Every Living Celebrity Pays Tribute to Oprah Winfrey

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John Gress/Reuters

Oprah Winfrey is kissed by singer Usher (3rd L) next to actor Will Smith (C), former NBA basketball player Michael Jordan (3rd R), actor Tom Cruise (2nd R), talkshow host Rosie O'Donnell (R), and Simon Cowell (L) during the taping of "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular"

Taking a leaf out of the James Frey fabrication book, that headline may not strictly speaking be true but, as we’ve said a million times before, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of exaggeration.

During a teary eyed, farewell double-episode taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show that will precede her actual finale, some of the world’s biggest names strode forward to declare their love for Oprah. A crowd of 13,000 took to Chicago’s United Center Tuesday night for “Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular” (it can’t have been that much of a surprise then) and surely got more than they bargained for as a plethora of luminous talent showed up.

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You want highlights, how about this: Aretha Franklin sang “Amazing Grace,” Tom Hanks was the MC for the night, former Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan told Oprah that she inspires him, Tom Cruise was there, Jerry Seinfeld gave a stand up routine (in his tuxedo, natch) and Madonna declared that she’s just one of the millions of people (like Michael Jordan) who are inspired by Winfrey. Usually at this point in the paragraph, NewsFeed makes a snarky comment but, truly, even we are defeated.

And so was Oprah. “Thank you is not enough, but thank you,” she said. “For your love and your support, thank you.” Tuesday’s taping will air May 23 and 24, before her final show on May 25. And we’re nowhere near done with the tributes. Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder sang “Isn’t She Lovely,” Josh Groban and Patti LaBelle sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Rosie O’Donnell sang too and Simon Cowell was also there.

Oprah’s charity work was showcased and the celebs took care to remind us of her importance. “She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular,” Madonna said. “You always had the power, and that is the message you brought into our lives,” said Cruise, thankfully not jumping on the couch. Even Maria Shriver rocked up on the same day it was revealed that her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, had fathered a child with a woman on his household staff over a decade ago (it wasn’t discussed). “You have given me love, support, wisdom and most of all the truth,” Shriver told Winfrey.

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, as well as Beyonce, Halle Berry, Queen Latifah, Katie Holmes, Dakota Fanning, and Diane Sawyer, all appeared. And Aretha Franklin returned to the stage to join Usher for the show’s final song, “Oh Happy Day,” as sparkly confetti filled the arena.

Could this possibly be topped? The content of the final ever episode is still under wraps. But we hear that God has been booked, while Jimmy Hoffa will show up for a cameo, with Elvis providing the musical entertainment. Sure, we’re getting all “James Frey” again, but this is Oprah Winfrey. Anything is possible. (via AP)