Empire’s Taraji P. Henson joins musical film adaption of The Color Purple

Academy Award nominee, Emmy Award nominee and star of Empire Taraji P. Henson has joined the upcoming film adaption of The Color Purple musical as sexy and sultry jazz singer Shug Avery, reported in Variety today. Chicago’s Victory Gardens Playwrights Ensemble Hall of Fame member and Chicago series The Chi writer Marcus Gardley wrote the … Continue reading “Empire’s Taraji P. Henson joins musical film adaption of The Color Purple”

Possible ‘Empire’ spinoff in development

The former FOX Network juggernaut Empire, which was filmed at Chicago’s Cinespace Studios, have ended prematurely last spring due to the rampant novel coronavirus COVID-19, but you clearly can’t keep a Lyons down. There is now talk of a spinoff series starring Taraji P. Henson as matriarch Cookie Lyons. According to TheWrap, the project is … Continue reading “Possible ‘Empire’ spinoff in development”

‘Empire’ finale delivers best ratings since October 2019

This is the way to end a series. Empire signed off with its premature series finale on Tuesday night, after the coronavirus forced the Fox show to shorten its production at Cinespace Studios. The final episode delivered a 0.8 rating and 2.9 million total viewers. That represents the show’s highest rating and largest audience since … Continue reading “‘Empire’ finale delivers best ratings since October 2019”

As EMPIRE series ends, here’s our Top 10 favorite episodes

Golden Globe-nominated EMPIRE is now in its sixth and final season as one of television’s most popular and groundbreaking shows. A powerful drama about a family dynasty set within the glamorous and often dangerous world of hip-hop music, the show revolves around the Lyons and their media company, Empire Entertainment. Tuesday is the EMPIRE Season Finale, … Continue reading “As EMPIRE series ends, here’s our Top 10 favorite episodes”

‘Empire’ airs 100th episode tonight on Fox

What does Fox’s Empire, now in its sixth and final season, have in common with NBC’s Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. have hit E.R. and even Showtime’s  Shameless? They are all scripted shows based and filmed in Chicago that have reached the milestone of 100 shows.   The hip-hop drama, once a ratings powerhouse and pop culture phenom, … Continue reading “‘Empire’ airs 100th episode tonight on Fox”

Fox renews ‘Empire,’ Smollett’s return unclear

Cinespace Studios will have a busy season as the Fox series was renewed for Season 6 along with Showtime’s ‘The Chi’ Fox has announced that Empire, which shoots at Cinespace Studios, has been renewed for a sixth season at Fox one week before its Season 5 finale. Jussie Smollett’s, who plays Jamal Lyons, role on … Continue reading “Fox renews ‘Empire,’ Smollett’s return unclear”

‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett beaten by MAGA supporters

Details suggest the actor was targeted by racist and homophobic attackers during 2 a.m. assault CNN is reporting that Empire star Jussie Smollett was viciously attacked in the early Tuesday morning in what Chicago police are calling a possible hate crime. The 35-year-old actor has starred on the hit Fox series, which is filmed in … Continue reading “‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett beaten by MAGA supporters”

Fox picks up legal drama from “Empire” co-creator

Danny Strong is bringing yet another show to the Chicago production community. The co-creator of “Empire” has had his legal drama, “Proven Innocent,” greenlit by Fox for the Fall.   Led by a fierce and fearless female lawyer with a hunger for justice, a wrongful conviction firm reopens investigations, putting the team’s own lives in … Continue reading “Fox picks up legal drama from “Empire” co-creator”

Periscope praises “Empire,” Trump calls “Roseanne”

Half of ‘Empire’s’ mid-season premiere filmed as one-act play (Spoiler alert: Please don’t read ahead unless you’ve seen “Empire’s” midseason premiere.) Sheesh, it sure has been a minute since Empire has been on. The series, which is filmed at Cinespace Studios, returned with its mid-season premiere last night. In the episode titled “Birds in a … Continue reading “Periscope praises “Empire,” Trump calls “Roseanne””

9:58 p.m. — Rich Lederer, “Empire”

It’s ten o’clock at night, and Empire unit production manager / co-producer Rich Lederer is about to wrap a shoot that began roughly thirteen hours ago. “They started at 7 a.m.,” he says. “But there’s an hour for lunch.” Production ran all day at a loading dock in the underground streets of Chicago, but to … Continue reading “9:58 p.m. — Rich Lederer, “Empire””

Terrence Howard records “Empire” finale tune at CRC

It wasn’t too long ago that giant recording studios were the norm in Chicago. There was Streeterville, Universal and Paragon.

Now? All gone. But still left standing is CRC. Recently, the recording studio has provided ADR and mixing for films including Hidden Figures, Spike Lee’s Chi-raq and Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight as well as numerous commercials and podcasts even.

If you ask CRC business affairs director, Dave Dakich, CRC’s continued success is due in part to their constant mix of music artists, films and commercials.

Lee Daniels to lead “Empire” spinoff and new series

Fox’ “Empire” is expanding with a spinoff of the hit show and also with a new dramatic pilot called “Star,” being developed by “Empire” co-creator and executive producer Lee Daniels.

“Without question” there will be a spinoff of Fox’ mega hit series, Daniels declared. At the Television Critics Association Panel in Beverly Hills last Thursday.

Fox picks up “Empire,” IFO confirms filming here

The sole pilot that shot in Chicago this year, happily has turned into a series.  Fox TV announced yesterday that dramatic “Empire” was picked up as a series for a slot on Fox’ fall schedule, as confirmed by Betsy Steinberg of the Illinois Film Office.

“Empire” filmed here in March at Cinespace. 

Chicago film community mourns the loss of AD, Lorin Fulton

Our film community has lost a beloved member of the family with the passing of filmmaker, Lorin Fulton, who fought a courageous battle with cancer and passed on January 11. Known as the AD who effortlessly kept the set running smoothly and at the same time managed to keep things fun, Lorin was a role … Continue reading “Chicago film community mourns the loss of AD, Lorin Fulton”

Local 727 negotiates highest wage increase yet for movie drivers

In an announcement to its members today, Local 727 stated that it has negotiated the best overall deals on behalf of membership with NBC/Universal and Disney/Twentieth Century Fox (respectively) since the Union began representing the movie group over a decade ago.  Long term projects such as those for the One Chicago productions (Chicago Fire, P.D. … Continue reading “Local 727 negotiates highest wage increase yet for movie drivers”

IFA’s Magic Hour gala to honor Cinespace co-founder Alex Pissios

Join 300+ fellow film professionals in honoring Alex Pissios, former President and CEO of Cinespace Film Studios at IFA’s Magic Hour inaugural fundraiser. Network with the who’s who in Chicago’s film and television scene in a night to remember – bringing together Chicago’s creative and civic leaders to support Chicago’s independent filmmakers and storytellers in an … Continue reading “IFA’s Magic Hour gala to honor Cinespace co-founder Alex Pissios”

58th Chicago International Film Festival announces award winners

The 58th Chicago International Film Festival, North America’s longest-running competitive film festival, announced the winners of its 2022 edition. The categories include International Feature Film Competition, New Directors Competition, International Documentary Competition, OutLook Competition, and Short Film Competitions, as well as the Chicago Award for an outstanding program in the Festival’s City & State program, … Continue reading “58th Chicago International Film Festival announces award winners”

All Happy Families filming in Chicago

The cat is finally out of the bag and details about the film All Happy Families, which has been filming in the Chicago area since mid August, are now being shared on the official IMdb page! Take a look at the long list of Chicago talent involved with this film. Written by and directed by … Continue reading “All Happy Families filming in Chicago”

Jussie Smollett: arrogance, selfishness and narcissism that is just disgraceful

“There’s a side of you that has this arrogance, and selfishness, and narcissism that is just disgraceful,” Cook County Judge James Linn said in his closing remarks to Jussie Smollett. “You’re not a victim of a racial hate crime, you’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett: arrogance, selfishness and narcissism that is just disgraceful”

Power Book IV: Force has been renewed for a second season

STARZ has announced that Power Book IV: Force has been renewed for a second season. The third spinoff in the Power franchise debuted February 6 as the most-watched premiere ever in STARZ history with 3.3M multiplatform views in the U.S. alone. Along with the announcement of the renewal, STARZ also shared that the series creator … Continue reading “Power Book IV: Force has been renewed for a second season”

Chicago Filmmakers announces competition programs for Onion City Festival

Chicago Filmmakers announces the competition programs for the 32nd Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival, which will take place March 31 to April 3. The five competition programs will feature 35 short films exploring themes of digital media production, politics of memory, and the value of physical spaces from the United States, France, Canada, South … Continue reading “Chicago Filmmakers announces competition programs for Onion City Festival”

Chicago mourns the death of actress Lindsey Pearlman

Chicago friends, family and co-workers were shocked to hear of the sudden passing of actress Lindsey Pearlman last week when she was found deceased in her car near a popular Los Angeles hiking trail. Lindsey was just 43 years old and had been reported missing a few days prior to the heartbreaking discovery. Full story reported … Continue reading “Chicago mourns the death of actress Lindsey Pearlman”

RBL celebrates: Sheila R. Brown Executive Director of CineCares

Editor’s Note: The Reel Black List is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. Today we celebrate Sheila R. Brown. Sheila R. Brown is the Executive Director of the CineCares Division of … Continue reading “RBL celebrates: Sheila R. Brown Executive Director of CineCares”

Periscope adds Terry O’Bright and Bruce Dobrin to meet surge in post

Full service post-production services provider Periscope Post & Audio, Hollywood and Chicago, has added creative, technical and sales staff to meet a surge in television, streaming and feature projects. The company has brought veteran re-recording mixer Terry O’Bright to its Hollywood facility. O’Bright is a five-time Emmy Award-nominee whose recent credits include the ABC series The … Continue reading “Periscope adds Terry O’Bright and Bruce Dobrin to meet surge in post”

Guilty! UPDATE and trial timeline: Jussie Smollett is back in Chicago for trial

UPDATE and trial timeline at end of story. I swore I would never do another Jussie Smollett story. But he’s baaaack. If it is true that there’s no such thing as bad publicity then Jussie is getting a nice long run on his alleged prank that lead police on an expensive wild goose chase nearly … Continue reading “Guilty! UPDATE and trial timeline: Jussie Smollett is back in Chicago for trial”

Home Sweet Home Alone is released today. Here’s what the critics say

November 12 is now officially Disney+ day and the streaming service released a massive amount of content (more than 25 films, shorts, and TV shows.) Among those are, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, Jungle Cruise, and the much anticipated reboot of the 90’s classic and arguably the greatest Christmas movie ever, Home … Continue reading “Home Sweet Home Alone is released today. Here’s what the critics say”

Cinespace Studios has sold for $1.1B to TPG Real Estate

Alex Pissios has confirmed that Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and Cinespace Toronto, the amazing empire that he and his uncle Nick Mirkopolous built on a dream, has been sold to TPG Real Estate, a West Coast based global alternative asset manager. “It’s a done deal!” said Pissios. “I’m around for six more months.” After that, … Continue reading “Cinespace Studios has sold for $1.1B to TPG Real Estate”

Cindy Williams in Chicago with one-woman show Me, Myself & Shirley

Best known for her iconic role as Shirley Feeney in the hit television series, Laverne & Shirley, Cindy Williams will take to the national stage starring in Me, Myself & Shirley, a one-woman show, for a limited US tour across nineteen cities beginning in January 2022. Produced by Duggan & Zucker Entertainment, the legendary star of the … Continue reading “Cindy Williams in Chicago with one-woman show Me, Myself & Shirley”

Jordan Peele’s Candyman shakes up the critics on opening day

The past year has been a chaotic one for movies as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced countless films to either move to VOD, release in a hybrid manner in theaters and VOD, or delay their release dates. Jordan Peele’s horror sequel Candyman was delayed several times until its eventual release on August 27, 2021 exclusively … Continue reading “Jordan Peele’s Candyman shakes up the critics on opening day”

Laurence Fishburne returns with season 2 of Bronzeville

Laurence Fishburne‘s Cinema Gypsy Productions and Larenz Tate‘s Tate Men Entertainment gear up to release the second season of the audio-scripted series Bronzeville, which chronicles the lives of players in the numbers game and illuminates the self-sustaining African-American community of Chicago’s Bronzeville. Both Fishburne and Tate produce, direct and voice the series. The series, written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Josh … Continue reading “Laurence Fishburne returns with season 2 of Bronzeville”

Production set to begin on Zen Room this spring

Production of new single-cam, mockumentary style comedy series Zen Room is set to commence early March after news of Cheri Oteri (former SNL cast member, Grown Ups 2) joining the cast as lead, executive producer, and writer. While plenty of film production has been shuttered due to Covid-19, actress and writer Ashley Joyce (Gilmore Girls, … Continue reading “Production set to begin on Zen Room this spring”

Iconic Second City acquired by New York-based ZMC

This is no laughing matter. New York-based private equity firm ZMC announced today that it has acquired The Second City, the world’s premier brand in improvisation and sketch-based comedy entertainment and education. Founded in Chicago in 1959, The Second City is an iconic brand that has become the most influential and prolific comedy empire in the world. … Continue reading “Iconic Second City acquired by New York-based ZMC”

Steeves and Cutters on the making of before/during/after

While many people dream of assembling a Who’s Who list of premier talents to help them tell their personal story on the big screen, highly accomplished actor turned screenwriter and producer Finnerty Steeves (Orange is the New Black) has brilliantly brought this widely cherished dream to Technicolor reality with Steeves’ independent dramedy feature, before/during/after. On the heels … Continue reading “Steeves and Cutters on the making of before/during/after”

2020 in Review: Top Chicago advertising campaigns

It’s hard to remember back in February 2020, when the Kansas City Chiefs bested the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and Parasite was winning Best Picture, no one was talking about COVID, the election and Black Lives Matter. We had no idea we were only a few weeks and months away from all … Continue reading “2020 in Review: Top Chicago advertising campaigns”

2020 in Review: Reel Chicago’s Biggest Stories

What a year, huh? 2020, which felt like a decade, will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the worst years ever. And who will argue? Certainly not the staff at Reel Chicago. This year, COVID forced productions to shut down. Then start back up. Then shut back down. Then start back up. It … Continue reading “2020 in Review: Reel Chicago’s Biggest Stories”

Meijer takes ‘Believe’ message into Covid era

Retail chain Meijer launched its latest holiday commercial, You Better Not Pout,’ on Black Friday, 27th November, which chronicles a family’s attempt to celebrate a COVID-impacted Christmas. The work was created by Chicago-based independent advertising agency The Distillery Project (TDP) and doesn’t feature any imagery of stores or merchandise. Instead, the focus is on one family … Continue reading “Meijer takes ‘Believe’ message into Covid era”

Chicago P.D. starts up and filmed on location last week

Chicago P.D. is up and running in their first week of filming for Season 8. Cautiously following all Covid-19 guidelines, the Chicago P.D. masked crew began shooting last week at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios and on location over the weekend in a near south side Chicago neighborhood. With the onset of Covid-19 in March, Chicago … Continue reading “Chicago P.D. starts up and filmed on location last week”

‘Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med’ Who’s in? Who’s out?

Last month, we reported that NBC‘s top-rated (even in reruns) Wednesday night, dubbed “One Chicago,” would return on November 11. With production reportedly set to resume on Chicago P.D., Chicago Med and Chicago Fire  on October 6, the Reel Chicago team thought it was time to look at cast additions and subtractions. Chicago Med Coming: Chicago … Continue reading “‘Chicago Fire, P.D. and Med’ Who’s in? Who’s out?”

FX announces Fargo Season Four Cast

FX has set the extraordinary ensemble cast that will star with Chris Rock in the fourth installment of the Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning limited series Fargo. Peabody, Golden Globe® and Emmy® Award winning Executive Producer Noah Hawley (creator/showrunner/writer/director) and his production company 26 Keys will lead the creative team for the latest all-new “true … Continue reading “FX announces Fargo Season Four Cast”

Chicago filmmaker Kris Rey talks about her 4th feature

Chicago filmmaker, Kris Rey talks with Reel Chicago about the making of her newly released indie feature “I Used to Go Here” opening today at the Music Box. It’s always fun watching a film and seeing local Chicago names, faces, and locations being showcased.  Couple that with the talented female filmmaker, Kris Rey who is making … Continue reading “Chicago filmmaker Kris Rey talks about her 4th feature”

Chicago-made ‘I Used to Go Here’ has drive-in premiere

The Chicago premiere of the critically acclaimed, bittersweet comedy I Used To Go Here, featuring in-person Q&As with Chicago-based writer/director Kris Rey, will take place on Wednesday, July 29 (two screenings) at ChiTown Movies Drive-In Theater.  The event is co-presented by two of the city’s most-respected cinematic institutions—Elevated Films and Music Box Theatre—and audience members can enjoy … Continue reading “Chicago-made ‘I Used to Go Here’ has drive-in premiere”

HBO debuts ‘Lovecraft Country’ filmed at Cinespace

Filmed at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, HBO’s new drama series from J.J. Abrams, Jordan Peele and showrunner/executive producer Misha Green, LOVECRAFT COUNTRY debuts Sunday, August 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. Based on the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the ten-episode series follows … Continue reading “HBO debuts ‘Lovecraft Country’ filmed at Cinespace”

Nia DaCosta posts origin story for ‘Candyman’

Director Nia DaCosta has taken to Twitter to share a new promo for her Candyman reboot. The horror film was originally scheduled to be released on June 12, but has been pushed to September 25. DaCosta has shared an original short film teaser detailing his origins. The twist – the short retells Candyman’s origin utilizing paper puppets … Continue reading “Nia DaCosta posts origin story for ‘Candyman’”

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss on returning to ‘Matrix’

While the three original films – The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions – seemed to conclude the series – Neo and Trinity do die – there has been speculation that the world would return someday. That someday began last August when Warner Bros. officially announced that a fourth Matrix would happen. After … Continue reading “Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss on returning to ‘Matrix’”

Alex Pissios talks future of Chicago production

Nowhere can the pandemic’s financial impact be felt more than in the city’s once thriving production industry. Shows such as Empire, the Dick Wolf “Chicago” shows, Shameless and commercials positioned Chicago as the midwest hub for networks and studios. Once productions were forced to shutter, everyone from actors to craft services suddenly found themselves out … Continue reading “Alex Pissios talks future of Chicago production”

Behind the Scenes: DP Tommy Maddox-Upshaw

Megan Donnelly of AbelCine recently had the opportunity to sit down for a conversation with DP Tommy Maddox-Upshaw to discuss his career, his inspirations, and his most recent work with the Sony VENICE on Season 6 of FOX’s Empire, and two seasons of FX’s SnowFall. They discussed his approach to shooting Empire with the Sony VENICE camera and how he maximized … Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: DP Tommy Maddox-Upshaw”

Bochian details fundraising plans for Seth Rogen Charity

Actress, author and philanthropist Ina Bochian, knows how to pull a team together for a good cause. This year, to help Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller’s not-for-profit charity raise donations, Bochian has enlisted Dr. Irene Yaymadjian, founder of Hillside Wellness Center, The Defunked Band members Danny Jay and Eric Johnson, and Facebook community Bricklayers, started … Continue reading “Bochian details fundraising plans for Seth Rogen Charity”

‘The Last Dance:’ Jordan, Rodman and Electra

When the Chicago Bulls acquired Dennis Rodman from the San Antonio Spurs for 7-foot center Will Purdue before the 1995 season, it transformed the frontcourt of an already uber-talented Michael Jordan squad into something akin to basketball’s version of The Beatles. Games on the road were as if the Harlem Globetrotters, Ringling Bros., Cirque du … Continue reading “‘The Last Dance:’ Jordan, Rodman and Electra”

‘Chicago Fire’ ‘Med’ season finales #1 and #2 in ratings

NBC’s Chicago Fire and Chicago Med led the network in total viewers. The shows ended their season ranking #1-2, respectively. The season-concluding Chicago P.D. captured the show’s most-watched episode. The Masked Singer, Survivor  and ABC’s comedies all lost out the season closer of Chicago Med (1.1 rating in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall from 8-9 … Continue reading “‘Chicago Fire’ ‘Med’ season finales #1 and #2 in ratings”

Chicago Stunt Community punches COVID-19 in face

Right now, social distancing due to the horrendous coronavirus COVID-19 global pandemic, is now the norm. But the Chicago Stunt community is finding ways to still be creative while keeping a safe distance. Inspired by stuntman Aaron Toney, (Avengers: Infinity War/End Game and Black Panther), to create a “worldwide fight,” local stuntman Shawn Bernal (Batman … Continue reading “Chicago Stunt Community punches COVID-19 in face”

Peele on why he chose Nia DaCosta for ‘Candyman’

When Universal and MGM announced the remake of Candyman, the 80s classic horror icon, many assumed (including our resident Geek at sister outlet Reel 360) that Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) would be directing. As it turned out Peele was signed on to produce under his Monkeypaw production company and he chose up-and-coming African American … Continue reading “Peele on why he chose Nia DaCosta for ‘Candyman’”

Behind the Scenes: ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ DP, Dan Mindel

Behind the Scenes: Honoring the visual tradition of the first eight films, Dan Mindel, ASC, BSC, SASC reteams with Panavision to conclude the Star Wars saga with Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker In February 2019, director J.J. Abrams called “Cut!” for the last time during principal photography of the ninth chapter of the long-running Star Wars saga. Star Wars: … Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ DP, Dan Mindel”

REEL WOMEN: Megan Donnelly, Training Mgr, AbelCine

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready. Megan Donnelly is the Technical and Educational Development Manager … Continue reading “REEL WOMEN: Megan Donnelly, Training Mgr, AbelCine”

Media Archives pays tribute to Director Stuart Gordon

Stuart Gordon has died. In most of the obituaries you will read, he will be largely (and justifiably) remembered for his film work. He came out of the gate with a classic in Re-Animator (1985), which was the first of many features he made for Charles Band’s Empire Pictures (rebranded as Full Moon Entertainment).  If none of … Continue reading “Media Archives pays tribute to Director Stuart Gordon”

New Coronavirus case on Chicago production set

An NBC staff member whose name we cannot release has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and is currently in Chicago undergoing treatment. The staff member, who was in a department that effected all three Dick Wolf Chicago shows, is from California and has been in Chicago since the Christmas hiatus. He is said to … Continue reading “New Coronavirus case on Chicago production set”

At Cinespace and beyond. Who’s working today.

Over the past week it’s safe to say that the Illinois film community is doing their best to ensure that their employees are safe during this unfortunate time. In light of worldwide health concerns about the impact from the COVID-19 virus, many have postponed production until further notice. Starting Monday, Cinespace will close the secondary … Continue reading “At Cinespace and beyond. Who’s working today.”

2020 ScreenCraft Writers Summit postponed until 2021

In light of worldwide health concerns, this year’s Chicago ScreenCraft Writers Summit is rescheduling to next year. Previously scheduled in Chicago on April 24th-27th, 2020, the Summit will be rescheduled to April 23rd-26th, 2021.  Nearly all of the previously confirmed panelists have enthusiastically committed to next year, and additional industry speakers will be announced in … Continue reading “2020 ScreenCraft Writers Summit postponed until 2021”

Craig J. Harris, producer, actor, writer, stuntman

Versatile film pro Craig J. Harris joins the 2020 edition of Reel Chicago Black List, an annual celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month. The Reel Chicago Black List includes Global Mixx founder Mary Datcher, McDonald’s US Marketing Director Lizette Williams, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view the archives, click here. Craig J. … Continue reading “Craig J. Harris, producer, actor, writer, stuntman”

Actor Jussie Smollett indicted, again

Multiple news outlets are reporting that former Empire cast member Jussie Smollett will be indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly leading police on an expensive wild goose chase. According to the Chicago Tribune, the 37-year-old actor will be arraigned on the charges at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on February 24, almost … Continue reading “Actor Jussie Smollett indicted, again”

CineCares’ Mirkopoulos Internship cohort keeps it going

A cohort of young professionals assured industry leaders that the future of Chicago production is in good hands at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios on Monday afternoon. Highlighting the Wrap Party for the Mirkopoulos Internship Program, each member of the group had just finished working as temporary crew on Chicago Fire / PD / Med, and … Continue reading “CineCares’ Mirkopoulos Internship cohort keeps it going”

Weinstein’s ‘A Missed Connection’ worth the wait

Chicago filmmaker Matthew Weinstein reeled in the years to complete A Missed Connection, a 2019 dramatic short premiering at the Beloit International Film Festival (BIFF) on February 21 and February 22. A Missed Connection is the story of two former college friends who randomly reconnect at a coffee shop during a long winter night and, … Continue reading “Weinstein’s ‘A Missed Connection’ worth the wait”

Erica Duffy describes her Midwest Film Fest vision

For the past 15 years, the Midwest Independent Film Festival has been showcasing Midwest filmmakers at monthly screenings known as “First Tuesdays.” Over the past two years, MIFF leadership, board members, and volunteers have weathered personnel changes, programming challenges, and attendance ebbs and flows. Now, the Fest is embarking on a major transformation, led by … Continue reading “Erica Duffy describes her Midwest Film Fest vision”

Jussie Smollett probe issues ‘sweeping search warrants’

The ongoing case of Jussie Smollett is storming into the new year with a new load of investigatorial twists and turns. The Chicago Tribune reported today that “a Cook County judge has ordered Google to turn over Jussie Smollett’s emails, photos, location data and private messages for an entire year as part of the special … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett probe issues ‘sweeping search warrants’”

The biggest stories of 2019

The City of Chicago reigned supreme in 2019. Advertising agencies blended social justice with clever branding. Content creators reinforced Chicago’s reputation for inclusivity. Film studios entertained the nation while helping the local neighborhoods. And a handful of friends said goodbye. Below is a list of Reel Chicago’s top articles for 2019, separated by category and … Continue reading “The biggest stories of 2019”

IL Film Office strives to increase minority presence

The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO) plans to invest $500,000 through the Illinois Film Office Workforce Training Program to enable more women and minorities to access job opportunities within the film industry. As the industry grows, more minority groups are moving toward film production as a career, making up 49% of the … Continue reading “IL Film Office strives to increase minority presence”

Erica Duffy is MIFF’s new executive director

The Midwest Independent Film Festival, which has been in somewhat of an identity makeover since Mike McNamara stepped down from the role of executive director in 2017, is placing its bets on Camera Ambassador’s managing partner Erica Duffy to right the ship. The nonprofit organization has been a staple of Chicago’s independent film community since … Continue reading “Erica Duffy is MIFF’s new executive director”

Oscar winner Paul Hirsch at Music Box

Editor of ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Carrie,’ and ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ joins James Hughes for Q&A following a special screening of ‘Planes, Trains & Automobiles’ To celebrate the release of his new memoir — A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, Far Away: My Fifty Years Editing Hollywood Hits—Star Wars, Carrie, Ferris Bueller’s Day … Continue reading “Oscar winner Paul Hirsch at Music Box”

Taking off with Bottle Rocket Media

Award-winning Chicago-based video content agency wields a startling variety of depth and expertise Chicago video content agency Bottle Rocket Media fuels traditional expertise with DIY spirit. Guided by a pair of visionaries who met while working at the Oprah Winfrey Show, the company has become one of the industry’s most unique production and post operations … Continue reading “Taking off with Bottle Rocket Media”

Periscope appoints Edwin Polanco Chief Engineer

“There is great camaraderie and shared purpose at this facility” Edwin Polanco Post-production IT specialist Edwin Polanco has joined Periscope Post & Audio, Hollywood, as its chief engineer. Polanco will set engineering policies, oversee technical operations and lead technology planning. He will also manage the engineering aspects of the facility’s ongoing buildout. “Edwin brings deep … Continue reading “Periscope appoints Edwin Polanco Chief Engineer”

Seaton, Simon are GlobalMixx ‘Game Changers’

Annual Film and Music Forum will honor Carl Seaton and Claire Simon for “giving back to the community” Chicago Television Director Carl Seaton and Simon Casting President Claire Simon will be honored as a Game Changers at the Global Mixx Music and Film Forum next weekend. Bestowed upon individuals who have “impacted in some way … Continue reading “Seaton, Simon are GlobalMixx ‘Game Changers’”

Interview with OTV founder Dr. Aymar Jean Christian

Open Television author and creator is helping to bring marginalized creators and content into the spotlight of American culture   Over the last four years, Dr. Aymar Jean Christian has inspired a community of artists and intellectuals to disrupt one of the greatest institutions in America. With analytical expertise, online manipulation, shrewd outreach, and boundless … Continue reading “Interview with OTV founder Dr. Aymar Jean Christian”

Redleg’s ‘Now & Not Yet’ makes strong festival run

Facilitating conversations on gun control in America, the Chicago-made short examines a timely theme After screening at the Chicago Social Change Film Festival and winning Best Cinematography and Best Film at the Chicago Feedback Festival, Now & Not Yet is on a roll. Produced by Redleg Films and filmed in March 2019, Now & Not … Continue reading “Redleg’s ‘Now & Not Yet’ makes strong festival run”

Diesel World and Jay Davis Films premiere ‘Step Dads’

Hilarious family tale with a cast of Chicago all stars debuts October 13 at the Den Theatre in Wicker Park   Diesel World Productions and Jay Davis Films — producers of the hilarious Choke on That: The Series and Not Another Black Movie — will host a special screening of their new film, Step Dads, … Continue reading “Diesel World and Jay Davis Films premiere ‘Step Dads’”

Getting to know ‘A Sisterhood of Signatures’

Chicago filmmaker Okema “Seven” Gunn skillfully weaves important lessons into a light-hearted tale about four young girls Cursive writing leads the way to teenage enlightenment in A Sisterhood of Signatures, a Chicago-made short screening September 21st at the Oak Park International Film Festival. Written and directed by Seven Okema Gunn, the 17-minute film presents the … Continue reading “Getting to know ‘A Sisterhood of Signatures’”

ACE Comic Con brings supercharged world to Chicago

Brie Larson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, and Jake Gyllenhaal among the actors, artists, and writers appearing at event ACE Comic Con will transform the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center into a supercharged bastion of activity, engagement, entertainment, and information over the weekend of October 11. Featuring appearances by big screen stars and Q&As with behind-the-scenes … Continue reading “ACE Comic Con brings supercharged world to Chicago”

‘South Side’ renewed for 10-episode season two

Comedy Central orders another round of the show about “joy, ambition, and silliness” in the Englewood community   According to a story published today in Hollywood Reporter, the critically acclaimed Comedy Central series South Side has been renewed for another season. Created by Windy City natives Diallo Riddle, Bashir Salahuddin, and Sultan Salahuddin, South Side … Continue reading “‘South Side’ renewed for 10-episode season two”

Cinespace announces 2019 production lineup

The largest film studio in the Midwest prepares for a busy season of hit shows with 13 new interns Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, based on the west side of Chicago, and currently the second-largest film studio in the country, welcomes back many popular series and announces several new television shows now filming at its campuses. … Continue reading “Cinespace announces 2019 production lineup”

Mauro wraps production on 4th film ‘Voci del diario’

(Entries) features an all-Italian cast and was shot on location in Northern Italy Chicago-based writer/director Lucia Mauro and husband/producer Joe Orlandino – the co-founders of the non-profit film organization In My Brother’s Shoes, Inc. wrapped shooting in Italy on their fourth short film, titled, Voci del diario (Entries). The inspiring independent art film is a … Continue reading “Mauro wraps production on 4th film ‘Voci del diario’”

Rich Ellis to lead sales at Periscope, Hollywood

Ellis will drive sales for the Audio & Post company’s all-new, 22,000 sq ft facility Chicago-headquartered Periscope Post & Audio has appointed Rich Ellis as Executive Sales Manager at its recently-opened facility in Hollywood. A highly-regarded industry veteran with more than two decades of experience, Ellis will drive sales for the all-new, 22,000 square foot … Continue reading “Rich Ellis to lead sales at Periscope, Hollywood”

12 year old to host art show at Cinespace

Photographer Natalie Lising has “grown up” around film sets while receiving a lifetime of support from the Pissios family To aspiring artists, a show at Cinespace marks a great milestone in one’s career. It can sometimes take years and many dollars to produce. Hundreds of blockbusters and classic television shows have been shot, organized, and … Continue reading “12 year old to host art show at Cinespace”

Interview with former IFO Director Christine Dudley

The woman who helped Illinois make hundreds of TV shows and generate $2.5 billion in revenue talks about the ever-changing Midwestern filmscape Christine Dudley joined the Illinois Film Office at the exact time when the Illinois Film Office needed Christine Dudley. Combining exceptional legislative knowledge with a “modest background in production,” she helped guide the … Continue reading “Interview with former IFO Director Christine Dudley”

It’s Showtime for ‘The Chi’ which has been renewed

Chicago production community will have a busy season as hit Showtime series was renewed for a 3rd season along with Fox’s renewal of ‘Empire’ Showtime has announced has picked up the hit drama series The Chi for a third season. In a statement released today, network president Gary Levine said this about the series, which … Continue reading “It’s Showtime for ‘The Chi’ which has been renewed”

Updated: Is there finally “Jusstice” for Jussie?

Cook County State Attorney drops all 16 criminal charges; and seals all records in a case full of twists and turns Again, the Jussie Smollett case has had more twists and turns than an episode of Empire. Less than two weeks after the Empire actor pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of disorderly conduct for … Continue reading “Updated: Is there finally “Jusstice” for Jussie?”

Jussie Smollett charged with filing false police report

After his surrender and arrest this morning, the actor’s bail was set at $100K during an afternoon bond hearing Empire star Jussie Smollett has been charged with filing a false police report, a felony. Yesterday, CPD Chief Communications Officer Anthony Guglielmi tweeted, “Felony criminal charges have been approved by @CookCountySAO against Jussie Smollett for Disorderly … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett charged with filing false police report”

Jussie Smollett: Timeline of a “hoax?”

The alleged “homophobic” and “racist” attack on Jussie Smollett, which reportedly took place in the early hours of January 29, has taken more twists and turns than an hour of the locally-filmed hit Fox series Empire. One could almost be led to believe a group of writers in a writer’s room was responsible for a … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett: Timeline of a “hoax?””

Two Nigerian suspects in Smollett attack arrested

Report: Chicago Police raided the home of “two persons of interest” on Wednesday night, investigation continues According to The Wrap, two “potential suspects” have been brought in for questioning by Chicago PD for the attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett. Friday morning, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, confirmed they are talking to two men, they … Continue reading “Two Nigerian suspects in Smollett attack arrested”

Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters

George Bogdanich’s new documentary explores how the Justice Department’s greed, corruption, and overreach resulted in tragedy George Bogdanich’s 2019 documentary, Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters Union, alleges that former Chicago Teamster Bill Hogan and his family are victims of intimidation and fraud committed by the United States government. Evidence presented in the … Continue reading “Betrayal: When the Government Took Over the Teamsters”

Jussie Smollett performs in L.A.

The “Empire” star talks about the assault and his recovery during an emotional Saturday-night set at the Troubadour “I fought the f–k back.” Only four days after Empire star, Jussie Smollett was allegedly attacked by what sources close to him have called MAGA Supporters, the actor/singer appeared in concert on stage at Los Angeles famed … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett performs in L.A.”

Showtime renews ‘Shameless’ for 10th season

Popular series says good-bye to Emmy Rossum and hello to Cameron Monaghan in tenth season renewal Here’s some news to warm the Chicago production community. And it doesn’t include drinking booze or peeing your pants. Unless you’re Frank Gallagher. According to E-Online, Shameless has been renewed by Showtime for a 10th season. Although star Emmy … Continue reading “Showtime renews ‘Shameless’ for 10th season”

Questions arise in Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack

Area detectives and now the FBI continue to investigate the attack on the Empire actor Early Tuesday morning, Empire actor Jussie Smollett was attacked by what has been classified by Chicago police as a possible “Hate Crime.” First reported by TMZ, the actor was on his way home from a sandwich shop (reportedly Subway) at … Continue reading “Questions arise in Jussie Smollett’s alleged attack”

WTTW Chicago among first to air ‘Victoria’ season 3

The Masterpiece hit period drama series premieres Sunday January 13 at 8 pm on WTTW11 and wttw.com/watch (Chicago — 19 December 2018)    It is 1848, and revolution is breaking out across Europe. In Britain, one woman stands between order and chaos: Queen Victoria. Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) stars as the young but fearless monarch, facing … Continue reading “WTTW Chicago among first to air ‘Victoria’ season 3”

Local 476 elections reflect unprecedented growth

The Studio Mechanics’ record-setting year is is complemented by growing diversity in leadership and membership The Chicago Studio Mechanics Union Local 476, a chapter of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), designated more than a dozen officers, board members, and trustees after tallying the votes of its December 10 election. Returning to positions … Continue reading “Local 476 elections reflect unprecedented growth”

‘Rendezvous in Chicago’ hometown premiere at the Siskel

“You can make a good movie for $20,000 and a good film for $100,000, but you shouldn’t use the same script for both.” Michael Glover Smith Michael Glover Smith’s Rendezvous in Chicago will make its hometown premiere with four screenings at the Gene Siskel Film Center in February 2019. On the festival circuit, the feature-length … Continue reading “‘Rendezvous in Chicago’ hometown premiere at the Siskel”

NBC’s “One Chicago” suite to film six additional episodes

Chicago’s record-setting year of television production just got more record-settinger Dick Wolf’s award-winning trio of Windy City-based dramas — Chicago P.D., Chicago Fire, and Chicago Med — will collectively shoot a half-dozen additional episodes for the 2018 season, according to recent reports. Chicago PD executive producer/director Eriq LaSalle announced the news to fans in an … Continue reading “NBC’s “One Chicago” suite to film six additional episodes”

‘Art of Motivation’ at Chicago Comedy Film Festival

New web series features narcissistic characters who go about “undermining each other” with a kind of egotistical finesse that’s a joy to watch Open floor plans, clashing personalities, and corporate insincerity get a hilarious sendup in the first episode of Art of Motivation, a new web series created by John Cuneo. Described as “an episodic … Continue reading “‘Art of Motivation’ at Chicago Comedy Film Festival”

The unforged truth behind “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”

The true story behind the Melissa McCarthy thriller, told by the NY dealer who wore a wire during the FBI sting operation Melissa McCarthy’s new film, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is based on the eponymous memoir by Lee Israel, a pathetic, misanthropic and alcoholic biographer who turned to crime when her failed talent as … Continue reading “The unforged truth behind “Can You Ever Forgive Me?””

“The City That Sold America” premieres at Chi Film Fest

Years in the making, the “snappy, engaging, and punchy” story told “through the voices of fifty people” unfolds with singular clarity Part of the glory about Ky Dickens’ new film, The City That Sold America, is that we’ve seen it all before. Beginning with Ronald McDonald, Charlie Tuna, Tony the Tiger, and countless other mascots … Continue reading ““The City That Sold America” premieres at Chi Film Fest”

Cinespace donates studio set to Whitney Young’s Dub TV

The new Dub TV studio set includes elements of Cookie’s bedroom from season one of the hit show “Empire”   Whitney M. Young Magnet High School’s Dub TV Studio received a major upgrade yesterday when Cinespace Chicago Film Studios donated a new set to the show that is created by students of the West Side … Continue reading “Cinespace donates studio set to Whitney Young’s Dub TV”

Reel interview with “Rel” cast member Eric Lane

“We come together as a whole … it’s not a black or white thing … people decide that they want to make films. … that’s the key.” Actor Eric Lane has a lot of things keeping him busy these days, including a role in the pilot episode of Fox’s Rel, which premieres Sunday at 7:00 … Continue reading “Reel interview with “Rel” cast member Eric Lane”

The advertising legend of Aretha Franklin

Amoco, Snickers, Pizza Hut, and McDonald’s are just a few of the brands that made their mark with help from The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin built an empire that extended far beyond the boundaries of music. Besides her stellar career as a vocalist and pianist, the Memphis-born, Detroit-raised Queen of Soul achieved memorable success … Continue reading “The advertising legend of Aretha Franklin”

Macy nabs Emmy nom for Chi-based “Shameless”

Aside from Macy and “Roseanne’s” Laurie Metcalf, Chicago connections went ignored: nothing for “The Chi,” “Empire,” and Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” series   Frank Gallagher is the worst father on TV, but for Two-time Emmy winner William H. Macy, the shiftless dad is pure gold. The talented actor scored his fifth Emmy nomination for his work … Continue reading “Macy nabs Emmy nom for Chi-based “Shameless””

“All the Queen’s Horses” coming to Netflix on July 10

  Award-winning documentary explores how Rita Crundwell stole millions from Dixon, Illinois   (Chicago — 27 June 2018) Kartemquin Films and Helios Digital Learning are pleased to announce that director Kelly Richmond Pope’s award-winning documentary, All The Queen’s Horses, will be available to stream on Netflix from Tuesday, July 10. All The Queen’s Horses tells … Continue reading ““All the Queen’s Horses” coming to Netflix on July 10″

“Division” collapses the distance of urban romance

A memorable story and a unique cast and crew prove that “Diversity is Normalcy” in a family-friendly, pro-parent, pro-artist project   Division, a short film about a young, interracial couple who find themselves in a long-distance relationship even though they live in the same city, will begin principal photography in July 2018, in Chicago, Illinois. … Continue reading ““Division” collapses the distance of urban romance”

Chicago records unprecedented TV production in 2018

Four new shows filming this summer and fall increase Windy City TV production to a record ten series   Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Film Office at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced ten shows will film this summer and fall in Chicago. This includes filming for four new shows, … Continue reading “Chicago records unprecedented TV production in 2018”

Chicago to receive its own night on NBC fall schedule

According to Adweek, NBC is setting up an all-Chicago night on Wednesdays with “Chicago Med,” “Chicago Fire,” and “Chicago P.D.”   “We flirted with doing this in the past, and didn’t for various reasons,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “We looked at the landscape and thought, let’s try this together.” After several years of … Continue reading “Chicago to receive its own night on NBC fall schedule”

Fox orders South Side comedy “Rel” starring Lil Rel

The latest new multi-camera addition to Fox’s schedule for next season is “Rel” from 20th Century Fox TV.     Updates continue flowing in before next week’s upfronts. Fox has ordered a new multi-camera comedy called Rel, a Lil Rel Howery vehicle from Jerrod Carmichael and Mike Scully. Inspired by Lil Rel Howery’s (The Carmichael … Continue reading “Fox orders South Side comedy “Rel” starring Lil Rel”

Peele and Abrams bring new HBO series to Cinespace

Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams are bringing their new HBO series to Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. Titled Lovecraft Country, the series is based on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name. According to IMDb, the story is about “a young African-American (who) travels across the U.S. in the 1950s in search of his missing … Continue reading “Peele and Abrams bring new HBO series to Cinespace”

Female-led “Range Runners” films in IL this summer

Fatal Funnel Films announces cast for upcoming thriller   Actors from Chicago’s hottest shows to perform in inaugural feature shooting in Shawnee National Forest and nearby Carbondale     (Chicago — 7 May 2018) Fatal Funnel Films, an Illinois-based independent film company, today announces the complete cast and production team of their inaugural feature film, … Continue reading “Female-led “Range Runners” films in IL this summer”

Cinespace helps Anixter raise thousands at annual gala

Chicago film industry scores one of the year’s most significant milestones while helping people wih disabilities Last night on the campus of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, hundreds of guests raised thousands of dollars for people with disabilities during the Anixter Center’s 7th annual gala, held this year in honor of Cinespace President Alexander Pissios. Temporarily … Continue reading “Cinespace helps Anixter raise thousands at annual gala”

DePaul, Second City to offer comedy film degrees

No Joke: DePaul collaborates with world’s largest school of improvisation to offer degrees in comedy filmmaking (Chicago — 3 May 2018) The Second City and DePaul University today announced a collaboration designed to expand comedy education. Starting in fall 2018, DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts will offer comprehensive new undergraduate and graduate degrees in comedy … Continue reading “DePaul, Second City to offer comedy film degrees”

Chicago’s Cinespace Studios to add outdoor backlots

Chicago filmmakers have longed dreamt about turning Chicago into a Midwest Hollywood. Now, Cinespace Studios‘ president, Alex Pissios, has taken the steps to make that dream a reality. What has been in the works for two years came to fruition this past Wednesday when City Council passed an ordinance allowing the 1.45 million sq. ft. … Continue reading “Chicago’s Cinespace Studios to add outdoor backlots”

“Murder in the Woods” at Chicago Latino Film Fest

Chicago’s Yelyna De Leon produced, acted in, and wrote the script for a teen slasher that will screen at the 34th Chicago Latino Film Festival (CLFF). Titled Murder in the Woods, the English-language, U.S.-produced film was directed and produced by Mexican-born filmmaker Luis Iga.     A Latin American film Murder in the woods has … Continue reading ““Murder in the Woods” at Chicago Latino Film Fest”

Reel Women: Laura Roeper, Assistant Prop Master

After earning a degree in advertising art design, Laura Roeper found her way into photography as a prop stylist, then as a studio manager. She eventually gained years of experience as an in-house art producer in the advertising industry before launching an extensive freelance career working with photographers as well as agencies.   Seeking more … Continue reading “Reel Women: Laura Roeper, Assistant Prop Master”

Pitching with IL Film Office Director Christine Dudley

Christine Dudley rarely goes to the movies. That may seem odd for the Director of the Illinois Film Office, but she’s dedicated to a job that begins before most of the scenes are even shot and ends, like, never. So what does she do?     When Dudley’s not pitching Hollywood studios, she’s reading the … Continue reading “Pitching with IL Film Office Director Christine Dudley”

Chicago Int’l TV Fest celebrates “Art of the Commercial”

The awards ceremony for the 54th Annual Chicago International Television Festival packed AMC River East in Streeterville last Thursday night. The evening began with a reception in the Wine Room at the Lucky Strike bowling alley, restaurant, and lounge, which is located on the second floor of the building where the theater resides. Executive directors, … Continue reading “Chicago Int’l TV Fest celebrates “Art of the Commercial””

Tribute to DuShon Monique Brown

Chicago lost a true star when DuShon Monique Brown passed away at Franciscan St. James Health Olympia Fields last Friday afternoon. Besides achieving considerable success in an acting career that included roles on Empire, Prison Break, and Shameless, Brown also formerly served as crisis counselor and leader of a drama program at Kenwood Academy High … Continue reading “Tribute to DuShon Monique Brown”

Karabas, “Real Prayers,” “Make Out Party,” and more

RSA Films promotes Chris Karabas to executive producer Before the promotion, Chris Karabas was the Midwest representative for RSA Films. In his new role, Karabas is expected to utilize RSA Films’ resources to branch out into multiplatform storytelling – especially social media. Previously, Karabas worked for Shafer Antelis Music in the early 90s, was a … Continue reading “Karabas, “Real Prayers,” “Make Out Party,” and more”

Dee Rees, Yessian LA lead the week’s industry moves

“Mudbound” director Dee Rees signs with Anonymous Content Production and Management Company Anonymous Content has announced Mudbound director Dee Rees has signed for commercial representation in the U.S. and U.K. The news kicks off a groundbreaking 2018 for Rees, whose feature drama Mudbound has been met with sweeping praise and four Academy Award nominations, including two … Continue reading “Dee Rees, Yessian LA lead the week’s industry moves”

Katie Holmes’ pilot joins three others shooting in Chicago

The networks are turning Chicago into “Hollywood Midwest” Katie Holmes has joined an untitled Fox drama from former Empire showrunner Ilene Chaiken and Melissa Scrivner Love, whose credits include CSI: Miami.       The drama focuses on FBI Special Agent Hazel Otis, played by Holmes. While investigating a domestic terrorist threat, her secret affair … Continue reading “Katie Holmes’ pilot joins three others shooting in Chicago”

The Reel Black List: Jeff Morrow, Vocal Music Producer

Jeff Morrow is an accomplished singer, vocal producer, voice-over artist, arranger, voice coach and contractor. He is currently the vocal producer for the hit Fox TV show Empire. This past summer he worked as the vocal contractor and toured with Aretha Franklin. He has worked with Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly, Janelle Monae, Michael Bolton, Celine … Continue reading “The Reel Black List: Jeff Morrow, Vocal Music Producer”

A stroll through “Rogers Park” with director Kyle Henry

It’s hard to imagine director Kyle Henry acting like a “tough bastard” because he’s a really nice guy. But after learning about the process behind Rogers Park — a feature film shot in the Chicago neighborhood of the same name — his self-applied description makes sense. Rogers Park is “a hyper-local yet entirely universal story … Continue reading “A stroll through “Rogers Park” with director Kyle Henry”

The Reel Black List: Okema Gunn, Film Critic and Writer

Okema “Seven” Gunn has been an educator for several years in New York City and the Chicagoland area. She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Masters in Secondary Education in Social Studies. She has written articles for Empire Radio Magazine, Scene Chicago, Exposure Magazine, Chicago Now, and N’digo Magapaper. Currently, she works as a … Continue reading “The Reel Black List: Okema Gunn, Film Critic and Writer”

Rhyan LaMarr’s journey to “Canal Street”

On his way to becoming one of the hottest young filmmakers in America, Rhyan LaMarr has proven just about every self-motivational cliché in the book. He was raised by divorced parents who struggled in two separate households, went to a high school where almost nobody looked like him, buried more friends then he cares to … Continue reading “Rhyan LaMarr’s journey to “Canal Street””

Chicago helps grow diversity in Illinois productions

Women and minorities represented 53% of all crew hires reported in 2017, according to a January 25 press release issued by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. The amount marks a new record for diversity in the state’s film industry. “These productions generated $423 million in estimated Illinois spending,” the document continues, “and … Continue reading “Chicago helps grow diversity in Illinois productions”

“The Tale of Four” speaks to everyone

Truth, love, and dignity are just a few of the issues addressed in the 20-minute short film, “The Tale of Four,” directed by Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Empire, Precious), and completed with the expertise of Beast / CO3 / Method Chicago. Tracking the lives of four African-American women who live in the same apartment building, … Continue reading ““The Tale of Four” speaks to everyone”

Meet the producers behind Fox’s “Bite Size Horror”

On Monday, Reel Chicago awarded a special edition “Ad of the Week” to an out-of-state agency for the first time in the colum’s history. We felt the impact that Fox’s in-house digital agency, All City, created for Mars candies redefined branded entertainment by making really good entertainment. Titled, Bite Size Horror, these are a series … Continue reading “Meet the producers behind Fox’s “Bite Size Horror””

10:20 a.m. — AbelCine

AbelCine is busier than most retail establishments at 10 o’clock on a weekday morning. But then again, AbelCine is not like most retail establishments. Located in a stately redbrick four-story building across the street from Cinespace, the company includes several film industry vendors among its neighbors. “We encourage people to touch things when they come … Continue reading “10:20 a.m. — AbelCine”

10:58 a.m. — Jeanne Caliendo, “Chicago Med”

Shortly before lunch, Chicago Med Unit Production Manager Jeanne Caliendo is preparing for the show’s regular “medical meeting,” which she describes as, “the biggest, most important meeting of every episode.” “We run through what the actor/doctors will perform, so that we have the correct props, prosthetics, makeup and special effects,” she says. “We’ve got blood … Continue reading “10:58 a.m. — Jeanne Caliendo, “Chicago Med””

12:12 p.m. — Simon Casting

Simon Casting founder Claire Simon is joking about how often she eats lunch at her desk. “In 21 years,” she says, “I think I’ve gone out twice.” Today will be no different. The hit show Empire called this morning and requested help in filling several roles for tomorrow. “Usually, when we have our concept call, … Continue reading “12:12 p.m. — Simon Casting”

24/7 — Studio Mechanics Local 476

The members of Studio Mechanics Local 476, the Chicago branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union, work behind the scenes of every Cinespace production. Without their contribution, the magic that comes out of Cinespace would be much more difficult to make. On a typical production, according to Business Manager Mark Hogan, … Continue reading “24/7 — Studio Mechanics Local 476”

AbelCine’s Chicago Cinema Tech Expo

AbelCine’s Chicago Cinema Tech Expo this Saturday will be “bigger than we’ve ever done before,” says Brian Khan, the company’s Business and Community Development Specialist. “Every year, we do a signature event,” he continues. “We did the open house two years ago, the Fall Tech Expo last year. This year, we’re going to have dozens … Continue reading “AbelCine’s Chicago Cinema Tech Expo”

New TNT show scheduled to film at Cinespace this fall

During an exclusive conversation with ReelChicago yesterday, Cincespace CEO Alex Pissios informed publisher Barbara Roche and editor Daniel Patton that the pilot for TNT’s The Deep Mad Dark will begin production at the Chicago studio this fall.

“They’re moving into offices September 11, shooting in October,” he said. “It’s a done deal.”

Chicago Teamster official charged with extortion

In an 11-page indictment returned Wednesday, the US District Court of Illinois charged high-ranking Teamster official John T. Coli Sr. with extorting “quarterly cash payments” from a business identified as “Company 1.”

Although the indictment does not identify the business by name, the Sun Times on Wednesday quoted an anonymous source who claims that it is Cinespace Chicago Studios.

According to the indictment, Coli demanded that “Company 1” deliver $25,000 cash payments from “around October 2016” until “about April 4, 2017.”

Radha Mitchell toplines “The World Without You”

Chicago-based SB Productions announces Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, London has Fallen), last seen in the faith-based film, The Shack, alongside Sam Worthington and Octavia Spencer, will star and executive produce, The World Without You, based on Joshua Henkin’s best-selling novel of the same name.

The film represents the directorial debut of established actor Damon Shalit, who was the writer and producer of African Gothic and A-List.

MPG shoots reenactment of Baha’i persecution in Spain

While filming a reenactment of 19th century gunfire, horses and panic in southern Spain, Media Process Group director Bob Hercules and DP Keith Walker decided to double the possibility of something going wrong.

“We split the cameras and ran back and forth directing both crews simultaneously,” he recalls. “It was close to guerilla shooting.”

It was also the second-to-last day of a three-week shoot for a feature documentary about the origins of the Baha’i faith.

Last call for FCB and AB InBev Lime-A-Rita account

FCB will not be serving up anymore Lime-a-rita campaigns for client AB INBev, as the brewing giant launched a review Friday for its brand.

On June 22, Adweek broke the news that the brewer had issued an RFP.

A spokesman was quoted as saying, “We are proud of the work that was created from our collaboration with FCB Chicago and Lime-A-Rita, which has produced a number of memorable ads since 2015. As the brand evolves, we continually look to refresh our perspective and evaluate our agency structure.”

“Outrageous rollbacks” reignite SAG-AFTRA strike threat

Just when we thought we all could breathe again after the WGA and the studios and networks came to terms on a new contract, The Wrap, Variety and Hollywood Reporter all report that talks have broken down over a new three-year contract between SAG-AFTRA and the AMTMP. SAG-AFTRA’s current master contract for film and primetime TV expires June 30. The union has about 160,000 members.

Networks unveil fall lineups at upfront this week

With a Writers’ Strike now averted, the networks can now get back down to business, and partying it up, when they announce their Fall schedules this week at New York’s Upfronts.

The Chicago Production Community can now also take comfort in knowing that many series are returning here this summer and fall for production.

Esai Morales joins “Chicago PD” in major new role

ESAI MORALES (NYPD BLUE) is back on the beat with a new recurring role on “Chicago PD,” as Chief Lugo, a 30-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. The new character will be introduced in a three-show crossover, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Chief Lugo grew up and flourished in the “old style” policing methods of the department. Now, he’s doing his best as a chief to steer the CPD towards the new style of policing.

Lakeside cabin setting for Smith’s 2nd indie dramedy

The concept of Chicago writer / director Michael Glover Smith’s second indie drama, “Mercury in Retrograde,” grew out of a scene from his firstfeature comedy / drama, “Cool Apocalypse, ” in 2015.

This gave him, he says, “a chance to go deeper and darker with the conflict between couples: how do they talk to each other, how do they not talk to each other, and how do they talk around problems.”

Two awards for IP law firm Leavens Strand & Glover

The Distinguished Service to the Arts Award will be presented by Lawyers for the Creative Arts to the entertainment law firm of Leavens Strand & Glover on Oct 27 at LCA’s Annual Benefit Lunch in the Empire Room at the Palmer House.

Each year, LCA presents this award to individuals and organizations who have had a profound impact on the development of arts and culture in Chicago.

Chicago hits record income from TV series filming here

Thanks to NBC, Fox TV, Amazon and other TV shows, features, and the large number of media and entertainment projects filming here, Chicago is ascending into the rarified strata of billion dollar film markets.

In just the span of five years, actually since the advent of Cinespace Studios in 2011, Chicago has recorded $1.3 billion generated by entertainment and commercial production.This means that the local economy has directly benefited by a  total of $3.25 billion from film production activity.

Smith’s indie starts filming in Chicago & Michigan

The dramedy, “Mercury in Retrograde,” Michael Glover Smith of White City Cinema,  filmmaker, author and film studies instructor, starts filming Aug. 4 for 15 days in Chicago and Southwest Michigan.

Smith, the screenwriter, will direct the shoot in Ukranian Village, Rogers Park and Wilmette and then move to 10 days of filming in historic Fennville, near Saugatuck.

Twisted Media provides FX in Fox’ $200 mm sci fi epic

All the dazzling alien holograms and more than 400 futuristic-looking human and alien computer interfaces, and other high tech device screens in the Earth vs. Alien epic “Independence Day: Resurgence,” were the work of Chicago’s Derek Frederickson and his Twisted Media team.

Frederickson was the playback graphics supervisor: on-set, in charge of all the playback graphics and animation for 20th Century Fox’ $200 million sci-fi disaster film that opens in theatres June 24 in 2D, 3D and IMAX.

New Fox TV series greenlit; Cinespace to add stages

Fox Television announced that two of its four dramatic pilots that filmed in Chicago this winter were greenlit for series production. While not officially stated, there’s strong reason to expect new series will return to Chicago.

“That would be extraordinarily good news,” notes Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal. “This surge of activity points to the quality of our crews, talent and facilities and Chicago’s ability to be a major player in episodic television.”

Steve Conrad among TV pros at TV Awards, April 18-20

Writer/director Steve Conrad, actor Gary Cole, TV show creators and “Empire’s” key crew members will be among the TV pros holding forth on the trials and triumphs of TV show production at the Chicago International Television Awards (CITA) April 18-20 at the AMC River East 21 theatres.

This marks the first time, CITA (formerly the Hugo Awards) is expanding its single TV awards evening into a three-day event.

Music enhances BoomThrift’s kids vitamins spot

Producer Leigh Jones seamless transition from the world of indie films to the world of advertising is demonstrated in her BoomThrift company having completed projects for two major advertisers so far this year.

Breaking the week of March 3 is a digital / social media comedy campaign for Frito-Lay’s new Funyuns onion snacks that follows a Flintstones’ vitamin spot for Energy BBDO.