April 28, 2011 at 11:27 AM ET
Oprah Winfrey loves to surprise her audiences when it comes to announcing personal secrets, offering big ticket prizes or transporting them across the globe, but she’ll soon be the one on the receiving end of the shockers as some of the biggest names in show business gather to give the talk titan a send-off to remember.
“Surprise Oprah! A Farewell Spectacular” will celebrate the close of Winfrey’s 25–year daytime TV run. The special event is set to tape at Chicago’s United Center on May 17, but the all-important celebrity guest list will remain strictly hush-hush until the big day.
“As most of our viewers know, being surprised is not one of Oprah’s favorite things. In the spirit of our farewell season, she is making a rare exception and we intend to make the most of that opportunity,” Sheri Salata, executive producer of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” said in a statement. “It will be something to see!”
The tribute will mark the first time Winfrey has lifted her longstanding “no surprise” policy since it went into effect. The queen of talk put a moratorium on host-shocks after her idol, Mary Tyler Moore, paid an unexpected on-set visit in 1997.
"I went into the ugly cry on the air (and) I made a rule that I was never to be surprised again on air,” Winfrey explained in a 2010 interview with TV Guide magazine. “I don't want to lose that kind of control. If you've ever looked at that tape, snot's running out of my nose, and I had such a headache that I couldn't focus. I don't handle surprise very well."
The “Surprise Oprah!” event airs on May 23 and 24. The final episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” airs May 25.