OWN shuttering Chicago's Harpo Studios, 200 employees to be impacted

Oprah's West Coast Move Puts Harpo Jobs at Risk
Oprah's West Coast Move Puts Harpo Jobs at Risk


The OWN Network will be shutting down its Chicago-based Harpo Studios after 26 years as it transitions production to its new West Hollywood headquarters.

Oprah Winfrey broke the news to employees in a town meeting-style address on Tuesday morning in Chicago and released the following statement to press:

Harpo Studios in Chicago was not just my home but also my life for nearly 30 years. I've spent more time there than anywhere else. I am so proud of what we created. It has been a blessing in my life and I thank everyone who has been a part of this great run. I am now looking ahead to inhabiting the new space on The Lot in California and carrying on the legacy of Harpo Studios with OWN programming.

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OWN and Harpo Studios presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata detailed the timing of the transition to L.A. in a joint statement:

Having recently moved into a state of the art studio facility on the historic The Lot in West Hollywood, California, the network has begun the process of transitioning Harpo Studios productions in Chicago to OWN. The transition will be complete in December 2015 and Harpo Studios in Chicago will no longer be operating as a television studio. We have been fortunate to have this spectacular city of Chicago as our home for over 25 years and are thankful to everybody who has been a part of this great company.

About 200 employees will be impacted and will remain through the end of the year.

"A handful" of high-level producers, such as executive producers, are expected to relocate to Los Angeles to continue to production on the series that will be moving to the new studios and will become OWN productions, including "Where Are They Now?," "Oprah's Master Class," "Oprah Prime" and "Super Soul Sunday," an individual with knowledge of the transition plans told TheWrap.

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Other production employees will be given opportunities to freelance in L.A.

Harpo will be out before the end of its two year lease with real estate developer Sterling Bay Cos., which bought the buildings housing Harpo Studios in April 2014.

OWN moved from its Miracle Mile offices to West Hollywood's The Lot in late-2014. The media company currently takes up three floors of a five-story building at The Lot, which was formerly the location of Warner Hollywood Studios, United Artists Studios and Samuel Goldwyn Studios. Classic films and TV shows "Wuthering Heights," "West Side Story," "The Fugitive" and "Dynasty" are among the many titles to have been shot there.