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When The Oprah Winfrey Show left Chicago after 25 years, the stage at Harpo Studios was left empty – but that is no longer the case. As of October 10, Rosie O’Donnell has taken up residency and is OWNing the spotlight. Airing weekdays at 6pm on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), The Rosie Show hosts diverse actors, musicians, public figures, and members of the community.

On Monday, November 14, I had the opportunity to attend a taping of the show. In the element of full disclosure, I have been a fan for many years, so I was excited to be there.

From the very start – standing in line to getting to our seats – the staff and experience started out on a high note. As my good friend and I sat down in front of the band, a producer came out and encouraged us to be ourselves and to have fun. Soon after that, Rosie took to the stage and made everyone feel even more comfortable. She was engaging as she interacted with audience members; encouraging us to ask questions.

As a film student, it was interesting to see the cameras and producers at work. The stage floor rotated and each piece of the background was changed depending on the event. For the game show segment, the band played their tunes and Rosie asked questions about celebrities. Check out the photo above I took from my seat – look at all of that confetti!

The guests for the day were Chaz Bono and Rachael Ray. From Dancing With The Stars to cooking food for Thanksgiving, each had a meaningful interview. Chaz surprised the audience and a fellow guest with his appearance and Rachael Ray cooked up some colorful sweet potatoes.

At the end of the taping, Rosie stayed on stage and continued to take questions. “Was there a teacher who inspired you?” “Will you attend our fundraiser?” No matter the question, she had an answer. From the beginning to the end, we were encouraged to have fun and to be ourselves – and we did. Chicago is lucky to have this leading lady in the city.

Evan Jones

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