Ex-Employee Dishes on Life Inside Oprah's EmpireS

This week we brought you excerpts from the gossipy new Oprah biography by Kitty Kelley. Today we heard from an ex-Harpo staffer who shared with us all sorts of juicy details about what life's like working for the daytime diva.


According to the former staffer—who shall remain nameless—Oprah's producers were very, very picky about their carbonated beverages:

The senior producers were disgusting. They would ask the assistants to go get "Diet Coke," which was actually "Diet Pepsi," but Oprah didn't like Pepsi so they were not allowed to call it anything but "Coke."

When I first started, I was asked to go get a Diet Coke. I saw that the machine was all Pepsi products, so I hauled my ass over to a Subway, bought a Diet Coke and came back. I took it into the senior producers' office and this one bitch of an assistant Carla "Birdie" Bird asked, "Where the fuck have you been? We needed that like it was yesterday!" I told her I went across the street to get a Diet Coke since that's what they asked for. She said, "You're so fucking stupid. When they ask for Diet Coke, they want Diet Pepsi." That's when I knew my days at Harpo were limited.

Working at Harpo doesn't sound like much fun. It seems to involve a lot of caffeine and nicotine, and very little sleep:

In one day (and I kept tally), the two executive producers, Sheri and Lisa, had 15 46-ounce Diet "Cokes", six double cappuccino coffees, smoked three packs of cigarettes, and slept 3-4 hours. What was hilarious to me was that Oprah preaches, "Live your best life," but these women were/are killing themselves for Oprah.

But all that hard work pays off, apparently:

Carla Bird, who has been written about as "a great assistant," was anything but. This woman got paid for working an ungodly amount of overtime. However, she never worked those hours! Which was amazing to everyone around the executive office. She was written about as Oprah's Golden Child, when in reality, the hours she put down, she never worked. And now "Birdie" is pregnant (with Oprah and Gayle's baby—go ahead and investigate that one!)—and that is why they keep her on the payroll.

Oprah does not like it when another TV personality gets a story before she does. Even if that person happens to be CNN's Anderson Cooper:

During the shootings at Virginia Tech, Oprah was furious when Anderson Cooper was there... She was saying, "God, that guy really pisses me off. How does he get in there so fast?" We ended up sending Lisa Ling and that was just a nightmare.

Oprah once did an episode on the world's largest and smallest dogs. But it looks like Gayle King could use a lesson or two from Cesar Millan:

On the day that we shot the show about the largest dog and the smallest dog in America, Oprah wanted to have her picture with the dogs. Gayle, of course, had to jump in and get her picture as well.

The owner of the largest dog would have the dog stand up and put his paws on the person's shoulder. Oprah did it and it went fine. Then Gayle got up there and the owner put the dog up on her shoulders. But Gayle grabbed the dog by the paws to hold him. Naturally, the dog pulled back from her and he got down. They attempted to do it a second time and the same thing happened, except this time the dog pulled back fast, like "Stop fucking grabbing me, bitch." So the third time comes around and we're all watching this nightmare and she pulls his paws again. This time, the dog jerks fast and lands backwards on his back. The owner was livid and rightfully so. And even after all of that Gayle was complaining that she didn't get to have the same picture as Oprah.

Naturally, we can't confirm the stories described above, or whether Carla Bird is really carrying Oprah and Gayle's child (how exactly would that work, anyway?), but it's worth noting that in 2007, Page Six did report that Harpo staffers were incensed over "Birdie's" excessive overtime pay. (When asked if she was "getting special favors from Harpo," Bird told the Post: 'I'm not allowed to comment. Thank you.'")

That ex-Harpo staffer wasn't the only reader who shared a personal story about the daytime diva. One commenter had the pleasure of pumping iron in Oprah's presence. (Winfrey supposedly shot our reader a "don't look at me" glare.)

Naturally, if you've worked for Oprah, have walked her dogs and/or cooked her meals, or just bumped into her on the street, feel free to share your sightings and stories in the comments or email us.

Related:
Excerpts From the Biography Oprah Doesn't Want You to Read, Part 1
Excerpts From the Biography Oprah Doesn't Want You to Read, Part 2
Gawker Readers Give Back: More Oprah Sightings and Horror Stories
Oprah Winfrey Doesn't Care Who Her Bio-Dad Is