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Wednesday 15 December 2010

Oprah's Sydney Opera House show: by Drew Lambert

Come down from the Oprah high yet? I haven’t. I wasn’t at the event of a lifetime – but Drew Lambert, PR director, wine, spirits, and beer writer (I know!), freelance journo and radio co-host for ‘Talking Back The Night’, syndicated to 30 radio stations across Australia – was. And he writes exclusively for Josie’s Juice.

“It was kinda crazy and people were going nuts,” says Drew, declaring what we saw to be absolutely true.

“It was quite exciting to see Hugh Jackman almost kill himself,” adds Drew jokingly.

What was the audience like, I ask, requesting to elaborate on the obvious.

“Apart from the crowd going completely ballistic, the second Oprah walked out, there was this really strange weather change. The clouds were threatening all afternoon, and the minute she walked on stage, there was a stream of sunlight around the stage. It’s like Oprah parted the sea with her presence!”

Drew reveals that Network Ten’s Angela Bishop, who travelled around the country with Oprah, recounts the same story everywhere Oprah went; the big ‘O’ brought with her sparkling weather conditions. Why am I not surprised?

The highlight of the afternoon show – two were taped that day - was the Hugh Jackman injury, says Drew.

“It was a replication of what Hugh did for the Wolverine premiere at Cockatoo Island a while ago. Except that went perfectly. He did the stunt for the Oprah appearance in rehearsals and it wasn’t a problem. He did it at a slower speed, though he wanted to take it up a notch for the real thing. This time, he was going very, very fast.

And when he tried to apply the brakes, it was too late. He clipped the lighting rig and dangled like ragdoll, and found it difficult to release the harness.

There were plenty of women offering to help, “’C’mere Hugh, I’ll kiss it better,’ they were yelling. It was rather hilarious.”

When he was released from the harness, Oprah was seen to dab Hugh’s eye-area injury with the tissue he’d requested. And in close up photos, you can see that Oprah has pulled out her own Bobbi Brown mirror compact for Hugh to inspect the injury (PR, PR, PR!).

A bottle of the legendary Penfolds Grange was waiting for Oprah and Hugh, and soon came in handy as Hugh was administered a glass of the liquid gold immediately. When he proceeded to share his fave Aussie snack of Vegemite on a Sao cracker with Oprah, she enjoyed it - but only a smear, not half the jar. Onya, Oprah… nobody likes it stacked on like that anyways.

Curiously, Drew says many women were dressed in pink for the day although there was no dress code.

Speaking of pink, the Argyle pink diamond gifted to the 6000 audience members was done in typical cheeky Oprah style. Five of the 300 American audience members trekked around Tasmania (all 300 members experienced different adventures – 30 were taken to Olivia Newton John’s QLD Gaia health resort, and vowed to get a tattoo to commemorate the experience.

They were called onstage and explained their intentions to Lady O. Oprah said it was best they hadn’t gotten a tattoo, as they were, y’know… permanent and all; something they’d have to wear for life. What about something else to remember their time in Oz, she suggested. What about (yelled in inimitable Oprah fashion): “PINK DIAMONDS!!”
The five of them went nuts. Then she added to the crowd, “You’re allllllll getting pink diamonds!!”

“The crowd went stupid,” recounts Drew.

“Have a look at eBay now, though. There are already guests’ diamond redemption cards [they need to register online from January 2011 to collect their gift] for sale.”

Of course, every single one of Oprah’s special guests elicited the same frenzied response.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban: crazy screams. Bono (“the interview was boring,” says Drew): more craziness. Gayle taking her seat in the front row next to Aussie restaurateur Curtis Stone: complete madness. Drew says the real gem moments came when the cameras stopped rolling, between breaks. By all accounts, Miss O is wickedly funny.

“There was fun banter between Nicole and Oprah, as they talked about their love for online Scrabble. Oprah’s score is 403, but Nicole revealed she couldn’t imagine getting such a high score. They promised to share a game of online Scrabble together against each other soon.

“They talked about whether Sunday Rose would have an Aussie or American accent, and Nicole and Keith declared it would definitely be Australian.”

Another massive highlight was guest Olivia Newton John giving Oprah the original tight black pants she wore in the closing scene of iconic movie Grease. Drew tells how Olivia told Oprah these pants were actually from the 1950s, and worn in a 1970s movie, so would probably fall apart if not handled with care. ONJ gave them to Oprah so she could auction them off for charity, indicating they would easily fetch around $200,000.

The closing finale of the Peter Allen classic “I Still Call Australia Home” sung by all the guests was also a highlight, with the huge Australian flag stretched across the crowd. It was borrowed from the Royal Australian Navy, and all went to plan (Drew was involved in the Sydney Olympics rehearsal of a similar flag-across-the-crowd stunt, but that time, the flag was ripped by the crowd. Oops).

All in all, Drew says the atmosphere was electric, the crowd was on a constant high, and it was a truly amazing experience. No doubt the televised shows will rate brilliantly. We love you Oprah, our newly crowned official Australian ambassador.

(Huge thanks to Big Australia for these fantastic photos from the Sydney Opera House Oprah shows.)

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