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Houstonians share their Oprah Winfrey close encounters: Inside details on her day with Joel Osteen

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Lifesclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012
Oprah Winfrey joined Joel Osteen Friday morning at the Hobby Center to film new episodes of Oprah's Lifeclass. Photo courtesy of Oprah's Liveclass Webcasts
Lifeclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012, Joel Osteen, head shot
Taking questions from the audience and social media, Osteen offered his trademark blend of self-improvement and spiritual advice. Photo courtesy of Oprah's Liveclass Webcasts
Lifeclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012, Joel Osteen
Oprah's Lifeclass has become a staple program for Winfrey's cable channel OWN. Photo courtesy of Oprah's Liveclass Webcasts
Lifeclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012, audience, crowd
On oprah.com, audience members were asked to wear bright colors to Friday's event. Photo courtesy of Oprah's Liveclass Webcasts
News_Oprah Winfrey
Lifesclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012
Lifeclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012, Joel Osteen, head shot
Lifeclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012, Joel Osteen
Lifeclass, Oprah, live streaming, October 2012, audience, crowd

Daytime demigod Oprah Winfrey joined pastors Joel Osteen (or Oooo-steeeeen to the crowd) and Rick Warren (Warrrr-ennnnn) at the Hobby Center on Friday for a special live taping of Oprah's Lifeclass — a self help program fueled by social media and audience participation.

Even after struggling through the dense morning traffic, spirits remained high as 2400 lucky ticket holders made their way into Sarofim Hall for the first of the day's two segments with Osteen. (Warren had a new crowd for two afternoon sessions.)`

"I remember I was in ninth grade when Oprah first went national," Houston librarian Mildred Joseph told CultureMap as she waited to enter the theater. "I grew up with her and watched her throughout high school.

"I mean, Oprah's a true icon."

"I grew up with her and watched her throughout high school. I mean, Oprah's a true icon." 

After gracefully ending her beloved talk show in May 2011, Winfrey has devoted herself to developing her cable channel OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network into the centerpiece of a revamped media empire.

Network officials say the Lifeclass series — which airs on OWN to share Oprah's "lessons, revelations and a-ha moments over the past 25 years" — has become one of the key anchors to the O brand in Winfrey's post-talk-show career.

The power of that brand is stronger than ever, at least judging from Friday morning's enthusiastic audience, whose members were asked to don brightly-colored clothes and encouraged to post pictures online of the event.

"While every show is unique thanks to the different questions asked from the crowd, there's always a general theme," OWN communications director Chelsea Hettrick told CultureMap.

"Today's framework, for example, is about dreaming big and what you can do with your life and circumstances to make that the best life you can lead. From there, producers have selected a few audience members in advance who can speak to that point. Then we'll take questions and comments from people Skyping into the show or interacting on Twitter."

Hometown preacher Joel Osteen received a warm welcome as Winfrey introduced him as "one of the most influential teachers of our time." The two sat onstage behind a news-anchor desk, fielding questions on everything from weight-loss to career choices. They spoke with single parents, truck drivers and body builders, offering self-improvement tips and non-denominational spiritual advice like: 

  • "When you're in peace, it's a position of power."
  • "Nobody can beat you at being you."
  • "When you say your beautiful, you're inviting beauty in."
The Houston sessions of Oprah's Lifeclass​ are scheduled to air on OWN Oct. 28.

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