Senior supervising producer Jill and senior producer Terry not only plan to welcome Phil Donahue to share Oprah's stage. In the first reunion of its kind, the team has also invited four other legendary talk show hosts—Ricki Lake, Geraldo Rivera, Montel Williams and Sally Jesse Raphael.
The show is especially exciting for Harpo staffers—especially Jill, who worked at The Sally Jesse Raphael Show and Maury before coming to Harpo 15 years ago. "Oprah always says there would be no Oprah without Phil Donahue. He paved the way," Jill says. "If we take it further, if there was no Phil Donahue, there would be no me and Terry."
During the pre-show meeting, Jill tells Oprah every host is thrilled to be part of the show. "I am aware of the competition so I remember Sally Jesse was on when I started, so that was formidable competition," Oprah says. "I remember thinking, 'Okay, you gotta step up your game.' And the way you step up your game is never to try to do what anybody else is doing, but you intensify whatever it is you're doing. Become more of yourself."
Oprah tells Jill she wants to have a deeper discussion about daytime talk before—and after—Phil Donahue. "Until Phil Donahue, we all thought the [Leave It to Beaver] image of America was what everybody else was living," Oprah says. "It was all entertainment, light and breezy, nobody would ever dare the thought of crying."