Oprah's Harpo Studios plans mass lay off of Chicago employees

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On the heels of reports that the "The Oprah Winfrey Show's" final episode raked in 16.4 million viewers, its highest ratings since 1993, we now know how  Oprah Winfrey's studio plans to thank "the best team in TV": By laying off as many as a third of its employees over the next few months.

Crain's Chicago Business reports that Harpo Studios, Inc. filed a notice in early-May alerting the Illinois Department of Employment Security that it would be laying off at least one-third of its current 400 full and part-time employees, though the company didn't specify the exact number of jobs it plans to eliminate.

"Employees are being notified on a departmental basis whether their jobs will be eliminated," a Harpo spokeswoman says. "Most of those leaving us are doing so voluntarily to pursue other interests."

About 50 employees decided to relocate with Oprah to the L.A. offices for OWN, leaving about 400 behind. But, we remember Oprah saying that the rest of the employees would remain in Chicago working on new shows, including Rosie O'Donnell's new talk show for OWN.

Even Harpo Co-president Erik Logan told the newspaper in December "that he expected employees to remain at work after Ms. Winfrey's show ended at the end of May. He said they would move to shows on the Oprah Winfrey Network."

Though, according to the spokeswoman, the layoff process began on May 25. "All employees were made aware of this rightsizing months ago," the spokesperson says.

"Rightsizing"? You've got to love corporate semantics.
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