Oprah and Hearst are releasing an official commemorative edition of O Magazine to mark the 25-year run of "The Oprah Winfrey Show."
The magazine, which will be released in select cities on Friday and nationwide on June 28th (though people can pre-order a copy), looks behind the scenes at the making of the show and includes the recollections of both Oprah and her first producers about its first days.
In one section, Oprah talks about the show's premiere topic:
We tried every celebrity on the planet, but nobody paid me a bit of attention. They were like, “Who are you? Ophre? Okra?” We ended up going with a topic that had nothing to do with celebrities—“How to Marry the Man or Woman of Your Choice”— and that was the perfect place to begin. Because for 25 years, the show was about ordinary people who, like me, wanted to lead better lives. The premiere topic didn’t matter as much as setting the show’s intention.
One of Oprah's first producers, Dianne Atkinson Hudson, also talks about what it was like to always broadcast a live show (which doesn't happen anymore):
We each had a show to produce every four days. We rounded up guests by any means necessary—like by running plugs at the end of the program: “Are you a woman who’s stuck in an abusive relationship? Call the Oprah show.” People would call! They might say, “I want to be in that audience.” You’d say, “Why? Is this happening to you?” “No, it’s happening to my cousin.” “Where’s your cousin?” “She lives a couple of blocks from here.” “Well, maybe I should talk to her.” And if that cousin actually showed up as a guest, we knew we’d have resources to offer her—like an expert or a women’s shelter.”
Some other quotes from founding producers of the show:
Mary Kay Clinton: “The night before the first show, Oprah had a green leather dress delivered to my apartment. The note said, “This is for our first big day,” and I was like, Oh my gosh. For the premiere, my job was to warm up the audience. In that dress, I felt like a million bucks.”
Ellen Rakieten: “When we got the ratings from that first week, we did a happy dance. We even beat Donahue? Holy moly! Letters started pouring in. It was like, ‘Oh my gosh—people are actually watching?!’”
See a photo of the cover below: