Early yesterday, Nicole appeared at the Sydney Opera House to tape a part for Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure! She was joined by her husband Keith Urban, and the couple gave their first interview together! They were later joined on stage for the grand finale by good friends Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, and Olivia Newton-John, and they all sang “I Still Call Australia Home” with the Qantas Children’s Choir backing them up. Also on hand for the days events were Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and non-Australians Bono, Jay-Z and Bon Jovi.
The show was cleaerly a major deal, as thousands of people lined the streets around Sydney Harbour and the Opera House to try and get into the taping and to see Oprah and her guests!
Four one-hour specials on Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure will air early next year.
Photos from the taping have been added to the Gallery, and read on further down this post for a number of articles with more info (although not much on Nicole) on todays events. Plus, a video of the finale song has popped up online, as has some fan footage from the days taping, and you can view them below too!
Sydney ‘Oprah’ House draws thousands for Winfrey’s farewell
Oprah Winfrey and several thousand fans descended on the Sydney Opera House today to record two episodes of her final television series.
Winfrey, the high priestess of self-esteem and personal empowerment, has been received in Australia with almost religious zeal.
The fervour has routinely resulted in weeping and screaming as the Oprah juggernaut has traversed the country from Hamilton Island to Uluru. Sydney harbour bridge was adorned with a giant pink “O”, the Opera House renamed the “Oprah House” for the duration of her visit, and traffic and maritime restrictions put in place that would rival those of a state visit.
Today’s appearance was part of a farewell tour. Winfrey’s chat shows are coming to an end and, after 25 consecutive seasons, she is about to launch her own television network. The third most powerful woman in the world, according to Forbes, earned more than $300m (£190m) in the last year.
Winfrey and her team wanted to produce for her last season something that would top anything she had done before. For her first shows filmed outside the US, Oprah bought along 302 of her most ardent guests who have been sent on all manner of trips and tours in the name of “Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure”.
Today was the pinnacle of it all – filming of the Oprah Winfrey Show at Sydney Opera House, which 350,000 Australians had applied to be part of in a ballot and 12,000 got the chance.
Oprah did what she does best; splicing celebrity conversation with generous surprise giveaways that left the crowd breathtaken. There was $250,000 for Kristian Anderson, an Australian father suffering from cancer, and his family. Laptops went to every student at Canterbury boys’ high school, who also had a surprise visit from rapper Jay-Z after one of their teachers wrote to Oprah explaining some of the disadvantages the students were experiencing. And a necklace of deep-sea pearls from north-western Australia, worth $450, was given to every member of the audience.
It all took place among a procession of Australian celebrities including Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, the Irwin family and Hugh Jackman, who injured himself during a dramatic Wolverine-style entrance on a flying fox, sailing over the crowd.
As the show began, Winfrey stood on stage declaring repeatedly: “I love Australia! I love Australia! To the rest of the world watching right now, you’ve got to come to Australia!”
The Australian Tourism Commission could not have dreamed of such product placement. The exposure has been estimated as worth about $70m thus far, and the shows will not air until next year.
Such hyper-excitement is not a trait often seen in Australians, but the fans could not have been happier, lapping up Winfrey’s script of self-love, self-improvement and positive thinking in sweltering temperatures during the outdoor filming.
In the end, as the official cameras stopped rolling, she left the screaming crowd with a direct message: “Life’s about what you give out, because that’s what is coming back to you all the time. This experience for me has been really of divine order. It has been heaven sent. More power and love to you, Australia.”
G’Day: Oprah Winfrey Takes Australia By Storm
It truly is Oprah’s world. We all just happen to live in it.
The talk-show queen charmed an entire nation Tuesday as she recorded the first of her shows at the renamed Sydney Oprah House as part of the country’s tourist push to bring Australia to the attention of the world. And there couldn’t really be a better spokesperson — Oprah proceeded to pull out all the stops.
Thousands of locals witnessed Winfrey start her show with the traditional sports war cry of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi!” And then the love came gushing out. “After being here for a week this is what I know for sure: I love Australia,” she said on stage, before continuing, in case there was any doubt, “To the rest of the world watching, you’ve got to come to Australia.”
It’s remarks such as these which have justified Tourism Australia taking a punt on splashing millions of dollars to bring Oprah (and her entire production) over. “Before the shows have even hit the air, we’ve seen the equivalent of more than 65 million dollars worth of free advertising,” Andrew McEvoy, Managing Director, told CNN.
As for the shows, fans were treated to, essentially, any celebrity with a connection to that neck of the woods (and some who either love Australia or — ahem — want to promote stuff). Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman (who arrived on a gravity-line rope drop from the Opera House roof, injuring himself in the process), Nicole Kidman and her husband, singer Keith Urban, rocked up as did Bindi Irwin — the daughter of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin. Non-Aussies Bon Jovi and Jay-Z also made appearances.
To say that the three-week Ultimate Australian Adventure has captured the imagination of the nation (and the wider world, to a considerable extent) is an understatement. It hasn’t just dominated water-cooler chats at work but newspaper front pages, magazine covers, radio and television shows.
And why not: Oprah has already hung out with koalas, hit the beach, taken in Ayers Rock, toured Melbourne with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, yachted with Russell Crowe and reached the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. “I made a decision before I landed to not be tired,” she said. As the Aussies might say, no worries on that front.
Oprah Wraps ‘Ultimate Australian Adventure’
SYDNEY — Oprah Winfrey wrapped her Ultimate Australian Adventure at the Sydney Opera House Tuesday, filming over three hours of star-studded television, opening the morning shows with a loud “Look at you, Australia. Aussie Aussie Aussie” and finishing the day saying “I hope the world comes down under to experience what I’ve experienced.”
She handed out over $1.25 million in gifts to needy recipients, diamond and pearl necklaces to the 12,000 audience members during the day, a black eye to guest Hugh Jackman and described the four shows as a love fest about Australia.
Ahead of the tapings, Winfrey and the CEOs of Qantas and Tourism Australia, the trip’s major backers, and Australian tourism minister Martin Ferguson gave their report card on the effect of Winfrey’s week-long visit to date.
Winfrey said its success will be “immeasurable” while Ferguson estimated that the tour has already generated over AUS$85 million ($83.3 million) worth of media exposure so far: $71 million of that in Australia and $14 million in the U.S. ahead of the airing of four episodes of the shows in January.
Other headline figures for the trip: Qantas has flown Winfrey’s 302 guests and 199 productions crew on 88 different flights to and within Australia, as well as 18 tons of equipment flown on from Chicago; 25 locations in Australia were visited by the 302 adventurers, 200 of whom had never been out of the United States before;150 tourism operators have provided the experiences; 200 Harpo crew and an additional 200 Australian crew have put the four programs together.
It was also revealed that Harpo Productions and its commercial partners have spent $7 million on the tour in addition to the $4.9 million invested by Tourism Australia, Qantas and the state tourism bodies. Most of that money has been spent in Australia.
“Thank you for entrusting us with your audience. Ultimate viewer meets dream destination and it’s been a great match,” Tourism Australia chief Andrew McEvoy said.
“It is immeasurable what a four-hour love festival for your country broadcast in 145 countries can do,” Winfrey said.
“I think this has been a win-win for every partner involved,” she added.
Winfrey said she has appointed herself an unofficial ambassador for Australia and called the country “magical” and “wondrous.”
“The experience has been unparalleled, its exceeded every expectation, we’ve had for being embraced and supported and feeling the love of the country,” she said.
When asked what her enduring memory was she quipped, “I went into the ugly cry with the fireworks and when that O came over the bridge. I said I have an O on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. That was pretty special.”
After the serious stuff it was time to get down to the business of entertainment and under a hot Sydney summer sun, Winfrey gave the 6,000-strong audience at the two tapings that and more.
The morning taping, which will be the third show dedicated to Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure, was vintage Oprah with an Aussie twist.
Russell Crowe walked from his harborside home to the Opera House to join Winfrey and showed off his South Sydney Rabbitohs Rugby League team. Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s widow Terri, and her kids — Bob, 6, in his first public appearance, and Bindi, now 12, had an emotional reunion with Winfrey; hip-hop star Jay-Z paid a surprise visit to Canterbury Boys High School, an underprivileged Sydney school; and Winfrey revealed that sponsors Microsoft and HP were donating $1 million worth of laptops to all the students and teachers at the school and will help upgrade the schools library and music rooms.
She also gave $250,000 to Kristian Anderson and his family so they can spend time as a family while he undergoes treatment for cancer. Bon Jovi wrapped the show.
Four hours later another 6,000-strong audience hit the Sydney Opera House forecourt for a star-studded final episode featuring Bono, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Olivia Newton-John and Hugh Jackman, who provided the major drama of the day.
The Wolverine star injured his right eye after crashing into lighting rigging during an aerial stunt. Jackman admitted afterwards he’d failed to use the brakes on a flying fox that connected the roof of the Sydney Opera House to the stage.
Winfrey suspended filming while he was treated by paramedics offstage, but he was able to finish his segment, albeit with a black eye. The injury was said to be minor.
Jackman later returned for the final production number, leading compatriats Urban, Newton-John, Kidman and Crowe singing Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home with the Australian Children’s Choir.
Two additional programs to those made Tuesday will be produced, detailing the Ultimate Adventurers’ travels across the country, as well as Winfrey’s journey from the Great Barrier reef to Uluru, Melbourne and Sydney.
Ossie! Ossie! Ossie! O! O! O!
THE Oprah Winfrey mania that has gripped Australia for the past 10 days came to a fittingly spectacular climax yesterday as Sydney let out a collective “O” to farewell the megastar talkshow host.
The filming of her two Harbour City shows featured no shortage of megawatt star power. Local heroes such as Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and the Irwin family graced the stage, as did visiting music superstars Bono, Jon Bon Jovi and Jay-Z.
But it was the magnetic presence of the lady herself that had the 6000 audience members on the forecourt of the Opera House in raptures.
None of those in attendance left disappointed, including Winfrey herself.
Dancing on stage to Men At Work’s anthem Down Under, Winfrey had the crowd firmly in her grip from the very first time she shouted out “I … Love … Australia!”
She then led the delighted ticket winners in a mass chant of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie”.
The two hour-long shows included various references to Australia’s attractions as part of a package to promote the country to her 150 million worldwide viewers.
While the legacy of her visit is expected to be measured in many millions of tourist dollars, the joy could be immediately counted in the beaming faces and tears that began to flow in the crowd at the sight of the TV heroine.
Under searing sunshine and with five helicopters doing their best to drown out all the fun, it took Winfrey – in rust-coloured gown for her first show before changing into a billowing pink shirt and full-length white skirt – to hold the attention of the 6000-strong audience.
After following the wardrobe edict to wear bright colours, the crowd erupted as one screaming mass, of mostly women, as their heroine appeared on stage.
Vowing to become an ambassador for all things Australian, Winfrey spoke of her joy and wonder as she gazed out at Sydney’s magnificent harbour from her hotel room.
“I’ve seen a lot and done a lot of things, but when those fireworks started and that O came on the bridge I went into the ugly cry,” she exclaimed.
“This is not my country, but that was pretty special. And not just because it’s a big ego trip to see my name on the bridge, although it is. I’d position myself in a chair in my hotel room and wait for the sun to go down and call out to people, ‘Come and see my O’. That was very special.
” I will carry that for the rest of my life.”
The final show closed with a spectacular performance of I Still Call Australia Home by Aussie guests Urban, Kidman, Crowe, Olivia Newton-John and Jackman, with the help of the Gondwana National Indigenous Children’s Choir.
The renowned generosity of the mega-rich Winfrey was also on show for all to see.
Especially when she summoned Sydney cancer sufferer Kristian Anderson and his wife Rachel to the stage, where she presented them with a cheque for $250,000 to help in his recovery.
And the gifts didn’t stop there.
Every audience member received a gift of a pearl necklace at the first show, while the second audience walked away with a special “O” necklace featuring an Australian pink diamond.
Oprah’s ‘love festival for Australia’ reaches climax
FINALLY, after three months of build-up, Australia’s big moment with Oprah had finally arrived.
“Who is feeling the love right now?” one of her producers asked from the stage just minutes before the Big O was meant to arrive in the heat and humidity of a typical Sydney summer morning. “Do you feel sexy, Australia?”
Judging by the cheer, that was a yes.
Six thousand of Oprah’s “ultimate” fans were in the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House – renamed the Oprah House for the occasion – for the morning show; another 6000 would file in for the evening show.
The shows were star-studded affairs – Russell Crowe, Bindi Irwin, Jay-Z and Jon Bon Jovi in the morning, Bono, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Hugh Jackman and Olivia Newton-John in the evening – but people had snapped up the tickets long before the line-ups were announced. It didn’t really matter who else was on the bill, they were all here to see Oprah.
Certainly, she knows how to make a person – no, an entire country – feel good about themselves. “Now I know why you call this place Oz, because you are truly at the end of the yellow brick road,” she said when she finally arrived just after 10am, resplendent in Uluru orange and having just led the audience in a chant of ”Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi oi oi”.
“After a week in this country, I love Australia. I love Australia. I LOVE AUSTRALIA!” she said, in her favoured oratory style. “Wherever you are in the world, you have to come here,” she said.
Ka-ching. That line alone had to be worth the $4 million the state and federal tourism bodies had paid to get her here.
The four shows on Australia that she will screen in January – the Opera House shows are numbers three and four – are, she said, “a love festival for Australia”.
“As I said to your Tourism Minister this morning, ‘Aren’t you glad I liked it?’”
As video clips rolled after each ad break showing the natural wonders of Australia, they indeed made the country look like a pretty good place to visit.
Her first guest was Crowe, with whom she chatted amiably and fairly superficially, asking him why Australians don’t much like it when people get too big for their boots. Perhaps sensing this was somehow about him – isn’t everything? – Rusty tried not to be drawn on that one.
Bindi Irwin and her brother Robert – a dead ringer for his dead dad – and their mother Terri were up next, and just as Rusty had a movie to plug so Bindi had a book and the whole family had a Las Vegas outpost of Australia Zoo to spruik.
On it went, with good-humoured chat interspersed with travelogue videos and, for a little emotional heft, a couple of hard-luck stories with happy (-ish) endings.
First, an underprivileged school in the western suburbs of Sydney received a visit from Jay-Z followed by a gift of laptops from IBM for every student and a wired library (and a copy of Jay-Z’s book), which Oprah claimed was worth $1 million.
Next, a young man with cancer, a wife and two kids. Their church has helped out by paying the bills; Oprah went one better, handing over a $250,000 cheque, telling him to “take a year off and get well”.
Bon Jovi played. Jay-Z chatted. Everyone got a pearl necklace.
The evening show offered more of the same. A surprise visit from Bono, then a spectacular entrance from Jackman that almost turned to tragedy.
He slid along a flying fox strung 80 metres or so between the top of the Opera House and the rigging above the stage. He waved happily to the crowd as he hurtled towards the stage, then came to a brutal and thudding halt.
Medical staff treated the actor when he was finally lowered, and a few minutes later he returned with a plaster to the side of a very red eye.
Nonetheless, by the end of the show he had recovered well enough to sing – along with Kidman, Urban, Newton-John, Crowe and the Qantas choir – I Still Call Australia Home. And then it was over.
The evening audience missed out on the pearl necklace. They got a diamond pendant in the shape of an O instead.
Winfrey down under: Sydney ‘Oprah’ House
“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi!”
Oprah Winfrey opened her Ultimate Australian Adventure show on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in front of thousands of spectators with the traditional Australian sports war cry. The audience responded in kind.
Sydney’s central business district turned into a carnival of color and celebration for a day.
It began as a typical Sydney summer morning until the Oprah carnival blew in — lights, celebrities and action. Those supporters not lucky enough to scoop one of the 12,000 free tickets offered for the filming of two 90-minute programs gathered near the Sydney Harbour to hear what they could and sneak glimpses of the daytime television queen.
“It’s my birthday and I asked all my friends to nominate me for a ticket but I didn’t get one,” said Fran (who, like other fans CNN spoke with, took off work without permission and asked her surname not be used). “Doesn’t matter, I caught a bus for an hour and a train for an hour just to see her.”
Just engaged Shane and Angie made the trip because they both adore Oprah. “I’ve watched every episode since I was a little kid,” Angie said. “I can’t imagine not watching her any more!”
Winfrey’s tour down under began as a dream when her long time partner Stedman Graham suggested he’d take her to Australia for her 50th birthday. That milestone came and went.
“I think the leaflets are still bundled up in the kitchen somewhere,” Winfrey joked. She made the dream a reality when she decided to do something special during her final season after 25 years on air.
In less than a week Winfrey has seen more of Australia than many Australians see in a lifetime.
She’s hugged koalas in Queensland, enjoyed a beach barbeque on a Barrier Reef island, walked around the world’s largest monolith, Uluru (also known as Ayer’s Rock). Winfrey had a personal tour of Melbourne with Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, climbed to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and took to the helm of a yacht with her fellow skipper, Australian actor Russell Crowe.
“I made a decision before I landed to not be tired,” Winfrey said. She’ll sleep on the long flight home when she leaves Australia on Wednesday.
Joining Russell Crowe on the Oprah shows were fellow actors Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman (who sped in on a “flying fox” — a gravity-line rope drop — from the Opera House roof, slightly injuring himself in the process). Kidman’s husband and singer, Keith Urban, and Bindi Irwin — the daughter of the late “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin — Bon Jovi and Jay-Z appeared on the program.
The Sydney Opera House was renamed “the Oprah House” for the day as Winfrey filmed two shows Tuesday. More than 350,000 Australians registered for the 12,000 tickets available.
Newspaper front pages, magazine covers, radio programs, television news bulletins and coffee shop conversations around the nation have been dominated by the Oprah frenzy for a week. Even those who aren’t convinced of the American’s iconic status at least have their opinions to debate — in that regard, nobody has been left untouched by the Oprah aura.
Tourism Australia — looking for a shot in the arm after a lackluster decade that began with 9/11 and ended with the global financial crisis –spent the last nine months working with Harpo Productions to make Winfrey’s tour a reality.
“Some people question the five million dollars the government has put up along with our commercial partners for the Oprah shows but Harpo have invested another seven million to make it happen,” says Andrew McEvoy, the Managing Director of Tourism Australia.
“Already, before the shows have even hit the air, we’ve seen the equivalent of more than 65 million dollars worth of free advertising.”
Oprah guests fly out of Sydney
Oprah Winfrey’s handpicked American audience will fly out of Sydney on Wednesday, ending their “Ultimate Australian Adventure”.
A spokeswoman from Momentum2, appointed by Oprah’s production company Harpo, confirmed the 302 Americans who won guest tickets to join Oprah on her Australian blitz will leave the harbour city bound for Los Angeles on Qantas planes throughout the day.
The audience comprising of 242 women and 60 men, with 42 couples, touched down in Sydney on December 7.
In Queensland, Oprah and 93 audience members visited Hamilton Island and were treated to an exclusive beach barbecue with chef Curtis Stone on Whitehaven beach.
They visited the Great Barrier Reef, enjoyed a jet-ski tour, a bush walk and went sailing around the Whitsunday Islands.
Six guests took a trip to the Daintree Rainforest where they went on a Aboriginal walk to a waterfall, learnt about Aboriginal culture and went on a river cruise and helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef.
In the Northern Territory, audience members enjoyed sunset at Uluru and watched a traditional Aboriginal “Imma” dance performance before visiting the Gabarnmung caves with Aboriginal elder Margaret Katherine.
Different groups also visited WA, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Canberra.
The visitors finally rejoined Oprah in Sydney on Saturday where the Harbour Bridge was lit up with an “O” at the Premier’s welcome party.
In Sydney, they enjoyed a bridge climb, sailing on the harbour, a trip to Bondi Beach as well as sampling Sydney’s food and wine at the best restaurants around the city.
In the final leg of their tour, the American guests joined 12,000 screaming fans to be part of Oprah’s live audience at Sydney’s Opera House where she filmed two shows on yesterday.
Hugh Jackman hurt in Oprah taping Down Under
Sydney’s Opera House became Oprah’s house on Tuesday as the chat show host taped two shows inside and outside the famous Australian landmark.
A visit by Oprah Winfrey attracted hundreds of Australian fans, who were awarded tickets based on a lottery system. It also featured appearances by Australians Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Bindi Irwin and American rapper Jay-Z.
Taping of the second show was briefly suspended when Jackman, who plays Wolverine in the X-men movies, was injured during a stunt.
The actor was sliding down a zipline from the sails of the opera house when he crashed into a light stand and cut his face below the right eye. Paramedics took him off stage with a towel to his face, with a concerned Winfrey ordering a halt to the program.
After a short break Jackman returned with a band-aid and a bruise below his eye and told Winfrey he had hit the brake too late.
“That was so much fun until the end,” Jackman said. “I came down waving to everyone, looking over Sydney Harbour, saw my dad, the kids and you, went to pull the brake and then boing.”
Winfrey is in Australia after awarding 302 people from the audience of her first taping this season a trip Down Under.
The talk show host said she had long hoped to travel to Australia, and taking the audience with her made the experience even richer.
“Life is always better when you can share it,” she said.
During the show, she enthused about her Australian experience, which was underwritten in part with $5 million in funding from the Australian taxpayers.
“You’re so darn friendly, you must go to friendly class!” she told the cheering audience.
Her first guest was Crowe, who gestured to the Sydney Harbour behind him and replied, “When you live in a city like this, it’s not that hard to be friendly.”
Crowe, who sings with the band Ordinary Fear of God, also closed out the show singing the sentimental favourite I Call Australia Home backed by the Gondwana children’s choir.
Other guests included Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, in their first interview together. They talked about splitting their time between Nashville and Sydney.
Bindi and Robert Irwin, children of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, also made an appearance, with Bindi carrying a python named Olivia. Bindi told Winfrey the snake was “really sweet” as the host tentatively stroked the reptile.
Seven-year-old Robert Irwin described how he watches videos of his father — who was killed by a stingray barb in 2006 — every day.
“It’s so good because it’s like he’s actually there,” he said, prompting tears among many in the crowd.
Hip-hop artist Jay-Z, one of Winfrey’s guests, had paid a visit to a school in a low-income area and the students were among those invited to the show’s taping. Winfrey followed through with one of her famous giveaways — a laptop for each child in the class.
“Now, no excuses not to do your homework!” Winfrey said as the students jumped with excitement.
Other members of the audiences were given a string of pearls from Western Australia.
The episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show featuring the Australian trip will be screened in January.
- Further tidbit: Nicole and Keith were at the opening night of U2′s Australian tour at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney on December 13th.