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Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios to Shut Down in December (But is It a Good Thing?)

Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios to Shut Down in December (But is It a Good Thing?)

Alas, it’s
the end of an era. Though its closing was previously announced, and then denied; but this time, it’s for certain.

Oprah Winfrey
announced today in Chicago that her Near
West Side Harpo Studios will shut down by December of this year, and she will
move to Los Angeles. Whatever OWN programs that are still being made at studio, will
cease production this week.

In a statement, Winfrey said: “[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…” (and she’s not lying. 20 years ago, you could have
given away that area of town. Now you can’t afford to live there, unless you’re
Warren Buffett.)

She
continued to say that the business has changed, and she had to move along with it: ”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.”

The clock had been ticking on the studio’s demise, which Winfrey opened nearly 30 years ago in 1986,
when the Chicago-based real estate developer, Sterling Bay Cos., bought the 4-building, 170,000 square foot studio in 2014,
paying $30.5 million, in a deal for 5 different land transactions.

But for the
sake of discussion, did Winfrey do the right thing?

The physical studio
gave her tremendous power and status in the business. How many people in the
industry can claim that they own their own studio production facility, outside
of Tyler Perry? But, as she said, the business has changed, and certainly, it was becoming nothing but a huge expense, producing little, while costing her a lot, financially.
Likely the same thing is happening to Perry right now. 

Perhaps studios are
increasingly becoming relics of the past, and it was smart of her to unload it, to
keep ahead of the rapidly changing nature of the media business.

What do you
say?

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