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Kristin, left; Lori, right at Oprah's studio doors.

Kristin and Lori go to the Oprah show!
by Lori Chap
Maple Grove, MN

I will forewarn all readers that the following account will no doubt make you either laugh or roll your eyes, as my friend and I were no doubt a little giddy (aka geeky) regarding our experience.

Wednesday, November 2nd
I receive an email from Brian Nordling advising me to call Kristin on her cell phone because she has some very interesting news for me. (She's in Utah at the airport, about to return from a business trip.) I, of course, call immediately and am elated by the news that Kristin has been chosen for last minute reservations for the Oprah show and is inviting me to be her guest! Though I do not think Kristin's mom was pleased to hear this.

I book our flight ASAP and get us a really good deal and Kristin books our hotel through her AAA discount, also landing us posh accommodations at a discount. We were off to a good start! The only information we have about the show at this point is that the show has something do to with the Broadway version of The Color Purple and we were told not to wear white, beige or off-white clothing to the show.

7:45 a.m., Monday, November 7th
Kristin calls me at work to talk about the show and says she hopes to leave work around 4:30 p.m. to pick me up to head to the airport for our 6:55 p.m. flight.

8:22 a.m. 10:47 a.m. Monday, November 7th
I email Kristin that I have checked us in for our flight via the ATA website and printed off our boarding passes. We email back and forth about her picking me up on the way to the airport and our excitement for the trip.

10:48 a.m. 1:00 p.m. Monday, November 7th
I actually do some work.

2:30 p.m. Monday, November 7th
Kristin calls to tell me that she's going to try to leave work around 3:30 or 4 p.m. and will pick me up after a quick trip to the bank. We'll have some time to kill at the airport, but we decide we can do some shopping and eat dinner there.

3:00 p.m. Monday, November 7th
Kristin calls to tell me that she's leaving work, as she can no longer concentrate -- so should we try to catch the earlier flight at 4:55 p.m.?

By 3:40 I am seated in Kristin's car and we are on our way to the airport. By 4:30 we have changed our itinerary and are seated on the plane for the earlier flight and headed to Chicago!

We arrive to warm temperatures and plenty of time to check into the Hyatt and enjoy a late dinner. We decide to ask the concierge for a restaurant recommendation and are not disappointed by our meal at Phil Stefani's 437 Rush. After much debate, we decide on the Chateaubriand for Two with roasted vegetables and a wonderful assortment of bread. Superb! Then back to the hotel to retire for the evening, as tomorrow would be a big day!

Lori and Kristin, breakfast at the Hyatt

The next day we awake early and eat a fancily prepared breakfast at our hotel and then catch a cab to the show (with only a brief stop at the Opera house as the cab driver didn't understand our instructions! This being our only glitch in the trip, I'd say we fared well.) We are in line and taking the pictures that I have included outside Harpo Studios around 7 a.m. Some waiting in line, checking-in (coats, cell phones, cameras, reservations), and more waiting in a sitting area on a second level in the studios -- and then the moment arrives.

Our ticket numbers are called and we are lined up to enter the studio, with instructions that seats are first-come, first-serve. We are a little nervous about this, as we'd like to get good seats, but soon find out that there's not really a bad seat in the house -- only better seats. The best seats, of course, being up front and center, were given away earlier (not sure how this was decided) and also to those few lucky people that the production crew hand picked.

This was an interesting process to observe. Apparently a pretty face, good hair, make-up and sparkly jeans can land you in these choice seats. Kristin and I, being conservative Minnesota girls, were none-the-less resigned with sitting with all the rest of the regular folk. This in no way dampened our spirits, though!

Lori, left; Kristin, right, in queue at the studio.

The next two hours (from approximately 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.) went way too fast. Seeing the set was amazing, as was watching the filming process. We got to see a few big names: Oprah (of course), her best friend Gale (she's become famous by association), Beyoncé Knowles (a singer previously part of a group called Destiny's Child), her mother and father, some really skinny models (including two of the girls who were formerly part of Destiny's Child), Quincy Jones (and his beautiful girlfriend) and the complete cast of the Broadway version of The Color Purple.

Beyoncé and her mother, Tina, were presenting their new clothing line (named after Beyoncé's grandmother) and we saw a few different previews of The Color Purple, which were amazing. The show was fun! I think my favorite part was the after show taping, as Oprah told stories and joked with the audience; it was informal and interesting. The production crew for the show was fabulous, explaining the process thoroughly (what to do vs. what not to do during a TV show taping) and joked with the audience and got us pumped up. As I said, it went too fast!

After the show, we were filed out of the studio, given our coats and check-in items and also some very FABULOUS gifts! Beyoncé gave us each a shopping bag filled with the following: much too small jeans, two T-shirts, a hat, Tommy Hilfiger Perfume (a full sized bottle), a CD, a book and handwritten "Thank You" and autograph. From Oprah, we received a copy of her latest magazine edition, the book The Color Purple and a CD from the Broadway version's soundtrack.

We next dropped off our goodies at our hotel, packed up and then had some time before we had to leave for the airport, so we walked a few blocks to downtown Chicago for some window shopping and lunch at O'Neil's for one of their famous burgers.

Our whirlwind adventure brought us back to Minneapolis just before 6 o'clock Tuesday evening, making the time-line of this trip only 25 hours! A completely fun-filled 25 hours.

To Kristin: Thank You again for inviting me! I had such a great time and it was even better to share it with a great friend like you!

P.S. The show aired last Friday, November 11th. Unfortunately, Kristin and I could be seen (with a magnifying glass) only very briefly, twice. I guess our official TV debut will have to be another time.

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