1986 was a life-changing year for Oprah. Not only did she launch her own talk show, she was also cast in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple—a role that would earn her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.

Oprah says everything in her life changed as a result of The Color Purple. "When I was called by Steven Spielberg to his office at Amblin there were people who were working but they were loving working.  They were working hard.  They were all working on different things," she says. "The whole idea to having your own studio and being your own boss, that all came because of The Color Purple and me being in the presence of Steven Spielberg.  It taught me God can dream a bigger dream than you can dream for yourself. "

Still, her name never made the movie poster. "They told me, 'Rae Dawn Chong is a star. You're not.' I went to Steven Spielberg and said, 'I'm going to be doing this talk show.' And he goes, 'What is that?'" Oprah says. "I said, 'This time next year I think people are going to know my name.' He goes, 'Well, this is now and we're not going to put your name on the poster.'"

Sheri and Oprah


Before the final season even begins taping, executive producer Sheri is hard at work planning a cast reunion with Oprah. "What could be more perfect?" Sheri says. "The 25th anniversary of The Oprah Show coincides with the 25th anniversary of The Color Purple."

With a cast reunion, however, comes addressing the longtime rumors of an alleged feud between Oprah and co-star Whoopi Goldberg. "There's a perception in the public that Whoopi and Oprah are feuding or not speaking or don't get along," Sheri says. "Big booking on this."

Oprah says she's not sure where the story started. "Over the years I'd hear that Whoopi had made a snide comment about me or something," she says. "I tried not to take any of that personally because I wasn't hearing it myself and didn't hear it directly. I just thought, 'I don't know what that is, but I will just sort of keep my distance from it.'"


In October, senior producer Candi finds out she's producing the reunion—on her own. "I am going to be self supervising The Color Purple show. I no longer have [senior supervising producer] Amy as my supervisor, but I'll be reporting directly to Sheri," Candi says. "That means I don't have a safety net anymore."

Watch Candi give her team a pep talk 

Candi meets with the booking team to discuss how the cast is getting to Chicago and learns some members are traveling from as far as Ghana.

But Candi's thrown a real curveball when booking tells her Danny Glover won't be able to make the show. "His publicist told us back in—I want to say August when we first started pursuing the show— that November 5th was cleared," booking director Cindy says. "In the meantime I guess he took a movie, took a job in Vancouver. And now they're saying they can't get him out."

Candi says it's not a reunion without Danny. "It is beyond important to have Danny Glover on the show," she says. "He is The Color Purple. You can't have a 25th reunion of The Color Purple without 'Mister.'"

Sheri and Candi


After working with booking, Candi finds the only way to get Danny to Chicago is by private jet—which will cost $70,000. "We have only flown people private a handful of times in the history of The Oprah Show," she says. "That's most of my show budget."

To make it happen, Candi has to get Sheri's approval. During a budget meeting, Candi breaks the news. "Bottom line is we're doing this show and we need Danny and it's going to cost a lot of money to get him here," Candi says.

Sheri approves Candi's plan. "I don't think you have a reunion show without Danny Glover," Sheri says. "Because it will be such an omission, a glaring omission, that it will impact the show negatively."
Candi, Oprah and Sheri

The day before taping, Candi has her first pre-show meeting with Oprah as a self-supervising producer. When she informs Oprah and Sheri that Whoopi has allowed a rare glimpse into her home, the conversation quickly turns to how Oprah will handle the topic of their rumored feud.

See what Oprah has to say

During their meeting, Oprah reveals that she and Whoopi had privately resolved their issues before taping. "I felt like we had a real woman-to-woman conversation," Oprah says.

Sheri hopes Oprah will still go there on air. "I think the most interesting thing for our viewers is to address all the rumors and speculation that Oprah and Whoopi had a falling out," Sheri says. "And how they confronted that with each other, which no one even knows that that happened."

Oprah and Reuben Cannon

The day of taping, Candi has her eye out for one guest in particular. "I was like, 'Please, please [Danny Glover] to Chicago,'" she says. "I am so glad he made it to the show. Now it's complete."

Candi also informs Oprah that an unexpected Color Purple alumni will be in the audience—casting director Reuben Cannon. "Reuben Cannon auditioned me for The Color Purple and then I didn't hear anything for two and a half, almost three months," Oprah says. "When I finally called back, Reuben Cannon said to me, 'What are you calling me for? You don't call me. I call you. And I didn't call you.' He goes, 'You know, we have real actresses who are auditioning for this part.' And I hung up the phone then knowing I wasn't going to get it."

Oprah says Reuben disputes her version of the story. "Every time I've told the story, Reuben Cannon has said, 'Well, it didn't happen that way,'" Oprah says. "Well, it did happen that way to me, for me and from my point of view."

Watch Oprah call Reuben Cannon out before the show

Oprah and Whoopi Goldberg


The guests are prepped, Oprah's on stage and Candi is sitting in the supervisor's chair for the first time. "I had a moment," she says.

During Whoopi's interview, she and Oprah discuss the reconciliation they had earlier at Tyler Perry's house.

Watch them set the record straight

Both Whoopi and Oprah are extremely emotional. "We're in the control room and the moment happens. Oprah and Whoopi clear the air," Candi says. "Oprah starts crying. Whoopi sheds a tear. Sheri and I look at each other and it's like, 'Wow, that's amazing.'"

Oprah says they can move on now. "Everybody has been through that, if you've lived long enough, some kind of misunderstanding," Oprah says. "So once that's out, it's out. And you don't have to deal with that anymore. Now we can move on."

See what Oprah and Whoopi discussed after the show

Oprah and The Color Purple cast

The rest of the show is a reunion to remember. "Absolutely everything changed in my life as a result of The Color Purple," Oprah says. "It was faith, it was hope, it was belief, it was possibility, it was love, it was everything."

Candi is also pleased. "I saw the whole cast there and I saw the joy in Oprah's face. She was so happy," Candi says. "That was a Color Purple reunion.” 

Where the cast members are today

Inside a talk show host extravaganza


Next Story