September 13th, 2010
05:44 PM ET
For the beginning of the end – or, as Oprah Winfrey’s team has phrased it, the premiere of the farewell season – the Queen of Daytime TV rounded up 300 of her “ultimate” viewers to join her in the audience and reminisce about the days gone by, watch as she surprised some hard-core "Oprah" fans – and get free stuff, of course.
“I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life the emails and letters you’ve sent,” Winfrey told the audience at the start of the show, many of whom still had tears in their eyes from flipping out when the 56-year-old host first walked out onto the set. “Some of you I know have grown up with me, you’ve raised your children with me, and you all have been on this wild, wild ride with me and I have deep, deep heartfelt gratitude to you all.”
And what better way to show gratitude than with an 8-day all-expenses paid excursion to Australia? With John Travolta playing the part of the pilot, no less.
Travolta actually made an appearance early on in the show – since he had the esteemed position of being one of Winfrey's favorite guests – but he reappeared wearing his pilot's uniform after Winfrey announced that all 300 audience members were going to get to shop till they drop in Melbourne and take in the grandeur at the Sydney Opera House.
“We're going to Australia!” Winfrey repeated as Australian flags were handed out, confetti rained down and the audience members did everything humanly possible to express extreme excitement.
Aside from the trip Down Under, Winfrey celebrated the start of her farewell season with a serenade from Paul Simon and a visit from actor Don Johnson, who finally returned a pair of rhinestone sunglasses she once sent to him in 1986 in attempts to lure him onto her first episode that aired nationally.
“The pressure was on for us to get a really big celebrity,” she explained. “After deliberating for some time with my staff and bribing Don Johnson... we decided to do what we do best, a show about and with everyday people. But doing a show about everyday people was the right call and it still is 25 years later.”
Click here to watch Winfrey surprise her audience members with the trip.
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