WGN reporter goes on rant chasing down drivers in snow-covered cars

“Don’t be that guy,” says Erik Runge of WGN. “That’s so dangerous. I don’t understand that at all. It just really aggravates me. It’s just stupid. It drives me nuts.” We’ve all seen it, and not only does it drive us crazy, it’s also incredibly dangerous! We’ve all driven behind someone driving with snow covered … Continue reading “WGN reporter goes on rant chasing down drivers in snow-covered cars”

WGN America hires Ashleigh Banfield for Nightly News

WGN America has hired longtime journalist Ashleigh Banfield for a new nightly news talk show. Banfield leaves Court TV where she hosted Judgment with Ashleigh Banfield. She had only been with Court TV for a year. Called Banfield, will air weeknights at 10 p.m. beginning March 1. The host will interview newsmakers, politicians and celebrities, and will also … Continue reading “WGN America hires Ashleigh Banfield for Nightly News”

WGN weather anchor signs off social media until 2021

To say 2020 has been a hard year feels like a woeful understatement. Being forced to spend so much time alone has had deeply affected many Americans, but it may also provide an opportunity to reexamine our relationship with social media. Paul Konrad, the charismatic WGN weather anchor with over 38 thousand followers on twitter … Continue reading “WGN weather anchor signs off social media until 2021”

WGN’s Joe Donlon lands Trump interview on NewsNation

Chicago-based NewsNation anchor Joe Donlon will conduct the first comprehensive prime-time sit-down interview with President Trump since the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The exclusive one-on-one interview will be conducted at the White House by NewsNation anchor Joe Donlon, and will air on Tuesday night’s NewsNation broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. ET on … Continue reading “WGN’s Joe Donlon lands Trump interview on NewsNation”

Nexstar’s NewsNation debuts on WGN America

WGN NewsNation debuts tonight, representing the return of traditional, trusted, fact-based news reporting to cable television. The live daily three hour prime-time national newscast features 150 dedicated reporters and staff, and will leverage the knowledge of 5,400 local journalists from Nexstar’s 110 award-winning newsrooms. The newscast, will air seven days a week on WGN America, … Continue reading “Nexstar’s NewsNation debuts on WGN America”

WGN’s Gousman moves to anchor chair in Cleveland

Great news for WGN-TV reporter Courtney Gousman. The general assignment reporter will be moving to Cleveland, where she’ll anchor the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. shows. “When I returned home to Chicago 8 years ago, I never thought I’d be writing a post like this … But life is filled with surprises,” Gousman … Continue reading “WGN’s Gousman moves to anchor chair in Cleveland”

WGN America announces ‘News Nation’ team

WGN America, Nexstar’s cable network, has announced the official weekday and weekend anchor lineup for its live newscast, News Nation. The three-hour nightly news show will debut Sept. 1 and will be led by a team of journalists from WGN-TV, the Nexstar station in Chicago and across the country. The team will be led by … Continue reading “WGN America announces ‘News Nation’ team”

WGN Reporter assaulted during live shoot

Over the last four years, it has become increasingly acceptable in some circles to assault and threaten journalists and on-air reporters. Of course, when you are egged on and visibly supported by the most powerful man in the country to do so, why not right? WGN reporter Gaynor Hall was delivering a weather update in … Continue reading “WGN Reporter assaulted during live shoot”

WGN names first female anchor team for Midday

WGN, the Nexstar flagship in Chicago, has announced that Julie Unruh will join Dina Bair as co-anchor, making them the first female duo to lead the WGN Midday News. She replaces Steve Sanders, who retired after a 37-year career at the station. In addition to her anchor duties, Unruh will continue to provide in-depth reporting for WGN … Continue reading “WGN names first female anchor team for Midday”

WGN America to launch prime-time ‘News Nation’

Nexstar Media Group, Inc. announced today that its wholly-owned cable network, WGN America, which reaches approximately 75 million U.S. TV households, will begin airing a live daily three-hour national newscast called News Nation this summer. News Nation will air in prime-time, from 8 pm ET to 11 pm ET, and will draw on the local … Continue reading “WGN America to launch prime-time ‘News Nation’”

WGN starts taping Wrigley Field 2014 centennial doc

WGN-TV has started production on a two-hour special to mark Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday in 2014, by traveling to tape interviews with great Cubs of the past, including one in Dallas with former Cy Young Award winner Greg Maddux.  

Station officials declined to comment on the anniversary show, possibly because it’s too early in the game to provide any conclusive details.  

Merri Dee Chicago’s homegrown broadcasting legend has passed at 85

American philanthropist and former WGN-TV (Channel 9) television journalist, who survived a kidnapping and murder attempt, Merri Dee passed away at age 85. Her death was confirmed Wednesday by a statement shared by WGN,  “Chicago’s Very Own, Merri Dee, was a one-of-a-kind legend. From WGN staff announcer to hosting parade telecasts, telethons and even the … Continue reading “Merri Dee Chicago’s homegrown broadcasting legend has passed at 85”

Chicago broadcaster Bob Ramsey passed away suddenly at age 65

Retired Chicago broadcaster and Southern Illinois University alum Bob Ramsey passed away suddenly at age 65 on Tuesday at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California at age 65. According to friends, Ramsey succumbed to complications while awaiting a liver transplant, Robert Feder reported.  After graduating from Southern Illinois University in 1979, Ramsey started his … Continue reading “Chicago broadcaster Bob Ramsey passed away suddenly at age 65”

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”

Chicago will ring in the new year with largest fireworks display ever

Chicago will be welcoming the new year with the largest fireworks display ever. A 1.5-mile-long free fireworks display will begin at midnight and can be viewed along the Chicago River from Wolf Point near the Franklin/Orleans Street bridge to the east of Columbus Drive to Navy Pier. For public safety, the Riverwalk will be closed early … Continue reading “Chicago will ring in the new year with largest fireworks display ever”

Congratulations to the winners of the 63rd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards

Congratulations nominees and winners! There were 71 categories this year with 80 award winners. The 63rd Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards, held on Sunday evening was a well produced virtual presentation hosted by comedian Pat McGann who paid tribute throughout the evening to the hosts of the past. Bob Newhart dropped by virtually for a delightlful … Continue reading “Congratulations to the winners of the 63rd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards”

List of nominees for the 63rd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards Dec 5

The 63rd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards will be a virtual presentation held on Sunday, December 5 at 7:00 pm. Comedian Pat McGann, the South Side Chicago native who hosted the Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards in 2016 and 2020, returns to emcee the show this year and legendary Bob Newhart is expected to make a guest appearance. The virtual presentation … Continue reading “List of nominees for the 63rd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards Dec 5”

Bitcoin of America is new sponsor for Blackhawks Post-Game radio show

Bitcoin of America recently announced their new entitlement of The Chicago Blackhawks Radio Post-Game Show. The popular Bitcoin ATM operator is taking major steps to incorporate cryptocurrency into sports and are even hoping to bring in a new audience. The ATM operator will be featured around the United Center and active on the post-game show. Their … Continue reading “Bitcoin of America is new sponsor for Blackhawks Post-Game radio show”

Nine time Emmy award winner Allison Payne has passed at age 57

Nine time Emmy award winner Allison Payne, the former anchor at WGN, passed away earlier this month at age 57, her former employer announced over the weekend. Payne was with WGN-TV in Chicago for 21 years, covering everything from politics to sports. According to WGN, she traveled to Kenya for a story on former President … Continue reading “Nine time Emmy award winner Allison Payne has passed at age 57”

Doc featuring life of Chicago LGBTQ+ leaders Art and Pep

A teaser and website for the new film Art and Pep was just released, giving a first glimpse into the documentary that will feature the life and love of LGBTQ+ civil rights leaders, Art Johnston and José Pepe Peña, owners of the iconic Sidetrack bar in Chicago. For more than 40 years, Johnston and Peña … Continue reading “Doc featuring life of Chicago LGBTQ+ leaders Art and Pep”

WTTW explores intergenerational poverty in Chicago

In Chicago, your birthplace often determines your destiny. Children born in one West Side census tract between 1978 and 1983 grew up to have a median annual household income of $16,000, according to Opportunity Insights. WTTW explores intergenerational poverty in Chicago in a documentary series, reported stories, expert talks, and community discussions. In FIRSTHAND: Living in … Continue reading “WTTW explores intergenerational poverty in Chicago”

Meteorologist, Tom Skilling thriving after weight loss

WGN weather anchor Tom Skilling is shocking viewers with his dramatic weight loss. Citing his health as his primary concern, the Chicago meteorologist underwent gastric bypass surgery in March. He has since lost 110 pounds. The station aired an 8 minute segment in which medical reporter Dina Bair detailed Skillings journey. Skilling had been struggling … Continue reading “Meteorologist, Tom Skilling thriving after weight loss”

Congratulations to the 2020 Chicago Emmy recipients

Reel Chicago congratulates the winners of the 62nd Chicago / Midwest Emmy Awards. A big shout out to two of our loyal advertisers, October TV and WTTW for taking home Emmys. The Chicago / Midwest Emmy Awards are presented annually for outstanding achievements in broadcasting. Members come from all areas of the industry and include … Continue reading “Congratulations to the 2020 Chicago Emmy recipients”

COVID-19 cases rise Lightfoot announces business curfew

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today a business curfew will begin Friday in the city of Chicago. On Monday, the Mayor warned residents that some coronavirus restrictions could return in Chicago if the number of COVID-19 cases in the city continue to rise. City health officials said cases have risen by more than 50 percent over … Continue reading “COVID-19 cases rise Lightfoot announces business curfew”

2019-2020 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Nominations List

Congratulations to our friends and advertisers who have received nominations for a Chicago/Midwest Emmy. The 62nd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards will broadcast virtually in November. Regions covered by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter include Chicago, Illinois; Peoria-Bloomington, Illinois; Rockford, Illinois; South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana; Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Wausau-Rhinelander, Wisconsin; and Madison, Wisconsin. Here is the complete list … Continue reading “2019-2020 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Nominations List”

Susan Carlson leaves NBC-5 to focus on family

Who hasn’t had a crush at one time or another on Susan Carlson, who has been one of the queens of local news for 29 years. Some of the Reel Chicago team never missed her morning broadcast before moving to LA. Now, the beloved anchor has announced, via Twitter, that she will be leaving NBC-owned … Continue reading “Susan Carlson leaves NBC-5 to focus on family”

IATSE to join #RedAlertRESTART movement tonight

Chicago’s Allstate Arena will be lit up bright red tonight at 9PM in solidarity with 1500 live event venues around America for the #RedAlertRESTART movement.  #WeMakeEvents #RedAlertRESTART and #ExtendPUA represent a major call to action, imploring the US Congress to pass the RESTART Act (S.3814) as quickly as possible, offering economic relief to the Live … Continue reading “IATSE to join #RedAlertRESTART movement tonight”

Meet ‘Lovecraft Country’s’ showrunner Misha Green

HBO’s Lovecraft Country, which was filmed at Cinespace Studios, debuts on August 16. Based on the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the ten-episode series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he journeys with his childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on a road trip from Chicago across … Continue reading “Meet ‘Lovecraft Country’s’ showrunner Misha Green”

‘Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago’ lineup

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced the lineup of Chicago and national celebrities who have come together to celebrate and pay tribute to the over 35,000 graduating high school seniors across Chicago. “Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago.” is a live, commercial-free 60-minute ceremony hosted and co-created by the City of Chicago and Citadel to … Continue reading “‘Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago’ lineup”

Mayor Lightfoot has two words for Trump – “F U”

During a press conference held today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot lashed out at President Donald Trump for his tweet which promoted violence against Minneapolis protestors angered over the killing of George Floyd. The Mayor, who is never one to hold back said, “I will code what I really want to say to Donald Trump. It’s two … Continue reading “Mayor Lightfoot has two words for Trump – “F U””

Lizzo covers ‘All Together Now’ in first Messenger spot

“See You Here” is Leo Burnett’s first major campaign for Messenger, developed in partnership with Facebook’s Creative X team. For the campaign’s off-platform debut, Leo Burnett conceived and created the short film, “Pictures”—drawing inspiration from people’s real-life experiences to showcase the real-life benefits of the new video chat platform. The energetic work is part of … Continue reading “Lizzo covers ‘All Together Now’ in first Messenger spot”

Pam Zekman among those laid off at WBBM CBS-2

The economic impact of Covid-19 has hit CBS News and its Chicago affiliate WBBM CBS-2 in a big way. After 39 years of delivering award-winning investigative stories, iconic Pam Zekman was laid off. Zekman shared two Pulitzer prizes for her work at the Chicago Tribune, from 1971 to 1976, and the Sun-Times, from 1976 to … Continue reading “Pam Zekman among those laid off at WBBM CBS-2”

Chicago one of Hub cities being considered for NHL

With a season completely dismantled on March 12 due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL is considering a plan that would bring the Stanley Cup Playoffs to NBC and the NBC Sports Network in late July and early August to replace the hole the now-canceled summer Olympics have left. During a 15-minute conference … Continue reading “Chicago one of Hub cities being considered for NHL”

A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO Chicagoland during WW II

A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO, narrated by legendary journalist Bill Kurtis, is a comprehensive telling of nearly everything that happened in Chicagoland during World War II.  This one-hour documentary won the 2018 Chicago International Television Festival Gold Plaque Award for best nonfiction program, and is currently airing on more than 130 public television stations across … Continue reading “A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO Chicagoland during WW II”

Kanye West buys childhood South Shore home

Yeezy is coming back to his South Shore neighborhood. Or at least he has his old house. Kanye West, also known as the Louis Vuitton Don, has recently purchased his childhood home in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood for $225,000. West’s mother, Donda West, purchased the 1,600 square foot home located at 7815 S. South Shore … Continue reading “Kanye West buys childhood South Shore home”

Marquee Network signs exclusive Chicago Cubs deal

This Saturday, the Marquee Sports Network will make its debut as exclusive television home of the Chicago Cubs by airing the team’s first Spring Training game against the Oakland Athletics in Mesa, Arizona. Formed by a partnership between the Cubs and Sinclair Broadcast Group, Marquee fills a position that opened up when the Cubs parted … Continue reading “Marquee Network signs exclusive Chicago Cubs deal”

Kwielford, Guth step down from MIFF leadership

Midwest Independent Film Festival’s President and Executive Director announce their resignations on Saturday-morning Facebook posts Midwest Independent Film Festival President Mike Kwielford and Executive Director Amy Guth have stepped down from their leadership roles with the organization. They announced their departures in separate Facebook posts on Saturday morning. Finding time to focus on other film- … Continue reading “Kwielford, Guth step down from MIFF leadership”

Chicago actors join cast of Jordan Peele’s ‘Candyman’

Abundance of Windy City talent to appear in latest film by blockbuster director and Metro Goldwyn Mayer With principal photography underway in Chicago on Candyman, from Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures (MGM) and Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld’s Monkeypaw Productions, director Nia DaCosta has cast several local performers in key supporting roles. The film’s previously announced … Continue reading “Chicago actors join cast of Jordan Peele’s ‘Candyman’”

Inside the Music Box’s 90th Anniversary Video

The 12-minute film showcases one of the theatre’s greatest resources, its audience   Filmmaker Curtis Matzke shot a lot of interviews while helping to make the Music Box Theatre’s 90th Anniversary tribute video, and in doing so he captured one of the greatest things about the place: its audience. Since opening nearly a hundred years … Continue reading “Inside the Music Box’s 90th Anniversary Video”

Black List: Kyra Kyles, writer, creator, public speaker, entrepreneur

Chicago native, Northwestern grad held top editorial roles at EBONY and JET while co-piloting Myth Lab Entertainment, and fighting for media diversity   Kyra Kyles is a multi-platform senior-level media executive, a public speaker on issues of diversity and representation, and an award-winning writer.   Journalist Kyra, former EBONY Editor in Chief / Senior Vice … Continue reading “Black List: Kyra Kyles, writer, creator, public speaker, entrepreneur”

2019 Best of the Midwest Awards

“The film festival is about bringing people together and supporting all of the members of the filmmaking community.” MIFF Executive Director Amy Guth The Midwest Independent Film Festival’s annual Best of the Midwest Awards inspired a swanky good time last night at The Promontory in Hyde Park. Complementing a candlelit vibe with cocktail dresses, sport … Continue reading “2019 Best of the Midwest Awards”

Film Office Director Rich Moskal: a tough act to follow

The man who arranged gunfights on the el, demolition in the loop, and “Transformer” battles on Wacker Drive explains how the CFO got it done Rich Moskal helped to present the Windy City as a place of beauty, romance, destruction, and chaos in more than 5,000 films, TV shows, web series, and commercials while serving … Continue reading “Film Office Director Rich Moskal: a tough act to follow”

Director Tim Armstrong’s work has gone to the dogs

The filmmaker captures pets and owners in a video to support an industry “Pet Rescue Party” at Biagio on Dec. 8 Director Tim Armstrong unleashed a pack of lovable dogs in a video invitation for a December 8 benefit party supporting the Chicagoland Rescue Intervention & Support Program (CRISP), an organization dedicated to helping Windy … Continue reading “Director Tim Armstrong’s work has gone to the dogs”

‘Heavens to Betsy 2’ premiere at Landmark Highland Pk

Highly anticipated sequel starring “Parks & Rec’s” Jim O’Heir follows with DVD and VOD releases in February Sole Productions is pleased to announce that their new comedy, Heavens to Betsy 2, will be having its Northside Chicago Premiere on Thursday, December 13 at the Landmark Theatre Renaissance Cinema in Highland Park, IL. The film will … Continue reading “‘Heavens to Betsy 2’ premiere at Landmark Highland Pk”

The 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards

The 60th annual celebration of the standard bearers for excellence in the television broadcasting industry   The 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Ceremony will be held on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, Chicago Ballroom, 540 N. Michigan.       The Nominees Outstanding Achievement for News Programming – Evening Newscast: Larger … Continue reading “The 2018 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards”

Oscar-winner Friedkin to host Facets Film Summit

Chicago Public School students get a free master class from the director of “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist” (Chicago — 4 October 2018) Facets will present their second Chicago Film Summit on Friday, October 12, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Music Box Theatre (3733 N Southport Ave, Chicago, IL 60613). … Continue reading “Oscar-winner Friedkin to host Facets Film Summit”

New doc helps brewery say “F*** Your Hair” to Trump

After taking offense at President Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants, a Chicago beer maker brews up a protest Chicago production company One City Films has bottled the essence of American politics into a new film about cultural dignity, First Amendment rights, and beer. F*** Your Hair: The Latin-Owned Brewery that Dumped Trump tells the tale … Continue reading “New doc helps brewery say “F*** Your Hair” to Trump”

How Michael Kutza built an international film festival

The founder of the Chicago International Film Festival has made it possible for millions of moviegoers to enjoy nearly 11,000 films since 1964   It is impossible to appreciate Chicago cinema without acknowledging the impact of Michael Kutza — founder of both the Chicago International Film Festival and the Chicago Television Festival — who announced … Continue reading “How Michael Kutza built an international film festival”

Midwest Indie Film Fest names Amy Guth Exec Director

Chicago media personality and executive Amy Guth joins organization dedicated to creative community-building for Midwestern filmmakers   (Chicago — 2 July 2018) The Midwest Independent Film Festival (MIFF) — the year-round film festival dedicated to celebrating and strengthening the Midwest filmmaking community — today named Amy Guth as Executive Director. Guth is a WGN-AM 720 … Continue reading “Midwest Indie Film Fest names Amy Guth Exec Director”

Ad music veteran Ira Antelis launches 120/Life

Ira Antellis actually got inspired when a doctor checked his blood pressure and said, “this is not good.” “He’s like, ‘you got to get it under control,’” Antelis recalls. “Read up on it. Eat different foods.” The veteran music composer took that advice to another level.   Working with with nutritionalist Susan Schachter, Antelis proceeded … Continue reading “Ad music veteran Ira Antelis launches 120/Life”

The Kyles sisters’ “Cubicle Creepshow” is scary office fun

Cubicle Creepshow is a web series that makes fun of modern corporate culture with a cast of dolls who occasionally turn into monsters. Set in an office full of self-absorbed, undisciplined smart alecks, the familiar workplace situations fit perfectly with classic horror themes. All the usual and unusual suspects are there, from the boss who … Continue reading “The Kyles sisters’ “Cubicle Creepshow” is scary office fun”

Motion, MSI, SCC, Bennett Jr., Haddish, Incredibles 2

Motion PR & AgencyMSI merge to form Motion Move over new agency Merge, there is another merger happening between two agencies. Yesterday, Chicago-based public relations and digital firm Motion PR announced its merger with AgencyMSI, the 57-year-old, integrated communications agency. Effective immediately, the two companies come together as Motion. According to the landing page on … Continue reading “Motion, MSI, SCC, Bennett Jr., Haddish, Incredibles 2”

Social Media reacts to Jenny “Milk” leaving Fox 32

Fox 32 made a stupid move. Not my words, although I would fall on that side of the fence, but the response of a Jenny Milkowski fan after learning that the Emmy-winning traffic reporter “abruptly” departed the station last Friday. In her own statement, Milkowski, the #1 digital talent in Chicago according to sharerocket, wrote … Continue reading “Social Media reacts to Jenny “Milk” leaving Fox 32”

Potenza and Daily Planet win Chicago Emmys

There were many smiling faces at the 59th annual regional Emmy Awards Saturday night. Sponsored by the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the awards show was streamed live on WGN-TV.com from the Swissotel Hotel. Both Potenza Productions and Daily Planet Productions, Ltd came away with Emmys. Potenza — which … Continue reading “Potenza and Daily Planet win Chicago Emmys”

New doc details Chicago’s role during WWII

Earlier this month, WTTW premiered a new documentary from former WTTW producers John Davies and Brian Kallies. Titled A City at War: Chicago, it aired during the PBS station’s special Veteran’s Day programming Narrated by Bill Kurtis, the new 60-minute film vividly traces significant events that took place in Chicago and the suburbs during World … Continue reading “New doc details Chicago’s role during WWII”

McPherrin, Facebook, Doner and opioids in the news

The opioid epidemic is a huge problem in the US, which is what led Detroit-based Doner’s Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio to create a stunning and smart new PSA campaign featuring a serious prevention message.

Titled “Know the Risks,” the multiplatform campaign is designed to show the effects opioid abuse has on families.

The effort is part of a larger year-long campaign created to flip the narrative of anti-drug campaigns.

It’s official: Qadree Holmes is a “Game Changer”

Quriosity founder and executive producer Qadree Holmes will be honored as a “Game Changer” at the Global Mixx Music & Film Forum this weekend. He is one of ten recipients who will claim the title during the 11th annual two-day music and film conference at the Illinois Institute of Art in River North.

“A Game Changer is someone who has impacted in some way and given back to the community through his or her talent,” says Global Mixx founder Mary L. Datcher. “Q has a great deal of success on the filmmaking side, but he also has mentored younger kids.”

Social Media Pays Tribute to Ruth Ratny

Tributes poured in on Reel Chicago’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as other social media pages, as word spread around the city that they had lost their beloved film and advertising herald.

From advertising creatives to production companies to post houses, Ruth Ratny’s articles touched the lives of many and will forever hold meaning for them.


These are a few:

Best 48HFP teams win 27 Judges and Audience Awards

The 12th annual Chicago 48 Hour Film Project wound up with a presentation to 27 winning teams, out of 53 entrants, whose short weekend-made films were deemed best by judges and audiences, at Music Box Theatre last Thursday night.

“It was an amazing show and the talent, enthusiasm and excitement that our Chicago filmmakers brought to the competition was truly inspiring,” comments Jerry Vasilatos of Nitestar Productions, who produced the event for the second consecutive year.

Three new shows set up at Cinespace ready to roll

“Transformers” director Michael Bay will return to Chicago later this year to produce the fifth installment of his franchise, he told WGN’s Dean Richards.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg!

Here’s what ReelChicago learned is ahead for our production market in the foreseeable future, all headquartering and filming at Cinespace.

Sting sings songs from his new musical at Steppenwolf benefit

STING’S NEW MUSICAL, “The Last Ship,” mounted for $14 million, will be sailing into Chicago for a month’s stay this summer en route to the world premiere on Broadway in the fall.

But wait, before those two musical events happen, Sting will appear Monday, Feb. 24 at a benefit for Steppenwolf Theatre’s Artist Development fund, at the theatre’s main stage.

Hollywood actors in Digital Hydra/Aaron’s TV pilot

Digital Hydra, LLC  partners Patrick Wimp and Hamzah Jamjoon are currently shopping their spec TV show pilot, Dine and Dash, created and hosted by Chicago comedian Matthew Aaron, host of the LA-based podcast, The Matthew Aaron Show.

Shot at trendy Beverly Hills restaurant Scarpetta, in February, it features Hollywood name actors Joe Carnahan, Kate Walsh, Common, Lucy Lawless, and Dermot Mulroney.

TV outlets going the max for Hawks parade coverage

Some 2 million fans watched the Hawks’ celebration in 2010, and at least that many are expected for the Blackhawks’ victory parade and rally Friday — likely one of the biggest celebrations in the city’s history.

Over-the-air and cable outlets will pull out all the stops with personnel and equipment in covering the Hawks’ caravan of open-air vehicles from the United Center to Hutchinson Field in Grant Park starting at 10:15 a.m.

Cubs announcer Hughes produces ‘Baseball Voices’ CDs

Cubs’ radio play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes turns to production when he’s not on the air this summer, as he begins editing material for “Baseball Voices”, the CD series that he produces honoring baseball announcers inducted into the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Longtime New York Yankees/”This Week in Baseball” voice Mel Allen is his likely next tribute subject, to be recorded in the off-season.

CSN’S use of NBC graphics package ‘best look ever’

When a record number of Comcast SportsNet Chicago (CSC)regular-season hockey viewers (5.40 rating) watched the Blackhawks Tuesday, they also witnessed a new CSN Chicago production look synergistic with their NBC regional-network partners.

The network has “sort of merged the two entities into one production look,” said Jim Corno, Jr., CSN Chicago’s production director.  

Sinnotts rebrand company; host CoffeeCON II next May

Kevin and Patricia Sinnott of Warrenville-based production company Sinnott Productions are gearing up for next spring’s year two of CoffeeCON, which they bill as the first coffee convention targeted to consumers (by contrast to industry driven shows like the Specialty Coffee Association of America Exposition and CoffeeFest).

“We plan to build on 2012’s success,” Patricia Sinnott says. “This will include even more exciting classes such as coffee and food pairings. Even more experts will be invited.”

Ch. 7 still late night news leader, but a point down

With one day to go in the Nielsen March TV ratings book, the results in the local late news ratings competition show ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 continues to hold on the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

But as was the case in February, the station’s 10 p.m. rating of 8.2 Monday through Friday is down more than a full rating point from where it was a year ago at 9.5.  (Each local ratings point represents 35,000 households.)

World’s biggest mobile TV firm acquires Trio Video

After 29 years as a privately-held provider of mobile HD production facilities, Trio Video has been acquired by Pittsburg-based NEP, the world’s largest truck vendor operating more than 50 trucks throughout North America.

Owners Gary Meagher and Jack Walsh, who founded the business in 1983 with the late Dick Shapiro (hence the Trio name) closed the deal at 11 a.m. March 21.  Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Ch.2 ratings right behind Ch.7’s dropping numbers

According to Nielsen’s February sweeps book, local late news ratings competition is tighter than it was a year ago. Though still No. 1, longtime frontrunner ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 is down some 16 percent to an 8.1 rating at 10 p.m., from a 9.7 rating a year ago Monday through Friday.

The falloff comes despite a seven percent ratings increase in Channel 7’s lead-in to the 10 p.m. news.

Ch. 7 still rules as all 10 p.m. news ratings slip

Whoever said we humans are creatures of habit was right. For years, however, that truism has been a source of more than a little frustration to more than a few general managers and news directors at Chicago television stations.

Over time they have done just about everything thinkable short of handing each and every viewer in the city and suburbs a cool million dollars in cash to get them to change their late news viewing habits.

Dennis Farina to appear at MWFF’S Best Awards Dec. 6

VETERAN ACTOR DENNIS FARINA and director Joe Maggio of indie feature “The Last Rites of Joe May,” will be special guests at the Midwest Independent Film Festival’s Best of the Midwest Awards Dec. 6 at Rockit Bar & Grill.  “The Last Rites” is a contender for a BMA award. 

Actor David Pasquesi, whose newspaper editor character on “Boss” was screwed out of his job by the mayor’s people, will also attend, along with just about everyone else in town, myself included.

Ch. 7’s “WCL” wins ratings of Oprah’s former 9 a.m. slot

Is Emily Barr a ratings prophet or what? Several months ago, Barr, the WLS-Ch. 7 general manager, indicated she would be pleased if her new, locally-produced morning talk show “Windy City Live” managed to pull in just half the audience talk diva Oprah Winfrey attracted to “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

The Winfrey show, which ended a 25-year run last spring, filled the 9 a.m. time slot “WCL” now occupies.

17 Non-broadcasting entries vie for 2011 Emmy Awards

Come November’s 2011 Emmy Awards ceremonies, a very large number of broadcasting persons and entities among scores of contenders, will take home a coveted Emmy statuette as winners in 27 Outstanding Achievement categories.

Of those 27 categories, 15 will honor achievements in programming, commercials and crafts produced by 17 local and regional production companies other than broadcasters, as shown below. 

DraftFCB’s Dow teaser ad labeled ‘mathematical poem’

Tease. Tease. Tease.  It’s a familiar tactic in the advertising industry to whet the public’s appetite for what’s to come.  And DraftFCB/Chicago is doing just that in a big way via a 46-foot-tall chalkboard now visible on the side of a building in Soho in lower Manhattan.

Passersby at the site this week will see a gentleman writing out a lengthy, puzzling mathematical equation that, we’re told, combines mathematics and numbers that relate to significant aspects of human achievement.

Late news ratings remain static, according to latest Nielsens

The August 2011 Nielsen television ratings book ended Wednesday, and the results suggest the principal contenders in the hotly-contested late news ratings wars haven’t budged much from where they have been ranked in recent months.

Admittedly, ratings have been known to fluctuate during the summer months when TV viewing habits may vary a bit.  Numbers go up or down depending on how many folks are on vacation or otherwise occupied during the late evening hours.

WFLD/32’s revamped local shows disappoint in ratings

The champagne corks aren’t popping.  And the confetti is nowhere to be seen.  Mark this down as one anniversary that news ratings-challenged WFLD-Channel 32 isn’t celebrating. And one the station certainly isn’t interested in drawing to the attention of its viewers or the news media.

Still, one year ago two of the biggest changes occurred in what has been a near complete, wrenching overhaul of the news department at WFLD.

Tribune stations dish up ‘Best Bites’ reality TV

AMERICA’S BEST BITES is a new half-hour reality show from Tribune Broadcasting, where the hosts take tips from viewers via Facebook and Twitter and travel to those areas to sample the “must eat” fare.

Hosts are Ted Brunson, host of Chicago’s Best, and L.A.-based Natalie Forte, who has hosted and reported features for ABC Family and Reelz Channel.

Burnett kills with 35 wins at NY Int’l Ad Awards

LEO BURNETT WORLDWIDE was not only the “Agency of the Year” at the International Advertising Awards in New York earlier this month, but it won a record 35 awards, including six of the total 24 Gold prizes, from 14 global offices. “This demonstrates yet again, the remarkable creative talent we have residing inside this network,” boasts Leo Burnett Global CCO Mark Tutssel.

Bob Winter becomes Y&R’s chief creative officer

A MAJOR AGENCY CHANGE is at hand as Bob Winter will join Y&R as chief creative officer of the Chicago office, starting in December. He moves over from Leo Burnett where he was SVP/ECD for more than three years on Altoids, Kellogg’s, Greenpeace and Caesars Palace.

Winter succeeds Ken Erke whose departure shocked Michigan Avenue when he joined digital agency R/GA a few months ago as executive creative director. Erke joined Y&R in2000 from Cramer/Krasselt.

Big extras casting call for “Contagion”

AN OPEN EXTRAS CASTING CALLS for Steven Soderbergh’s big budget, big cast “Contagion” will be held by Rich King Casting of L.A. Sept. 25 at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 Lincoln Park West, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Sept. 26 at the Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

King says he’s looking for adult men and women, 18 and older, all sizes, shapes, types and ethnicities. It’s a paid gig and meals are included.

“Contagion,” will spend two months shooting in and around Chicago, starting Oct. 19, arriving here from filming in Hong Kong.

Two month shoot here for ‘Contagion’

DIRECTOR STEVEN SODERBERGH’S “CONTAGION” arrives in Chicago Oct. 19 as a worthy successor to “Transformers 3” in terms of big budget, cast and shooting schedule.

Heading the four star cast of the virus outbreak thriller are Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard, here in 2008 for “Public Enemies,” Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Laurence Fishburne.

After arriving here from shooting in Hong Kong, the company will headquarter at Bradley Center, the big industrial space near Lane Tech and WGN studios, and shoot in Chicago and environs for a solid two months.

Heart attack fells former Editel president

A funeral mass was held Wednesday for video/videotape pioneer and postproduction leader, Doyle Kaniff, who Sept. 3 of a heart condition at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston.

Mr. Kaniff, 69, had undergone a quadruple bypass in 2006 and thereafter led a healthy and comfortable lifestyle. “A week ago, he was clear as a bell,” said his daughter, Patty Kaniff.

A week earlier Mr. Kaniff was getting ready to leave his health club after a workout when he had a heart attack. As he fell, his head hit the hard edge of a countertop which caused serious brain damage, she said.

Three TV stations developing live, local shows

All at once, three local TV stations are developing new, local, live original programming with studio audiences to fill the spaces vacated earlier by Jerry Springer and the upcoming loss of Oprah.

The debut of the two morning talk shows in September, 2011 will coincide with the conclusion of Oprah’s 25-year show in Chicago and the third is a 24-hour live, lifetime digital channel show.

ABC-Ch. 7 earlier announced its intention to fill Oprah’s morning slot with “Morning Rush,” to originate from its studios.

Competing in that same 9 a.m.

WIFC’s Focus Award honors Merri Dee

WOMEN IN FILM has made a righteous choice to honor broadcast trailblazer, talk show host, news anchor and community activist Merri Dee as its 2010 Focus Award honoree.

Dee has parlayed her celebrity into many children’s and educational charitable works. She spearheaded Illinois’ victims rights’ legislation after she and one of her talk show guests had been kidnapped, driven to a wooded area, shot twice in the head and left for dead, in 1971.

After retiring from WGN-TV in 2008 after 30 years, Dee formed full-service MD Communications.

Three network pilots to shoot here mid-March

That overly long Hollywood dry spell will finally end in early March, with three TV pilots getting underway, a fourth being talked about for early spring, and a Vince Vaughn feature in May.

“Matadors,” from Sony TV and writer/executive producer Jack Orman, is in production offices at Chicago Studio City in preparation for shooting the first or second week in March.

New additions and a New York expansion

WHO’S NEW: STORY has added director/cameraman Blair Hayes for exclusive spot representation. He was most recently was represented by L.A.-based Form where his credited included Bud Light, Verizon, Lay’s potato chips and Progressive Insurance.

*Lennie Urbanowski, who had been part of Pixel Brothers’ interactive design and project management group, was appointed director of interactive services. Michael Helm, whom Urbanowski replaces, and Helm’s partner Michael Parker left to form their own company.

Beverly Ridge heads for spot production

Beverly Ridge Pictures, the young company behind the $2 million Outfit drama “Chicago Overcoat,” made its first foray into commercial production with a series of PSA’s for the Illinois Department of Transportation that began airing last week.

The spots “have prompted a change in direction” for Beverly Ridge, said partner Chris Charles, who directed them.

“BRP is now on the market for commercial production in Chicago.

Illinois is the “State of Romance” for NBC pilot

LOVE IS IN THE AIR for the first Hollywood project to be shot in Chicago so far this year, breaking the nine-month dry spell and portending more business ahead. The NBC half-hour pilot, “State of Romance,” gets underway March 30.

The half hour romantic comedy, described as a modern day “Pride and Prejudice,” will shoot for eight days entirely on location ? no sets called for at all.

Essanay is supplying the lighting and grip equipment. UPM is Rich Lederer (“The Beast”). Universal Media Studios is producing the single-camera project.

“The Promotion” wins MWFF best feature award

PRACTICALLY EVERY INDIE FILMMAKERS turned out 350 strong at Rockit Bar & Grill Tuesday for Midwest Independent Film Festival’s annual awards and first-time fund-raiser.

Beautiful crystal awards were given to a variety of winners, and the grand prize went to “The Promotion,” the comedy written and directed by Steve Conrad, who was present, along with co-star Seann William Scott and producer Steven Jones. Richard Roeper made the presentation.

Family histories on HD proving to be a good niche business for Ch. 9’s Robert Jordan and SPI-TV

Apart from his WGN Ch. 9 news anchor duties, Robert Jordan has a non-broadcast production business for an exclusive clientele that can afford the cost of big budget videos.

Partnering with SPI-TV Media Group, Jordan’s professionally custom-made Luxury Family Biographies are intended for families interested in chronicling their family story for current and future generations to enjoy.

Budgets range from $60,000-$80,000 for what is essentially a feature-length doc, running from 90 to 200 minutes, notes SPI-tv co-owner Roger Gazga.

The write stuff from L.A. script expert

SCREENWRITERS WILL GET A CHANCE to quiz L.A. screenwriting consultant Phillippa Burgess on how to move their careers forward and other vital breakthrough info Dec. 7 at the Chicago Screenwriters Network meeting.

As a partner in Creative Convergence, a multifaceted entertainment company representing writers, directors, producers and the like, Burgess is certainly equipped to provide the answers.

Bob Sliga joins Apple Computers in California

VETERAN COLORIST BOB SLIGA was snapped up by Apple Computers and is now working for the computer giant in Cupertino, Calif. He heads up Apple’s 2K Final Touch color correction software.

Sliga had become a specialist in the software, which Apple purchased from Silicon Color a few months go. He had freelanced for the past 18 months, after a lengthy stint as Film& Tape Works’ colorist.

A THIRD DI ROOM is in the works by a hush-hush group of post veterans, to be completed this month.

Trio Video’s truck fleet grows to six with a
$10 million investment for two new HD trucks

Trio Video is expanding its fleet for the second time in less than two years with the infusion of a $10 million investment from two venture capital companies.

Management of the company is unchanged. Trio is owned by partners Jack Walsh and Gary Meagher, who will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their company next year.

Through the investment from Marquette Capital Partners of Chicago, BIA Digital Partners of Chantilly, Va., Trio is building its third HD/multi-format truck and a Beta support vehicle for delivery next March.

Halperin of Epiphany Pictures is producing film version of Craig Harris’ TV drama “Skin Complex”

Dan Halperin of Epiphany Pictures is producing Craig Harris’ feature adaptation of Harris’ 2003 TV drama “Skin Complex” that garnered five Midwest Emmys, among other awards.

A Chicago native based in Los Angeles, Halperin is shopping “Skin Complex” to studio as well as actor- and director-affiliated production companies.

Wolfgang Bodison (“A Few Good Men”) starred in the TV version of “Skin Complex,” as an African American professor contemplating a revolutionary, irreversible “race change” operation. It aired nationally on WGN and PAX.

Hillinger’s new pumped-up action “Paintball” 46-show series seeks crews to shoot October games

Leave it to Adrenalin TV’s daredevil Duke Hillinger to come up with the next big rage in action sports. You couldn’t guess what it is in a hundred years?unless you’re one of the 20 million (you read that right) avid fans of paintball games.

Now the games will be aired in a very big way. In fact, Hillinger’s Paintball Television Productions’ (PTP) deal with Superstation WGN is the biggest deal in paintball history.

PTP’s 46 hourlong “World Paintball League” will air in every city in 39 countries.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

A NEW AD AGENCY called Houlihan Madison Most has been formed by Kevin Houlihan and Brad Most, for many years with the Chicago Creative Partnership. While HMM is clientless at the moment, it will compete for the former CCP Blue Cross account. Houlihan had been CCP president and chief creative officer; Most was head of client services. The Madison in their name is a nod to New York’s ad street.

Former Kurtis and Towers producers open their own docs-for-cable network company

While local spot production may be at the bottom of the scale, documentary production for cable can be viewed as a growth industry with the explosion of cable outlets and its voracious need for programming.

Experienced doc-cable producers Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs hope to tap into those cable opportunities through their new company, Siskel/Jacobs.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

NEW LOBBYING FIRM FOR IPA. The Illinois Production Alliance has hired The Illinois Governmental Consulting Group to convince the Illinois legislature to extend the wage tax credit bill to a full five years from the one-year extension it got last December.

IGCG representatives are chief lobbyist Brian Hynes, who knows the film business through his Teamsters clients, and Elgie Sims, Jr. Meanwhile: IPA legislative committee, chaired by DGA’s Dan Moore, is finalizing the legislative agenda to present to the spring session.

NATAS Silver Circle inducts broadcast veterans

Roger Ebert and six other Chicago TV veterans will be inducted into the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest cheaper of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Ebert, a Pulitzer Prize?winning writer, and co-host of nationally syndicated “Ebert & Roeper,” is also movie critic for Ch. 7.

The awards dinner will be held April 29 at the Drake Hotel.

Other honorees are: Linda Yu, a Ch. 7 news anchor since 1984 after five years at Ch. 5 ? Chicago native and sports veteran Greg Gumbel, host of CBS’ “The NFL Today,” who began his career as a Ch.

Chicago films screen at Black Harvest Festival

Seven films by Chicago filmmakers out of 25 features, documentaries and shorts will be screened at the 10th annual Black Harvest International Festival of Film and Video, Aug. 7-19, at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

They are Mike Merrill (“Even Trade”), Ytasha L. Womack (“Love Shorts”), Eldridge Valentine and Elliot V. Porter (“Player in Training”), Steven Foley and Marie-Fran?oise Theodore (“Strange as Angels”) Kirby Ashley (“Blast On”), Greg Samata (“Island”), and Ayana Haaruun (“First We Pray”).

The filmmakers will participate in the Aug.

Telling Truth in Chicago:
A Survey of Local Docmakers, Part II

This is the second in a two-part survey of local documentarians, who they are, their background and credits. Ranging from national leaders like Kartemquin, Towers and Kurtis Productions, to small to mid-size companies, they capture public imagination and affect social change by telling true stories.

Bob Hercules

Joe Mantegna narrates Ron Santo doc premiering at JDRF benefit March 24

When Jeff Santo’s 86-minute documentary about his father Ron Santo ended during a sneak preview at a Cubs convention at the Hilton in January, the SRO crowd of more than 1,000 gave it a standing ovation.

“This Old Cub” premieres March 24 as a benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation at the Chicago Historical Society. The film opens March 26 at select theatres in Chicago and Arizona, distributed by Emerging Pictures. Ron Santo will be guest of honor at the screening.

Walgreen’s newsmagazine: a complex, network-scale, expertly made series

Walgreen’s opening graphic was art directed by Swell’s Nadia Hennrich.

Post Effects teams with Central City, Black Enterprise Magazine for TV show

Central City Production’s “The Minority Business Report,” a staple of WGN syndication for 18 years, has been transformed into an updated, upscale weekly magazine show.

“The Black Enterprise Report” utilizes the editorial expertise of Black Enterprise Magazine of New York. It’s the Fortune-like publication’s first entr?e into television.

REELSCENE: News & Notes 9/16/03

THE ILLINOIS TOURISM ACCOUNT ad account is up for review, as required by state law every two years. BBDO has had the $12 million businss for four years during which it also did a modicum of film office advertising. To be eligible to bid, an agency must have a minimum of 50 full-time employees and a significant presence in the Chicago area (whatever that means). Entry deadline is Sept. 22, decision on Sept. 24. What makes this more of a horse race is that agencies will pitch to a Democratic client, and who knows who has clout with the new decision-makers.