Is there a special level of hell for people who make Oprah Winfrey cry?
E! News has learned the TV titan broke down last week during a taping when producers decided to surprise Oprah with a video tribute to Sophie, her cocker spaniel who recently passed away after a battle with kidney disease.
The special show, which is scheduled to air this Friday, features an investigation into puppy mills.
An audience member tells E! News that Winfrey broke down when the tribute began. "She was crying hysterically," says the source. "She was uncontrollably sobbing. She could barely breathe it got so bad."
The source says Winfrey's emotional breakdown became so severe that producers stopped taping. Our source says some Winfrey staffers were regretting the surprise tribute. "They were like, 'Oh, no, we shouldn't have done that.' "
Oprah's reps aren't commenting on the incident, but her her company did issue the following statement about this Friday's show: "The emotional and thought-provoking hour is dedicated to the memory of Oprah¹s beloved dog Sophie, who passed away March 10 at the age of 13. A tribute to Sophie begins the hour, which then includes an undercover investigation by Oprah show correspondent Lisa Ling into the hidden world of puppy mills."
Says Winfrey, "Our show today is for anybody anywhere who loves a dog, has ever loved a dog, or just cares about their basic right to humane treatment. I'm dedicating this hour to my little Sophie, who you may have heard died last month."
She continues, "Sophie gave me 13 years of unconditional love. She was a true love in my life."