Bye Chicago! Oprah Shuts Down Harpo Studios, Lays Off 200 Employees
“And you don’t get a job, and you don’t get a job! Nobody gets a job!” Oprah Winfrey, the talk show host legend, is laying off 200 employees as she shuts down the iconic Harpo Studios in Chicago and moves to Los Angeles, The Hollywood Reporter said.
This isn’t the end of Winfrey’s empire, though; it’s the beginning. Winfrey, creator of the OWN network, is expanding to newer horizons in a newly-constructed three-floor locale in West Hollywood.
“The time had come to downsize this part of the business and to move forward. It will be sad to say goodbye, but I look ahead with such a knowing that what the future holds is even more than I can see,” Winfrey told THR.
The Harpo offices in Chicago stopped shooting shows for OWN on Tuesday.
“Though the Chicago lease continues through April 2016, Winfrey and her key executives intend to stop the back-and-forth routine they’ve been balancing for nearly half a decade sooner than that,” THR added.
Two hundred employees will be left behind and a small number of Chicago-based Harpo staffers will join a team of 140 OWN members in Los Angeles.
The expansion to Los Angeles is a bittersweet moment for 61-year-old Winfrey. Chicago was, after all, Harpo Studios’ home for almost three decades:
“[Chicago has] been everything for me. I’ve spent more hours in this building than I have any other building on Earth. …We were here when there was nothing but hoes and rats on the street, and now it’s one of the hottest neighborhoods [in Chicago],” Winfrey said.
The 26-year-old multimedia production company sold its four-building campus to real estate developer Sterling Bay Cos. for $30.5 million.
Winfrey doesn’t have much time for tears, though; the talk show titan has a plethora of upcoming projects on her plate. The talk show titan plans to move in front of the camera as an actress for OWN’s Queen Sugar, which is written, directed, and produced by Selma‘s Ava DuVernay.
“At OWN, Queen Sugar will join a quartet of Tyler Perry-scripted series — all of which recently secured additional episode orders — as well as the upcoming two-night Octavia Spencer–led miniseries, Tulsa, already in development,” THR said.
Outside of OWN, Winfrey is slated to play Richard Pryor’s grandmother in Lee Daniels’ upcoming Pryor biopic.
“I love telling the real stories of peoples’ lives, and now we get to create them, make them up, and I get to be part of them as an actor…” Winfrey said.