Behind the Scenes of The 25th Season
Oprah's 25th year on-air, as seen through the eyes of the producers, bookers, and assistants who make it all happen.
Pictured above: Executive producer Sheri Salata in the control room with Oprah after wrapping a taping. Salata, a 15-year veteran of the show, calls the reality series Season 25 "a scrapbook of the biggest year of our careers."
With this month's premiere of Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Harpo staffers will find themselves not just making television but starring in it. Since last July, cameras have trailed them day and night to offer an inside look at what goes into producing Oprah's final season. "My first thought was, I have to lose 25 pounds right away," recalls senior producer Jack Mori. He's not alone: The entire staff is by all accounts looking much more telegenic lately. "People are keeping makeup stashed under their desks.... I'm one of those people," says Andrea Wishom, a senior supervising producer.
Adjusting to the constant presence of the cameras has been a process, even for seasoned television pros. "At first I was hyperaware of the cameras. I was beyond awkward. I was always touching my mike," says Wishom. "I definitely have a new appreciation for what our guests go through each day."
When the crews follow employees home at night, things get even more complicated. "They filmed my then boyfriend and me on a date," reports Brittany Goudie, an assistant, who later had to explain—on camera—why the relationship didn't work out.
Staffers have been planning a party to watch the Season 25 premiere on January 1—mainly for moral support. "You can't help but worry, How am I going to come off?" says Jill van Lokeren, another senior supervising producer. "Usually, we're the ones writing, shooting, and editing. For someone else to have control is certainly a new experience for me!"
Pictured above: Technical director Dan Stella mans the control booth at Harpo Studios as the cameras roll below.
Pictured above: Audience producer Sally Lou Loveman warming up the crowd before the start of a show.
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Photo: Ruven Afanador