WBEZ | OWN http://www.wbez.org/tags/own Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The state of Harpo Studios http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/state-harpo-studios-105575 <p><p><img 2011.="" alt="" class="image-original_image" honor="" in="" legacy="" may="" oprah="" s="" show="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/harpo-way.jpg" style="height: 419px; width: 620px; " talk="" the="" title="The block of Harpo Studios in Chicago was named &quot;Oprah Winfrey Way&quot; to honor the talk show queen's legacy in May 2011. (NBCNews) " to="" winfrey="" /></p><p>If Chicago declared a patron saint for media coverage, no one person (save the current President of the United States) would be more fitting of such an honor than Oprah Winfrey.&nbsp;</p><p>Her daily talk show, taped at <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpo_Productions" target="_blank">Harpo Studios</a> on the Near West Side from 1986 to 2011,<em>&nbsp;</em>drew&nbsp;an average of <a href="http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2007/12/07/4425062-breaking-down-oprahs-numbers?lite" target="_blank">7.4 million viewers</a> per day and was nationally syndicated for 25 wildly successful seasons. Her 2008 endorsement of then-Senator Barack Obama for president all but cemented his seat in the Oval Office, her 2009&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R9YPLOmZJc" target="_blank">surprise Black Eyed Peas concert</a> swamped Michigan Avenue with a flash mob of <a href="http://www.oprah.com/entertainment/Oprahs-Kickoff-Party-Flash-Mob-Dance" target="_blank">over 20,000 people</a> and her final season culminated in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/17/oprahs-star-studded-farew_n_863220.html#s280239" target="_blank">star-studded extravanagza</a>&nbsp;(oh, hey Michael Jordan, Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder!) that nearly blew the roof off Chicago&#39;s United Center.</p><p>She was our Mama O, and we haven&#39;t had someone of her lightning-in-a-bottle dynamism to rally around since.</p><p>After the last Chicago taping of&nbsp;<em>The Oprah Winfrey Show</em> in May 2011, Oprah moved to Montecito, California to run her new cable channel <a href="http://www.oprah.com/own" target="_blank">OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network</a>.&nbsp;Harpo Studios tried to pick up the pieces by launching&nbsp;<em><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rosie_Show" target="_blank">The Rosie Show</a>&nbsp;</em>in its place&nbsp;that&nbsp;October, but the evening talk program starring actress/comedian Rosie O&#39;Donnell suffered from dismally low ratings and was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2012/03/rosie-odonnell-show-cancelled-by-own-described-as-f-king-hellhol/" target="_blank">cancelled</a>&nbsp;by OWN after only one season.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rosie-odonnell-oprah.jpg" style="float: right; " title="Oprah and Rosie before OWN's cancellation of &quot;The Rosie Show&quot; in March 2012. (RadarOnline) " /></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/17/rosie-o-donnell-s-disastrous-oprah-winfrey-network-experience.html" target="_blank">this article</a> from the Daily Beast, <em>The Rosie Show</em> was a disastrous experience for everyone involved (&quot;a f*cking hellhole,&quot; allegedly) and proved to be yet another disappointment for Oprah&#39;s fledging network. OWN struggled to connect with audiences since its premiere in January 2011, prompting a major overhaul of low-rated programming and numerous staff replacements over the next two years.&nbsp;</p><p>The channel&#39;s losses were estimated to be <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/oprah-own-losses-vein_n_1495878.html" target="_blank">$330 million</a> as of May 2012; however, the much-publicized <em>Oprah&#39;s Next Chapter</em> series has provided a sizable ratings boost. And after a raise in OWN&#39;s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retransmission_consent" target="_blank">retransmission consent fee</a> (the channel was given to cable providers practically for free during its first year on air) the network expects to break even in 2013.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Oprah-Lance_WashingtonPost.jpg" style="float: left; " title="&quot;Oprah's Next Chapter&quot; with Lance Armstrong--in which the seven-time Tour de France winner admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs--was a ratings hit, with over 3.2 million viewers tuning in to OWN on January 17, 2013. (ABCNews) " /></div><p>So while Oprah&#39;s career post-Chicago got off to a rocky start, recent sit-downs with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/rihanna-oprah-interview_n_1817559.html" target="_blank">Rihanna</a> and <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/lance-armstrong-oprah-interview-doping-confession-winfrey-18246627" target="_blank">Lance Armstrong</a> have helped cement her status as a top interviewer.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.mediabistro.com/tvnewser/heres-the-katie-couric-we-havent-seen-in-a-while_b164140" target="_blank">Katie Couric</a> tries, but she doesn&#39;t have the majestic &quot;it&quot; factor that Oprah possesses in spades.&nbsp;</p><p>My two cents: OWN should tape more shows in Chicago. Oprah&#39;s celebrity interviews are entertaining, revealing and a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2013/01/18/oprah-lance-armstrong-ratings/1845373/" target="_blank">huge ratings</a>&nbsp;coup&nbsp;for her network, but I&#39;d like to see her take on Chicago&#39;s struggles with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/chicago-school-closings" target="_blank">public schools</a>&nbsp;and <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-31/news/chi-hadiya-pendleton-20130130_1_gun-laws-gun-violence-gun-control" target="_blank">gun violence</a> from her old stomping grounds at Harpo Studios. These local issues should matter on a national level, and having Oprah in our corner could help to bring about the positive change we need (or at least, a high-profile media platform to spread awareness in moving forward).&nbsp;</p><p>The 2013&nbsp;<a href="http://\www.oprah.com/pressroom/OWN-Announces-New-Programming-2013-and-2012-Ratings-Gain" target="_blank">lineup</a>&nbsp;for OWN&nbsp;includes four new original series, a half-hour sitcom and a one-hour scripted drama from Tyler Perry, all filmed in either Atlanta or Los Angeles. Personally, I would love to see more Harpo productions&nbsp;occupying the soundstages here in Chicago, instead of producers always relegating their forces to the overutilized backdrops of Hollywood.</p><p>Also, new episodes of<em> Oprah&#39;s Master Class, Oprah: Where Are They Now?</em>&nbsp;and <em>Oprah&#39;s Next Chapter&nbsp;</em>should feature more&nbsp;Chicago talent. The first people that come to mind: local production designers, editors, musicians, artists, graphic designers, personal chefs and camera crews that had steady employment when Oprah was in&nbsp;town, and have struggled to find work since.&nbsp;</p><p>Has Oprah forgotten about us? When former&nbsp;Mayor Richard M. Daley named the block of Harpo Studios &quot;Oprah Winfrey Way&quot; in May 2011, the talk show queen declared the honor &quot;better than an Oscar or an Emmy.&quot;</p><blockquote><p>&quot;It is really just a full circle, a miracle story,&quot; said Winfrey, &quot;that a little colored girl born in Kosciusko, Mississippi on a red dirt road ends up with my name on a street in the greatest city in the world, Chicago.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>The legendary studio still stands at <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/harpo-inc-chicago" target="_blank">1058 W. Washington Boulevard</a>, but who knows how long it will remain. The film division of Harpo<a href="http://www.deadline.com/interstitial/?ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.deadline.com%2F2013%2F02%2Fharpo-films-prez-kate-forte-out-as-harpo-shifts-attention-from-films-to-scripted-tv%2F" target="_blank"> just folded</a>, and most of the scripted shows are based in California. Will the lingering effects of Oprah&#39;s legacy last much longer, as her once constant presence in Chicago becomes more of a distant memory with each passing year?&nbsp;</p><p>We all know how much Oprah loves giving back (&quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CAscBCdaQg" target="_blank">You get a car! You get a car!</a>&quot; &quot;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzYPJV9LtJg" target="_blank">AUSTRALIAAA!</a>&quot;and the once annual freakout spectacular &quot;<a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=t1HxdxRc9UY" target="_blank">My Favorite Things!</a>&quot;) so here&#39;s hoping that she will return to &quot;the greatest city in the world&quot; with open arms.&nbsp;</p><p>Confession: I can&#39;t stand the Black Eyed Peas, but I watched this entire video in awe.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/dbTb4-ShtsQ" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a> or add her on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett">Facebook</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-02/state-harpo-studios-105575 OWN network cuts one-fifth of its staff http://www.wbez.org/story/own-network-cuts-one-fifth-its-staff-97469 <p><div>Oprah Winfrey's television network, OWN, has announced it is laying off one-fifth of its workers.&nbsp;The television network has seen its share of struggles since it launched in January of last year. Rosie O'Donnell is scheduled to tape her final show today in Chicago after it was cancelled last week. The network announced Monday it was laying off 30 workers and restructuring operations in New York and Los Angeles.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>"As we started to have some more ratings momentum, and the ratings started improving, we needed to address our cost structure so we could actually have the business be incredibly profitable moving forward into the future and having a place that would continue this momentum," said Erik Jacobs, co-president of HARPO and OWN networks.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Winfrey, CEO and chief creative officer of the network, responded to the decision in a statement Monday.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>"It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives," she said. "But the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place. As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network. To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step."</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The recent lay-offs don't include the 40 or so Chicago jobs that will be lost from the cancellation of&nbsp;<em>The Rosie Show</em>. The show, which will air it's final episode on March 30th, filmed in HARPO studios in Chicago's West Loop.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Jacob says the space will continue to produce content for the OWN network. He estimates around 70 hours of television will be produced each week. The studio will also be home to a new OWN show, featuring Iyanla Vanzant. Production has yet to be scheduled for her show.</div></p> Tue, 20 Mar 2012 19:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/own-network-cuts-one-fifth-its-staff-97469 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater 5/9 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-09/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-59-86243 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-May/2011-05-09/56318562.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>1. It's really summer, because the summer performance season has begun. And tonight, the new performance collective Strong Works is beginning their monthly reading series "The Cannon: A Night of Performed Fiction", which will feature Chicago actors performing pieces chosen by Will Litton, fiction editor of <a href="http://www.wagsrevue.com/">Wag's Revue</a>, and Sam Nyhart, company member of Strong Works. What will "The Cannon" consist of? Expect to see "staged readings of new plays, genre-bending improv, engaging panel discussions, musical performances and more."&nbsp;The event is at <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/bonnys-chicago">Bonny's </a>in Logan Square at 9, and there will be jazz music, DJs and DANCING afterwards. $5 suggested donation.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img 2005="" alt="" class="caption" color="" getty="" in="" peter="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-09/56318562.jpg" style="width: 427px; height: 594px;" the="" title="Oprah at &quot;The Color Purple&quot; in 2005 (Getty/Peter Kramer)"></p><p>2. Who gave this sound bite: "But yes, this is really going to happen.&nbsp;... Life is too short."? It's Oprah, and&nbsp;<a href="http://leisureblogs.chicagotribune.com/the_theater_loop/2011/05/my-entry.html">Chris Jones reports</a> she wants to become a real actress (again). Winfrey's goal seem a little at odds with <a href="http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/05/06/oprah-winfrey-own/">her recent claim</a>&nbsp;to EW that her new network OWN is "not where I want it to be," due to the lack of time and energy she's been able to put into it. Winfrey explained to EW that once this final season of <em>The Oprah Show</em> was wrapped up, she would be devoting significantly more effort towards making OWN what it should be. Though her schedule will be much more free once she's out of her normal shooting schedule, the Queen of Media is clearly not slowing down at all.</p><p>3. <a href="http://www.theoubique.org/"><em>Some Enchanted Evening</em></a>, the Rogers and Hammerstein review at Theo Ubique Cabaret, has been extended through June 5. WBEZ's <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-01/combat-dueling-critics-%E2%80%9Cblack-watch%E2%80%9D-84570">Jonathan Abarbanel originally said</a> of the production that "The white, marbleized platform set is a bit overwhelming for the space but there’s no argument with music. No talk, no history of R&amp;H, just pure music and most of it familiar and all of it sung with heart."</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-May/2011-05-09/goodnight-moon.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 429px;" title=""></p><p>4. New productions from <a href="http://www.chicagochildrenstheatre.org/">Chicago Children's Theatre</a> for 2011 to 2012 include <em>Good Night Moo</em>n and&nbsp;<em>Brown Bear, A Moon and A Caterpillar: Treasured Stories by Eric Carle</em>. You'll most likely recognize these as adaptations from either your favorite book as children, or that of your child who would not put them down.</p><p>5. I admittedly know little about opera, so let us leave it to the people who do: Andrew Patner has <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/stage/5255497-421/2-recitals-add-up-to-a-fine-program-for-chicago-opera-theater.html">a lovely review</a> of Chicago Opera Theater's latest program, desrcibing it as "musically very strong, even moving."</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Mon, 09 May 2011 14:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-05-09/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-59-86243