The audience members screamed, cried and hugged each other - then followed Winfrey out to the parking lot of her Harpo Studios in Chicago to see their Pontiacs, all decorated with giant red bows. The cars, which retail for $28,000, were donated by Pontiac.
"A little idea grew into a big idea," Mary Henige of Pontiac told the Associated Press. She said Pontiac will also pay for taxes and customizing the cars.
'Moving In,' for sure
All-around enthusiast Pat Croce staged a premiere bash for his new daytime TV show, Pat Croce: Moving In, yesterday at Chickie & Pete's South Philly eatery and pulled a surprise out of his Winnebago: supervising producer Vance DeGeneres.
DeGeneres' sister, Ellen, hosts her popular daytime talker weekdays at 3 on Channel 6, and "is on against us right now," Croce crowed to the partying crowd. "And what's she going to do?" he shouted to Vance.
"She's going down!" said the producer/brother, moving his thumb south.
Croce's show debuted yesterday, on Channel 57 in the morning and Channel 3 in the afternoon.
* Shooting for a remake of a movie classic brought some Hollywood stars to New Jersey last weekend - specifically to Madison, west of Newark, where they filmed at a restored, 88-year-old train station.
The movie, tentatively titled The Dinner Party, is based on the 1967 film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, which stars Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier. The picture was a landmark for its story line: White couple's daughter brings black boyfriend home to dinner.
Columbia Picture's remake reverses the racial roles and stars Ashton Kutcher, Bernie Mac and Zoe Saldana. Kutcher plays Saldana's white boyfriend, and Mac has taken on Spencer Tracy's old role, the dad. In scenes filmed Saturday, Kutcher's character leaves New Jersey to take a train back to New York City while Mac's character tries to persuade him to stay.
Music on the ballot
Thirteen rock acts hitting the road to defeat President Bush will gather for an Oct. 11 Vote for Change finale at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C. Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Dave Matthews Band, the Dixie Chicks, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Jurassic 5, Keb' Mo', Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Pearl Jam and R.E.M. will share the stage for four hours. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. through www.ticketmaster.com. Proceeds go to America Coming Together (ACT) and MoveOn PAC.
Can we carry the bags?
* Among the perks of being a celebrity presenter or VIP at the Emmy Awards is an extravagant trip. This year, people who can most afford to pay for it - Matt LeBlanc, for instance, Garry Shandling and Sarah Jessica Parker - will be choosing one of five six-day freebie packages at spas and resorts in Victoria, British Columbia; Buckinghamshire, England; Greece; the Maldives; or Ridgeway, Colo. We vote for the Maldives, where the stars are being offered a villa on a tiny coral island, with all the amenities, including an open-air bathroom. But then, we don't have a vote. The awards will broadcast from Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Sunday, on Channel 6.
Speaking of weekend TV, Clay Aiken will be serenading whoever is crowned Miss America on Saturday with the traditional "Here She Comes," a repeat of his performance at the Atlantic City extravaganza last year. Chris Harrison, host of ABC's romance reality hit series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, will host the live pageant for the first time. It's at 9 p.m., also on Channel 6.
On the air, in the book
* After rapid-fire New York radio host Wendy Williams finishes her national Wendy Williams Experience radio show tomorrow - which she'll do from the studios of Power 99 FM - she'll hop over to the Barnes & Noble bookstore at 18th and Walnut Streets to sign copies of her new book, same name as the show, at 7:30. The book takes readers behind the scenes of her show and dishes on showbiz scandals.
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Inquirer television critic Jonathan Storm and Inquirer wire services contributed to this column.