WBEZ | Harpo Studios http://www.wbez.org/tags/harpo-studios 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 The Rosie Show debuts on the Oprah Winfrey Network http://www.wbez.org/story/rosie-show-debuts-oprah-winfrey-network-92937 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-30/rosie-final.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Rosie O'Donnell is scheduled to make her debut on the <em>Oprah Winfrey Network</em> Monday. The New York native recently bought a house in Chicago and now she moves into a second new home: Oprah's Harpo studios in the West Loop.</p><p><em>The Rosie Show</em> marks her return to the talk show format. It's been nine years since<em> The Rosie O'Donnell</em> show ended, and a few years since her stint on <em>The View</em>.</p><p>O'Donnell's political activism has at times made her a controversial figure. But her new show is slated to be much like <em>The Oprah Winfrey Show</em>: an hour-long daily covering current events, hometown heroes and celebrities. Her first celebrity guest is actor Russell Brand.<br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 10 Oct 2011 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/rosie-show-debuts-oprah-winfrey-network-92937 Dear Rosie: Forget commuting, move to the West Loop (my guide to the neighborhood, post-Oprah) http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-30/dear-rosie-forget-commuting-move-west-loop-my-guide-neighborhood-pos <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-March/2011-03-30/rosie-final.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" height="300" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-March/2011-03-30/rosie-final.jpg" title="" width="400"></p><p>The <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/entertainment/people/4570947-421/rosie-odonnell-keeping-home-in-new-york.html">Sun-Times reported that Rosie O'Donnell will NOT be moving to Chicago</a>, instead opting to commute from her home in suburban NY.</p><p>I think it's a great move that Rosie O'Donnell is coming to Chicago to tape her OWN&nbsp;network show in the Harpo Studios space. As Oprah leaves Chicago television production, it will no doubt leave a void and not unlike the move Jerry Kleiner is making, could change the fabric of the now-burgeoning West Loop neighborhood.&nbsp;</p><p>What we are seeing is a second generation of star power. Rosie joins celebrity chefs Grant Achatz (Next) and Stephanie Izard (Girl &amp; Goat) as the new West Loop.</p><p>But please. If you want to be a Chicago favorite, at least move into the neighborhood.</p><p>I always liked Rosie O'Donnell. Her stand-up comedy was groundbreaking and her daytime TV show was at least interesting (I never really watched it because I was in my 20s, and frankly, people in their 20s don't have time for daytime TV). I did get to see more of her when she had the brief stint on <i>The View</i> because internet video was introduced to the masses. I loved how she sparred with her co-hosts and created some memorable TV moments. She is a good host. Now let's hope she can be a good neighbor.&nbsp;</p><p>I've lived in the West Loop for a couple years now. And to prove that I don't have a problem coexisting with big egos, I am offering my expert services. I can give Rosie a quick tour of what to visit and what to avoid. I can tell her what times are the best times to get in at Wishbone (avoid Sundays around 11am). I can act like her visiting relative and point out what the buildings <em>used</em> to be before Chicago changed.&nbsp; "Rosie, that bar used to be a funeral home (West End)." "Rosie, that bar used to be a Bar Louie (Haymarket)." "Hey Rosie, that bar used to be owned by Chelios (abandoned building)."</p><p>I could also offer real Chicago history lessons. "You know, Rosie, this used to be skid row. Yep, this used to be $5 prostitute territory. Now, it will cost you at least $50."</p><p>"Hey, hey Rosie - I think Mary Todd Lincoln lived over by Washington somewhere, after the assassination. A lot of people thought she went crazy..."</p><p>My hope is that Rosie lives in the West Loop and walks to work like Mike Quade does in Wrigleyville.&nbsp;Don't go set up a crash pad on Michigan Avenue. That's Oprah-style - not cool. She had business here, but lived in a different area of the city. We need a celebrity to come work AND&nbsp;live here.</p><p>There is so much housing inventory, you could buy several two bedroom condos (really, a bedroom and a walk-in closet) right next to each other and knock down a couple walls. It would be good for the market. If you act fast, you might even be able to get a good deal on the Blockbuster store, which is going under. Make that your own entertainment room. I'll help with the parties.&nbsp;</p><p>In closing, Rosie, I would love to have you as a neighbor. Maybe it would force the Dominick's to clean up the elevators. Maybe it would force the Madison #20 bus to stop bunching up every rush hour. Maybe it would even force Whitney Young High School from recruiting violations.</p><p>Oprah's time is up. It's your time to shine. Come to the West Loop (jingle): We aren't skid row anymore.....</p><p>I can't wait to have you over, neighbor.</p></p> Wed, 30 Mar 2011 19:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/justin-kaufmann/2011-03-30/dear-rosie-forget-commuting-move-west-loop-my-guide-neighborhood-pos