I’ve heard a lot of industry chatter about when (and even whether) OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network is going to launch. Initially it was supposed to launch this year, but the economy and challenges of coming up with 24 hours per day of programming has pushed that back to some unspecified time next year.
The network is hiring like gangbusters though, expecting to launch in 2010. Exactly when remains a question.
Today, OWN announced that it has named Oprah co-exec producer Lisa Erspamer chief creative officer. Erspamer is an Oprah insider – she’s been at Harpo for 15 years and co-EP of Oprah since 2006, overseeing this year’s stellar premiere week and Oprah’s famous Pontiac giveaway, among many other things. Erspamer will relocate to Los Angeles from Chicago for her new gig. If she ever has time to go outside, I doubt she’ll miss those Chicago winters.
You can tell Erspamer has high status with Winfrey because she gets her own quote from the queen herself: “Lisa has been a creative superstar. She’s brought fire and force to many of the incredible shows we’ve done over the years. I value her passion and sensibilities and trust her instincts and judgment. I know she’ll be a great fit with the OWN team.”
Other top execs now in place at OWN include CEO Christine Norman, former president of MTV; Head of Programming Jamila Hunter, NBC’s former SVP of alternative entertainment; and CFO Brent Willman, formerly of Discovery Communications.
Of course, here’s what we all really want to know: Will Winfrey give up her daytime talk show to go full-time at OWN? Stay tuned.