Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios In Chicago To Close, Leaving Behind 200 Employees

Oprah Winfrey is making the big move to Hollywood. Harpo, which has called Chicago home for more than 25 years, is closing its doors so Winfrey can fully have her whole business running on the West Coast.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey mentioned that, although she will miss Chicago, she needs to move forward.

“[Chicago has] been everything for me. I’ve spent more hours in this building than I have any other building on Earth.”

The media mogul and actress went on to say that the neighborhood that Harpo called home has come a long way, making both the company and the neighborhood grow together.

“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]… We have been fortunate to have this spectacular city of Chicago as our home for over 25 years.”

Winfrey is leaving behind 200 employees, whose contracts will be good through to December. A group of the Chicago-based Harpo employees will switch over to OWN in Los Angeles.

So why sunny Los Angeles over Chicago? For Winfrey, it was all about history. “The idea of being on the lot where Natalie Wood filmed West Side Story or Marilyn Monroe did Some Like it Hot. You automatically feel like you’re part of a community that’s larger than you.”

So what’s the next step for Oprah now that she has took off her training wheels and launched a shaky first year but ultimately successful network? Well, it looks like Winfrey is going to continue to be on the big screen in different productions.

In the last two years, Winfrey has had roles in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Ava DuVernay’s Selma. Both went on to gain credible award attention. Her next project is a recurring role in OWN’s Queen Sugar, which pairs her with DuVernay once again, but this time in the medium of television. As mentioned, Queen Sugar was bought by OWN.

In a statement, Winfrey said, “I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN. The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.”

DuVernay is directing as well as writing and executive producing the show, and Winfrey will act as an executive producer as well. Oprah plans to be on multiple episodes.

[Photo by Kevin Winters / Getty Images]