By: Maria Smith
On Wednesday May 25, 2011, The Oprah Winfrey Show went dark. After 25 years of producing one of the most watched television shows in television history, Oprah closed her show with an hour of teaching, inspiration and reflection. She called it a “love letter” to her viewers. There were no guests sharing the stage with Oprah during the last show. And aside from some important friends in the audience like long-time boyfriend, Stedman Graham, his daughter Wendy Graham, and celebrity friend Tyler Perry, the studio was filled with everyday Oprah fans lucky enough to witness history live in person.
Oprah spent the hour reminiscing about past shows and imparting the last nuggets of wisdom to the 20 million people estimated to have watched the finale. She told the audience “you are worthy because you were born” and said “everybody has a calling.” She held back the tears until the very end of the show when she looked into the camera and let the viewers know that they have become the love of her life. As she walked off the set, the hundreds of Harpo employees lined the hallways leading out of the studio and the main entrance, clapping for and cheering on their boss. Oprah stopped to hug several employees, many of whom were shedding tears.
As a former associate producer at The Oprah Winfrey Show, I was both sad and proud to watch the show go off the air. It has been a mainstay in my life for more years than I can remember, both as a viewer and a television producer, and I am sorry to see it go. The show will hold a unique place in history and I’m proud to have played a small role in helping to produce it for four years.
I wanted to celebrate the end of the Oprah era with friends and was pleased to attend an Oprah Finale viewing party thrown by The Broke Socialite Media at the Four Seasons Atlanta. It was a pleasure to watch the iconic TV star say goodbye to her show with about 50 of Atlanta’s well-heeled residents. The party was fabulously Southern complete with shrimp and grits tapas, divine Coca-Cola chocolate cake, and O’tini’s (pomegranate martinis). The décor included flowers matching each table theme (the “Color Purple” table had all violet colored flowers) and the food, drink, and dessert stations were all Oprah-inspired. Guests enjoyed the food and drink and bonded over favorite Oprah episodes and personal “Aha” moments. It was the perfect way for me to say goodbye to a talk show host who throughout the years has been a friend, mentor and boss.
Maria Smith resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three kids. In her pre-baby days, she was a TV producer for shows like Oprah, and now fills her child-free time with freelance writing and public relations projects. You could reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MariaRSmith.