THE FINAL EPISODE of Oprah Winfrey’s famous talk show has aired in the US, 25 years after the influential presenter’s show first aired.
Although this last episode focused on Oprah thanking her millions of viewers, a penultimate episode featured a range of celebrities including Tom Cruise, Stevie Wonder and Madonna to bid her farewell.
“Twenty-five years and I’m still saying, ‘Thank you America,’” Winfrey addressed the audience to her final show. “Thank you so much. There are no words to match this moment.”
Over the years, Oprah’s show has been the source of a number of controversies; here is a small selection of the biggest:
1. Oprah and James Frey: January 2006
After Oprah helped propel James Frey’s book A Million Little Pieces to the best-selling charts by including it in her book club, it emerged that the supposed-autobiography was in fact much more fiction than fact.
Oprah then invited Frey onto the show and took him down several pegs for, as she put it, betraying millions of readers. Oprah also brought his editor Nan Talese onto the show to ask her why the book was classified as a memoir, when it really wasn’t. Oprah and Frey appear to have patched things up, though. He recently came back on the show to discuss how that earlier appearance had impacted on him.
2. Oprah v Texan meat industry: April 1996
Oprah was sued by Texas cattle farmers after her comments on a show in April 1996 that mad cow disease concerns had put her off eating burgers. Winfrey’s comments were thought to have seriously influenced her viewers to turn away from eating beef, in turn causing beef sales to drop. The jury found Winfrey was not liable for damages.
3. Oprah v Jonathan Franzen: September 2011
When American author Jonathan Franzen expressed his unease over the selection of his book The Corrections for Oprah’s book club in 2001, the talk show host retracted her invitation for him to appear on the show and discuss the novel. Franzen later backtracked somewhat on his earlier comments, in which he had suggested being picked by Oprah would put men off reading his book, and thanked her for her enthusiasm for the book.
Franzen more recently refrained from commenting about the end of her TV show, telling New York magazine: “I know better about that at this point”.
Although not particularly controversial, one of the most memorable moments that emerged in recent years was when Australian actor Hugh Jackman received a smack in the face while attempting to drop in to the show:
- Additional reporting by the AP