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SYDNEY – Oprah Winfrey is downplaying negative remarks she recently made about her trip to Australia last year.
The US talk show queen revealed on last Sunday’s episode of her OWN show, Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes, that her Australian tour was “not a smooth ride”. She said she left feeling “a sense of emptiness” after her visit to Melbourne because she missed an opportunity to leave the crowd “a little kernel of teaching.” She also expressed concern about crowd control and said she was unsure how to pronounce Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s name.
Those and other comments have been extensively reported in Australian newspapers and news websites this week.
Late Thursday, Winfrey released a statement that clarified the remarks.
It read: “When I say I love Australia, I mean what I say…I LOVE AUSTRALIA — it was one of the most life changing, mind expanding, once in a lifetime extraordinary experiences for all of us, and I would never want any of my comments taken out of context to make it seem otherwise. I have so many great memories. The Reef was breathtaking, Sydney was spectacular, and I was mesmerized by Uluru and so glad I went there. “
Responding about the comments on the Melbourne leg of her trip, she said, “I was overwhelmed by the response of the people of Melbourne and was honored to meet the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and to feel the welcoming energy of 10,000 people in Federation Square. I was touched by their warm reception and only wished I had done more to create a deeper connection with them that day. My visit to Australia was the trip of a lifetime for me, my staff and our 302 guests that traveled to your beautiful country. We will never forget it. And I can’t wait to come back.”
The Oprah Winfrey Show’s Ultimate Australian Adventure was the first time Winfrey had made her show outside the US. The $12 million trip was paid for in part by government agency Tourism Australian, Qantas airlines and other commercial partners as well as Harpo Productions. Winfrey, her production team and members of her US studio audience travelled to Australia in December and filmed four programs which aired on the Oprah Winfrey program in January.
Tourism Australia officials have said recently that they are starting to see a “big spike” in inquries since the programs aired in the US.
More behind the scenes episodes on the Australian trip are due to air on OWN, while a special on the Australian finale which featured Hugh Jackman, Olivia Newton John, Keith Urban and Russell Crowe, will air on The Oprah Winfrey Show on April 1.
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