Winfrey talks about Tom Cruise's sofa-jumping and Roger Ebert's advice

By Stephen M. Silverman
November 15, 2005 08:20 AM

Writing in her journal some eight hours before her local Chicago TV show was to go national, Oprah Winfrey said, “I keep wondering how my life will change or will it change.”

It changed. On Monday, the media mogul and national institution marked the 20th anniversary of The Oprah Winfrey Show, filling the hour with memories, special guests such as Sidney Poitier and, of course, video clips – some showing her not to her best advantage as far as clothing and hairdos were concerned.

“For me, good taste was a long time coming,” Oprah, 51, admitted.

Interestingly, Winfrey also revealed, it was on a date with fellow Chicagoan Roger Ebert – the two went to the movies – that the idea was hatched, by the film critic, for Winfrey to syndicate her local program, something he’d done with his movie-review show.

Winfrey said her most difficult interview took place in 1988, with a surprisingly monosyllabic Elizabeth Taylor – although she did call Oprah a “cheeky bugger.” Taylor later apologized for her behavior, citing back and hip problems, said Winfrey.

Oprah also said that she was so happy to have lost 67 pounds that when that particular episode was over she went out and celebrated, immediately putting back on five pounds.

And how could she overlook last summer’s sofa-jumping champ, Tom Cruise, declaring his love for Katie Holmes on her show? “I was just as surprised as the rest of you,” Oprah told her TV audience.

It also looks like 20 years on TV is just the beginning for the ever-expanding Oprah empire. On last Friday’s show, she promoted the new Broadway musical version of The Color Purple, having just joined the show as a producer.

Since the Purple segment of her TV show aired, single ticket sales of the stage production have topped $1 million, with another $750,000-$1 million coming in thanks to group-ticket sales, reports Variety.