Oprah Lays Off 30 OWN Employees

The struggling OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network has laid off 30 employees today as it is restructuring its operations in Los Angeles and New York.  The responsibilities handled by the eliminated positions will be redistributed among remaining OWN executives as well as employees of OWN’s owners, Discovery Communications and Harpo Studios. “It is difficult to make tough business decisions that affect people’s lives,” said Oprah Winfrey, OWN’s CEO and chief creative officer, “but the economics of a start-up cable network just don’t work with the cost structure that was in place.  As CEO, I have a responsibility to chart the course for long-term success for the network.  To wholly achieve that long-term success, this was a necessary next step.”

Departing as part of the layoffs is OWN SVP production Julie Stern. Additionally, OWN COO John MacDonald went to management a few months ago to let them know he was not planning to renew his contract.  He was asked to stay on to help with the transition, which he agreed to and will stay through May. In light of MacDonald’s pending departure, Neal Kirsch, CFO of Discovery’s U.S. networks, will be moving to OWN in the role of chief operating officer and chief financial officer, reporting  to OWN presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata. In addition, following the recent exit of SVP Business and Legal Affairs Alan Saxe, Tina Perry, VP, business and legal affairs, OWN, will now oversee the department and partner with Lee Bartlett, EVP, global production management, business and legal affairs, Discovery. Michelle Holt, VP, production, OWN, will now oversee production management, replacing Stern; and Ian Parmiter, SVP, marketing, Discovery Ad Sales, will oversee integrated marketing for OWN. “We have been on the air for 15 months, and since September we have gained momentum in ratings and viewership,” Logan said. “Restructuring our business will allow us to build a solid foundation for long-term growth.” After a disappointing start, OWN has posted modest ratings gains in the past few months, culminating with the record 3.5 million viewership for Winfrey’s interview with Whitney Houston’s daughter earlier this month.

The layoffs come on the heels of OWN’s decision on Friday to cancel the Rosie O’Donnell talk show, which also will likely lead to departures. (About 30 crew members working on the show were already laid off when it was scaled back to a smaller venue in January, along with 5-6 staffers who left with Page Hurwitz when she departed as executive producer in December.) The cuts also follow the latest high-profile OWN executive exits of EVP of production and development Lisa Erspamer, one of Winfrey’s closest and most trusted executives, and Saxe.

Do you think that Oprah decision to move to a cable network instead of a free TV channel is what has her network in a downward spiral?  She was on and popping before.  Sure her ratings were declining for her show, but we are talking about an entire network.  Do you think that she would be having these problems had she stayed on a free television provider?

Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, Alfre Woodard and Phylicia Rashad Set For Steel Magnolias’ Remake

Lifetime has assembled the cast of its Steel Magnolias reboot. Queen Latifah has signed on to star in and executive produce the original movie, an updated, contemporary TV adaptation of the play and 1989 film. She is joined on the all-black cast by Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, Jill Scott, Adepero Oduye and Rashad’s daughter, Condola Rashad.

Produced by Sony Pictures Television, Steel Magnolias chronicles the lives and friendship of six women in Louisiana: M’Lynn (Queen Latifah), Ouiser (Woodard), Clairee (Phylicia Rashad), Truvy (Scott), Annelle (Oduye) and Shelby (Condola Rashad). Supporting each other through their triumphs and tragedies, they congregate at Truvy’s beauty shop to ponder the mysteries of life and death, husbands and children — and hair and nails — all the important topics that bring women together. In the 1989 movie, the roles were played by Sally Field (M’Lynn), Dolly Parton (Truvy), Shirley MacLaine (Ouiser), Darryl Hannah (Annelle), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee), and Julia Roberts (Shelby).

The remake, which is slated to begin production next month in Atlanta for a debut later this year, will be executive produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Latifah, her producing partner Shakim Compere and Shelby Stone. Kenny Leon, who previously helmed ABC’s TV adaptation of the play A Raisin In The Sun – also from Sony TV, Zadan and Meron — is directing from a script by Sally Robinson (Iron Jawed Angels) based on the play and feature screenplay by Robert Harling. “The caliber of talent associated with this film is astounding and falls in line with our strategy to make Lifetime a first stop for the industry’s best both in front of and behind the camera,” said Lifetime’s president and general manager Nancy Dubuc. “Queen Latifah, Phylicia, Alfre, Jill, Adepero and Condola are some of the most celebrated women in music, film, television and stage.

Is It Time For “Queen Latifah” to Ditch Her Rap Moniker?

With Queen Latifah making these major mogul moves, don’t you think it’s time she roll with Dana Owens?  I think she needs to make her grown woman steeze complete by ditching the rap name.  Dana has just announced she will be leading the cast of the brown version of the “Steel Magnolias.”  Along side her will be Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard.  Am I correct to assume that these ladies of distinction will be walking around the set calling her Queen?  It’s just time, it really is…..with all due repect.  What do you think? Maybe you know something I don’t know.


Steve Harvey Picks Chicago as New TV Talk Show’s Home + Q&A With Steve

When Steve Harvey signed on to do a nationally syndicated daytime TV talk show, producers considered basing the program in Connecticut or New York.   Although a Cleveland native, I would deduce that Cleveland never stood a chance at even being considered.  If his standup is conducive to his true feelings, he’s not to fond of coming home. Steve currently resides in Atlanta and it is rumored that it could have been chosen as well, but Steve decided on Chicago.

“But Chicago was my favorite pick,” said Harvey, 55, who lived downtown in the mid-’90s during his stint as morning radio host on WGCI-FM (107.5).

“It’s such a great city,” said the stand-up comic, author and TV and radio personality. “The restaurants are great. The neighborhoods are great. The downtown is probably one of the best downtowns there is. If I’ve got to take my family somewhere, I’ll take them there.”

Harvey already has a real estate agent scoping out potential new homes in the city for him and his wife, Marjorie, and the youngest of their seven children, Lori, 15, and Wynton, 14. (It won’t be Rosie O’Donnell’s $2.5 million Lake View pad.)

The family plans to move here in June, a few months before the debut in autumn of his hourlong talker, “Steve Harvey,” taped before a studio audience at NBC Tower. The show will air in Chicago at 2 p.m. weekdays on WMAQ-Channel 5.

Harvey is still undecided about which neighborhood he wants to live in — or which baseball team he’ll root for. But he’s sure about one thing: Life is about to get pretty hectic for the “Family Feud” host and radio star, who will broadcast his long-running morning show from the WVAZ-FM (102.7) studio downtown.

“It’ll be busy but it’s a blessing and I’ll take it,” Harvey said. “It beats sitting around wondering where the next gig is coming from.”

Q. How will your TV show be different?

A. There’s not a lot of male viewpoint on daytime TV. I’ve got kids. I have a wife. I think that’s a unique perspective. Above all else, there’s nobody in daytime TV that can beat me at the funny thing – except Ellen DeGeneres. She’s my girl. I love her. Other than Ellen, I think I’m the guy who’s gonna put more funny on television.

I’m going to take something from the old “Carol Burnett Show.” I’m going to walk out and talk to people. As a stand-up, I’m very good at talking to everyday people and being funny on the spot. That’s my forte. That right there is going to be a little different. After that, we’re going to get into some segments that aren’t there right now. I can’t give it away because I need the viewers.

Q. Will you have celebrity guests?

A. Not many. This show is going to be “real people” driven. I’ve been hosting “Family Feud” for almost 400 episodes. Not one single family has canceled. Celebrities cancel all the time. I found that dealing with everyday people — they have a lot more interesting stories. Celebrities don’t come on TV to be very open about anything. They come on to promote stuff. I want a show that’s going to inspire people and uplift people. It’s going to be a very positive show with a male perspective to it. I’ve made myself a champion for women for a lot of years now, and I think that will come through on the TV show.

Q. What will your typical day look like?

A. I’ll get up at 3:30, work out to 4:15. Get dressed, head over to the [radio] studio. I just need to walk through the door two minutes before 5. I don’t do any prep for my radio show. They’ve been begging me to do that for seven years. It doesn’t work for me. I’ll do that until 9 o’clock. I’ll sit down and eat and head across the street because NBC studios are right across the street from the radio station. I’ll prep for today’s show. Hair and makeup is a really quick process for me. Then I’ll start taping the show. Then it’s off to dinner with the wife and the kids.

Q. Are you hoping to capture some “Oprah” magic in Chicago?

A. Oprah did a lot for me by putting me on her show with the book and everything. If I could get a portion of that success, that would be great. We’re going to have a post meeting after every show. I learned that from Oprah, who was brilliant at that. Right after every show she had a post meeting to go over what worked and what didn’t work.

Q. Will you get a new studio at NBC Tower or inherit Jerry Springer’s old digs?

A. I don’t know what used to shoot in there. We’re going to do some remodeling and make it fit me. They’re going to dump the money and make it high-def.

Q. Where did you used to live in Chicago?

A. I lived on South Wabash in a high rise. Of course, I wasn’t doing as well as I’m doing now. I had some rental furniture in there. My wife won’t tolerate that this time.

Q. You’re going to keep your house in Atlanta but spend most of your time living in Chicago. Which will be home?

A. My home is wherever my family is. As long as I’ve got my wife and kids — this is the person I’ve turned into. Ten or 15 years ago, this would have been a disaster. When I was touring with the “Kings of Comedy” and all that, I was a different guy. I’m very stable now. When you find the right relationship, I think that can change a man. As long as I got my wife and my kids, I’m very cool with that.

Q. What did your kids say about moving to Chicago?

A. They’ve got their friends here [in Atlanta], so quite naturally they weren’t really keen on the move. But they understand this is what I do for a living. Dad’s old. This is his last shot. My kids don’t really have a choice. Since they don’t work and make any contribution to either place, they’ve got to go with whatever Mom and Dad come up with. They just want make sure that they can meet some new friends up there in Chicago. They want to know if they can decorate their own room. I said yes.

Q. Cubs or Sox?

A. That’s an ugly question! Definitely a Chicago Bulls fan, all day. I picked the Bears a lot in all my NFL picks last year. Haven’t decided on the baseball team yet.

Q. What do you make of Rosie reportedly leaving Chicago and taking her TV show to New York?

A. I hope it works out for her because I really like her. I think they’re still trying to find the magic in that show. She certainly had it in her old show. If I was Rosie, I’d just do Rosie. Rosie works. But it doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I’ve got to go up there and do the best I can do. There’s enough room for everybody. If she was up there I’d swing by and say hello.

Q. Are you nervous about this next chapter in your life?

A. I’ve never done this before. I’d be kidding you if I didn’t say I wasn’t nervous about it. I’m excited at the same time. It’s like a roller coaster: You’re having fun but you’re scared to death. When I’m a stand-up and I’m about to go on stage, it’s like walking out and stepping off a cliff. I just hope the [parachute] opens, it works real well and it’s a nice enjoyable ride. Because if you start falling and that chute don’t open, you’ve got problems. Let’s just get to Chicago, open that chute and hope it works well. I’m trusting in God on that one. He hasn’t failed me yet.

Congrats Steve.


Mommy Mogul Whispers: Beyonce Scheduled For First Live Performance Since Giving Birth

Well it didn’t take long for this superwoman to get back to bizness.  Beyonce didn’t waste anytime getting into her new role of mommy moguldum.  She has just revealed a collaboration with Revel Resort’s Memorial Day Weekend kick off party  in Atlantic City, NJ.  Bumble B will play a trio of exclusive shows to help launch the $2.4 billion Revel entertainment center on May 25, 26 and 27. The singer’s first shows since 2011 will take place in the smoke-free Revel’s signature performance space, Ovation Hall, which was designed by a team of Cirque du Soleil veterans. The 5,050-capacity space features an unobstructed view for every patron and a state-of-the-art  sound system. (Tickets for the shows go on sale on April 6 at 10 a.m.) I noticed the initial announcement on  Beyonce’s facebook page.

Brand new resort + Memorial Day Weekend + summer kickoff party + new live show = Beyoncé getting back to business live on stage at Revel. Three exclusive shows with the unstoppable star at the brand new beachfront resort.

Antoine Walker’s 2006 Championship Ring: SOLD

A championship ring has always been known as priceless to the owner. Antoine Walker has been forced to sell off his most prized possessions as part of his bankruptcy case. One of those prizes WAS his 2006 NBA championship ring that he earned as a member of the Miami Heat. What did it sell for you ask? The ring was sold to an Andres Garcia for $21,500.

Antoine filed for bankruptcy back in 2010. Bankruptcy documents state that Antoine is claiming more than $12.7 million in debts, but he only has $4 million in assets. He in-turn has to liquidate his assets to pay back his creditors. Evelyn of the Basketball Wives is also caught up in his bankrupt case as well.

Antoine allegedly had given Ev $560,000, when he knew he was in bankruptcy. This is an accusation made by the trustee over Antoine’s bankruptcy case. The trustee is claiming that the two concocted a fraudulent transaction in an attempt to hide his money. Evelyn is refuting those claims. Claiming that she didn’t know he was broke and she didn’t use the money to start her store, Dulce, as the trustee also claims. She states that she used the monies from the sale of the engagement ring he had given her.  No word on how this part of the dilemma  is playing out yet.

No money, Mo problems….BTW, that’s the infamous ring in the photo.  H*ll, everybody involved is in the photo.

Source: TMZ

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