Oprah Winfrey is returning to TV to act in a new drama series produced by her West Hollywood-based Oprah Winfrey Network.

The show, “Greenleaf,” will launch its 13-episode first season on June 21. It’s set around a family-run megachurch where backstabbing and feuds run rampant.

Winfrey plays Mavis McCready, a recovering alcoholic who is estranged from her family and ready to stir up trouble.

The scripted show, which she also executive produces, represents the latest move away from the self-help content that used to dominate the channel’s programming. After a few years of struggle following its 2011 launch, OWN is now available in 82 million homes and averaging more than 500,000 prime-time viewers, according to Nielsen.

“Greenleaf” represents Winfrey’s first recurring TV acting role since 1990’s “Brewster Place.”

“Being able to do this series is a dream come true for me,” Winfrey said on a panel at the show’s premiere at April’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York. “When I started this network five years ago, the narrative for OWN was ‘struggling, struggling, struggling.’”

She gave credit for the turnaround to her friend Tyler Perry who produces several shows for the channel.

“It is because of the foundation that Tyler laid for us that we’re able to move into shows like this,” she said.

Writing Retreat

Screenwriting seminar company Page Craft has hired veteran UCLA screenwriting professor Hal Ackerman to lead its summer retreat in Italy.

He will hold workshops at a convent in the hill town of Orvieto for eight aspiring scriptwriters paying $2,800 each for accommodation and classes. Flights are not included.

The West Hollywood company regularly holds weekend seminars in Malibu for $300 but is looking to step up its international operations, said co-founder Heidi Hornbacher.

“Getting completely away from the e-mails, the vacuum cleaner, the coffee shop, and other aspects of everyday life to a different, tranquil environment makes writers much more productive, and under expert teachers like Hal, much more effective,” she said.

Bottoms Up

Paul McCartney’s stepmother has taken a long and winding road toward her goal of running a wine company. Angie McCartney, 86, has launched online business Mrs. McCartney’s Wines.

“After a lot of tasting, tweaking, and testing, I’m thrilled to finally be bringing a taste of sweetness to the table, and to the tum-tum,” said the Liverpool-born Playa Vista resident.

The sweet, low-alcohol wines can be enjoyed on their own, as a mixer – or even along with a cup of tea, said McCartney. The five Beatles-themed flavors include Abbey Road Appletini, Blackbird Blackberry, and Strawberry Fields. Ten percent of all sales are donated to the Linda McCartney Breast Cancer Research Fund.

McCartney has been running her own organic tea business for the past seven years, Mrs. McCartney’s Teas, which generates less than $1 million in annual revenue.

McCartney married Paul’s widowed dad, Jim, in 1964 and moved to Los Angeles in 1994 with her daughter Ruth McCartney, chief executive of McCartney Multimedia, who helps her mom with the tea and wine businesses.

Ruth and her director husband, Martin Nethercutt, are also making a documentary about Angie’s life with the Beatles and beyond called “Your Mother Should Know.”

Well Dressed

Costumes from Starz show “Outlander” will be on display for the next two months at the Paley Center for Media in Beverly Hills. Series star Caitriona Balfe was on hand for the exhibit’s official opening on June 6 and said wearing the elegant outfits for the Sony Pictures Television series has been one of her biggest thrills while portraying time traveler Claire Randall. “Any woman would be insane if she didn’t look at this wardrobe and start rubbing her hands in glee at wearing it,” she said.

Managing editor Sandro Monetti can be reached at smonetti@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext 200.

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