Oprah Winfrey is set to sell her Harpo Studios to Chicago developer Sterling Bay after putting the complex up for sale months ago. A lease-back agreement will keep Winfrey’s media company on the site for two more years as part of the pact, which will take effect within 30 days. Winfrey first established her namesake studio in 1990 anchored by her talk program The Oprah Winfrey Show but ended the series in 2011 to start OWN Network. Harpo Studios currently employs over 200 in Chicago. “We have entered into a purchasing agreement with Sterling Bay for the four-building Harpo Studios Campus in Chicago’s West Loop. The property will be leased back to Harpo for two years and the studio will continue to produce programming for OWN,” a Harpo spokesperson confirmed in a statement.
Syndicated daytime talker The Nate Berkus Show will end its run at the end of this season, its second. The show, hosted by Oprah Winfrey protege Nate Berkus, is produced by Winfrey’s Harpo Studios and Sony Pictures TV. “After careful consideration, we have decided that The Nate Berkus Show will not return for a third season in the fall,” the two companies said in a joint statement. “We are grateful for the hard work and heart that Nate, (exec producer) Corin Nelson and their entire team have poured into the show, and we’re very proud of what they’ve delivered.” The end of Nate Berkus, first reported by Broadcasting & Cable, comes two years into a three-year deal with the show’s core NBC station group. The group has already committed to two new talk shows for fall hosted by Jeff Probst and Steve Harvey. Nate Berkus never took off in the ratings, averaging 1.4 million viewers this season. “I’m incredibly proud of my hard working and talented staff, and proud of the show we were able to produce every day,” Berkus said in a statement.
Chance Patterson, previously VP International Communications at Discovery Communications, has been hired as SVP Corporate Affairs and Communications at Harpo Studios. He will manage Harpo’s external and internal communications functions, including corporate communications and media relations, and report to Harpo and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network presidents Sheri Salata and Erik Logan. Patterson succeeds Lisa Halliday, who left her post as Harpo’s head of communications and strategy earlier this month after 12 years with the company. Before Discovery, where he oversaw communications strategy for 21 international TV brands, Patterson was VP Corporate Communications and Government Affairs at Sirius XM Radio.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
TCA: OWN Announces Premiere Dates For ‘Rosie’ & ‘OWN Your Life’
Oprah Winfrey blew through the TCA press tour today to address critics at a morning session promoting OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, having been freshly installed as CEO of the network owned by Discovery Communications. She’d acknowledged earlier this summer that she hadn’t been dedicating all of her energies to OWN and aimed to change that going forward, in part to address its growing pains in the form of falling ratings. ”In my new role, I am focusing on the unity of Harpo and OWN, aligning them together,” she told the gathered critics. To that end, she introduced OWN’s new co-presidents Sheri Salata and Erik Logan, former heads at Harpo Studios who joined the new network in June. It’s no secret that OWN has struggled to find its footing and an identity, with a lineup of cheesy reality shows and little programming flow. Key to that new push is the hiring of Rosie O’Donnell, whom Winfrey also introduced today.
O’Donnell charmed the room with her wisecracking, no-nonsense style, discussing how her coming to OWN went down when she’d been courted by much larger and deeper-pocketed networks. ”I called my agent and told him to call the Oprah people, because I wanted to go to OWN,” she said. “And you know how agents only care about what you want to do, not finances? My agent was thrilled that I wanted to go to basic cable and not one of the major networks. … Oprah came in with a bunch of people from her staff and asked, ‘Why do you want to do this?’ And I’m like, ‘Because it’s you.’ With Oprah, it’s a huge stamp of approval, almost like being knighted in a way.”