olds and groups can enter. He is excited about it, he has no idea whether it will work, but the success is judged on whether they find a star and he is confident that they will.

The final night of Idol he thinks will be quite emotional, but he has had a great time over here and he has discovered that Brits and Americans have the same sense of humor and that we laugh at the same things. Oprah says that we are all more alike than we are different, that’s for sure.

Whatever is popular on TV will be their competition- Simon can only approach it by making the best show he can do, and if people don’t like it there is nothing that he can do about it. Oprah says that if she was a betting woman she would bet on him. Simon thanks him for everything and says that she has been a good friend over the years. They hold hands and he winks at her.

Everybody is talking about this, says Oprah. It is the most delightful and heartwarming movie, Babies. Its like one of those fascinating nature films, tracking the first year of four babies around the world. It has been called mesmerizing, irresistible and a rare unfiltered cinematic experience. It celebrates the miracle of life of four infants making their way through their first year in Mongolia, Namibia, Japan and the United States. The director spent nearly two years flying from country to country capturing many firsts- smiles, haircuts, frustration. For hours at a time he’d set up his cameras and wait. There’s no narration or subtitles, just babies interacting with their very different environments. Fantastic, says Oprah. Thomas Balmés is the director who captured these moments which Oprah recommends all pregnant women to watch. Oprah says that she initially wanted to be the American baby in the jumper but by the end the African baby in the wilderness had many advantages. Oprah asks about the cows coming towards the baby, no one intervened. The mother was cool so the director was cool. He almost never interfered. He selected the families by looking for four sets of loving parents, a baby’s needs are fulfilled by any environment as long as there is love, The Namibian mother cleans the baby’e eyes with her teeth and shaves her hair with a knife. The commonality is love, says Oprah.

This documentary will lift your spirits says Oprah, you can take anyone to see it. Little Haddie was one of the babies who is now 4 years old. She joins them by Skype from Oakland. Her parents liked it and were really happy to be part of it, it exceeded their expectations. They were moved by the other moms seeing the similarities and differences. Oprah says that she wanted to be Haddie who had everything initially but then seeing the other kids with their sticks and bowls she changed her mind. The mom says that it is neat to see how all kids interact with their environment. Oprah thanks them and congratulates Thomas.

Oprah asks Simon Cowell to sign the No Phone Zone Pledge which makes him her American Idol. He signs. Oprah says that there are bumper stickers and keychains and so on at Oprah.com. Take the pledge at Oprah.com. Bye everybody.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

Simon Cowell says that he is quite weird and selfish.

Oprah says that 50 is the new 40

Simon says that to go out and pretend everything is fine when he is depressed is the beginning of madness.

Oprah says that there is no such thing as luck, what is needed is great preparation and a moment of opportunity.

A baby’s needs are fulfilled by any environment as long as there is love.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Oprah says that we are all more alike than we are different. Brits and Americans. Babies of the world.

Episode 79: Bret Michaels’ First TV Interview and Country Star Chely Wright Comes Out

Last weeks cover of People magazine says it all, “I’m lucky to be alive.” Rocker Bret Michaels was one of the top rockers of the 80’s as the frontman for Poison. In 2007 he reinvented himself as the bad boy of reality TV with Rock of Love and now he is on Celebrity Apprentice. The money he raises goes to fund diabetes- he is a lifelong sufferer. He lives with his girlfriend Kristi and their two daughters, 9 year old Rain and 5 year old Georgia. About a month ago he was home with his family when he felt something explode in his head. He woke up Kristi and said that he had to go to the ER. He said it felt like he had been shot- he had a severe brain hemorrhage, the doctors said that he might want to say goodbye  to his children. Doctors say that shear will to live helped to pull him through, after 3 days of drifting in and out of consciousness he survived. He joins Oprah by Skype from Phoenix. He says that he is very glad to be alive. He says that it sounded like a small handgun was going off in his head. It felt like a pop, they call it a thunderclap and he had an instantaneous migraine x10. He went into adrenaline survival mode and woke up Kristi. It was sudden, there was no lead-up to the event. By the time they got to the hospital, the pain got worse, the drive felt like it took an eternity and his head felt so bad that he couldn’t get out of the car. The doctors came out with a wheelchair and they did a CAT scan. The doctor’s face went white around that point. Bret said that if there was a chance that he would survive he didn’t want his daughters to see him like this. He asked God to let him live through this. He got really sad and talked to God. Oprah asks if God talked back. Bret says that he may have done. Bret knows he’s done a lot of bad things and he promised that he’d be different in the future. The event put everything in perspective really quickly: it’s your family and friends and not career or anything that matters. You think about the only thing that matters which is taking care of your kids and thanking God.

On April 23rd, he had a brain hemorrhage, all Kristi could think of was that she didn’t want her daughters to grow up without a dad. His daughters found it really heartbreaking, the thought that he wouldn’t be there any more. The footage makes Bret cry, even though he said that he wouldn’t. He got amazing courage and an unsinkable strength to survive from his family and friends. Oprah says that even in his hospital bed he had his bandana on. He says that it was like Superman and the cape, he had to keep on his bandana and boots- he didn’t want to go out in his hospital gown.

The neurosurgeon says that the condition was very serious when Bret arrived, he was unable to stay awake. He suffered a life threatening sudden bleeding around the brain- 20% of people don’t survive this. There is a sudden release of blood. They still don’t know what happened to cause the clot. The chance for re-bleeding is no more common than for anyone in his age group.  This happens to around 40,000 patients a year, and about 20% make a full recovery.

Bret says that when he asked if he had a chance he was told that the fact that he was talking means he has a chance. Bret says that when your body tells you there is something wrong, you must go immediately to the ER. He got an incredible boost of energy to try and survive. He feels that he has a second chance and he is very thankful to be here. Bret says that he was worried about the size of his brain on the scan that the doctor showed, that it might be small like a walnut. Oprah laughs and he says that this is an instance where size matters.

On Celebrity Apprentice, Bret’s costars were devastated when they heard the news. Donald Trump says that he is a good person. Sharon Osbourne says that he is endearing. Donald felt terrible when he heard about the hemorrhage, Sharon thinks about his girlfriends and kids and then she worries about their own lives and the frailty of it all. Holly Robinson Pete says that she loves him and that he should sit his Energizer-bunny butt down and spend some time with his girls. Sharon says hurry up and get back to LA because his sugar mamma needs him and wants to give him a big hug. Oprah says wow. Bret says right there is what matters in the end, good friends.

Bret’s daily recovery has been upped to two sessions a day. His neck is stiff, he has trouble with is outer extremities. He still gets headaches but every day is getting better. He is so thankful that he is recovering and has his family and friends and medical team and God or his guardian angel. Oprah wishes him well and thanks him.

She appeared to be living her country music dream with her number one hit, top honors and dating some of Nashville’s top stars, but she decided to come clean with her secret and risk everything. Chely Wright was the first country singer to acknowledge her homosexuality. A decade ago her hit Single White Female went to number one on the country charts. As a child in the church she prayed every day for her sexuality to change. She always knew she was gay but she confused the heck out of the stars she dated because she couldn’t love them like they loved her. In her book, Like Me, she talks of the love of her life. In their 12 year relationship, maybe only 5 people knew, even her best friend didn’t know. She didn’t want people to have to lie for her, so she didn’t tell them. After the relationship ended, Chely says that she was left alone with no one to confide in. In 2006 she felt trapped and couldn’t come out. She had a 9mm gun which she put in her mouth and said a prayer to God to forgive her for what she was about to do.

Oprah asks about the network of secret keepers. Chely says that she thinks her friends probably wondered, but like the military it was like don’t ask, don’t tell. She says the gun felt cold and heavy in her mouth, and it felt like an out of body experience as she was detachedly watching her body. Oprah asks how she got to that moment. Chely says that it was layers and layers of betrayal, a lifetime of hiding and lying to others. She knew since she was a teenager that she was gay, in third grade she knew that she was a lesbian. She had layers of fear and loathing. Historically, lesbianism and being a successful country music singer had never mixed. Chely lied when asked outright. One of Oprah’s lesbian friends says that she was always the one poking fun at the other gays. Chely worked in a Nashville theme park and was worried that she would be outted. She was rude to other homosexuals and said mean things. She is now mindful of people who do that, it makes her pay attention. Oprah’s friend thought that those who speak loudest are maybe not suspected of being gay themselves.

Recently, Chely decided to tell the world that she is gay – the word lesbian has been used as an insult for a long time, she is taking her power back. You can call her ugly, or her songs stupid, but you can’t call her a lesbian as an insult. Chely says that only two stars have contacted her which is disappointing. But hundreds of other music industry professionals have come forward to show support. Her fans have been coming out on her Facebook page. Oprah asks if she worried that she’d lose her career, and she says that she still doesn’t know that she won’t. Chely says that it was worth the risk, she had a gun in her mouth so this is all gravy. Her Dad asked why she wasn’t close, what was wrong. She was on a tour bus and she decided to do it. She sat her Dad down to tell him and said that she was afraid he wouldn’t love her or that he’d be ashamed of her. She said, Dad, I’m gay. Oprah asks Stan, Chely’s Dad what he said. He said nothing, he gave her a big hug and told her it was all right. He nods, with tears in his eyes. Up until that point, being raised in the Midwest he thought that being gay was sinful, that it was hellfire, and now he knows that is not true. Oprah asks what changed in him, he says that he knew her heart, soul and mind and that she was a good person. So with that said, he has unconditional love- until you are in that position, it is easy to say some of the more negative issues, but there is nothing that you can’t get through. He is very proud of Chely. The crowd applaud.

Oprah asks how it feels to have this off Chely’s back. Keeping the facade going was labor-intensive says Chely. Chely says that it feels like she is about two weeks old. Oprah say that is the best answer she has ever heard, that is so nice. Chely says that this is who God made her to be. Another reason is that kids across the US are being told by their churches and parents that they are damaged goods, and they are not. Chely says that she has a voice and should do something about it. Oprah thinks that her father’s stance takes alot of courage. Stan says that in the short time he has had to educate himself about this is, the most important thing that he can say is do not close the door, but open your heart.

Oprah asks her how she ended up in a relationship with a man. She has alot of regret for the relationship with Brad Paisley. She knew the whole time that she wanted to be someone else- so she wronged him. It was hard for her to write down her crimes against Brad and the other men that she damaged. She hopes that he can forgive her. She reached out and would welcome any chance to sit down with him and talk. She feels incredible and that her biggest fears have been put to rest- her biggest fear was that she wouldn’t get to do anything again with the military. She saw a group of military men who said that she was there for them, so they will be there for her. She cries a little, and the audience applaud. Oprah thanks her and says that as a two-week old self, she has a lot in front of her. Her new CD is in stores now.

Oprah says it every day, please stop talking on the phone and texting while in the car. It could save lives like that of Gordon, the husband of a viewer who was killed by someone texting in the car. Her children lost their father because of a text message, and the driver is spending the next five years in jail. Take the pledge, bye everybody.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

Bret Michaels had to keep on his bandana in his hospital bed after his brain hemorrhage, to him it was the source of his power like Superman and the cape.

When your body tells you there is something wrong, you must go immediately to the ER.

If you don’t want people to lie for you, then you can’t tell them your secrets.

Chely Wright felt so strongly that she could not come out as a gay country music star that she almost killed herself. But she came through and came out.

The most important thing that you can say is do not close the door, but open your heart.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

What matters in the end, is not money or your career, but your family and good friends.

Date: May 18th, 2010
File Under: Public Service Announcement, Relationships
157 comments

Episode 78: Held Captive for 140 Days: Lisa Ling’s Sister Breaks Her Silence

She broke the law and was caught in the middle of an International stand off between the US and one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Held captive for almost 5 months in North Korea, Laura Ling has never talked about her ordeal. Oprah show reporter, and Laura’s sister, Lisa Ling, helped orchestrate top secret negotiations at the highest levels to free Laura. This is the first time they have appeared together to discuss this, they have written a book about the saga called Somewhere Inside.

Laura Ling is a reporter for Al Gore’s network Current TV. Her job takes her to some of the most dangerous parts of the world. Last year she and producer, Euna Lee were reporting on the thousands of Koreans who try and flee the communist regime by river. To get a better shot, they crossed on to the Korean side of the river to film, which they knew was forbidden. When they returned to the Chinese side they were captured and violently assaulted by North Korean border guards.

Oprah asks Laura to describe what and why they were doing? They never intended to cross the river, she said, they wanted to get images of the area. They worked with a guide or fixer who crossed the ice and motioned for them to follow. Oprah shows the map of the river dividing the countries. There is no wire or signs between countries, but you know that you are getting closer to North Korea, says Laura. After a minute they turned to leave and two guards came after them with rifles. They turned and ran back to China. Laura stumbled and Euna stopped to help her but the guards were upon them. Their guide got away. He did come back and he was walking very slowly, and according to Euna, he said to the guards, ‘Take me instead.’ But when they tried to grab him, he dashed off. Laura and Euna grabbed at the bushes to try to stay in China as long as they could. The guard above her kicked Laura and knocked her in the face and shoulder as he continued to drag her across the ice. The other soldier was doing the same to Euna. Laura was screaming sorry which seemed to make him more angry. He struck her on the head with the butt of his rifle and she blacked out.

North Korea cuts their citizens off from the rest of the world with no internet access, the TV is filled with government propaganda and cell phone ownership can be punishable by death. School kids are taught that America is the enemy, democracy is wrong and that communism is the only way. Kim Jong-Il is the supreme ruler who is a God-like figure, both worshipped and feared. His picture is everywhere and as the commander of one of the largest armies in the world, he is unchallenged. North Korea only allows images of military parades and happy and healthy citizens to be seen by the outside world. A video of poverty, famine and rampant disease smuggled out of the country tells a different story. Experts say thousands of North Koreans attempt to escape every year. If caught they face torture or death.

Laura was trying to cover a story on the defectors; many of the women are forced into marriages or prostitution in China, a story which neither government wants told.  Laura and Euna destroyed their tapes and ate their notes when they were left alone at the beginning of the ordeal. They did whatever they could to destroy that evidence. Lisa says that North Korea controls everything, they do not want any outside information to penetrate.

They were held prisoner for almost 5 months in North Korea- they came home last August. Oprah asks Lisa if she feared that she’d never see her sister again? Lisa says that they kept hope but there was the  fear that nothing was out of the question. So many things were unprecedented. Lisa called everyone that she knew, but when Oprah called her she realized the enormity of the problem, when even one of the most powerful women in the world can not help. Oprah said prayers and thought about Laura. Immediately Laura recognized that they wanted her to make a confession. She was questioned as to wether her company was connected to the government. They brought in a dossier of Lisa’s visit and asked if the two of them were trying to bring down the government. Lisa went in as part of a legal medical delegation four years ago. She didn’t tell them she was a journalist. Laura tried to downplay her family connections and did not say that Lisa was a journalist who worked for Oprah. She heard that if she confessed she might get forgiveness, and she had to trust that this was the right thing to do. She was in a cell with Euna for the first couple of days. If the slats were closed then they were just sitting in the dark. She was sentenced in June, a couple of months later. She was transferred to Pyongyang, where she was under guard but in a regular room. There were no showers. The power outages happened multiple times a day and there were water outages. She says she developed a system to wash where they would allow her to heat a kettle of water, and she would mix it with some cold water. Then she would scrub down and just splash it on. She was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor. She was petrified when she heard that. She had tried to prepare herself for a long sentence, but when she heard the words she could barely stand up. The judge said no forgiveness, no parole. Laura spiraled into a deep depression, refusing her meals and huddling into a dark corner of the room for quite a while. She had heard about the horrific conditions of the labor camps. The thought that so many innocent people were going through this gave her strength. She had thought that she might be pregnant, but when she found out she wasn’t she was crushed, she thought that she’d never get to have a family with her husband.

The story created a media firestorm, for the first time in history two American citizens were put on trial. After months of tentative negotiations, former president Bill Clinton went to meet with King Jong-Ill. When Clinton arrived, Laura was walking down the hallway with a group of North Koreans and saw a secret service agent with an earpiece. She felt the presence of her country. Clinton was like an angel come to save them. She explained to him that they had apologized and hoped that he could apologize on their behalf. He said that had been done but that their was some more to be done but he was hopeful. Laura says that he was the only person who could save them and they are so very, very grateful. When she heard that Obama may come to their aid, she said, with all due respect, they may aswell send her to the labor camp now if they thought Obama was going to come.

Oprah says that Laura’s husband Ian is the sweetest person on the world. He wrote a letter at 5pm every day, in the same spot every day and he’d take photos of himself in that spot so he could visualize everything. She says that those letters were everything, they were her oxygen. 5pm was the time she could dedicate to thinking about him.

During the whole time, Orphan asks if she was thinking, how did this happen? Laura says that she was so angry at herself, she would hit herself to punish herself for putting her family through this. Oprah asks what she says to those who criticizes her actions. She says she was their to raise awareness about the horrific conditions in North Korea and that story never got told. Lisa says that the family was devastated. She did a  lot of interview and not a day went by when people would ask how her sister was doing. It was hard for her to not be able to say how her sister was doing, so she stopped going out. Their parents were a wreck. Her mom stopped showering.  The hardest thing is to hear your father crying over and over, says Lisa. Oprah asks about Euna and asks why they didn’t write a book together. Euna is doing well, says Laura, she is spending time with her husband and daughter. They spent a total of six days together in captivity. Euna is writing her own book about her own story. Laura will always regard Euna as a member of their family. They talk frequently. Laura is now very pregnant, with the baby due in June. Oprah congratulates her. The book, Somewhere Inside, is in stores today.

Before the January earthquake their were about 380,000 orphans in Haiti. Experts estimate that there are now over 1 million. Conditions are unimaginable, there is little food and water, widespread disease and the threat of child slavery. Looking at those faces, some of you may want to go adopt a child, but is that the best thing, asks Oprah. A few days ago Lisa Ling followed a 7 year old girl from Haiti who has been adopted by an American family. Take a look.

At the airport, Claire is greeted with screams in California as she joins her new family. She was left as a baby in an orphanage where eleven weeks ago she was sharing a twin bed with four other orphan girls. Now she lives in a 4000 square foot home in a gated community. There is a manicured yard and a private lake and a home movie theatre with a  fully stocked candy counter. Claire shows Lisa her room with her queen sized bed, plenty of toys and clothes. In Haiti she had one meal a day of rice and beans. Now she loves pancakes and ketchup together. The abundance of food is a big challenge for Claire. In the beginning it was as if every meal was her last. She’d eat till her stomach got distended and she’d throw up. It was a battle of how much food she could eat at every meal. At school there has been a lot of adjustment. She is very aggressive- in Haiti it is survival, a coping mechanism; here that behavior does not work. Each week they call the orphanage but the calls are hard on Claire. The first week she broke down in tears thinking of all the kids there. She down’t want to go back to Haiti. The family were preparing for an empty nest and now they have had a complicated change of life. It has been difficult but the rewards are far greater, says Debbie. Debbie and Scott are telling their story so people go in to an adoption with their eyes wide open. Lisa asks them to respond to the old story of a white family saving a black child. Scott says that they don’t see race, they fell in love with Claire. She has living parents but she was given up at age 1 as she was malnourished. Brandon, Claire’s brother says that it has been hard because Claire gets all the attention. Debbie says that it is very rewarding to see the changes. Scott says that they will never know what is going on in her mind. Claire has a photo of her family in her room, Debbie wants her birth family to be present in Claire’s life at all times.

11 weeks ago Claire came home with Debbie and Scott, it took them nearly 3 years to get Claire to come home with them. Debbie says that they went on a mission trip with her brother and Claire was the first little girl that they met and they really connected. It took about a week for them to hear that she was ok after the earthquake. She got a humanitarian aid visa which hastened the adoption. After the earthquake hit, there is an instinct to try to save all the children. Oprah says that is why she built a school because you can’t bring home every child. Oprah says that the children just want to be loved, they don’t care about race or color or sexual orientation. The crowd applaud. Debbie says that Claire is flourishing. Oprah asks if they have experienced racism. Debbie says that a man in the grocery store gave Claire an evil look, as if he would spit on her if they were close enough. Oprah asks what they will do when Claire is old enough to notice? Debbie’s goal is to teach her and the rest of their children to love unconditionally. They have talked about it in their family and they are all on the same page. It is important that Claire knows that she is wonderful and special and that they celebrate her culture. Oprah applauds them and says that we are all alike in our hearts but not in our hair. To see Debbie part and braid Claire’s hair makes Oprah say congratulations.

The last time Lisa was here she refused to sign the No Phone Zone Pledge, so they modified the pledge to accommodate people like Lisa. Lisa will sign to no texting. Oprah thanks her and Laura.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

Laura Ling, one of the two American journalists sentenced to 12 years hard labor  in North Korea is the sister of Lisa Ling, journalist on the Oprah Show.

When Laura was captured, Lisa called everyone she knew to help, and Oprah Winfrey called her to show support.

Bill Clinton came to their rescue, like an angel, and Lisa and Laura wrote a book about the experience.

A family in California living in a gated community adopted a 7 year old from Haiti and say that at first she really struggled with the abundance of food in the house.

They have a movie theater with fully stocked candy counter in their basement.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

We are all alike in our hearts but not in our hair, says Oprah. (With the possible exception of the North Korean government).

Date: May 17th, 2010
File Under: Celebrity, Entertainment, Family
188 comments

Episode 77: Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and the Whole Family

So Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and their entire family and friends are in the house, says Oprah. They are a power couple raising a most talented family. He is known as Mr July for raking in a gazillion dollars every year with his summer blockbusters. Jada and Will come on stage, dressed in the same shades of cream as Oprah- they all coordinate. They hug and the crowd go wild. Oprah asks if the Smith family, known as the first family of Hollywood, had a master plan to be so successful. Will says yes, Jada says no. Oprah laughs. Oprah says she has heard they have a marriage business plan, which they could write a book about. Will says if you don’t have a goal or purpose for your relationship, or anything, you can get lost in the murk of the journey. So as an answer to why two spirits are together, there is so much more that you have to be dedicated to than just cooking etc. They had to figure out their vision as they each had their own ideas- just do what she said says Will. Everyone laughs. Jada says that seeing how the children were growing, they wanted to make a family business to incorporate all the talent. They wanted to make a place where all their family and extended family dreams could come true. The whole family are here, plus Will’s ex-wife and her husband. Oprah asks if they made a conscious decision to all get along. Jada says that she and Cheri had to make that decision because they had Trey, the son. They had to put aside their own baggage and sort it out. Cheri said that they had their chance and now it is about the kids. Oprah asks if she could tell the ex-wives of America that? They all agree that it is not the time to be selfish, but to move on and create the best possible scenario for the children. Jada reinforces the thought that the children are their future.

They also have regular family meetings. Will says that the problem with letting your kids talk… the first generation making a path in the world is strictly about survival (parenting with “because I said so”) which is when you loose the humanity and purpose in your life. And why you had children, says Oprah. They all laugh. Will wants his kids- Trey with his football, Willow with her singing and Jaden with his acting, he wants them all to live in service to greatness. To live and create in a way that is inspiring to people, so that people want to be better by being close to their excellence. The kids have to define their own vision. In order to reach that excellence, you have to find that drive within yourself.

Oprah says that Jada looks fantastic, Jada says look who she is married to. At home Jada says she wears track pants because she is so busy. But she says that she makes sure Will gets his treats. They laugh.

Oprah says that she asks this often of her guests, as everyone wants to have a better life than their parents: How do you raise solid grounded kids when they have access to everything? Will says that he tells the kids all the time that their mommy and daddy are rich, but that the kids are broke. They don’t allow their kids to sit around. They talk about the concept of the group- and the necessity of adding something good to the family, then the neighborhood, then humanity. Jada says that they have to have purpose, that gives them self-esteem and that grounds them. Oprah asks if they talk about the purpose of the movie beyond getting the role? Will says that they talk about the idea of illustrating some aspect of the human spirit- the purpose of your art is to advance and elevate humanity.

Oprah asks how they keep their marriage alive, what are the treats that Jada does. Jada says that she always surprises Will, because he is such a thinker, always thinking. Like maybe she sends a sexy photo to remind him what is waiting for him at home. Will says hi to his mom in the audience. Everyone laughs. Jada says that everyone would be surprised at how sensitive Will is, that he has a wonderful, generous heart, how he loves people. Will kisses Jada. Oprah say that she read that Will feels he is still searching for his place in the world as he gets older. Will explains that he was introduced to a Baptist Church in West Philly as a child, and that serving higher goals was very important. He feels that all the blessings that he has had in his life- his wife and family- there is no way that God intended that to happen by accident. The crowd cheer and Oprah says that she gets that, she so gets that. That is how Oprah leads her life too. She prays to be used in service to a calling greater than her own. Will feels that he is energized every day by the possibilities, and now he is almost 43 (Oprah asks if he has turned 20 yet, as he doesn’t seem to age) and he feels that the possibilities of what they can do as a family are enormous. He said his grandmother was always smiling and when he asked her why, she said that she knew what she was going to do- she was going to make everything that she touched better. Oprah thanks him for sharing that.

In the Smith household, 17 year old Trey is a Varsity star football player, 9 year old Willow is a singer, actress and fashionista, like her mom, and 11 year old Jaden has grown up in front of our eyes. He acted alongside his Dad in The Pursuit of Happiness and now he is the star of his own movie, The Karate Kid, produced by Will and Jada. They packed up the whole family and moved to China for 4 months. Come on out, says Oprah. The kids come out and the crowd roar. Oprah hugs them and welcomes them. She meets Trey for the first time. Trey says that he is working on producing music now- he didn’t get the acting bug, he has no interest for now. Oprah asks him the best advice he has received from his parents- his mom told him to speak up when he has something to say. His Dad and him are reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Will says that he still has a poor person mentality- he says that he is as financially nervous as he was when they were struggling. Oprah is surprised but she says that she gets it about spending. Who knows what a million dollars can do? She knows what $29.99 can do. Exactly, Jada and Will say. Will wants his kids to have a financial comprehension, to not be slaves to working and money. Oprah asks Jaden if his parents are cool – Jayden says that his parents embarrass him all the time – his dad will just pull his pants down at school. Oprah plays the music video Will made when he was 19. Oprah asks what he knows now that he wished he knew then. He says that parents don’t have to understand because they are in charge. The things parents understand are so difficult because they can’t be explained. He says that allowing kids to see you at work shows them you in your best light, dealing with stress and working with people.

Oprah asks WIllow if she talked to her mom or dad about her new haircut. Willow says her mom is always the one coming up with suggestions. Jada says that it is great that Willow’s beauty doesn’t depend on her hair, she told Jada that she just wanted to be free. Jada told her let’s just piecemeal it, let’s do one side at a time.

To prepare for his role in The Karate Kid, Jaden trained 3 hours a day for 4 months. The remake was made entirely in China. Jaden plays an American boy who has a hard time adjusting to his new life. He gets a crash course in Kung Fu from Jackie Chan, a maintenance man, to stop the bullies. It opens on June 11th, Oprah says that Jaden is great in it, she could feel the tension of being bullied so well. Will says that 4 years ago after The Pursuit of Happiness, Jaden wanted to move forward and The Karate Kid was one of Will’s favorites as a child. They wanted to remake a classic David and Goliath story. Oprah asks Jaden if he was ripped before the movie? Jaden says yes, smaller but ripped. He and Willow have been taking karate since they were three. 3 months into training, he could do the splits in the air. Oprah asks if he’s been bullied before, he says that he hasn’t but he could feel it and understand it and be it. The crowd applaud. He had his first on-screen kiss- he says that he is good at kissing so it wasn’t as challenging as it could have been. This is why you need old-school parenting, says Will. I’m going to leave it there, says Oprah.

Someone in the audience asks what punishment is in their house- Will says that they don’t believe in punishment, but that there are consequences to your actions. The kids can have as much freedom as they can handle, but if something happens then they need to be restricted to protect themselves from potential damage, not punishing them for what they did. That’s good parenting, says Oprah.

They play a home video from China narrated by Will. Will and Jada had two jobs in China- they produced the movie and were also the parents of the star. About 6 weeks into shooting, Jaden hurt his knee and Will had to give his son a pep talk to keep working despite the pain. They also relaxed and had some fun. They filmed in many exotic locations and saw the best of China- the Forbidden City, the Golden Summit. Legend has it that those who hang a lock at the Golden Summit will have their spirits joined together for eternity. They hang their locks- Daddy and Jayden on one and Mommy and Jayden engraved on the other and hug. Trey could not go on the trip as he is a high school football star- Will flew back every weekend to see Trey play. That is amazing says Oprah, it brought tears to her eyes the first time she heard it.

Jada says that to work so closely together with Will was intense and she thinks they got over some huge hurdles. They are different creatures and they create in very different ways. They realized their strengths and weaknesses and found out when to fall back. Will says that in his mind he was teaching his son to hunt- Jada says that as a mother this is an excruciating thing to watch- the mothering instinct kicks in hard. Jada says that it was a ferocious fight because the in China the laws allow the kids to work long hours, too hard. He is 11, there had to be a balance. Jada says that he is a different child now, he walks with confidence  because he has achieved something himself. Greatness is on the edge of destruction, says Will. You were almost over, it was almost it, when the Phoenix rises from the ashes. Yes, but do you have to almost die each time? asks Oprah. Jada agrees emphatically. Will says that 11 is when you learn it, you can’t do it at 22. Jaden learns that he can’t be broken: he is unbreakable. Jada and Will say that they have been having this passionate debate. Oprah says that she gets it.

Oprah says that Will’s movie Seven Pounds is about a man who kills seven people when texting and driving. Will and Jada have agreed to sign the pledge. Oprah thanks them. Oprah thought that the movie would get people to think about it in a different way. Oprah thanks them all. Will says that they have something for her from the Smith Family. It is a white shirt with a sparkly Karate Kid on it and Oprah’s logo. Oprah says that it is great and thanks them all again.

WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:

If you don’t have a goal or purpose for your relationship, or anything, you can get lost in the murk of the journey.

Will Smith wants his family to live and create in a way that is inspiring to people, so that people want to be better by being close to their excellence.

The kids have to define their own vision, in order to reach that excellence, you have to find that drive within yourself.

Will Smith teaches his kids about the concept of the group- and the necessity of adding to the family, then the neighborhood, then humanity.

Oprah says who knows what a million dollars can do? She knows what $29.99 can do.

A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:

Will Smith and family  believe in greatness and achieving dreams through hard work, excellence and a roadmap to success.