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Oprah Winfrey sadly shuts down Harpo Studios forever

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After 26 years, Oprah ends production at Harpo Studios

Oprah Winfrey is set to shut down production at her Chicago-based Harpo Studios by the end of 2015. After much thought, the billionaire mogul has decided production for her personal network OWN will be better done in Hollywood.

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LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 26-year-old company will begin its transition into Los Angeles beginning this month.

"[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 [in Chicago]," Winfrey stated to The Hollywood Reporter, noting that OWN will stop shooting shows there as of Tuesday, March 10. "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."

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With OWN still in an early growth stage, she and Harpo presidents Sheri Salata and Erik Logan believe it is best if all the team members work under the same roof. The network has had three consecutive years of growth, recently ranking as "the number 20 ad-supported cable network among women," according to The Hollywood Reporter. Ratings among the African-American audience continues to increase at a 12 percent rate each year.

Although the closure of Harpo Studios will impact 200 employees, 61-year-old Winfrey does not plan on slowing down OWN productions or her own acting persuits.

The network hopes to launch more scripted programming, including a series based on Natalie Baszile's novel "Queen Sugar," where Winfrey hopes to play a recurring role. This series will join a "quartet of Tyler Perry-scripted series," the "two-night Octavia Spencer-led miniseries, Tulsa" and a seven-part event series, "Belief."

"For all of those years on the Oprah Show, we were able to encapsulate the stories that connected to our audience in a way that nobody else could," explained Winfrey. "I love telling the real stories of peoples' lives, and now we get to create them, make them up, and I get to be part of them as an actor and producer."

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Winfrey's other shows, "Master Class" and "Iyanla Fix My Life" will continue to be produced but now in the Los Angeles location.

"The idea of being on the lot where Natalie Wood filmed 'West Side Story' or Marilyn Monroe did 'Some Like it Hot,'" said Winfrey, "you automatically feel like you're part of a community that's larger than you."

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