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Oprah Winfrey's farewell: Madonna says its an honor to be near her

05/24/2011 by Corinne Heller

Madonna says Oprah Winfrey is one of the few women that she is able to look up to and adds that she feels honored to be near the talk show host, whose hit syndicated series is set to air its final episode.

Both women are among the most powerful celebrities in the world. Madonna, 52, was one of several top stars who paid tribute to Winfrey, 57, at a special farewell show titled "Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular," which was taped in Chicago last week before some 13,000 fans (see photos).

Footage from the event aired this week on ABC and Winfrey's final episode is set to air on Wednesday, May 25 after some 25 years on the air.

"I feel like this is a historical moment but I feel like she's a historical woman who's given a lot to not only Americans, clearly, I mean, I had no idea her reach was so far-reaching in the world," Madonna told WLS Television, the sister station of OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company, KABC Television. "She's inspired women everywhere and that's pretty amazing. That's a lot to look up to."

Madonna said at the gala that Winfrey was "a self-made woman who's been at the top of her game for over 25 years."

"It's an honor to be near her, to have learned from her," Madonna told WLS Television. "I truly meant what I said in my speech that she's one of the few women that I can, that I personally can look up to and learn from."

Simon Cowell, a British former "American Idol" judge who is launching the singing contest series "The X Factor" on the FOX network this fall, also appeared at Winfrey's farewell show and told WLS Television that the talk show host was "arguably the most important person in this country" and the equivalent of "royalty."

Aside from Madonna and Cowell, Winfrey's farewell gala featured celebrities such as Tom cruise, Katie Holmes, Patti LaBelle, Usher, Halle Berry, Diane Sawyer and Arnold Schwarzenegger's estranged wife Maria Shriver.

"I think it was great to see how loved she is, to feel the love coming from all those people," Madonna said. "It's amazing. And also to see how surprised Oprah was. She was crying. Really touching."

Winfrey received a standing ovation from the audience at the event, which also featured her longtime partner Stedman Graham and performances from singers such as Aretha Franklin, Beyonce and Stevie Wonder.

Winfrey launched her own cable channel, OWN, on January 1. The network features documentary and reality programs that feature Shania Twain, Lisa Ling, and other television personalities.

"I just want her to keep on doing what she's doing," Madonna said. "Whatever she does, she's a star. I can't imagine she will ever stop pushing the envelope."

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