Longtime Oprah Associate Lisa Erspamer Exits OWN

by | January 26, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Celebrities, General, Oprah Winfrey, Oprah's Next Chapter, OWN, TV News

Oprah Winfrey (Michelly Rall/Getty Images)

By Tim Kenneally at TheWrap

Another day, another shakeup for Oprah Winfrey’s struggling network OWN.

Lisa Erspamer, the network’s executive vice president of production and development, left on Wednesday. An Own spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement that Erspamer is leaving “by mutual agreement to pursue other opportunities.”

Erspamer was no casual employee of Winfrey’s. She came aboard the network in January 2010 as a 15-year veteran of Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, Inc., and had been the co-executive producer of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” since 2006. During her tenure at “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Erspamer oversaw key events such as Winfrey’s two-part interview with Whitney Houston, and the now-infamous car giveaway.

Rita Mullin, senior vice president of content strategy for Discovery Fit & Health, will step into Erspamer’s position in the interim. In addition to Discovery, Mullin has also served as vice president of development at TLC, where she developed such hits as “Jon & Kate Plus 8” and “18 Kids and Counting.”

Erspamer’s exit is the latest in a string of departures, voluntary and otherwise, for the fledgling network. Last May, CEO Christina Norman was replaced by Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori. (Winfrey herself assumed the title of “permanent CEO” of the network in July.) More recently, longtime Winfrey pal Gayle King left to take a seat at CBS’ morning offering “Early Show,” while OWN’s programming boss Rod Aissa jumped ship to Oxygen Media earlier this month.

Despite the tumult, there have been signs of life for OWN lately. Its new offering “Oprah’s Next Chapter” premiered on Jan. 1 to the network’s biggest numbers since its January 2011 launch, with the second installment of the interview series growing 45 percent over the premiere, with 1.6 million total viewers.

Deadline first reported the news of Erspamer’s departure.

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