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On Oprah's first episode of the season, 'head-spinning' surprise

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, September 14, 2010; C01

Oprah promised on Monday that the kickoff of her last season as Queen of Daytime would include "two of the most heart-pounding, head-spinning surprises of all time."

No, she did not announce that cable TV's Oprah Winfrey Network co-venture with Discovery was all just a bad dream and that she would not be quitting her talk show after all at the end of this, its 25th season, to focus on that new network and would instead continue her reign over the daytime kingdom.

Instead, Oprah announced, on The First Episode of Her Final Season, that she would take the entire, 300-strong, studio audience of carefully picked "Oprah" superfans to Sydney for an eight-day visit in December.

(WATCH VIDEO: Oprah's Australia conniption fit)

Did she make this confetti-dropping announcement to make sure she gets a warm studio welcome when she tapes a couple of episodes Down Under for this, her last season, before turning all her attention to her cable network co-venture with Discovery?

We're also not sure about the other heart-pounding, head-spinning surprise. It might have been John Travolta coming out onstage at the top of the show, which had the Oprah Uber Fans on their feet, screaming and gasping and clasping their hands to their mouths and chests. Travolta, Oprah explained, was voted the show's all-time favorite guest -- he has put in 11 appearances over the years.

"If I may be so bold as to speak for the public, speak for the world, Oprah, there's only one of you and there will never be another," Travolta gushed.

"Oh, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny!" Oprah emoted.

(Travolta, Oprah told her audience, is a pilot with Qantas, which is among the sponsors footing the bill for the Sydney trip.)

The other surprise might have been the six fans from Boston who were sent by Oprah's BFF Gayle King on a road trip to Chicago to attend the season debut, but were "tricked" into driving right onto the stage after being told the debut would happen the next day.

"This isn't what I was going to wear!" wailed one of the Boston Oprah diehards.

We're pretty sure it wasn't Don Johnson's walk-on, which allegedly came as a surprise to Oprah, while she was reminding her fans how she failed to land the now-semi-washed-up, then-very-hot "Miami Vice" star as a guest on the first episode of her show.

"No, they didn't! No, they, no, no, no, no! Didn't! No, they didn't!" Oprah screeched about her staff pulling a fast one.

"Oh, no! No! No!" she added for good measure.

And if it reminded Johnson how far he'd fallen relative to how far she'd climbed, so much the better.

On the other hand, the second surprise might have been what Oprah's staff had prepared for Monday's Very Last Season Debut, in which Paul Simon came out onstage to play an updated version of a song that, the audience was told, he wrote for Oprah 15 years ago for her 10th anniversary show.

It was definitely a heart-pounding, head-spinning surprise to us that Simon was in a place, 15 years ago, in which he thought writing ditties for Oprah's syndicated talk show was a good career move. Oprah wept as Simon's sang to her:

If you look into your future life,

decades from this question,

do you imagine a familiar light burning in the distance,

the love that never dies?

Twenty five years have come and gone,

and that story's still unfolding,

suitcase packed, you're moving on,

with the memories you're holding,

and you'll be home when you arrive.

25.

VMA's big number

About 11.4 million people tuned in to the Video Music Awards on Sunday night in hopes of seeing Kanye West and Taylor Swift kiss and make up.

Seriously. And that makes it the third biggest audience in MTV history.

Instead of locking lips, however, Kanye and Taylor exchanged tunes about each other and zzzzzzzzzz . . .

In his Ode to Taylor but Not Really, Kanye both flogged and praised himself for his behavior at the 2009 trophy show.

Last year, you'll remember, when Swift won the VMA for best female video, Kanye cut off the teen singer, grabbing the microphone from her and protesting that Beyoncé should have won. And a new phrase was born: "She got Kanye'd."

"You've been putting up with my [expletive] way too long," Kanye rapped one year later, according to The Washington Post.

Then, the refrain: "Let's have a toast for the [expletive]!"

Bet you're sorry you missed the show now!

When Swift got her turn at bat on Sunday, she sang drearily, referring to Kanye, "32 is still growing up."

Oh, snap!

Oh, and Lady Gaga, who at one point was wearing a "meat" outfit that had PETA's cami-knickers in a bunch, took home a record eight VMAs, including Video of the Year, Best Pop Video and Best Female Video. And Justin Bieber and His Hair won the viewers' choice for Best New Artist.

Sunday's VMAs were not the most watched in the show's history. In 2002, 11.9 million viewers watched as Britney Spears introduced Michael Jackson, by way of presenting him with a birthday cake, only in her intro she said he was the Artist of the Millennium and Jackson proceeded to give an acceptance speech for being named Artist of the Millennium.

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