Oprah Inks Movie Deal with HBO


via Chicago Sun

Oprah Winfrey’s grasp of all things media just got a little bit tighter.

HBO announced they have entered into a three-year exclusive relationship with Harpo Films to develop and produce movies and miniseries for the pay cable network.

The new deal effectively severs the 15 year relationship Harpo Films had with ABC.

Kate Forte, president of Harpo Films, said ABC had expressed interest in renewing the ABC deal with Harpo Films, but the creative freedom being offered by HBO was ultimately too good to pass up.

“We were looking to expand the company and looking for different opportunities,” she said. “Obviously being on a cable channel like HBO offers us a tremendous amount of creative freedom not seen on network television.”

Earlier this year, HBO had successfully out-bid Harpo Films in securing the U.S. rights to the BBC series “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.”

Michael Lombardo, president of programming and West Coast Operations for HBO, said Harpo’s interest in that project — based on the books by Alexander McCall Smith about a female detective in Botswana — led to “a shared excitement over the kind of shows they were interested in producing.”

Forte said the three-year exclusive contract with the cable channel does not preclude Harpo films from future feature films or Harpo’s existing contract with the Discovery Channel, which is through another division of Harpo.

Neither Harpo nor HBO would discuss specific projects in development or a timeline when the first project will air, but Forte indicated Harpo Films would be giving equal weight to scripted series, mini-series, films and documentaries and said she “plans to hit the ground running.”

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