As if getting a hold of one of the most sought out tickets in the city wasn't enough, now one woman wants $50,000 from Oprah, saying she got trampled during a taping of the show.
As first reported in the Sun-Times last week, a woman is suing Oprah's Harpo Studios saying she suffered permanent injuries after being pushed down a flight of stairs in a rush to get seats prior to taping the show.
The woman -- Orit Greenberg -- says audience members rushed the gate after being told to sit where they wanted.
Is Oprah's audience really unruly? I've been to three tapings of Oprah's show and can say the queen of talk operates a tightly run operation.
Translation: Audience members (done up and donning new outfits bought especially for the show) line up outside the show usually one to two hours before taping is scheduled (the earlier you get there, the better chances you have of getting the seat you want).
As audience members line up make their way into the building in a single-file line, they're given a card with a number on it (which also doubles as a release form stating you're basically fine with signing your life over to Harpo for that day).
Once ushered into a holding pen for about 45 minutes or so (there are only enough seats to seat about half the audience),
The end game: Oprah's crew begins calling select few (those who were smart and wore bright colors) to enter, followed by number increments -- just so there ISN'T a mad rush to get into the studio.
It's a pretty civil process if you ask me, but someone else will have to be the judge of that. Sounds like a case for Judge Milian. Imagine this:
Released Wednesday, Forbes list of the globe's wealthiest ranks Winfrey -- who's only 54 years old -- at No. 462. A high number, but she's still worth an estimated $2.5 billion.
Winfrey ranks before members of Chicago's famous Pritzker family, whose members are worth about $2.4 billion each. Tribune and Cubs owner Sam Zell came in before Winfrey at No. 164, worth nearly $6 billion.
Books, TV movies, a presidential candidate and now a philanthropic reality show. Maybe everything Oprah Winfrey touches really does turn to gold.
Sunday's premiere of "Oprah's Big Give" on ABC was seen by 15.7 million people, the largest audience in prime-time last week for any program not named "American Idol," according to Nielsen Media Research.
ABC also did well with Monday's prime-time remake of "A Raisin in the Sun," which finished in the top 10 with 12.7 million viewers. AP
Oprah Winfrey has been spiritually educating her viewers for years. On Monday, she began offering formal instruction to more than 700,000 students across the globe.
Before the first session of "A New Earth" -- a free, 10-week online class taught by Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, the German-born spiritual teacher and author of the current Oprah's Book Club pick A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purposes -- according to Oprah .com, hundreds of thousands had registered to take part in the 90-minute cyber sessions each at 8 p.m. on Mondays.
Best seller isn't a quick read
A New Earth is not light reading. It's esoteric and high-minded. Literally. In his best-selling tome, Eckhart encourages readers to view the book as an opportunity for enlightenment.
"The ideas and concepts presented here may be important, but they are secondary," Tolle writes in the first chapter, the reading assignment for Monday night's first online class. "They are no more than signposts toward awakening. As you read, a shift takes place in you. This book's main purpose is not to add new information or beliefs to your mind or to try to convince you of anything, but to bring about a shift in consciousness, that is to say, to awaken."
It's not the kind of religious platitude you can easily put on a T-shirt or sum up in a bumper sticker. That was, as I understand it, part of the impetus behind Winfrey's creation of the online class: to help readers through some of the challenging passages, to aid them in acclimating to the "languaging of new consciousness," as she told USA Today.
A New Earth is not the kind of book that offers step-by-step instructions for enlightenment. Chant this. Light this. Meditate on that. It's far more opaque.
After making my own way through the first chapter -- reading and rereading a number of paragraphs to make sure I grasped what Tolle was getting at -- I had to wonder what would make 700,000 people want to commit to exploring this particular brand of East-West-hybrid mysticism.
Some say Oprah has become one of the most -- if not the most -- significant spiritual leaders of our time, a title I'm pretty sure she neither desires nor appreciates. If she hasn't taken on the mantle of "America's pastor," she certainly has stepped into the role of Pointer in Chief -- directing viewers toward people, things, concepts and ideals that she finds edifying.
Both Tolle and Oprah (through the class materials on Oprah.com) emphasize that A New Earth (which takes its name from biblical passages that talk about the creation of "a new heaven and a new earth") is not anti-religion.
Say what you will about Marlene Snipes, the first person to be ejected on "Oprah's Big Give." Just don't call her lazy.
"I made a lot of phone calls," the Bronzeville native said Monday in her own defense. "Unfortunately, none of my calls went through, but Kim's did."
The Amtrak worker was paired with Tennessee's Kim Prentiss and charged with finding housing for Karl Newman, a disabled and soon-to-be-discharged Marine. Prentiss appeared to do all the work, and the City of Big Shoulders contestant was called out for not doing enough heavy lifting.
O's in reruns all week, but here's what's coming up in case you missed the show the first go round:
Tuesday, March 4: The Truth about Food. Dr. Oz stops at nothing -- and swallows a pill camera and shows an inside look at his own body. Oprah trainer Bob Greene also shows how he helped one woman shed 100 pounds.
Wednesday, March 5: Totally Halle. She's having a baby -- Halle opens up to Oprah about life, love and being a mom.
Thursday, March 6: Cosby's Dirty Laundry. Bill Cosby shares his thoughts on violence, absent fathers and the problems plaguing America.
Friday, March 7: Looking good on a budget. Designer Vera Wang shows how to dress without breaking your bank.
Her latest book club pick -- "A New Earth" -- has swept the nation by storm, bringing yet another Oprah first. Tonight, join Oprah, author Eckhart Tolle, and over 700,000 people as they teach an exclusive online class about the book every Monday at 7:30 p.m.
What you need to know
It's not too late to sign up: Go to Oprah.com to sign up for the 90-minute class
Trouble getting in? The show says there may be some traffic jams on the web. If you do experience trouble watching the live video stream, you can come back tomorrow morning to view the entire webcast. You can even download the podcast on Oprah.com or iTunes.
What you'll need: If you didn't have a chance to print a workbook, print out a blank copy to have by your side during class. You can always come back to change or add to your answers or write down anything from class that confused, moved or surprised you.
While she shied away from saying she's ready to get married, viewers could read between the lines as Drew Barrymore talked about her ongoing relationship with actor Justin Long, hinting their relationship isn't going away any time soon.
Drew's beau showed plenty of face time during the opening of Monday's show, telling the audience she's beautiful, funny and the "most compassionate person" he'd ever met.
Long's famous for his roles in "Dodgeball," the television series "Ed" and most recently his role in the "Get a Mac" ad campaign from Apple (see below). He formerly dated Kaitlin Doubleday, his costar in the independent film "Waiting ..."
"I found a best friend," she said of Long. "At some point, you decide the person you want to become, you grow up and you make different choices and changes in your life. This relationship is great. It's healthy and productive and supportive and it's full of humor."
Barrymore said she and Long have been traveling a lot, partly because of her work on several documentaries and with a U.N. group aimed at providing food to starving children in Africa.
"When I hit 30 ... I wanted to do things that really spoke to my heart, I didn't want to just do for the said of doing," she said.
Barrymore -- in front of a audience who gave her a standing ovation -- announced that she was donating $1 million of her own money to the U.N. program, called the World Food Programme.
Fellow actress and friend Cameron Diaz -- who was filming in L.A. -- made a surprise call into the show to commend Barrymore's efforts.
"I've been listening to the show and I'm choked up," she said. "I'm so proud of Drew."
It's unprecedented where we're at in the world and how our children live, Diaz said.
With nine contestants left and seven more shows lined up, we want to know, what did you think of Oprah's "Big Give"? Have a favorite contestant, tell us. Who do you think will win it all? Do you think whoever wins the "Big Give" will keep the million bucks they're given?
Share your thoughts on the show. In the coming days we'll profile who's left on the show and head back every Sunday as we blog what happens on the "Big Give."
Carlana and Shreg's idea to hold a fashion show to raise money -- was a flop. They didn't get any donations from crowdgoers (Seriously? Not even one person. I'd be afraid to be in the audience and on TV now). Thank god for Jamie Foxx, who just donated $50,000 to help out the cause.
They've raised enough money to provide temporay housing for their soldier who was injured in Iraq. Not as big of a tear jerker as the previous two reveals. Kim's connections with a friend from Firestone gets them $25,000.
I'm crying again. I knew it would happen again (I did it during the screening and watching it live). Eric and Stephen get the idea to let A.J. -- and her girls -- write notes to put in balloons and release them off to their husband and dad in Heaven.
There's something about watching these kind of shows that propels me -- and maybe you -- to want to do something that makes a difference in someone else's life. Eric and Stephen's efforts raised enough money to pay for school for A.J.'s two children and $50,000 to help pay off her mortgage.
They just raised over $100,000 to honor A.J.'s husband.
Right off the plane, Oprah meets the contestants in an airport hangar to challenge them to the "Big Give" and introduces the three judges: Chef Jamie Oliver (the Simon), NFL star Tony Gonzalez (the Randy) and Chris Rock's wife Malaak Compton-Rock (the Paula).
Sets the best example yet of being a real giver: He and a friend were hit by a drunk driver and he used the money for a surgery to fix a broken eye socket to help those affected in the Sri Lanka tsunami disaster.
If you've seen her show, you've seen it a million times. Unsuspecting people picking up the phone not knowing Oprah was on the other end of the phone. I've always wondered how people never suspect anything, even though there's always a huge camera crew in their faces.
The show asked would-be givers to share their story -- on why they'd be the perfect givers. After weeks of auditions -- which unlike shows like "Idol" we didn't get to see, the show narrowed it down to 10 givers. I
What would you do if someone handed you a bundle of money and challenged you to make dreams come true?
Thousands turn out across the nation as the "Big Give" stops in Nashville, Los Angeles, New York and of course, Oprah's home town of Chicago to find the perfect givers. As big as Oprah's success is, Chicago remains strong in her heart (her show and company headquarters is here).
Clueless that they've been chosen to partake in the "Big Give" (though one would think the cameras in front of them is some kind of inkling they've got the in, right?) ten people are picked and challenged to see who can be the biggest giver. (In true Oprah fashion, she calls each of the contestants to tell them the news)
Thumbs up: Don't worry, you don't have to sit through weeks of giver auditions. This isn't "Idol" and Oprah gets right down to business.
How they do it:
Contestants are given $2,500 and the name and picture of who they've been challenged to help and that's it -- they know absolutely nothing else about why the person they're helping really needs help. Using their wit and stratedy, they've got to come up with ways to help beyong the $2,500 they've been give. Three celeb judges (smells a little like "Idol") then judge the contestants on their performance. Each week, someone's kicked off the island and the last man standing gets a million bucks -- though the candidates don't know there's a prize at all.
Thumbs down: I know it's the nature of the show, but since when was helping anyone at all not good enough?
Chef Jamie Oliver (the Simon), NFL star Tony Gonzalez (the Randy) and Chris Rock's wife Malaak Compton-Rock (the Paula) -- all three of who have done charitable work in one way or another.
'Oprah's Big Give' adds idealism to reality TV (Cleveland Plain Dealer)
"Reality television often is attacked for encouraging greed, deceit and meanness. Certainly these are the stock in trade for many of the competition shows.
'Oprah's Big Give' is a race for the good (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
"The old radio and TV tear-jerker "Queen for a Day" was the prototype for a certain kind of good-deed reality TV format that's due for a return. It's now apparent that this sort of program has been waiting for the veneer of uplift and quasi-spirituality that only Oprah could give it." Click here to read more >>
Goodwill is spread on 'Oprah's Big Give' (Newsday)
"Pathos on parade. That's how one TV industry executive summed up to me the latest trend in reality TV. Exemplified by the much-hyped ABC premiere of "Oprah's Big Give" (Sunday at 9 p.m.), it's all about feel-good philanthropy aiding the unfortunate. Like ABC's earlier-evening hit "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and Oprah Winfrey's own megasmash daytime talkfest/giveaway, the idea is to help worthy souls in need with funds, goods and services." Click here to read more >>
In 'Oprah's Big Give,' charity is the winner (L.A. Times)
"LET'S get it out of the way up front: I absolutely cried. Twice. Of all its potential uses, television's ability to emotionally manipulate is one of its most underused. It has frequently entertained, sometimes shocked, and maybe not-quite-often-enough educated. But for the medium to blatantly abuse the goodwill of its viewers, to demand full-throated feeling above and beyond intellectual engagement, is a recent innovation." Click here to read more >>
'Oprah's Big Give' blessed with a big heart (Mercury News)
"When Oprah does reality TV, don't count on any back-stabbing or bug-eating. That's just not her style. Instead, you'll find plenty of heartwarming stories and feel-good moments in "Oprah's Big Give," an absorbing new series that represents the first venture into the genre for the media mogul." Click here to read more >>
'Oprah's Big Give' puts good works in a bad light (USA Today)
"How can earning a spot in heaven compare with a place in prime time? Anyone old-fashioned enough to believe in keeping acts of righteousness private should give a wide berth to Oprah's Big Give (ABC, Sunday, 9 ET/PT), Queen for a Day as reinterpreted by the Queen of All Media. An Apprentice-type game that turns charity into a competitive sport, Give will strike you as immensely uplifting or horrifyingly vulgar, or an odd combo of both." Click here to read more >>
It's O-time again (RedEye)
"Tears. Fighting. Racing against the clock. Mounting pressure. Competitive streaks. It all means one thing: DRAMA—just what every successful reality show needs." Click here to read more >>
She's mastered the challenge of producing a long-running daytime television show (a successful one at that), but can the Oprah phenom and her successful following translate into a hit reality TV show?
I screened Winfrey's latest TV venture yesterday and wonder whether the "Big Give" will be a big hit among TV watchers already saturated with more reality television than they need. Remember the good days when you watched TV just to escape from reality?
Will philanthropy fly as a reality TV show? Read Sun-Times features writer Misha Davenport's read on the new show, and check back when we live blog the show Sunday at 8 p.m.
By Misha Davenport Staff Reporter
Having conquered daytime television, the publishing industry, Broadway and the American electoral system, Oprah Winfrey now has her sights on reality television.
"Oprah's Big Give," premiering tonight, features 10 contestants (including a Chicagoan, 37-year-old Amtrak attendant Marlene Snipes, as well as an ex-Chicagoan, 23-year-old pageant queen Brandi Milloy) competing each week to see who can hand out the most cash and change a complete stranger's life in a unique way.
Scratch that. Not a complete stranger. Given that reality TV has shown us that people are willing to lie, cheat and steal for their 15 minutes of fame, the needy featured on "OBG" no doubt have been carefully screened and deemed worthy by Harpoland.
Though the 10 contestants are allegedly unaware of there being anything in it for them (other than the ego boost that comes from being on a reality show), they're actually competing for a $1 million prize.
Mark Bieganski is an online content guru for theChicago Sun-Times and RogerEbert.com. He follows the Oprah phenom like it's a religion. He's been to the show three times as an audience member (he'll make the show as a guest someday) and has had the Oprah show on season pass ever since getting a Tivo two years ago.