March 29, 2011— -- We knew this day was coming, and now it's official: Oprah Winfrey will air the final episode of her long-running daytime talk show May 25.
Harpo Productions, her Chicago-based company that produces the show, confirmed the final date to The Associated Press. And someone else already has plans to swoop into her Chicago, Ill. studio once its free: Rosie O'Donnell, whose talk show will debut on Winfrey's cable network this fall.
"I'm delighted to welcome Rosie to the studio I've called home for so many years," Winfrey said in a statement. "Speaking from experience, she will be working with the best team in television in one of the greatest cities in the world."
It's only fitting that after 25 years on the air, Winfrey will go out on the 25th, during May sweeps. For all you Oprah addicts, that means less than two months of shows remain before Winfrey calls it quits.
No doubt she will exit with a bang. Winfrey, who is known for her A-list celebrity exclusives and extravagant giveaways, began her final season by surprising her studio audience with an all-expenses-paid, eight-day trip to Australia. Now the talk show guru is working on topping that.
"You have to imagine the final show is the crescendo," said Lacey Rose, The Hollywood Reporter's senior TV writer. "She's been continually able to one-up herself. The final sendoff has to be the ultimate celebration."
Maggie Furlong, AOL's West Coast correspondent, said the finale will be "for the fans," the way the rest of the season has been.
Last week Winfrey tweeted that she was "hard at work planning the final shows" but has so far not divulged any details.
"Oprah has perfected the big surprise," Rose said. "She will find a way to drum up interest and leave everybody guessing."
Since Winfrey isn't talking, we thought it would be fun to come up with five possible scenarios Winfrey could use to end her show.
This Is Your Life
The Queen of Talk has interviewed thousands of guests over 25 years. This finale would turn the tables and put Winfrey in the hot seat.
Not that her fans don't already know every detail of her story, including this year's revelation that she has a half sister, but it would be fun to see the ways -- hair and weight -- Winfrey has changed over a quarter century.
Expect to see plenty of testimonials, including from celebrities. "She's never had trouble booking guests," Rose said. "I'm sure we'll see a coterie of past and present stars. There will be many, many people who will want to be part of the celebration."
But Furlong doesn't believe the finale will be that star-studded, since she sees the final show as more of a love letter between Winfrey and the fans. Rose agreed the finale will be "an emotional moment for her and her viewers."
Oprah's Favorite Shows
Like Winfrey's coveted list of "Favorite Things," the talk show host could reveal her list of favorite shows or merely show a montage of memorable moments from her 25 seasons.
"I honestly think her very last show will have to impart some knowledge," Furlong said. "The best way for her to do that is to have a montage of best Oprah moments, including footage we didn't get to see."
Rose agreed that there would be some type of clip reel. "The producers will most likely take the opportunity to remind viewers why she's so special," she said. "This show defined not only Oprah Winfrey but a generation of daytime talk."
The Big Give
Winfrey has given away cars, trips and everything in between, leaving her fans screaming and crying, often at the same time. She even had a short-lived reality show called "Oprah's Big Give." Her final show could see her giving away her biggest gift yet.
"She certainly could use this as another opportunity to give back, through gifts or trips or just the emotional trip," Rose said.
Furlong disagrees. "I don't think she needs to send anyone else to Australia," she said. "Now, it's just about reflections. It's the end of Oprah as we've known her for 25 years."
After Winfrey's final show, she'll leave Chicago to live in California full-time. She'll be leaving behind a loyal and dedicated staff.
Furlong would like to see Winfrey say goodbye to her staff much the way Jay Leno said goodbye to his, by bringing out the entire group and their families. "It's going to be really hard," she said. "If she'll have that moment, that's a huge goodbye."
Furlong also thinks Winfrey's staff will try to find some way to surprise her for the last show. "Much as Oprah hates surprises, I'm sure they will find a way to do something amazing."
Goodbye 'Oprah Winfrey Show,' Hello OWN
Up to now, Winfrey has been hush-hush about what kind of show she'll be doing on her new network OWN.
But Furlong and Rose both said she needed to use her final show as a launching pad for her next show.
"It's important for her to use that as a final platform to say, 'I'm not leaving, I'm just moving,'" Rose said. " She needs her audience to follow her there for OWN to become the success she hopes it will be."
Added Furlong, "It'd be nice to see a clip of what she's working on to get people excited."