Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oprah's OWN Launch Party: What We Missed!

This post is from guest blogger and journalist, Darlene Donloe. She graciously gave me the inside scoop on Oprah's recent OWN launch party which she attended. It's a perfect and humorous example of how we really live and work in Hollywood and what we think as we're doing it!

The Start of the Day: Television Critic Association

There's something about Oprah Winfrey that, admittedly, makes even a sophisticated, seasoned entertainment journalist like myself, a little gitty at the thought of interviewing her.

The queen of all-media was at TCA (Television Critics Association) in Pasadena recently to talk about the launching of OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network).

During the conference Oprah, dressed in various hues of purple waxed philosophical and spiritual at a press conference filled with hundreds of television writers eager to put the shoe on the other foot and interview the queen of talk . After witnessing Lady O take up to 18 minutes to answer one question, it was clear why she has her own talk show. That woman can talk. And talk. And talk some more. I never got a chance to ask her a question. Bummer! Now I wasn't going to be able to tell my mama I interviewed Oprah. Dayum!

The OWN Launch Party: Got Your OWN ID?

Later that night Oprah hosted a lavish dinner party under a behemoth white tent erected on the lawn in the Horseshoe Garden at the Langham Hotel. To get into the party you had to show your TCA registration ID and then obtain your OWN separate ID.

Before descending down the stairs, you had to have your OWN ID visible as you passed a security checkpoint. At the bottom of the stairs there were tall, glowing orange, green and purple OWN letters mounted on the lawn. Various guests including myself took pictures in front of and around the letters W as evidence we were at an Oprah Winfrey party. I realized at that moment this may be the only time in my life I'll actually be invited to an Oprah Winfrey party. I was going to have stupid fun.

I must admit, I had been waiting all day for something BIG to happen. I just knew Oprah was going to give us all something so fabulous that we'd be bragging about it for weeks to our jealous friends and family. After all, networks were known for giving backpacks, shirts, caps, cups, etc. to promote their shows.

But, this is OPRAH!!! You know she's going to go BIG!!! Alas, all we got was a journal and a pen with the OWN logo. Ok, I'm grateful.

Where is the OWN-er?

Once inside the tent decorated in white with pillows bearing the letters O, W and N - the music was pumping , and, of course, there were television screens promoting OWN. There was a candy station and several bars and food stations strategically placed around the room. There was also a steady stream of waiters walking around with everything from pasta, to chicken satay, to some kind of seafood concoction that didn't sit well in my mouth. The food , sans that seafood sumthin was good. The bubbly flowed freely and everyone seemed to be having a good time. But, there was something missing.

Oprah wasn't there yet. Plus, there wasn't a goodie bag anywhere in sight. Dayum! Every so often people would gaze at the entrance waiting for Winfrey to make an appearance.

About 20 minutes after I arrived, one by one the celebs lucky enough to get shows on OWN began to make there way through the door. There was, however, a Lady O sighting. She was still holding court with the media on the red carpet. It would be at least an hour before she would finally make her way to the tent.

God Blessed The Child Who Got Their OWN Shows

First celeb through the door was Oprah's BFF, Gayle King, dressed in a flattering, form fitting gray dress with sparkles. King's radio show (The Gayle King Show) is now on television. Gayle waltzed through the tent smiling and saying "hello" as she made her way to an area where some friends were waiting.

Next up was Lisa Ling with her fine husband on her arm. Her new show is called "Our Amerca with Lisa Ling." It looks like a good one. Ling always does a good job reporting. Nancy O'Dell and Carson Kressley who co-host , "Your OWN Show: Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star," were in good spirits often laughing openly and loudly. Well, hell, I would too if I had a show on OWN.

Financial wiz, Suze Orman greeted some fans, but stayed close to the front entrance as if she was anticipating having to make a quick exit.

Mike Tyson seemed to be having a ball. He had been at TCA to promote his upcoming show, "Taking on Tyson", scheduled to premiere this March. With a small entourage, Tyson held court in the back of the tent taking lots of pics with adoring fans. Tyson enjoyed himself so much, he was one of the last people to leave the party.

Oh, I guess to know that, I would also have to be one of the last ones to leave. Guilty as charged!

OWN Personified Arrives !

Finally, the moment had arrived. Oprah, dressed in a black coat and hair pulled back in a ponytail had finally made it to her OWN party. She was quickly descended upon by a second wave of reporters who seemed fascinated to be in her presence. She stood patiently answering one question after the other.

I tried on several attempts to get a question in edgewise only to be shouted down by the more boisterous reporters. And, just when I was about to give up, I saw my chance.

"Oprah," I said in a mild voice. "What's the most important lesson you've learned from the time you got in the business until now." She turned and looked me dead in the eyes. That was one thing I learned about Lady O, when you ask her a question, she's very attentive. It's like it's only the two of you in the room. She gives you her full attention and looks you dead in the eye.

After about 30 minutes of talking to reporters, Oprah finally got a chance to greet some of her other guests. She smiled, sipped a drink and waxed lyrical for about 15 minutes before making her way to a golf cart that whisked her away.

And, poof, just like that, she was gone.

I watched as the golf cart got smaller. I reflected on the fact that I had attended an Oprah party and interviewed her briefly. The gitty-ness was gone. It had been a long day.

Besides, it was getting late. I had to go call my mama and tell her I interviewed Oprah!

Images: wireimage.com

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