Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Oprah Winfrey Mission

Some of you may have heard by now that Oprah Winfrey now has a copy of Sihpromatum. That is true. This is the story of what actually happened.
Oprah needs no introduction. She may not have her show anymore but through her media, massive fan base and respect from other celebrities and powerful figures she is still far from retired or irrelevant. It has been tossed around for a couple of years now that Oprah would love our story and we've been joking about showing up on her program. With the release of Savannah's book the idea shifted more to "she should read the book".
We have mailed out a few copies of the book to a few celebrity figures, without any real hope of it getting past their agents and other barriers that all fan mail must necessarily go through. Oprah doesn't even have a proper address and years ago stopped accepting gifts from fans. Thus we had not tried anything with regards to her.
Early last month we learned that Oprah would be coming to Vancouver as the last stop on her Canadian tour. We were actually told by Melanee (from Black Bond Books, who has been a total star there selling well over 100 books already from that location alone). Melanee managed to score tickets to go to the show on Jan 24th. It being in the stadium we couldn't imagine how going to the show would get us face to face with Oprah, but knowing she was in town we felt compelled to try something at least.
At about the same time, Jake (who has made numerous appearances on the blog) arrived in Vancouver as part of his new plans to stick around for a while. Before Jake became the monster traveller that he is, he was a professional autograph hunter, having chased various celebrities for 10 years before "retiring". We told him Oprah was coming and that we wanted to get to her. He replied that he hadn't ever gone after her before and the challenge sounded like fun. He was also 100% confident that he could do it. Despite what you may hear later this is the single most important factor in the entire operation: We had Jake. It could've been done without him, but it never would've because nobody really believed it possible or knew where to start with such things. So without Jake, all else fails.
As the date approached we had a few discussions about it and Jake decided that he didn't want to be the one to actually give Oprah the book but that it would be much better if Bre or mom did it. He then proceeded to give us the discouraging news that his contacts had failed to dig up any names or information that would give us a lead on where Oprah would be staying or going while in Vancouver. As with any other megastar, she would not be using her name anywhere, nor announcing when she would be arriving, etc. This wasn't necessarily the end of the world we were told, it just meant we'd have to do things "the amateur way".
The amateur way involves the classic stake-out and chase method, which has all sorts of hassle and risks to it and certainly far from a 100% success rate. We knew that Oprah had a show Tuesday night in Calgary and a show Thursday in Vancouver. Jake also knew the tail number of her private jet but the flight tracking websites block many of the celebrity planes including hers. It was decided in the end that we'd have to go the airport and physically look for her plane.
Wednesday morning Jake, Amanda and I drove over to the airport to check it out and were extremely fortunate in our timing. We came expecting a long wait and were prepared to stay all day but there were 2 black SUV's parked out front and drivers already waiting in the tiny lounge. We suspected that this was for Oprah but couldn't be sure and of course nobody would admit to it anyway. There was one other guy there with a serval (a mid-sized African wild cat) and it quickly became apparent that he was a celebrity chaser and was waiting for Oprah too.
As her plane arrived about 30min later and the SUV's drove onto the apron to collect her from the plane while we watched and Jake made friends and plans with the cat guy. Since there was no hope of getting to her at the airport the only choice was to follow her to her hotel in the car. Thus begins the chase part of the technique! While I drove, Jake was talking on the phone to the cat guy (who was in his car also following, but actually ended up driving ahead as we didn't want to act too creepy or threatening) and Amanda was on the phone with Donavin, trying to coordinate his picking up Bre and getting the 2 of them downtown to join in the hunt.

Oprah's jet.

Jake, the mastermind.

Ammon, hot on the chase.


We actually lost Oprah at one point. We followed the 2nd vehicle when they split up. That vehicle stopped at a hotel and the passengers got out but there was no Oprah. We'd guessed wrong! Dan, the cat guy, had gone ahead to a different hotel that we'd originally guessed as their destination. The missing vehicle never showed up there so using an educated guess (it's a good thing downtown is small and there aren't that many good hotels to choose from). We regrouped at our next best guess and put people into lookout positions when the missing SUV showed up, empty.
The driver was in waiting mode so we quickly deduced that Oprah was probably inside and would be coming back out shortly. Bre was put in position in the lobby while the rest of us were nearby or in the case of Donavin and myself were guarding our improperly-parked cars... I was actually in the middle of talking to Jake about our strategy and next step when Bre called to say the mission was accomplished. I think she was in a bit of shock or something. Most of us couldn't believe how quickly and easily it had all come together.
To summarize what Bre says happened, she said that she was the only person in the hotel lobby when the huge bodyguard came first. He said "No" a couple times and tried to intimidate her away so she just stood off and a distance and tried to look like sweet little Bre. A smile was all it took and suddenly Oprah veered off course and approached Bre. Bre politely welcomed her to Vancouver, did a quick introduction, reminded her of a peripheral connection through Ben and the Best Job in Australia and then told her that her sister wanted her to have a copy of her book. Oprah was nice, said "thanks", took the book and left. The whole thing was just a matter of seconds, but given the possibilities for such situations that we started with at the beginning of the day, it worked perfectly. Bre did a perfect job and it was the perfect scenario.
Who knows what she'll do with it or what would become of it, but for those of us that did this, it was just great to work as a team so well and actually accomplish another goal that people generally thought would be impossible. We did what we could and the whole thing is out of our hands now and in hers. In other news, Savannah's book has been getting tons of great reviews lately so things are still going well for her in other ways also.
Ammon

8 Comments:

At 6:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Amo!!!!

Im so happy the mission was successfull and completed with such style!!!

We are one hell of a lucky Team!!

Yippy Yeyee

Let the magic spread!!

Bre

 
At 7:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe this, it's amazing. Super happy for you guys, let's hope she reads it and is hooked!

<3
Rhiis

 
At 7:49 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Bree you're totally awesome. But we need your version of the story too!

 
At 12:15 AM , Anonymous Maggie the mom said...

What a superb team. While the young ones did the chasing I the mom was delivering yet ANOTHER big box of books to Melanee at Black Bond Books. Go Team.

 
At 9:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im thinking light years ahead... Oprah promotes book... Book becomes best seller... Best seller book becomes reality show? :-) ~bff

 
At 10:47 AM , Blogger soniabianca42 said...

Nice job guys! I liked those mission pictures Lol like secret agents

-Sonia

 
At 8:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
How did the eye surgery go? I'm sitting here watching vol 3 of LOTR ( after seeing the Hobbit) and wondering how it went. Also have you heard more about the Air Traffic Control? Somehow, I can't imagine you settling down' . There is still Machu Pichu calling you, and the rest of South America.....LOL

Bear Hugs to all
The Bear

 
At 6:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG Totally Awesome!Go Jake and Ammon and Amanda and of course Bree on the best scoop EVER.Melanee

 

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