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How do you keep something hidden from Oprah?

Sheri Salata, the executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, may be the only one who knows. Salata was responsible for putting together the show’s star-packed farewell extravaganza this past May at Chicago’s United Center, and also for keeping the whole thing a secret from her boss.

BET.com reports, hiding the dozens of A-list celebrities who traveled to Chicago for two days was a logistical nightmare, and Salata shared some exciting near-misses with TV Line:

Tom Hanks: “Oprah was going to go with friends to a restaurant near her house. The maître d’, who’s a good friend, called us right away and let us know that Tom Hanks had booked a table at that restaurant and [asked] if he should cancel Tom! We’re like, ‘Yes! Cancel Tom because she’ll see right through that!'”

Beyonce: “Beyonce’s dancers were rehearsing in the studio. We thought that Oprah was going to stay at home all day, but she decided to put on her sweats and come into the office. They just missed each other by a matter of minutes.”

Maya Angelou: “The day we were rehearsing, [Oprah] called Maya [Angelou] and asked her where she was. Dr. Angelou said, ‘Somewhere. But I’ll be home tomorrow.’ I know how she operates. She’s looking for a tone, a look, the slightest bit of information where she can put things together.”

According to Salata, her plotting was successful and the finale was a complete surprise to Oprah. She says, “I will honestly tell you this – and I don’t know if I’ve ever had this experience – but miraculously, there was not one problem. Not one thing that went wrong. Not one thing.”

Salata definitely deserves a lot of credit for bringing the huge event together.

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