The Judds

While senior producer Jack is working on a return to Williamson, producer Leslie is planning a show featuring country superstars Wynonna and Naomi Judd. "The Judds have been on 17 times in 25 years. Love the Judds," Oprah says. "They're still growing into the best of themselves and they're willing to allow that to be seen on television and that's what makes them interesting."

Look back at all of the Judds' appearances

As the most junior producer, Leslie feels pressure to make her first show of the final season the best she can. "This one's got to be great because it's going to set the tone for me for the rest of the season," she says. "I want to show Oprah I can knock this one out of the park."
The Judds rehearse Oprah's surprise

As their unique family dynamics take center stage backstage, Leslie enlists the Judds’ help to secretly plot a big surprise for Oprah. The Judds will sing Oprah's favorite Judd song, "Love Can Build a Bridge," while a montage of moving Oprah Show moments plays in the background.

At rehearsal, Leslie preps the Judds for the surprise. The rehearsal goes smoothly, but Leslie is still aware that she's taking a big risk by trying to surprise Oprah on the show. "Oprah doesn't like surprises. The gamble of doing something like that is that she's not going to react," she says. "But I'm going to go for it anyway."
Pre-show meeting with Oprah

In her pre-show meeting with Oprah moments before taping, Leslie is forced to admit that the song selection is a surprise. "I don't like being surprised," Oprah says. "It doesn't make me feel excited. It makes me feel anxious and worried."

The show goes on—and Oprah has an aha! moment during the taping when the Judds discuss how they've changed their communication with one another.

Watch as Naomi and Wynonna explain their new communication style

See what Oprah said to the Judds after the show
Control room

When the show's nailbiting performance arrives, Oprah is moved to tears. "As far as I'm concerned, the surprise was a success," Leslie says.

Watch the performance.

Oprah's office

After the taping, Oprah calls Leslie's team to her office to discuss the surprise. "I thought it was a sweet moment but too early to be doing that to me," she says. "Love can build a bridge, yes it can. Let it build that bridge around April, May."

Watch their discussion

Still, Oprah says she is grateful for the realization she had during taping. "What's amazing is that it's the 25th season and I can still have an aha! moment," she says.

"Even though Oprah was a little bit upset about us trying to surprise her so early in the season, just getting that one moment where Oprah says I've learned something even after 25 years is what you want as a producer."

Follow senior producer Jack's return to Williamson, West Virginia


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