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Emanuel: Rosie’s Departure Won’t Stop Improvements On West Side

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rosie O'Donnell

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’s disappointed, but not dismayed, that Rosie O’Donnell is expected to move her talk show from Chicago. (Credit: CBS/AP/M. Spencer Green)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expressing disappointment, but not dismay, at word that Rosie O’Donnell’s television show may leave town.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, even though Mayor Emanuel is disappointed that the show may be relocating to New York, he says he is still committed to development on the Near West Side, where the Harpo Studios complex she has been using is located.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

“We just made a recent investment, as you know, in the Malcolm X community college becoming the school of health care,” Emanuel said. “We will continue to make other investments on the West Side as it relates to our culture and entertainment, and sustain that as part of our economic engine for the West Side, and there will be other announcements as the days come on in the weeks ahead that will accentuate that.”

Harpo Studios is located at 1058 W. Washington Blvd. Oprah Winfrey opened the studio in 1990, and used it to tape her talk show until she ended the run of her daily talk show last year.

When Harpo Studios opened, the infamous skid row a block south on Madison Street was hardly gone. But the studio received widespread credit for revitalizing the area.

O’Donnell launched her talk show on Winfrey’s OWN Network just last October, and took up shop at Harpo Studios. But initially impressive ratings quickly dropped, and changes were implemented, including the elimination of the studio audience. Staff were also laid off.

Following the announcement that O’Donnell’s Lakeview home had been sold, published reports said that she would move the show, and its jobs, to New York. O’Donnell’s staff have not confirmed the reports.

The program has kept employees working at Harpo Studios, but a spokeswoman wouldn’t verify how many employees still work there, saying “we do not comment on rumor and speculation.”

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