May 24, 2011 — -- That's all, folks: Oprah Winfrey tapes the final edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" today.
Sheri Salata, executive producer of Winfrey's talk show, confirmed the speculation on Twitter this morning, writing "we're ready. she's ready. :-)" in response to a fan's well-wishes for the show's finale. Monday night, Salata tweeted, "Rehearsing finale the @oprah produced today ... taping tomorrow ... and then ..."
Salata also described a "different energy in the control room ... sometimes intimate and quiet" on Twitter today, saying she and her fellow producers were "very focused." But she offered no clues about the content of the final show.
Harpo Productions also confirmed that "Oprah's" finale tapes Tuesday afternoon. The Associated Press reported that hundreds of fans gathered outside Winfrey's Chicago studio as Gayle King, Winfrey's best friend, mingled and talked with the crowd.
Talking with USA Today, Salata predicted that the last moments of the final show's taping would be highly emotional for the people behind "Oprah."
"We'll be toasting up a storm," she said. "Probably weeping a bit, holding each other tight. And most definitely feeling a sense of closure for what has been such an unforgettable chapter in all of our lives."
The final "Oprah" will air Wednesday, as early as 10 a.m. in some markets. After 25 years of helming the production, Winfrey gave her staff control of her third- and second-to-last shows. They surprised her with performances and appearances by the likes of Will Smith, Beyonce Knowles, Madonna and Maria Shriver, among a slew of other stars.
Those two shows were taped at Chicago's United Center May 17, which played host to 13,000 of Winfrey's friends and fans. Part one aired Monday; part two airs today.
To say fans have gone to great lengths to gain access to Winfrey's final shows would be an understatement. A Chicago man faked his own mugging last week, claiming someone stole his passes to the "Oprah" taping at the United Center because he didn't want to disappoint his wife. They'd traveled from Ontario, Canada, to see the show but didn't have tickets.