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Oprah: Double Duty

October 29, 1989|From Jeff Kaye \f7

Women Who Can't Stop Working . . . on the next "Oprah."

They've tried to keep it hush-hush, but Oprah Winfrey will star in a weekly dramatic series for ABC--while continuing to host her daily gab show.

The network has ordered 13 half-hour episodes based on last season's hit ABC miniseries, "The Women of Brewster Place," about black women facing the rigors of ghetto life. It's scheduled to begin production in January for an April debut, according to producer Earl Hamner. (The creator of "The Waltons" and "Falcon Crest" was surprised by our call.)

The series will be shot in Winfrey's own Chicago studio, allowing her to handle her two shows simultaneously, he added.

"Brewster," the third highest-rated mini of the 1988-89 season, starred Winfrey, Robin Givens, Jackee and Paula Kelly. In the spinoff, Winfrey will reprise her role as Mattie Michael, the poor girl from the country who takes up residence in a big-city tenement. Mattie aged considerably in the two-parter, but she'll remain relatively youthful in the new show, said a network source.

Winfrey will co-exec produce the series, through her Harpo Productions Inc., with Hamner's King/Phoenix Entertainment and Don Sipes.

While the series will remain faithful to some aspects of the original, Hamner told us, a number of new characters have been created, with casting now in progress.

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