Cheryl and Oprah: One on One, Pt. III

May 24, 2011 9:58:43 AM PDT
When Oprah began her broadcasting career she was strongly encouraged to change her name which is now synonymous with a global brand. The queen of talk stood firm, a value she says is deeply rooted in her upbringing in Kosciusko, Mississippi. But she says it was her time spent here in Chicago that shaped her life.

"When I got the call to come to audition for Chicago I started singing in my sprit 'Chicago, Chicago,'" Oprah told ABC7's Cheryl Burton.

Yes, it was her kind of town and it soon became everyone else's, too. Seeing the Oprah Winfrey Show in person turned into a popular tourist attraction. Oprah has fond memories of living here including filming the Women of Brewster's Place and the Chicago premier of the Color Purple. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as Sofia.

"I lived, loved and played in the city, so the first couple of years I was on Rush Street, I was playing, partying and I was going to all the stuff and I was part of it, I felt like I was real part of the city, and I just loved that," Oprah said.

"I do not think that had this show been in any other city at the time it could have flourished the way that it did," she continued. "There was something very grounding, appropriate and real about the Chicago audiences and the Midwestern community that felt like the heart of the country."

Oprah was even offered double the amount of money to change cities, but she was loyal to people she said supported her from the beginning.

"I am grateful for the fact that we were right here at the particular time, and it was these people and this audience that made it happen," said Oprah.

Oprah's affection for Chicago took her all the way to Copenhagen to showcase the Midwestern city some say she helped make a global attraction. In 2009, during the Olympic bid for the city she called the most beautiful in the world, she was part of the pitch team.

And now, she's being rewarded for doing it her own way.

"I do have to ask you about Chicago. You spent half your life here, what will you miss most?" asked Burton.

"Now that will get me crying," Oprah replied. "I will miss being able to walk down the street and feel like no matter who I'm looking at, I'm looking at my hometown peeps, you know? I will miss the connection to a community that really embraced me in such a way, that allowed this national platform of the Oprah Winfrey Show to become what it is."

Over the years, ABC7's Cheryl Burton has had the opportunity to go one on one with Oprah during some of the major milestones including the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, her Favorite Things show and the opening of her school in South Africa. She offered Burton these parting words as she heads off into the sunset.

"I'm gonna miss you, but listen, this isn't goodbye, this is come on over," Oprah said.

On Monday morning, Oprah's executive producer Sherri Salata tweeted, "rehearsing the finale of Oprah show, produced today, tape tomorrow." Reportedly the commercials are going for $1 million for a 30 second spot.

Tune in for more of Cheryl Burton's exclusive interview with the queen of talk in a half hour special Tuesday evening. Oprah Looks Back: 25 years of the Oprah Winfrey Show airs right here on ABC7 at 6:30.

Then at 10 o'clock we'll talk to some famous Chicagoans, some who say Oprah was the inspiration behind their career choices and it will be a celebrity send off.

Load Comments