Harpo Inc., the multimedia production company founded by Oprah Winfrey, which also owns the media mogul’s trademarks, has reached an out of court settlement with Oprahdemics hosts Kellie Carter Jackson and Leah Wright Rigueur. The pair’s podcast features the two historians celebrating the most iconic episodes of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” But Harpo filed suit last August, alleging the women were using Winfrey’s name without a license. Under the settlement, Oprahdemics will be renamed You Get A Podcast!
“There was a dispute regarding the use of Oprahdemics. It has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties,” Jackson said in a statement. “We are excited to move forward with a new name and updated artwork.” Jackson also serves as Executive Producer of the podcast.
Under the settlement, Harpo and the two podcasters each agree to pay their own legal bills. New York District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein signed off on the arrangement earlier this month. The case was dismissed “with prejudice,” which essentially means a similar case cannot be brought by either side in federal court.
In its complaint, Harpo alleged that the podcast name “explicitly misleads consumers as to the source and/or sponsorship of defendants’ branded offerings.” The complaint also cited “The Oprah Effect,” and that being associated with the Oprah brand has “led to exponential increase in a product’s or service’s sales.” Harpo did not seek monetary damages or profits from the Oprahdemics hosts or their production company, Roulette Productions.
Oprahdemics launched in March 2022. When the lawsuit was filed last summer, Roulette Productions’ Jody Avirgan said in a statement posted on Twitter that they have been “engaged” with Harpo “for some time” and were “surprised by this suit,” adding they see the podcast as a celebration of Winfrey’s career.
“Oprahdemics is a journalistic exploration by history professors and sincere, longtime fans of Oprah Winfrey,” she said. “As independent producers, we feel it's important to have fun, approachable, and educational conversations about the cultural impact of Ms. Winfrey. This comes from a place of both deep admiration and critical thinking. Kellie and Leah are remarkable hosts.”
The settlement opens the door to a new season launching this week (May 31). While the name is different, You Get A Podcast will have the same Oprah-loving agenda as it goes through the most iconic episodes of the show’s decades-long run. The podcast also invites special guests to help break down what the Queen of Talk has meant for our culture, and as a historical, social, and political force. Previous episodes have delved into the Los Angeles riots and the Rodney King verdict, the work of Tyler Perry, and the Oprah Book Club.
You Get A Podcast! is distributed by Radiotopia from PRX, which says new episodes will now be released each Wednesday.
Jackson and Avirgan also co-host the Radiotopia show This Day In Esoteric Political History.