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Jim Kelley

Senior Associate Producer—started at Harpo in 1990.

I'll never forget Gladys Finley—a Chicago teacher who'd asked Oprah for tickets back when the show was still local. Oprah had written Gladys back, telling her to call for tickets anytime she wanted. In 1992, years after the show had gone national, Gladys sent us a copy of Oprah's signed reply. She requested tickets for a particular date—a holiday when she knew her school, which was across the street from her house, would be closed. On that day, we had planned to air what we call a letters show, a roundup of viewers' correspondence to Oprah. We decided to send a limo to pick up Gladys from her home and hire a helicopter to film the limo heading toward the Harpo building. Then we thought, if we're going to hire a helicopter, why not just fly Gladys to Harpo?

While Oprah was hosting the live letters show in the studio, I rang Gladys's doorbell and handed her a cell phone. "Gladys, get your coat and bag," Oprah said on the cell. "We want to see you by the end of this show, okay?" The helicopter flew her to a pad near Harpo, and moments later her limo pulled up to our building. Gladys nearly ruined it when she tried to dash into the studio in the middle of a commercial break. Our security guy had to nab her at the door. When she finally came onto the set, she got a rock-star reception as the crowd went wild.


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