ALG Brands has been tapped to represent the estate of John Belushi and the Blues Brothers for licensing and legacy opportunities. Announced by ALG COO Scott Austin, the branding firm will manage Mr. Belushi’s personality rights and will oversee the evolution of the Blues Brothers’ iconic intellectual property via brand collaborations, media projects, experiential events … Continue reading “ALG to represent John Belushi and Blues Brothers’ estate”
“The Blues Brothers” band is ready to make a comeback, as “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues take their act on the road and back to their native Chicago as an animated TV musical comedy series.
The primetime series in the works is based on the “Saturday Night Live” sketch that originated in 1976 by cast members and Second City alums and die-hard blues fans Dan Aykroyd as Elwood and Jim Belushi as Jake Blues.
A replica of Jake and Elwood’s famous ride helps turn former correctional facility into a world-class film-related tourist attraction A police car with a large public address system on its roof was parked at Joliet Prison last weekend. The vehicle, owned by Blues Brothers tribute band The Blooze Brothers, was among many sights and sounds … Continue reading “The Bluesmobile returns to Joliet Prison”
The Bader Brothers went deep into the criminal world to make a film that was true to the life of a professional burglar.
“We’ve always liked the crime genre but we’d never seen anything that we felt really portrayed a thief in a realistic way,” said director Malik Bader, who made the film “Grand Theft” with his brother, producer Sam Bader. “We felt we could bring something to the table that was more real.” The Baders shot the Super 16mm feature last summer and are now in post-production.
While it might appear that Hollywood films are a relatively recent part of my 30 years of Chicago coverage, features actually have been thriving for decades ? and without the need for incentives.
I started Screen as a newsletter on Jan. 29, 1979. During that year, 13 films shot in Chicago, including the iconic, big studio hits, “Ordinary People,” “The Blues Brothers,” and “The Hunter.”
Since then, more than 750 Hollywood, indie and home-grown features have found Chicago to be a perfect location.
Producer Steven A. Jones threatened to throw the negative of John McNaughton’s horror movie “The Borrower” into the river to force the bond company to pay the back wages owed to local crew. It worked.
To get an obstructing truck out of a crucial shot, Teamsters working on “The Blues Brothers” hoisted the offending vehicle into the water.
These are just a couple of ways that Chicago’s most famous waterway has impacted the city’s film history, as documented in “Chicago Filmmakers on the Chicago River,” out this March on DVD.
James A. Mahoney, the founder of Film & Tape Works and dear friend of many in the Chicago film community, has died at age 71. Film and Tape Works at 237 E. Ontario, was the premier production and post-production film/video house in Chicago, for over 30 years. Early in his career Jim was a cameraman … Continue reading “Jim Mahoney founder of Film & Tape Works passes at 71”
Five film projects to compete for $20,000 awards package of in-kind goods and services The 55th Chicago International Film Festival announced a slate of five narrative feature film projects in active development that will be pitched in front of a live audience and a panel of distinguished industry judges during the Festival’s Industry Days … Continue reading “ChiFilmFest announces slate for “The Pitch””
The Chicago Studio Mechanics Union works for interests that range far beyond the film industry Members of Chicago Local 476 picketed a non-union production shooting in the city last weekend. Inspired to protect the opportunities, wages, and benefits of its members, the Studio Mechanics believe that their protest also serves interests far beyond the … Continue reading “Local 476 pickets non-union production”
Meet the man who has worked with Cab Calloway, Chaka Khan, Angela Bassett, John Belushi, Aretha Franklin, James Earl Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., and more Pemon Rami is an international film producer, theatre director, arts administrator, historian, lecturer, and consultant who wields one of the most impressive film pedigrees in Chicago and beyond. The features … Continue reading “Reel Black List: Pemon Rami, Chicago film legend”
“Blues Brothers” director John Landis describes impending explosions while scouting locations in John Davies’ vintage short film In 1979, Chicago filmmaker John Davies produced a short titled, Hollywood Comes to Chicago, that featured a tour through the Windy City and its film production industry. He planned to submit the piece to WTTW’s Image Union, a … Continue reading “Hollywood Comes to Chicago — 1979”
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”
It is incredibly rare in this world for loving, humble, and kind seniors working hard in education to get the media attention they deserve on an international scale. Actually, for those seniors pushing 100, it is almost unheard of. That’s where the NCAA tournament and Loyola University Chicago’s journey to the Elite Eight comes in. … Continue reading “Loyola U’s Sister Jean “On a Mission from God””
Block parties are always fun, but when the party brings together music, movies, food and drinks for a good cause, it’s bound to be a huge success. And that’s what the producers of CineFest Backlot Block Party are setting up Aug. 28-30 on the Cinespace Studios’ campus.
Before Mayor Jane Byrne, there was no Chicago film industry. That was mainly because Mayor Richard J. Daley notoriously hated movies. Didn’t want them messing up traffic. Didn’t want Al Capone’s gangster days perpetuated on the screen.
George Kohut, considered one of the best camera operators in the country, a favorite of feature directors John Hughes and Andrew Davis, and a tireless advocate for workers’ rights, died May 8 from complications of a stroke. He was 70 and had spent 44 years in the Chicago film industry.
It was only a matter of time. Filmworkers Astro Lab, one of only five remaining independent film processing labs in the entire country, has closed its doors, after more than 50 years — the last 12 as part of Filmworkers Club services to the local industry.
The lab’s last run of 35mm dailies last week was for MK Films, director Mark Klein’s tabletop company.
L.A.-based “Funny or Die” website regular and Winnetka native Alex Beh is back in town as writer, director and star of his debut feature Warren.
The coming-of-age love story shoots “all over the beautiful streets and locations in Chicago and the North Shore,” Beh says, beginning the week of Sept. 24.
In his newly released memoir, Life Itself, Roger Ebert begins the chapter about his wife with “How can I tell you about Chaz?” and says that “her love was like a wind pushing me back from the grave” during his battle with cancer.
But Chaz Ebert’s gifts – personal and professional – have benefited many others in addition to Roger. Her background includes a stint in a modern dance troupe, a career as a trial attorney, and 20 years as vice president of the Ebert Company.
In August, veteran filmmaker and environmental documentarian David McGowan will travel to war-torn Uganda to come lens-to-face with some of the world’s most dangerous, beautiful and endangered animals.
It’s about veterinarians who specialize in treating ailing and injured wildlife in the African jungle and it’s part of a series called “Envirovet.”
“Think of CSI for forensic veterinarians and you’ll get the idea,” said McGowan, whose Ravenswood Media has produced educational, corporate and training videos for more than 20 years.
By Jonathan Abarbanel
“Proof,” the film shot mostly in Chicago (plus some interiors in London) based on the award- winning play by David Auburn, is set for a Dec. 24 release date by Miramax. The play is set in Hyde Park (ours, not London’s) and concerns a University of Chicago theoretical mathematician and his daughter.
The stars are Anthony Hopkins as the professor, Gwynneth Paltrow as his daughter, Jake Gyllenhaal as the love interest, and Hope Davis as an older sister.
As we say goodbye to our favorite heroes from One Chicago for the summer, it’s fun to look back on all the amazing TV shows set in the Windy City over the years. Chicago has been a production powerhouse for decades and has given us some of the best movies and TV shows that were … Continue reading “Our Top 10 list of the best TV shows set in Chicago”
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”
The number of big stories from 2018 is far too great to fit into one article, thankfully. But we’ve tried. Using a combination of Google analytics, social media engagement, and our own thumbs-up button, Reel Chicago has compiled a list of the most widely read stories from the last twelve months. To get a taste … Continue reading “A look back at the stories that defined 2018”
An enjoyable and informative conversation with the co-recipients of this year’s Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership Pemon Rami and Maséqua Myers created a thrill wherever they went during opening night of the Black Harvest Film Festival. The popular married couple seemed to know everyone at the celebration and hobnobbed with grace. They … Continue reading “Pemon Rami and Maséqua Myers at Black Harvest”
Kinzie Street Studio’s upcoming weekly series What’s On Tap adds a most essential ingredient to the food and travel show menu: beer. Lots and lots of beer. “Serving up stories about people who make beer, people who serve beer and people who drink beer,” the work-in-progress will be a thirst-quenching, host-driven trip through bars and … Continue reading ““What’s On Tap” is all about the beer, and more”
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 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”
Composer and music producer Ira Antelis has managed to assemble under one roof all four of the enterprises in which he’s a partner.
Antelis was preparing to move his Jira Productions, the music and audio company he runs with sound designer Jim Hoffman, out of its space in Leo Burnett headquarters, where Antelis had been music director for 10 years. “It was time to move on,” he says.
Chicago’s new screenplay contest from Scott Prestin’s American Stonehenge Films and Craig James Pietrowiak’s Squid Brothers will award cash prizes and exposure to winners, plus one awesome grand prize.
Like Project Greenlight, the lucky grand prize winner of the The Movie Deal! competition will receive an honest-to-gosh production deal.
“The winner will be offered a chance to have his project thrust immediately into preproduction, via an option and production agreement with an established production company and an ownership position,” says Prestin.
WILLIAM FORSYTE leads a slate of familiar and sometimes sinister character actors in producer-director Scott Prestin’s crime thriller, “The Chicago Blues,” slated to shoot in late summer by Prestin’s company, American Stonehenge.
Forsythe (“Halloween”) will be joined by Vincent Pastore (“The Sopranos”), Daniel Baldwin (“Mulholland Falls”), Jon Gries (“Napoleon Dynamite”), Fred (The Hammer) Williamson and Farrah Forke (TV’s “Wings”).
AS SUNDANCE EXCITEMENT ENDS, South by Southwest Film Festival takes center stage, March 7-15, 2008 in Austin, Texas where the work of three of Chicago’s best indie filmmakers and a newcomer will premiere.
They are: Steven James and Peter Gilbert’s “At the Death House Door,” Joe Swanberg’s “Nights and Weekends” and ? at last ? Steve Conrad and Steven A.
ACTOR MATT DILLON will portray Leonard Chess, the legendary founder of the South Side Chicago blues label Chess Records, in Sony/BMG Film’s “Cadillac Records.”
Written and directed by Darnell Martin (“Prison Song”), filming of the 1950’s story is set to begin in January in New Jersey and Chicago. Jeffrey Wright also stars.
Chess, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, scoured the South, checking out the various blues scenes and selling records from the back of his Cadillac.
WHO HE IS: Newly elected secretary treasurer/business manager heading IATSE Local 476, Motion Pictures Studio Mechanics?a third generation 476 member.
HOW HE VIEWS HIS JOB: “Having worked in the business for 33 years, I’ve seen problems first hand. Now I am in a position where I can affect positive change.”
After only two weeks in his new position, Hogan faced a job action when members who had been asked to work without union representation were replaced with non-union workers.
Chicago native Terrence Howard’s 17-year film and TV career underwent a seismic shift with his star turn in “Hustle & Flow,” the Memphis hip-hop drama that sold to MTV and Paramount Classics for a record $9 million at Sundance.
This year alone Howard appears five films.
They are “Crash,” “Lackawanna Blues,” “Four Brothers,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” and the Oprah Winfrey-produced made-for-TV “Their Eyes were Watching God.”
Howard will be the honoree of the Chicago International Film Festival’s Black Perspectives Program this October.
A leading improviser and comic actor, David Pasquesi has appeared in films including “The Fugitive” and “Father of the Bride,” and Harold Ramis’ “Groundhog Day” and “Stuart Saves His Family.” His TV credits include “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Common Ground,” and “Strangers with Candy.”
Pasquesi has roles in two locally-shot features due out later this year: Ramis’ “Ice Harvest,” and former standup partner Jeff Garlin’s “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.” He’s also in the forthcoming film version of “Strangers with Candy.”
Pasquesi and Steppenwolf company member Tracy Letts premier
DePaul University’s year-old Digital Cinema Program leaps into the big leagues this summer when a mix of professionals and students from the program will produce a feature film under the school’s Bluelight Productions banner.
Director Matt Irvine brings together the same core team of industry professional faculty members who have overseen the production of Bluelight’s inaugural hour-long “Last Call,” which is in post after shooting last July.
Hoffman Estates videogame designer High Voltage Software created two major releases this fall for very different audiences, and is working with Warner Bros. on a famous children’s classic for release next summer.
Atari just released High Voltage’s “Duel Masters,” the first PlayStation game based on the popular card game and animated series, targeted at boys ages eight to 14.
And last month Vivendi Universal put out “Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude,” the latest installment in the venerable adult game series.
One of the films was made in India and one of the directors lives in L.A., but with 12 films ? four features and eight shorts ‐ either made in Chicago, by a local director, or both, there’s more “Chicago” in the 40th Annual Chicago International Film Festival than there has been in recent memory.
Here’s a quick guide to all the Chicago films at this year’s CIFF, which runs through Oct. 21. Venue locations are listed at the end.
“THE JOURNEY,” World Premiere
Local attorney Ligy J.
“Outing Riley,” Pete Jones’ independent followup to his 2002 Project Greenlight movie “Stolen Summer,” has its world premiere Oct. 10 at the Chicago International Film Festival.
“We’ve gotten some offers for a U.S. theatrical release but the money was not what we wanted it to be,” Jones said.
“We’re hoping we can catch lightning in a bottle in Chicago and find a studio to get behind the film. My biggest goal is to get my investors their money back, and get myself another job.”
by Ed M. Koziarski
This is the second of a two-part report.
The Chicago animation scene is dominated by commercial broadcast, many top firms being divisions of larger post houses or production companies, like Superior Street’s Flux Group, Swell’s Bazooka Graphics, Golan Production’s Atomic Imaging.
Dreamation Studios is developing a 3D feature and a 24-hour internationally broadcast animation network.
STANDUP COMIC DARYL MOON wrapped production in early May on his feature directorial debut, the office war satire “The House of Water and Light.” “Nicholas Prigge and I started writing the script around the time that ‘In the Garden of Good and Evil’ came out, and we just knew a movie with a title that pretentious had to be overdone,” Moon said.
STANDUP COMIC DARYL MOON wrapped production in early May on his feature directorial debut, the office war satire “The House of Water and Light.” “Nicholas Prigge and I started writing the script around the time that ‘In the Garden of Good and Evil’ came out, and we just knew a movie with a title that pretentious had to be overdone,” Moon said. “It’s a farce on war dramas like ‘The Patriot,’ trying to wring every last bit of sentiment from every scene.” Moon, whose day job is in real estate, self-financed the $20,000 budget through his Disco Moon Productions.
By Ed M. Koziarski
Even as 2003 saw the lowest level of Hollywood expenditures in Chicago in years, one sector of local production seems to have remained firmly recession- proof and non-stop: independent film.
The third feature film from independent production company Urban Pictures premieres April 1 at Inner City Entertainment’s Lawndale Theater.
Devin Wesley stars as a former cop who single-handedly takes on a gang of extortionists who hold hostage an entire mall. Keith Mayberry, also known as Silk of the triple-platinum-selling hip-hop group Out Here Brothers, plays the gang leader.
“‘Hostage’ is an urban version of a ‘Die Hard’ or an ‘Under Siege,'” said producer William Pierce.
|“Godfather of Green Bay” director Pete Schwaba (from left), actors Lauren Holly and Tony Goldwyn, and producer Brian Etting.
Pete Schwaba has found his calling.
|Startoons founder Jon McClenahan directed the new German feature “Jester Till.”