President of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network & Harpo Studios at West Hollywood "State of The City 2014"
WEST HOLLYWOOD, June 18, 2014 - The City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce (WHCC) annually partner on a "State of The City" event to engage the City’s business leaders and the community at-large in a conversation about new initiatives, economic trends, and innovations in the City. Hosted at The Lot, Sound Stage 7, this year’s focus examined how the City’s redevelopment efforts on the Eastside have catalyzed the resurgence of entertainment and film industry businesses and promoted people to live, work, and play in West Hollywood.
With lunch catered by Chef Gary Arabia and more than 250 people attending, this year’s State of The City featured a conversation, led by NBC4 anchor/reporter Robert Kovacik, with Erik Logan, President of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and Harpo Studios, which recently announced it will move its headquarters to West Hollywood’s historic studio complex, The Lot. WHCC Chairman Hany Haddad delivered a welcome address and discuss the organization’s vision regarding the City’s Eastside business development. The Economic Development Award was presented to the Monarch Group & Essex Property Trust, the developers of The Huxley and The Dylan.
West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico discussed the City’s vision for a vibrant Eastside business and residential community. "We celebrate freedom and equality in our city," the Mayor said, "Oprah has made us her community of choice to build her studios because of who we are." D’Amico commented on the City of West Hollywood’s commitment to affordable housing, to make city safe and to make the city business friendly. "We are a very accommodating city and we are in excellent shape - we have great budget numbers."
The Mayor also spoke on the new younger generation, and technology companies in the area, such as Grindr: "A little has changed and a lot more is coming." He also talked about the 31,000 jobs in the city, 80% of which are taken by people from outside and the effect on traffic. "This is an opportunity for improvement and innovation" he said. A resident of West Hollywood for over 20 years, Mayor D’Amico holds two Master’s Degrees, one in Architecture and Urban Planning and the other in Aesthetics and Politics. He met his husband Keith Rand in West Hollywood in 1992.
City Manager Paul Arevalo addressed the crowd with a comprehensive update about the City’s sound financial position. He reiterated the City’s strong core values, which will always remain the same, and mentioned the biggest capital investment in this year’s budget: Face II of the Library Center. Arevalo also spoke on the five main areas in the City’s budget: Technology, Arts, Human Services/Homelessness, Community Engagement and new Eastside residents. The City is evaluating taking the Pick Up line to the Eastside and is working with the City of LA on possibly expanding Metro.
Erik Logan was named president, OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, along with Sheri Salata, in July 2011. In conversation with NBC4 anchor/reporter Robert Kovacik, Erik spoke on Oprah’s worldwide phenomenon. "We are doing something different, as she stated when we started. She didn’t need to do this. Once the show ends she will have the chance to devote 100% to the Network," Logan said. He showed the trailer for the 4th season of Master Class with celebrity guests. OWN is already producing scripted content, which is typically a long shot for a new network. They like to break the 4th wall, and shoot where people are: House of Blues, Soho Square, etc. They also have a movie and mini series coming up. "One of our challenges is how do we represent Oprah’s 25 year career into a whole network programming?" Logan commented.
With multiple locations, Oprah still in Chicago and the Network offices on Wilshire, months ago they decided they were going to find a ’home’. "When we walked into The Lot we felt in love. We talked to the CIM team and the City. There were three finalists, but what separated The Lot was the environment. We looked at the city financials and beautification projects and asked ourselves if we could be a part of this community," Erik continued, "We could possibly see in this City the same transformation that we had seen in Chicago in the past 3 decades around Harpo studios." OWN has already brought 200 people and will open new job opportunities.
Harpo Studios is in a period of transition, selling the property and moving to The Lot in West Hollywood. All OWN entertainment properties will be here, with exception of magazine, which will remain in New York. Erik commented on Oprah’s and Latoya Jackson’s visit to The Lot and, standing on the rooftop, Oprah said "I’ve got it!" Erik Logan offered the most positive outlook on the Network’s decision to make The Lot, in West Hollywood, OWN’s new headquarters, "I don’t think we’ll ever move out. We found ‘home’".