Oprah brings tears and joy to Sydney

By Miles Godfrey, Ross Purdie

Oprah Winfrey-mania hit fever pitch today as the travelling TV star recorded the first of two shows from the steps of Sydney Opera House in front of 6000 screaming fans.

The US queen of chat sparked tears, laughter and mass cheering in an emotion-packed programme which featured guests Russell Crowe, Jay-Z, Bon Jovi and the Irwin family.

One fan had to be pulled back by police after making a lunge for the TV star as she waved to fans from her departing motorcade after the show.

But the well-natured incident merely encapsulated a fevered atmosphere reminiscent more of a rock concert than the contrived environment of daytime TV.

An energised Winfrey bounded on stage to the sounds of Men At Work declaring "I ... Love ... Australia!" several times before leading her delighted crowd of ticket winners into a mass chant of "Aussie Aussie Aussie".

The centrepiece of her 10-day visit, Winfrey's hour-long episode included various references to Australia's attractions as part of a package to promote tourism to her 150 million worldwide viewers.

But the human stories were the ones that resonated the strongest with the audience, wrapped up in the polished formula which has made Winfrey the most celebrated chatshow host in history.

Even Russell Crowe was encouraged to show his softer side, revealing how despite incurring tall poppy syndrome at home he would never buy property abroad.

Settling in the US would be like "sleeping in your office", the New Zealand-born actor said.

"I like coming back here and being cut down by the tall poppy syndrome," he joked to Winfrey, before introducing her to members of his South Sydney Rabbitohs rugby league side.

More moving moments were to follow when Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin took to the stage draped in snakes in a tribute to crocodile hunter Steve.

Terri Irwin broke down while describing life with her late husband as a "cyclone".

"When we lost him, the wind stopped," she said.

The family opened up about how they dealt with their loss and described their determination to carry on Steve's work by opening a zoo in the US.

Heading in the opposite direction, Jay-Z set out to prove that rappers have heart by taking hip hop to Canterbury Boys High School in southwest Sydney, a scene shown on big screens as the singer sat on stage with Winfrey.

The New York superstar was filmed surprising a class of students by walking into a music lesson and offering expert advice on how to make the best sounds.

Bon Jovi put the theory into practice by closing the show with two of their best known hits, It's My Life and Livin' On A Prayer.

Famous for giving presents to her studio audience, Winfrey also had gifts for her Australian audience with all 6000 people at the taping given a necklace with a pearl.

She also gave Australian couple Kristian and Rachel Anderson A$250,000 so they can take time off to be together as a family while Kristian undergoes cancer treatment.

Winfrey then had the final word to her audience once the cameras were turned off.

"This experience for me and my 300 guests has been of a divine order, really heaven sent," she said.

"We thank you. We thank you for your open faces, we thank you for teaching us it much better to work to live rather than live to work.

"Thank you for teaching us how to do it."

The second taping of the Oprah Winfrey Show from Sydney Opera House starts at 5pm on Tuesday evening.

- AAP

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