Jump to content

Harpo Productions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harpo Productions
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1986; 38 years ago (1986)
FounderOprah Winfrey
Key people
OwnerOprah Winfrey[3][4]
Number of employees
12,554 (2012)
ParentHarpo, Inc.

Harpo Productions (or Harpo Studios) is an American multimedia production company founded by Oprah Winfrey and based in West Hollywood, California.[1][2] The name "Harpo" is "Oprah" spelled backwards and it was also the name of her on-screen husband in the film The Color Purple (1985).


The company's origins can trace back to 1985 when Oprah appeared in The Color Purple. Winfrey founded her own company in 1986.

Oprah Winfrey got her roots in 1988 when Harpo Productions had to acquire her eponymous talk show from ABC O&O WLS-TV in Chicago, and automatically renewed its deal with King World Productions, who held minority interest, which was set to expire in 1991.[5]

Harpo Productions' subsidiaries consist of Harpo Print, the company's publishing house, and a minority interest in cable network Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Harpo originally owned 50% of OWN along with Discovery Communications, which purchased 24.5% of OWN in 2017[6][7] and a further 20.5% in 2020,[8] leaving Harpo with 5% ownership.[6][7]

Past subsidiaries include Harpo Films, the company's film studio which shut down in early 2013, and Harpo Radio, the company's radio broadcasting division that shuttered on January 1, 2015.[9] The company was previously based in Chicago, with Harpo Studios situated in the West Loop neighborhood. The building was demolished in 2016, and new headquarters for McDonald's opened on the site in 2018.[10]

In January 2021, it was announced that Harpo Productions will produce an Oprah Winfrey documentary for Apple TV+.[11] That documentary series became known as The Me You Can't See, which Winfrey co-hosts with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex.


Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)[edit]

Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) logo

On January 1, 2011, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) launched.[12] It is co-owned by Harpo Studios (5%) and Warner Bros. Discovery (95%).[6] The network replaced the Discovery Health Channel, a cable channel previously owned by Discovery Communications, Inc. The network initially had a variety of new shows, including some hosted by the stable of experts Winfrey has cultivated on her daytime talk show including: The Gayle King Show, Our America with Lisa Ling, In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman and Enough Already! with Peter Walsh.

Harpo Print, LLC[edit]

Together with Hearst Magazines, Harpo Print, LLC publishes O, The Oprah Magazine.[13] The company also published O at Home, which Hearst officially folded in 2008 after a four-year run.[14] In July 2020, it was announced that O, The Oprah Magazine will end its regular print edition after the December 2020 issue.[15][16] The December 2020 of O Magazine featured an article where Oprah thanked readers and also acknowledged it was the magazine's "final monthly print edition."[17]

Former properties[edit]

Harpo Studios[edit]

Marquee above entrance at the former Harpo Studios in Chicago (on a site now used by McDonald's as its global headquarters)
Harpo Studios logo sign banners located on the Washington St. side of the main studio in Chicago, Illinois

Harpo Studios was the home of The Oprah Winfrey Show from January 15, 1990. located in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. The studio also housed The Rosie Show, an American evening television talk show which was hosted and produced by actress and comedian Rosie O'Donnell, airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Harpo Studios has Emmy Award–winning teams in production designs, lighting, camera work, editing, audio direction and graphic design. It also served as the location for the set of The Women of Brewster Place. Scenes from Beloved were also filmed on a set in Harpo Studios. The studio was sold to developer Sterling Bay in 2014 and was demolished in 2016.[18] The site would be home to the new global headquarters of McDonald's.

The land where the production studio stood once housed the 2nd Regiment Armory that was used as a makeshift morgue for victims of the capsizing of the steamer SS Eastland.[19] The 88,000-square-foot (8,200 m2) facility was renovated and opened in the late 1980s for her show.[20]

Former divisions[edit]

Harpo Films, Inc.[edit]

Harpo Films, Inc.
Company typeDivision
IndustryFilm production
  • 1993; 31 years ago (1993)
Defunct2013; 11 years ago (2013) (as telefilm producer)
United States
Area served
OwnerHarpo, Inc.
ParentHarpo Productions

Founded in 1993, Harpo Films, Inc. was the biggest division of Harpo Productions, run by Kate Forte for 18 years. It was an active supplier of motion pictures, developing and producing award-winning features and long-form television programs, including the "Oprah Winfrey Presents" telefilms for the ABC television network. Harpo Films was based in Los Angeles, California.

In late 2008, Harpo Films signed an exclusive output pact with HBO.[21] Previously, Harpo Films had a deal with ABC, which included production of Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Albom's For One More Day.[21] In February 2013, Harpo Films was shut down, citing that "the demand for long-form projects, especially on the broadcast side, has dried out."[22] Many of its employees were expected to move on to Harpo Studios' new scripted series division.[22] A small number of films already in production were released under the Harpo Films banner in 2014. Since then, the label has appeared irregularly on various films for which Winfrey has served as a producer.

Feature films[edit]


Harpo Radio, Inc.[edit]

XM 156 / SR 195 Logo as Oprah and Friends

Harpo Radio, Inc. was the holding company for the Oprah & Friends channel (156 on XM Satellite Radio). Oprah & Friends featured a broad range of daily and weekly programming on a variety of topics including self-improvement, nutrition, fitness, parenting, health, home, finance, and current events hosted by personalities from The Oprah Winfrey Show and O, The Oprah Magazine.

Regular presenters included specialists from a variety of fields, including Dr. Maya Angelou, Marianne Williamson, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Bob Greene, Nate Berkus, Jean Chatzky, Gayle King, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and Holly Robinson Peete and Rodney Peete. Oprah, herself, also personally interviewed some of the most influential voices in the spiritual realm on her weekly program, Oprah's Soul Series.

Harpo Radio, Inc. produced and broadcast the Oprah & Friends channel from an XM studio in Chicago, Illinois, from New York, New York. It shut down on January 1, 2015.[9]


  1. ^ a b Rose, Lacey (March 3, 2015). "Oprah Winfrey on Closing Harpo Studios, OWN Expansion, Broadway Plans". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Channick, Robert (March 3, 2015). "Harpo studios to close in December, officials say". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 7, 2015.
  3. ^ "Harpo Inc. | Private Stock: Annual Report & Profile:PrivCo". privco.com. PrivCo.
  4. ^ "Oprah Winfrey: she invented skirtsHome". Urban Hustler.
  5. ^ "Oprah reups with King World" (PDF). Broadcasting. August 8, 1988. Retrieved October 1, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Flint, Joe (December 4, 2017). "Oprah Winfrey Sells Part of Stake in OWN Network to Discovery; Discovery will control 70% of OWN after purchase of stake for $70 million". The Wall Street Journal Online. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Smith, Gerry (December 4, 2017). "Discovery Boosts Its Stake in Oprah Winfrey Network". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  8. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (December 22, 2020). "Discovery Boosts Stake In OWN, Oprah Winfrey Takes Stock In Longtime Partner". Deadline. Retrieved May 24, 2021.
  9. ^ a b Hinckley, David (January 8, 2015). "Oprah Winfrey's SiriusXM channel goes off the air". New York Daily News.
  10. ^ Koziarz, Jay (August 2, 2016). "Demolition of the former Harpo Studios building closes a chapter of Chicago history". Curbed Chicago.
  11. ^ "An Oprah Winfrey Documentary Is Being Produced For Release On Apple TV+". Black Enterprise. January 15, 2021. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  12. ^ "Oprah's OWN Network Launch Draws Solid Reviews Even From The Cynics". Business Insider. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  13. ^ "Harpo Studios Announces the Formation of Harpo Creative Works", Oprah.com, June 22, 2010.
  14. ^ Pérez-Peña, Richard (November 8, 2008). "Hearst to Close Its Spinoff of O, the Oprah Magazine". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Oprah's O Mag to end regular print editions after 20 years". AP NEWS. July 27, 2020.
  16. ^ ARBEL, TALI (July 28, 2020). "Oprah's O Mag to end regular print editions after 20 years". Chron.
  17. ^ Winfrey, Oprah (November 17, 2020). "Oprah Thanks Readers of O in the Magazine's Last Monthly Issue". O, the Oprah Magazine. Retrieved December 17, 2020.
  18. ^ Bomkamp, Samantha (July 26, 2016). "Harpo Studios demolished to make room for new McDonald's headquarters". Chicago Tribune.
  19. ^ "The Oprah Winfrey Show trivia", Oprah.com. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  20. ^ Colander, Pat (March 12, 1989). "Oprah Winfrey's Odyssey: Talk-Show Host to Mogul". The New York Times.
  21. ^ a b Frankel, Daniel (December 16, 2008). "Oprah Winfrey pacts with HBO". Variety.
  22. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie. "Harpo Films Prez Kate Forte Out As Harpo Shifts Attention From Films To Scripted TV". Deadline Hollywood (February 11, 2013).
  23. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 23, 2020). "Warner Bros. to Release Mad Max: Fury Road Prequel and The Color Purple Musical in Theaters in 2023". Variety. Archived from the original on December 24, 2020. Retrieved December 24, 2020.

External links[edit]