Another long-time executive from Oprah Winfrey‘s inner circle is out. After a 18-year stint as president of Harpo Films, Kate Forte was let go today. While the company continues to have a couple of projects in development at HBO, where it has been under a deal since 2008, Harpo Films has little to show for its efforts in the past five years — its last projects to reach fruition were the 2007 movie The Great Debaters, one of only two features produced by the unit, and 2007 ABC telefilm Mitch Albom’s For One More Day. Harpo Films is a vestige of old times — it was active in the broadcast movie business, doing six films for ABC between 1997-2007. But the demand for long-form projects, especially on the broadcast side, has dried out. And now the Los Angeles-based Harpo Films will de facto fold. As part of a restructuring, its larger sibling production company, Chicago-based Harpo Studios, overseen by OWN presidents Erik Logan and Sheri Salata, is launching a scripted division, which is expected to absorb some of the staff of Harpo Films. Likely based in Los Angeles, its focus will be scripted series, an area that has been growing in recent years as more and more cable networks enter the field. That includes Harpo Studios’ main client, Winfrey’s OWN, which is venturing into scripted series with a comedy and drama from Tyler Perry set to debut later this year. The move comes shortly after Winfrey switched agencies, leaving CAA for WME. Forte’s departure, first reported by Variety, comes exactly a year after another close Oprah confidante, OWN’s EVP Lisa Erspamer, was let go after 15-year tenure.
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