The Oprah Winfrey Show ran for 25 glorious seasons and has become a landmark in day-time television history. Without Oprah, the landscape of talk-show television would be incredibly different. Many of the current show hosts like Ellen DeGeneres and Wendy Williams have piloted their careers based on Oprah's example. While her show ended in 2011, its legend continues to live on in her many legions of fans.
Over the years, her show produced some of the most talked-about moments in television history. While fans are able to relive those moments through archived video, some lucky fans got to see them in person. Oprah was filmed in front of a live studio audience, so fans got to be present for these historical moments. Those times may be gone now, but those fans will have those memories forever. The only question is - what was it like attending a taping of Oprah?
While those fans in attendance may not have heard her say "You get a car!," they were in for an experience like no other. However, as fans have revealed years later there is much more to attending a show than meets the eye.
Here are 20 Rules Oprah Audience Members Must Follow:
19 Oprah Does Not Accept Gifts
While audience members would have loved to provide gifts to everyone's favorite talk show host, she is not about to accept them. Perhaps due to the many fans who would try, or because it is a security risk, no gifts are accepted by audience members.
While Oprah is certainly grateful for the adulation she receives from her fans, she is not about to accept a gift from each of them. Given the number of people who attended tapings of her show each week, the sheer amount of gifts would have been too much. Especially if there was an expectation of receiving a response back. Perhaps it was better that she just allowed fans to shower her with applause instead of cards and presents.
18 Be Prepared To Be Patted Down
Given how important The Oprah Winfrey Show was to fans during its run, people looked forward to watching it each day. Since it aired mostly in an era before social media was prevalent, there were very few spoilers available about the pre-taped events. This meant that any leaks about the tapings would have to come from the audience. In order to curb this from happening, there was no personal recording equipment allowed in the studio.
How did Oprah ensure this? Each audience member would be patted down or searched prior to entering the studio, including a thorough search of purses. In fact, fans were even suggested to bring smaller purses than normal to make the search easier. Considering some of the exciting moments that occurred on the show, no one wanted it leaked out in advance.
17 Can Only Attend One Show Per Season
The Oprah Winfrey Show was watched by millions of viewers each day. With legions of dedicated fans, they would hope that they would have the opportunity to see the show live one day. Fans were even known to travel from all parts of the country just to watch the show in studio.
In order to make viewership the most equitable, Oprah dictated that fans would only be able to attend one show live per season. Considering that Chicago residents have direct access to Harpo Studios, they would be more likely to attend shows. By instituting this rule, it opened up more opportunity to have fresh faces in the audience throughout the season. For those fans that traveled far to attend a taping, they certainly appreciated it!
16 Could Be Handpicked To Attend
The ability to apply for a ticket to attend an Oprah show made everything fair for fans. It allowed everyday people to attend what could be a life-changing event. However, Oprah producers were also sneaky in who they would invite to certain tapings.
When fans would submit their application for tickets, the questions they were asked could sometimes place them in contention for certain tapings. For instance, the fans involved in the 2004 car giveaway were asked questions about their current transportation methods. Oprah always wanted to ensure that things were given to those in need, so fans were often handpicked to attend certain shows.
15 Seats Could Be Moved Around
The production of the highest-rated talk show is certainly no easy feat. To ensure that the standards of the Oprah show are upheld at all times, production managers take every little detail into consideration. Including where individual audience members were sitting.
By different fan accounts, their assigned seats were done by members of the production team. In order to balance out the room by gender and even shirt color, many fans in attendance may be asked to change into different seats to make the audience look their best on camera. Some audience seats are visible on camera more often than others, so production needs to ensure that they are filled with people reacting appropriately to the show. Don't be caught off-guard if fans are asked to move!
14 Must Be Adults To Attend
Given the nature of some of the content which Oprah would speak about on her show, perhaps it was better left attended by only adults. With mature themes of race, gender-bias, and celebrity personal relationships being so openly discussed, it is best that children were not in attendance.
The content of Oprah's show was often very highly charged and something that adults preferred to watch without children present. In fact, Oprah came under fire several times for discussing things which parents found inappropriate for children. In order to curb these negative feelings from her live audience, those under 18 years old are not allowed in attendance.
13 Dress Code In Effect
The Oprah Winfrey Show remained the highest-rated daytime talk show for most of its run. It was widely considered to be a very classy affair on television, and something millions of viewers tuned in to each day. In order to keep everyone's eyes on Oprah and not the audience, fans were expected to adhere to a specific dress code.
While fans were instructed to dress nicely since they would be featured on television, there were other rules they were given as well. In order to not distract the viewing audience during the taping, fans were asked to refrain from wearing bright colors. Audience members were also asked not to wear coats into the studio, as the movement of the fabric could be caught my nearby microphones. If someone is heading to see Oprah, they should be dressing their best!
12 No Food Available Before The Show
It seems that Oprah wanted to ensure that none of her audience members had chocolate on their face when they entered the studio. Despite filming multiple shows in a day at times, there are no confectionary items located in her studio.
While other taped shows may have coffee and light refreshments available to enjoy before the taping, Harpo Studios did not have this available. Audience members were encouraged to eat prior to attending a taping instead. Perhaps this was a strategy to ensure that fans were able to give their full attention to the show and its guests. Or perhaps Oprah was just trying to ensure that no one got mustard or coffee on their shirts while in the studio.
11 No Eating In The Audience
There are few things less attractive then watching someone eat food, particularly if they chew with their mouth open. Now imagine if that person was visible on television for millions of people to see? That is not exactly what Oprah had in mind.
To ensure that her audience members were not caught with their mouths wide open on national television, no eating was allowed in the audience. Banning food in the studio also ensured that loud chewing or opening of wrappers was not caught on camera. Imagine if the infamous Tom Cruise interview was interrupted by someone opening up a sandwich wrapper?
10 Prepare For A Show To Be Cancelled
The Oprah Winfrey Show was like clockwork - fans could expect it to be on each day. Very rarely would a new episode of the show not be on the air, which meant audience members would book their trips months in advance in order to attend a taping. However, not every show that is taped makes it to air.
Following the taping of a show focusing on the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, Oprah made the decision to not air the episode. After determining that the episode focused too much on the shooters, she did not allow it to make it to air. The only ones who got to see the episode were the audience members in attendance, but they did not get to see it on their television screens.
9 Not Allowed To Leave Early
Watching an episode of Oprah at home is a much different experience than witnessing it live. While the television episode is cut down to 50 minutes, television tapings take much longer. In order to capture everything possible, show tapings require more footage. In addition, Oprah would also tape upwards of two shows a day in the studio.
Studio audience members better not plan anything for the middle of the day because they are not allowed to leave half-way through. As ticketing information states, they cannot have empty seats shown on television! Fans should expect to remain for the duration of the taping and not plan to leave early. All the time they booked with Oprah is theirs!
8 Be Prepared For Oprah To Stop The Show
Producing a highly-charged, emotional show must have been very difficult for Oprah to do for so long. Oprah was well known for tackling topics which were not regularly discussed on day-time television, which can be very emotionally taxing. While she always maintained a professional composure on camera, even she knew when it was time for a break.
During a particularly emotional episode featuring Truddi Chase - a woman with 92 different personalities - Oprah needed to call her taping short. Truddi's story brought up some unfortunate memories for Oprah herself, and she needed to relieve herself from the interview. Once she regained her composure, she continued the interview. It just goes to show that even the best sometimes need a minute to gather their thoughts.
7 Share Your Own Story
The Oprah Winfrey Show prided itself on telling the best stories possible. Sometimes those stories were from celebrities, but they were often from "everyday people." In order to find those stories, Oprah used her ticketing mechanism to have her fans tell her their own life story.
When trying to find tickets for Oprah, fans were encouraged to share their own stories via e-mail or her website. This way if there were any interesting stories from fans of the show, producers would have them all in one package. Fans who submitted their stories this way even had a chance to make it on to the show as a guest themselves. Sharing is caring, and could even lead to making it on to television!
6 Be Prepared To Wait For Your Tickets
Tickets to attend one of the highest-rated shows of all time do not come easy. They do not come very quickly either - fans needed to be prepared to wait for their chance to see Oprah. Lifelong fans who have always wanted a chance to view the show live need to plan far in advance to get their shot.
Booking tickets to the show needed to be done at least a month in advance. Shows would be scheduled a month out, and once announced on the website fans can apply for tickets. Since tickets were given out on a lottery basis, it was never guaranteed. This means that fans may have to wait months (or even years) to finally get chosen to see the show. Thankfully Oprah gave her fans over twenty years of opportunities!
5 "Favorite Things" Episodes Nearly Impossible To Attend
While landing a spot on a regular episode of Oprah would be a dream come true for most people, others wanted to hold out for some of her special episodes. None of her episodes were more special than Oprah's Favorite Things. Only taking place a few times a season, the Favorite Things were fan-favorite episodes. Oprah would bring out products that she considered to be the best - such as books and products - and would give them out to her live audience.
While both seeing Oprah and receiving free things would certainly top many people's bucket lists, they shouldn't have held their breath. Favorite Things episodes were nearly impossible to get tickets for, with most fans requesting those as their preferred episode to attend. If someone got to attend one in their lifetime, they should consider themselves very lucky.
4 Cheer If You Get A Gift
For fans watching at home, they would need to live vicariously through those in attendance. If there was excitement in the room, it was expected of those in the audience to show it as much as possible so everyone at home could feel it too. Especially if they had just received a gift!
Oprah was a very generous host who delighted in giving out gifts to her studio audience. Not only were fans encouraged to show their appreciation for their presents, they were expected to. Audience participation was a big part of Oprah, and she wanted everyone at home to feel that excitement too. Making noise at this point in the show was certainly encouraged.
3 Paramedics Are On Standby Just In Case
The experience of attending an Oprah taping can surely be taxing for some. Oprah is widely considered a cultural icon and hero to many people, so being in the same studio as her can be emotionally exhausting for fans. Combine this with her giving away gifts to people, and it can become a very super-charged situation.
During Oprah's biggest giveaways, she arranged to have paramedics on standby to assist her audience members. Just in case someone became very emotional by the situation she wanted to ensure they could be taken care of. Imagine having an obituary read that someone passed away from getting an iPad at an Oprah taping? Thankfully Oprah ensured that this would never happen!
2 Don't Expect A Car
Oprah's infamous car giveaway is widely remembered by fans, and they would always hope they could be in attendance for a monumental gift like that. However, fans should not have been holding their breath to hear that Oprah was giving everyone a car.
Oprah's generosity could only stretch so far, and she was unable to give her entire audience cars as often as she wanted. In fact, it would be another seven years before she could recreate her car giveaway to her audience during her final season. Fans in attendance were likely always hoping that she would gift them something that big, but it shouldn't be expected by most audiences. Instead, they received plenty of nice things and the experience of being at an Oprah event.
1 Come Prepared To Ask Questions During Breaks
The way that Oprah interacted with her audience is what made her a daytime legend. Her audience was always incredibly engaged in the show, which is what made people even more interested to attend. Allegedly, Oprah would take the time to address her audience in between breaks, and even give them the chance to ask her questions.
Fans should have come prepared to potentially speak with their idol during breaks of the taping. Rather than having the audience sit there amongst themselves, she would converse and give them a chance to ask her things. While some fans would be too nervous to address someone like Oprah Winfrey, she may have come calling on them depending on where they were sitting.
Is there anything else that occurred at Oprah Winfrey tapings? Let us know in the comments if you know more!