Saturday, September 18, 2021

Oprah Says OWN Can’t Afford to Save ‘Underground’: ‘It Costs Twice As Much as Queen Sugar’

Oprah Winfrey give the Commencement Address at Agnes Scott College on May 13, 2017 in Decatur, Georgia.
Oprah Winfrey give the Commencement Address at Agnes Scott College on May 13, 2017 in Decatur, Georgia.

*Fans of WGN America’s cancelled series “Underground,” who just knew Oprah Winfrey would swoop in with her cape and pick up the show for OWN, must now face the cold, harsh reality that it’s not gonna happen.

“I can’t afford Underground,” Winfrey told journalists at a L.A. press event for “Queen Sugar.”

“It cost twice as much to make as Queen Sugar,” Winfrey explained. “As a matter of fact, my dear friend John Legend called me personally and asked me about it, but we’d already been talking about how we could make it work […] it’s like $5 million an episode, so we can’t afford it. It’s not cheap, I think because it’s a period piece.”

Winfrey also cited the show’s ratings as part of the reason she couldn’t justify the expense, considering that OWN is still growing.

“We really tried to make it work,” she says. “I wanted to make it work because I think it’s a good show. I wanted to be able to save that show, but it did not make good business sense for me.”

OWN may no longer be an option, but rumor has it that BET and Hulu are trying to save the show.

The John Legend-produced show was dropped by this month when WGN America was bought by Sinclair Broadcast Group, who announced they were taking the cable network in a different direction.

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