Julie Kemp Pick
When my oldest son was in first grade, a friend of mine asked me to get a group of children together to shoot a promo for an upcoming episode. After I happily agreed, one of the producer's called me to make the arrangements. She originally wanted to film in a park since we were enjoying beautiful spring weather; however, I was able to persuade her to bring the camera crew to my backyard instead. We had a swing set in a wooded setting, so I was thrilled when she accepted my offer. Suddenly, I felt like I was calling the shots for Oprah's crew, and the next step was to arrange the casting.
I immediately called my closest friends who had kids around the same age, as well as a few neighbors. My son also asked his best friend and his sister to join the group. We had to work fast, as they were planning a special show with Hillary Clinton involving school reform, and they wanted to feature young school age children in short commercials leading up to her appearance.
The next day the crew arrived at my house to shoot the footage. I had gathered about six kids together, and more followed when they saw the van pull in. My 4 year old ran around with the big kids, while I sat back with the other stage mothers. The end result was a scene with two children playing on the swing set, with a close up of a little girl with dark curls, and another close up of my son looking very serious, climbing a tree. The voice over announced the details of President Clinton's wife's visit, "On the next Oprah" while the beautiful black & white footage of the kids appeared in the blink of an eye.
The following fall, our group was called back for a special opening to launch Oprah's 10th anniversary season. More kids were added to the mix, so we headed to a lovely park in the city. There were over 100 participants there, hence they began to narrow down the list. That summer my son had lost a few teeth, and his brown hair had bleached out a bit from the sun. Since his appearance had changed slightly, I wasn't sure if he would make the cut. His little brother came along for the ride, so I brought two potential "stars" with me.
Fortunately, my older son was asked to stay, as well as my neighbor's daughter who drove down with us. Before filming began, the children were sent over to a hair and make-up trailer. While they were primping on other's windblown tresses, they took one look at my boy's perfectly coiffed mane, and sent us on our way.
The special 10th anniversary opening montage with Oprah, surrounded by children, as well as other memorable scenes throughout the years, aired for only one episode. I never was able to find out why they decided to go with something else instead. Afterward, I offered to buy my boy a special toy to celebrate his first job, not to mention his exemplary behavior, and all he wanted was a sword.
I'm so grateful to my friend for making both experiences possible, beginning almost 15 years ago to the day. She was also kind enough to send me videos, which I'll convert onto DVDs with a combined running time of less than 5 minutes, but worth a lifetime of memories. With Miss Winfrey's departure from daytime TV, I'm saddened by the end of an era. If only I had the foresight, to take better care of our souvenir Oprah t-shirts.