Oprah Winfrey greets Mayor Richard Daley at a private reception before a women's development conference in 2006 at Navy Pier. Winfrey announced yesterday she's throwing a kick off party in Chicago that'll close down part of Michigan Avenue. (Rich Hein/Sun-Times)
From my colleague Fran Spielman who covers City Hall for the Sun-Times:
Mayor Daley this morning defended the city's decision to close down a congested choke of North Michigan Avenue next week to let talk show diva Oprah Winfrey kick off her 24th season in style.
Oprah plans to tape her show -- with special guests the Black Eyed Peas -- at the intersection of Michigan and Ohio. It will require the city to close Michigan between Wacker and Ohio at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 7 and keep it closed until 5 a.m. Sept. 9th Although Oprah's Harpo Studios will reimburse taxpayers for the cost of city services, the inconvenience to motorists cannot be calculated.
But Daley said it's worth the cost.
"This is a great thing we're doing," Daley said. "Wish we could do this every day in Chicago. How many people it will employ. How much publicity we'll receive throughout the world. It is unbelievable.
"You can't even give us that exposure globally. She's an icon in the industry. It's very, very important.
"What other cities do it? Take New York City. Take Los Angeles. . . For the filming industry. They do this every day unfortunately."
But what about the inconvenience to the average person?
"They'll understand how important this is, dealing with jobs, dealing with international exposure," Daley said. "This is really important. This is a great opportunity. I'm very proud. I wish your media outlets would do something like this. Hello?"