First I have a confession to make. The news about this actually came out a month ago, but I forgot to write anything about it. Hey, it happens to all of us - like forgetting your wallet, or like that one last item that you forgot to pick up at the supermarket.
Better late than not at all.
So with that apology comes the news that, very quietly, Oprah Winfrey retained the real estate investment company Eastdil Secured to explore the possible sale of all, or part, of her Harpo Studios, located on the Near West Side of Chicago, where she taped her talk show for years, starting in 1988..
Not that it was unexpected…
With the end of a 25-year run on her daily talk show, and now devoting all her energy to the Oprah Winfrey Network, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, there was speculation that Oprah would soon unload the facilities.
And it’s not like she had any real connections to Chicago, despite the fact that local residents wanted to believe that she was one of “their own.”
The reality was that Harpo Studios, which was originally the 2nd Regiment Armory, and was even used as a temporary morgue for over 800 victims of a steamship disaster, was merely a place for her to produce her TV show, and Chicago was merely a place to rest her head on occasion.
Though she had a condo located in the exclusive Near North Side Chicago neighborhood, known locally as the “Gold Coast” (which she put up for sale as soon as her show ended), she spent most of her time in her other residences, including, a country estate in Michigan, another estate in Hawaii, a penthouse in New York City, and her main home, a mansion in Santa Barbara.
And that’s not including another home she built for herself in Los Angeles.
When Oprah left Chicago, she and OWN execs promised
that they would be producing new programming for the cable network from the Chicago studios and, to date, they have kept their word. Some 130 hours of programming and post-production work accounting for some one third of the entire programming on OWN, are still done from Harpo Studios
Though there is still a ton of film and TV series production work currently done in Chicago outside Harpo including the Steve Harvey Show which is taped in Chicago, but at the NBC Chicago Studios, located in downtown Chicago.
But despite all this activity and the possibility that Oprah may not sell the entire studio and still retain part of it, this is the likely end of Harpo Studios as we know it and indeed an era is passing. But nothing last forever.
However, if Oprah’s good buddy Tyler Perry is in the market to open another studio, have I got a deal for him.