The Second City reopens their e.t.c. Theater Stage

The Second City, the world’s leader in satirical comedy, has reopened their e.t.c. stage at Piper’s Alley to audiences. The return of the e.t.c. theater with a new show, “Out of the House Party,” a blend of archival sketches and improv featuring beloved and thoroughly missed cast members, advances Second City’s reopening progress since welcoming … Continue reading “The Second City reopens their e.t.c. Theater Stage”

Second City Teacher, Marine Vet screens film in GI Fest

Chicago filmmaker and Marine Corps veteran Jonah Saeson is featured in this years GI Film Festival. This veteran turned actor and filmmaker is the director of the GI Festival contending film  The Sweatshirt. This comedic short which blenders Chicago crime show style interbred with sarcastic undertones is about a woman who must negotiate the release … Continue reading “Second City Teacher, Marine Vet screens film in GI Fest”

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”

Second City, ‘SNL’ announce scholarship recipients

Legendary comedy institution The Second City announces the recipients of a new scholarship for diverse comedic talent in partnership with Saturday Night Live. The creation of the SNL Scholarship, announced in October, was designed to grant comedians at varying levels of experience the opportunity to further their professional development at The Second City. In addition to receiving performance and writing … Continue reading “Second City, ‘SNL’ announce scholarship recipients”

‘The Second City Presents: The Last Show Left on Earth’

Topic, the streaming service from First Look Media, announced today that they are partnering with legendary comedy force and improvisational theater troupe The Second City for a half-hour sketch and variety limited series event called The Second City Presents: The Last Show Left on Earth. The limited series event will stream exclusively on Topic in … Continue reading “‘The Second City Presents: The Last Show Left on Earth’”

Former SNL writer, Second City vet McCarthy passes at 61

Chicago has lost a beloved writer, actor, comedian, teacher, husband and father. Former SNL writer, Michael Clayton McCarthy, who was also an active member of The Second City, iO Comedy and DePaul University faculties, passed away peacefully after a two-year bout with a debilitating form of cancer on April 8, 2020.  He was 61. His … Continue reading “Former SNL writer, Second City vet McCarthy passes at 61”

Second City Stage Manager Craig Taylor passes at 63

“I guess I learned how to take the lights out at the right moment. You just have to always be looking for the right end.” –Craig Taylor Not all of Second City’s stars appeared on stage. Some of the biggest ones were behind the scenes. This past weekend, Second City announced that longtime stage manager, Craig … Continue reading “Second City Stage Manager Craig Taylor passes at 63”

UPDATED: Second City, Annoyance, iO, ComedySportz go virtual

When audiences and comedy lovers think Improv, they usually think Chicago, home to popular destinations like the infamous The Second City and iO Comedy.  Therefore, it’s no surprise that the closures of all schools, theaters, and public venues has also hit the improv world hard.  Not only has the COVID-19 Pandemic forced these popular establishments … Continue reading “UPDATED: Second City, Annoyance, iO, ComedySportz go virtual”

Second City alums help launch ‘Studio B’ web series

Genre-bending music web series that’s “so Chicago it’s basically deep dish pizza” will be released October 22 (Chicago — 16 October 2018) What happens when a group of talented Chicago musicians, actors, improvisers, stand-ups, songwriters, and DJs collaborate on a web series? You get STUDIO B, the three-episode workplace comedy of a struggling Chicago recording … Continue reading “Second City alums help launch ‘Studio B’ web series”

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”

Second City classes to aid improvisers with film work

Classes starting June 23 at the Second City Training Center will include a new program on TV, film and digital to give improv actors a place to hone their on-screen skills in Chicago.

“That’s the need that we see and I think that it’s long overdue,” Jack C. Newell, who heads the program, told DNAinfo. 

Second City helps the Lyric change its marketing tune

Circa 2012, it’s a whole new world at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

The city’s world-renowned opera company has over the past couple of years begun to completely transform its approach to marketing. And just in time, by all accounts.

Lyric no longer is an island unto itself where the powers-that-be in the marketing department can readily assume a new season will come close to selling out as soon as tickets go on sale.

Second City training pioneer Jo Forsberg dies at 90

Chicago improv legend Josephine Raciti Forsberg passed away at age 90 on Oct. 3. Forsberg was present at the birth of what became the Second City, working with its earliest predecessor, the Playwrights Theatre Club.

She taught workshops with Viola Spolin; produced and directed the Children’s Theatre at the Second City for decades; and also taught at the Players Workshop, a forerunner of the current Second City Training Center.
 

Second City goes digital: Partners with L.A.’s MRC to create short online pieces, bowing next month

The Second City is getting into the short film content business online, according to Andrew Alexander, Second City’s executive producer.

“We had been talking about it for at least two years and had been searching around for what we felt would be the right mix of partnership,” he said.

Second City will partner with Los Angeles-based Media Rights Capital (MRC), an independent film/television and digital studio, to create short pieces specifically geared for online distribution.

Second City made the connection with MRC through the Gersh Agency in New York.

Mercury theatre building set for March auction; Second City etc cast developing sitcom for Sony

The decade-long partnership between producer Michael Cullen and restaurateur Joe Carlucci has come to an end, and apparently not amicably. The two are co-owners of the choice property at 3741-47 N. Southport that houses Carlucci’s Strega Nona Restaurant and Cullen’s Bar & Grill, separated by the 300-seat Mercury Theatre operated by Cullen.

Second City actors star in new video thriller from Sorelosers Productions

Richard T. Celenza Jr. grew up in a family of gamblers. As a young man he ran small-time card games and worked as a bookie “before the Internet took over the industry,” he said.

“Being involved in gambling makes you build up confidence in yourself, makes you willing to take chances that would be too overwhelming for others, which you need to do to succeed in film,” said Celenza, who is wrapping post on his second feature. “Being a bookie is all about keeping control, balancing things out, keeping trust going both ways, which is a lot like being on a shoot.”

City of Chicago will require all city employees to be vaccinated

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced that, effective October 15, 2021, the City of Chicago will require all City employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, joining many other major municipalities and government agencies in taking this important preventive step. While masking and social distancing requirements in the workplace remain, the best protection against COVID-19 is vaccination.   … Continue reading “City of Chicago will require all city employees to be vaccinated”

John Conroy, transports Penny Dreadful: City of Angels

John Conroy, ISC helps transport Showtime’s horror franchise ‘Penny Dreadful’ to a new period and location with ‘Penny Dreadful: City of Angels’ Having photographed episodes of the Showtime horror drama Penny Dreadful’s second and third seasons, John Conroy, ISC was eager to reteam with showrunner John Logan to help create its new spin-off, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.  Described … Continue reading “John Conroy, transports Penny Dreadful: City of Angels”

City of Chicago prepares for cautious reopening

Following several days of violent protests, the City of Chicago restores access to the Central Business District to prepare for cautious reopening. Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced restored access to the Central Business District and Loop, to prepare the city for reopening on June 3. While full access to the area will be reintroduced … Continue reading “City of Chicago prepares for cautious reopening”

Chicago Filmmakers announces Onion City lineup

Chicago Filmmakers is pleased to announce the full lineup for the 30th anniversary edition of the Onion City Experimental Film + Video Festival, which will take place Thursday, March 12 to Sunday, March 15 at Chicago Filmmakers’ Firehouse Cinema in Edgewater. Featuring an array of beautiful, timely, and formidable works that transcend borders from Chicago … Continue reading “Chicago Filmmakers announces Onion City lineup”

City Lights Orchestra celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr

The Chicago-based City Lights Orchestra celebrated the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail in an 11-minute rhapsody composed by Bradley Williams and narrated by Art Hoyle. The piece begins with introspective piano and horns reminiscent of a Miles Davis / Gil Evans collaborations. The melody undulates and swells into a … Continue reading “City Lights Orchestra celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr”

Showtime renews ‘Work in Progress’ for second season

Last month, Reel Chicago reported that Abby McEnany and Tim Mason’s new Showtime comedy series Work in Progress has inspired “an impending cultural sensation.” Now it appears that viewing audiences agree, as multiple outlets are reporting that the network has renewed the show for a second season. Boasting a perfect 100% score on the Rotten … Continue reading “Showtime renews ‘Work in Progress’ for second season”

The 5th Annual Big Teeth 60-second Film Festival

Short films, free craft beer, delicious popcorn, and the Ravenswood Art Walk are the “best way to spend 15 minutes” this year The 5th Annual Big Teeth 60-second Film Festival happens next weekend at Big Teeth Films & Animation’s 2,000 square-foot studio in Ravenswood. One of the Chicago creative community’s most beloved traditions, this year’s … Continue reading “The 5th Annual Big Teeth 60-second Film Festival”

Cutters opens full-force studio in Kansas City

The expanding production and post company adds a trio of highly specialized suites in the city’s Crossroads Arts District Back in August, 2017, the principals of international creative company Cutters Studios announced the opening of a satellite studio in Kansas City. Resulting in high profile collaborations for numerous brands including Dairy Queen, Gatorade, Big O … Continue reading “Cutters opens full-force studio in Kansas City”

mcgarry brings ‘heartfelt authenticity’ to Hallmark spots

With an abundance of simple yet passionate drama, the agency and the client add life to the #CareEnough initiative mcgarrybowen helped Hallmark Gold Crown travel down roads rarely taken by creating four new spots in support of the online and retail gift company’s #CareEnough initiative. Ranging from 30 to 120 seconds, the series features a … Continue reading “mcgarry brings ‘heartfelt authenticity’ to Hallmark spots”

Windy City Horrorama call for entries

Submissions for the international April 26-28 Windy City Horrorama are being accepted via Film Freeway   The second annual Windy City Horrorama will bring the horror to Lincoln Square’s Davis Theater once again next Spring on April 26th – April 28th​, 2019.​ Horrorama is in search of the scariest and most fun work in the … Continue reading “Windy City Horrorama call for entries”

Windy City Fest to premiere Wertheimer’s “Skippers”

“Listen to the wind. Listen to the leaves and the water brushing the sand. When a stone speaks to you, you bend down and you pick it up.” Carver from “Skippers”   Writer/director Aaron Wertheimer’s feature-length Skippers will premiere on Sunday, July 15 at the second annual Windy City International Film Festival. “It’s a beautiful … Continue reading “Windy City Fest to premiere Wertheimer’s “Skippers””

Philly-based JTwo Films expands into the Windy City

JTWO Films has already hit the ground running and collaborating with agencies and clients in the Greater Chicago area   (Chicago — 12 June 2018) Coming onto their ninth year as a full-service video production company, JTWO has officially opened shop in Chicago, where they will be bringing their full range of Video Production and … Continue reading “Philly-based JTwo Films expands into the Windy City”

“Chicago Fire” a $1 bb economic engine for the city

NBC’s “Chicago Fire” about the firefighters and paramedics at the firehouse of Engine 51, marked the airing of its 100th episode last week and with it, a high economic milestone for the Chicago film industry.

The show currently ranks as NBC’s second highest-rated series behind Tuesday night’s ensemble drama, “This is Us.”

Ratings have gone up from year-to-year. The Dec. 6 episode captured 7.774 million viewers, which certainly has to have a positive effect on tourism. And the odds are definitely in favor of a sixth season for the show.

312UAV: City’s only store devoted to drone filming

Tucked away in a small retail store in Wicker Park is the next game changer for the film industry. Owner / photographer / VFX pro Stan Miskiewicz opened 312UAV two years ago as the first and only store dedicated to drone technology and aerial services in Chicago – and other states.

Miskiewicz believes drone usage opens doors for independent filmmakers to capture shots that were formerly too expensive or impossible to shoot. It allows them to get lower altitude shots up to 400-feet with a variety of angles and perspectives.

City becomes a popular set for spots, films ahead

BUSY PRODUCTION IN WEEKS AHEAD on the streets of Chicago.  On the feature side: “Batman vs. Superman” moves after months in the Motor City to the Windy City and opens an office at Cinespace next week.  Shooting starts Nov. 3-14.  Scheduled locations include the farm house in Plainfield, the subway and the “Daily Planet” atrium at Willis Tower. 

FCB agency for Choose Chicago, city’s tourism arm

FCB was the agency choice of Choose Chicago, the city’s tourism arm, to promote the city as a tourist destination throughout the world. Starcom USA will handle media planning. 

FCB topped other finalists Leo Burnett and Magnani for the estimated $3 to $4 million account, which doesn’t include the invaluable prestige associated with business. 

Capacity crowd for May 16 AICE Awards, tix going fast!

BUY YOUR AICE TICKETS NOW as the national Awards Show is reaching space capacity, advises Optimus’ Tom Duff, AICE Chicago chapter. The show will be held Thursday, May 16, throughout the entire Museum of Broadcast Communications: cocktail reception on the third floor, awards presentations on the fourth floor, and after-party on the second floor.

A second Loop campus for expanding Tribeca Flashpoint

Fast-growing Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, with an enrollment of 600, has expanded to its second Loop campus since opening at the Burnham Building at 28 N. Dearborn four years ago. 

The new campus at 33 N. LaSalle, which conveniently connects to the Burnham building by a throughway, adds 20,000-sq. ft. to the school.  The second and third floors of what originally had been the classic high-ceiling headquarters of the American National Bank has been in the process of remodeling since the move-in two months ago. 

Grandiose City Cultural Plan doesn’t address funding

It’ll never happen. Whatever good Mayor Rahm Emanuel hoped might come from his hideously verbose Chicago Cultural Plan — a draft of which was released Monday — isn’t going to come to pass for one simple reason.

Yes, you got that right.  MONEY.

The simple, blunt truth about everything this cultural plan proposes is that Chicago will need a lot of cold, hard cash from somewhere to implement this plan and make culture more than it already is in this city.

Secret funder behind Aug. 12-15 wINDIE City Shootout

A secret angel picking up the cost of the event and donating his own funds for the $28,000 prize money, all for the good of the local arts community, makes the Aug. 12-15 wINDIE City Shootout’s 72 Hour Film Race very intriguing, indeed. 

“Believe me, I understand this is a bit unorthodox,” says Matt Benepe, about the backer’s request for both anonymity and that the five event organizers serve as the face of the event.

No second season for ‘The Chicago Code’ series

FOX TV Monday night did what was not unexpected by canceling freshman entry, The Chicago Code, due to ratings that started out so-so and didn’t improve. While everyone involved with the show, and especially the IFO which has its hopes pinned on series television shooting here, they knew in their hearts that while the Chicago scenes were impressive, the plotline was not.

400 Chicago-L.A. folks partied at Windy City

WINDY CITY WEST’S PARTY Monday night in L.A. was the smash hit everyone expected from Brenda Sexton, whose Chicago-L.A. Link brought together 400 folks with Chicago connections jam-packed” at La Grande Orange restaurant in Santa Monica.

“We got rave reviews on everything, especially favorite food from Chicago which was fantastic,” an exhilarated Sexton told the Reel. To give the event a hot Hollywood vibe, TV cameras were placed around the room as guests were interviewed by columnist/Ch.

“ER” and the city exchange presentations Friday

MAYOR DALEY PROCLAIMS JAN. 30 “ER” DAY in Chicago, and in a twist you rarely if ever hear of ? “ER” will present a gift to the city, “in recognition of the generosity the people of Chicago have shown while the hit series has filmed in the city for the past 15 years.”

The mutual presentation of proclamation and gift takes place at the Upton Baptist Church, 1011 W. Wilson at 11:30 a.m

The Mayor will be there, along with producer Chris Chulack, and “ER” cast members Noah Wyle, Parminder Nagra and David Lyons.

Hollywood, Michigan? That’s what proposed Center City Studios of Lansing is shooting for

After only six months from the enactment of Michigan’s film incentives, the state’s second biggest film complex is being planned for downtown Lansing.

The $9 million studio is being developed by a partnership between the Gillespie Group, an East Lansing real estate development company, and Ahptic Film & Digital, a full-service production/post company.

The 71,000-sq. ft. facility would be second in size to Grace & Wild’s Studio Center headquarters in Farmington and its three other Southfield locations, which encompass over 100,000 sq. ft.

Fox’ “Prison Break” escapes from Joliet and Chicago Studio City and heads for Texas

When “Prison Break” announced in March it would resume filming a second season of the top-rated show June 15, the producers neglected to say where it would be filmed.

That the location will be Texas and not Chicago came as a shock to the 150-plus people involved in the production since last June.

The announcement was made Thursday morning by “Prison Break” producer and Texas resident Garry Brown to union and department heads on the set at Chicago Studio City.

Twenty-two episodes were shot in Chicago during the first season.

City Lit richer thanks to John Logan cash gift in honor of new artistic director Terry McCabe

JOHN LOGAN, Oscar-nominated author of “The Aviator,” has made a $43,200 gift to the small City Lit Theatre Company, thereby eliminating a long-term debt that’s clung to City Lit since 1999.

Logan’s unsolicited gift was in honor of City Lit’s new artistic director, Off-Loop theatre veteran Terry McCabe, a long-time Logan friend and colleague.

John Logan

He’s the sole Chicagoan on AICP’s national board, but Mark Androw is chairman for the second year

Mark Androw frankly admits his loves his job as board chairman of the 255-member Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers.

The president/executive producer of The Story Companies was recently reelected to a second one-year term. “There’s an amazing group of producers on the board and it’s a it’s a privilege to serve with them,” he says.

Fatcake follows “Stuffed” with second Mexican-set travel pilot “Tracking Expats”

Fresh off Jeff Garlin’s feature debut and the season premiere of CBS’ “The Amazing Race,” Misty Tosh of Fatcake Productions is on her way to Baja, Mexico to produce a pilot for the series “Tracking Expats.”

“It’s a totally off-the-cuff, spontaneous road show about tracking down American expatriates in foreign countries, really covering how they make the move, what they do once they arrive, and what kind of life they are leading, or looking to leave,” Tosh said. “It’s geared toward National Geographic Channel.”

Jane Lynch to accept a Comedy Film Fest award

A LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD will be presented to actress/comedian Jane Lynch, a Chicago area native, by the Chicago Comedy Film Festival (CCFF) and the Second City’s Harold Ramis Film School, Thursday, Nov, 10 before a sold-out audience at The Second City Training Center.

Lynch will receive the award from Jessica Hardy, CIFF founder / artistic director and Second City president Andrew Alexander. The 7 p.m. presentation will be followed at 8:30 p.m. by the Chicago Filmmakers Shorts Program of a dozen locally-made comedy films.

Weekend SCOUT Festival showcases local comedy talent

The 4th annual SCOUT Chicago Festival will display Chicago’s world famous comedy and improv talent this weekend, Sept. 9-12, to invited bicoastal TV network and LA talent agency executives.

The curated weekend of existing shows and comedy showcases at iO, Annoyance Theatre and Second City was created by casting directors Marisa Ross and Brooke Shoemaker of Principato/Young Entertainment, specialists in comedy casting.

44 years later, restored 16mm film makes its premiere

Veteran filmmaker Don Klugman proves it’s never too late for a producer to put his film in front of an audience, even if it’s 44 years after the film was made.

Now that “A Multiple Choice Test,” his 80-minute, 16mm workprint has been partially restored and enhanced, it will premiere July 14 at Second City’s Ramis Screening Room, second floor at 6 p.m.

“Blues Brothers” return as animated musical comedy TV

“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.

Andy St. Clair: comedy writer on new “Sirens” special

Two years ago Chicago lost another great writer/performer to the lure of Hollywood. Andy St. Clair spent years on the Second City Mainstage and touring company in ”Campaign SuperNova (How Many Democrats Does it Take to Lose an Election?),” “Studs Terkel’s Networking,” and the Mainstage show, “The Taming of the Flu.”

Still, he’s not quite sure how he ended-up a staff writer for Denis Leary’s new series, “Sirens.”

Director Scott Smith wins IFO’s Shortcuts film contest

MULTI AWARD WINNING DIRECTOR SCOTT SMITH won the Illinois Film Office’s 4th annual Shortcuts short film contest with his 12-minute short, “A Certain Breed,” an humorous improv look at a pair of overzealous volunteers at an animal shelter.  \

Former Second City mainstage actors Emily Wilson and Brad Morris are the stars, who also appear in Smith’s earlier “Special Needs” short.  Rhea Bozzacci edited. 

Ad Community Shorts Night screens 15 films Oct. 1

The 3rd annual Advertising Community Shorts Night Tuesday at the Midwest Independent Film Festival, Tuesday, Oct. 1, presents the work of 15 filmmeisters from ad and marketing agencies, post/production houses, still photographers, Second City and Steppenwolf, from Chicago, Madison and Detroit.

Earlier this month a jury of knowledgeable souls from various aspects of visual media production judged an imaginative collection of entries from one to 16 minutes in length.

Keefe produces fridaynitebYtes web comedy series

JOE KEEFE of Long Tail Media Group is producing fridaynitebYtes,  a streaming comedy sketch series targeted to tween-and-teen internet users. The members contribute their sketch ideas and a professional cast and crew creates a show based on their ideas.

“This is where young members can contribute to upcoming episodes and learn comedy and production skills,” says Keefe, the founding executive producer of Second City Com he says.

Another stage of Marshall Creative’s business

Second City director Sandy Marshall’s boutique Marshall Creative has ballooned through word-of-mouth into a full-service marketing agency for small-to-medium sized businesses, with its distinctive comedic approach to brand-building.

“we offer a whole new way of doing business that’s beyond marketing,” he says. “We’re more interested in how clients can develop their business and project a voice that sounds authentic to the right people.”

“Break-ups” is best original series at Vimeo Fest

Improv actor Ted Tremper’s improv show “Break-ups: The Series” was awarded best original series at the inaugural Vimeo Festival + Awards, held earlier this month in New York.

“As far as I know, we were the only one of the 45 finalists chosen from Chicago, and definitely the only winner,” says Tremper, who is currently on tour for Second City on the Norweigan Star Cruise Line.

Judges including David Lynch, Ted Hope, Morgan Spurlock, Roman Coppola, M.I.A. and Lucy Walker chose the winners from more than 6,500 entries.

Lady Parts won Web Entertainment Guide contest

A $10,000 grant awarded at South by Southwest is enabling Chicago troupe Lady Parts Comedy to produce their first formal online series.

“Up until now we’ve been operating on a budget of whatever I have left after bills and survival,” says Lady Parts founder Jeph Porter, a former Second City writer.

“Having a solid budget opens up not only a ton of doors for production but a lot of new opportunities to take it further and create a show that utilizes the web as best it can.”

Lady Parts beat out five other finalists in Web Entertainment Guide’s national contest Feb.

25th anniversary for “Chicago Tonight”

In the TV world of head-spinning change, it’s rare when a show can sustain itself, night after night, for a quarter of a century, as WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight” has done.

In celebration of the show’s 25th anniversary, WTTW is celebrating with a benefit gala at the Harris Theatre April 17, with host Tim Kazurinsky and a galaxy of local stars.

They include gospel legend Mavis Staples, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, the top brass from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Second City performers and 7-year-old piano prodigy Emily Bear.

Tapia and Split Pillow shooting new features; Garlin’s Chicago-made comedy being released

JEFF GARLIN’S “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With,” based on his one-man Second City show, set in Chicago and many of the exteriors and interiors shot here and some in L.A., gets an IFC First Take theatrical/broadcast release Sept. 5.

Garlin stars with Sarah Silverman, Dan Castellaneta, Gina Gershon, Tim Kazurinsky, and Steve Dahl, among many others. Pete Biagi was DP.

Garlin plays Larry David’s agent in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which returns to HBO for its fifth season in September.

Mindlight’s tenth feature “Sketch” by Neil Kocsis is first co-production with Mimi Productions

Neil Kocsis’ directorial debut, the comedy feature “Sketch,” is the first co-production between David Miller’s Mindlight Films and his wife Michelle De Long’s Mimi Productions.

“It worked out really well. I’m glad we were able to join forces,” said De Long, co-producer and editor of the film, which is now at rough cut.

Ashley Bush stars as an aspiring comedienne who joins an all-male sketch comedy troupe (Ian Forester, Ryan Mahaney, Ronald Conner, and Summer Austin). With Brian Posen, Kyle Lane, Aaron Carpenter, and Mary Scruggs of Second City.

Locally-shot “Ice Harvest” director Harold Ramis talks about directing, his career and philosophies

Major industry player and Second City alum Harold Ramis built a career as a leading writer, then writer-director of comedies like “Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day.”

Ramis’ latest, darkest film, the noir “The Ice Harvest,” was shot in spring 2004, mostly in the area around Ramis’ Highland Park home, on a reported $16 million budget. It opens Nov. 23.

It stars John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton as a couple of Wichita Falls embezzlers trying to escape retribution on Christmas Eve.

50th anniversary celebration of Chicago improv comedy dates back to Compass Players roots

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Chicago improv that had its genesis in the legendary Compass Players, which in turn spawned The Second City.

Paying homage to that revolution in comedy, Chicago Improv Festival’s subtitle is “From the ?Compass’ to the World, Celebrating 50 years of Improvisational Theater.”

In 1955, University of Chicago alums Paul Sills and David Shepherd founded the pioneering comedy of the Compass Players in a converted storefront cabaret theatre near the U of C.

The first Second City revue show premiered in 1959.

Day puts sketch group GayCo’s satiric comedy on video with Split Pillow’s surprising budget assist

GAY IS THE GIVEN, not the punchline.

They’re funny. They’re gay. And when I saw their runway summer hit “Weddings of Mass Destruction,” my first thought was, “I can’t believe they’re not on television.” But if all goes according to plan, that’s about to change.

The Second City-born GayCo rolls in its ninth anniversary as a celebrated Chicago sketch comedy stage ensemble with the introduction of its newly completed series of TV-style sketch videos, “GayCo Presents?”

It was the most fun I’ve had producing anything for the screen.

Rewind to summer 2004.

Talarico-Koetz comedy collaboration to screen at HBO’s U.S. Comedy Arts Festival

Three former performer/writers who worked together at The Second City combined their considerable comedy talents in a comedy short directed by award-winning spot director Leroy Koetz.

The payoff: “Jakarta Boom Boom” will be one of 19 comedy shorts presented at the prestigious and career-boosting HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Feb. 9-13.

The 12-minute short is based on a performance of the improvisational group “Dasariski,” comprised of co-writer/performers Craig Cackowski, Robert Dassie and Rich Talarico.

HBO star Jeff Garlin’s directing debut wraps Chicago shoot, continues in L.A.

Jeff Garlin kept a 14-year-old promise to Pete Biagi that the local DP would shoot the comedian’s debut feature.

Garlin, a co-star and executive producer of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” was in town for a week in October for location shooting of his “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With,” a low-budget romantic comedy based on his former Second City routine and set in his native Chicago.

Garlin is writer, director, and star. It’s being produced through his Sawin and Puddin production company.

“MADtv’s” Weir, “SCTV’s” Alexander, 26 shorts at July 23 Comedy Film Festival

“Monsters and superheroes” are the rage at this year’s Chicago Short Comedy Video and Film Festival, according to fest coordinator Willy Laszlo. “Each and every year there’s a common theme, but it’s all by sheer chance,” Laszlo insisted.

The seventh annual fest, which runs July 23 at the Biograph Theater, boasts heavy hitters like Second City co-owner Andrew Alexander, and “MADtv” writer/cast member Stephanie Weir.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 04/09/04

TRADEMARK CONFLICT NOT FUNNY. Second City Television (SCTV) took umbrage over the SCTV acronym of the new Stand-Up Comedy Television cable channel and told the upstart channel to cease and desist. Second City’s Andrew Alexander claimed the trademark unequivocally belonged to Second City and the use of “SCTV” the TV show. Since Second City’s SCTV trademark lapsed in 1989, Stand-Up Comedy TV properly registered SCTV March 11, 2004 with the Patent & Trademark Office and as such, counterclaimed Joseph Fox the trademark belongs to them.

Up and Down the Avenue – 02/16/04

JWT wins the $12 million Illinois Tourism account, resigned last year by BBDO.

Indie film and spot producer Tim Sabo moved to L.A. to pursue a feature/TV career.

SAG/AFTRA is creating a Website to help market union singers. Cost is $50 a year for head shot, bio and 1-minute demo.

Richard Kind, Second City improv alum, stars in new On-Cor spots, via Blue Chip Marketing in Northbrook.

Bob Hercules’ prize-winning short film, “The Last Frontier,” airs on Ch. 11’s “Image Union,” Feb. 20 at 10:30 p.m.

IFA Block Party celebrates the growth of the Chicago film industry

IFA Chicago’s inaugural Fall Into Film Block Party event, celebrates the growth of the film industry in Chicago, the arts, creatives & filmmakers, and the local community. Whether you are a creator/filmmaker, member of the community, sponsor, business in the neighborhood or a local community member…all those looking to support our mission – this event … Continue reading “IFA Block Party celebrates the growth of the Chicago film industry”

How a trailblazing woman made Chicago the home of improv

Chicago’s greatest cultural export just might be improv theater, which was born at Jane Addams’ Hull House during the Great Depression and carried out into the world by the likes of Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Stephen Colbert. While to most people improv might seem synonymous with comedy, the art form was devised … Continue reading “How a trailblazing woman made Chicago the home of improv”

Jason Sudeikis gives a shout out to Chicago in Emmy acceptance speech

Our predictions on Reel 360 became a reality as Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, one of the most hilarious shows on television, took home seven Emmys after being nominated for an impressive 20 awards. The series won best comedy after Jason Sudeikis, Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein all scored acting accolades. This broke the record for … Continue reading “Jason Sudeikis gives a shout out to Chicago in Emmy acceptance speech”

Lovecraft Country represents Chicago with two Emmy wins

Last night, the 73rd Emmy Awards were held with Cedric the Entertainer hosting on CBS. While most of the big Emmy news for Chicago will be pointed (deservedly so) toward Ted Lasso’s Jason Sudeikis’, who studied here at the IO Theater, Second City and Anonymous, and co-creator, co-star and Chicagoan Brendan Hunt’s wins, another Chicago-based … Continue reading “Lovecraft Country represents Chicago with two Emmy wins”

Squeak E. Clean promotes composer Julie B Nichols to Creative Director

Global creative audio network Squeak E. Clean Studios has promoted Julie B Nichols to Creative Director after two years as a senior composer with the company. A renowned Chicago-based composer, songwriter, director and producer, Nichols has over a decade of experience as a well-rounded musician composing across commercials, film, live theater and her with band The Chicago Soul … Continue reading “Squeak E. Clean promotes composer Julie B Nichols to Creative Director”

Work in Progress: the concept, the talent, and plans for Season 2

Showtime’s brilliant series Work in Progress is back for a second season. The hit series revolves around the life of a 45-year-old self-identified fat, queer dyke, Abby (Abby McEnany) as she encounters death, doubt, suicide and depression while becoming an altogether likable heroine.   Abby McEnany, creator, writer, and star of series is a fixture in … Continue reading “Work in Progress: the concept, the talent, and plans for Season 2”

Star-studded doc honors life and career of Chicago’s Michael Madsen

There is an impressive group of Hollywood’s A-List in the new documentary American Badass: A Michael Madsen Retrospective. Among those who honor the life and career of Michael Madsen are Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta, Ron Perlman, Virginia Madsen, Charlie Sheen, William Baldwin, Paul Sorvino, the late Harry Dean Stanton, Daryl Hannah, Chuck Zito. Born in … Continue reading “Star-studded doc honors life and career of Chicago’s Michael Madsen”

Work in Progress Comedy Showcase at Navy Pier

When it comes to comedy, Chicago is no second city—we take center stage. Celebrate our city’s local talent with a comedy showcase featuring sets from up-and-coming voices curated by improv mainstay Abby McEnany, whose hit Showtime series Work in Progress is set and filmed in Chicago. To kick off the show’s second season, join CHF at Navy … Continue reading “Work in Progress Comedy Showcase at Navy Pier”

Chicago filmmakers’ Monuments opens at Siskel Center

This Friday, June 4, is the exclusive Chicago streaming engagement of Monuments, from local filmmaker and Gene Siskel Film Center alum Jack C. Newell (Open Tables, 42 Grams), and Chicago Producer, Angie Gaffney (Executive Director of the Chicago Independent Film Alliance). The road film, featuring many Chicago landmarks and faces, stars David Sullivan (Primer, Flaked, Sharp Objects) as a college … Continue reading “Chicago filmmakers’ Monuments opens at Siskel Center”

Our Top 10 list of the best TV shows set in Chicago

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”

Chicago director, Christian Taylor screening at GI Fest

The directorial debut of Chicago native Christian Taylor with The Girl Who Wore Freedom is an education on empathy. This documentary being shown at the GI Film Festival San Diego tells the untold WWII stories of the men, women, and children of Normandy, France, who lived through German occupation, the D-Day invasion, and the liberation … Continue reading “Chicago director, Christian Taylor screening at GI Fest”

Skydeck Chicago reopens with new interactive museum

EQ Office announces the exciting reopening of Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower to the public on April 23 after completing an extensive redevelopment, raising the bar once again for the world-renowned experience. The revamped Skydeck Chicago—already rated a Top 10 destination by Tripadvisor.com—will provide a can’t miss, one-stop attraction to discover and see all that the city of Chicago offers from an incomparable … Continue reading “Skydeck Chicago reopens with new interactive museum”

She’s in – Katharin Mraz to direct comedy You’re OUT!

Asian American filmmaker and Reel Chicago contributor, Katharin Mraz has been bucking the predominantly white, male cisgender industry for over two decades.  In this, her feature film directorial debut, Mraz brings her experience as producer, actress, and production designer in Chicago to the table for the new indie baseball comedy You’re OUT!   She’ll be … Continue reading “She’s in – Katharin Mraz to direct comedy You’re OUT!”

RBL Spotlight: actor, comedian, filmmaker Tyler Davis

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. For the month of February, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like Tyler Davis with … Continue reading “RBL Spotlight: actor, comedian, filmmaker Tyler Davis”

Noisefloor welcomes Carly Glenn to the family

Noisefloor welcomes singer/songwriter, filmmaker, and writer Carly Glenn to the family. Carly has worked in production for almost 3 years and brings many talents to the table. “Carly is a great fit for us. Her willingness to wear multiple hats and learn new skills is exactly what we were looking for,” says Noisefloor partner Cory … Continue reading “Noisefloor welcomes Carly Glenn to the family”

Director Tyler Davis joins Tessa Films

Director Tyler Davis, a wry, funny and multi-talented filmmaker, writer, musician and improv artist, has brought his unique combination of talents to the roster of Tessa Films, the production company launched by Executive Producers Lisa Masseur and Reid Brody. The director’s Tessa career is off to a hot start with his long-form spot for Images … Continue reading “Director Tyler Davis joins Tessa Films”

Jon McDaniel, Wolfgang Puck pair for masterclass

This is tasty. On November 19, 2020, Provence Rosé Group (PRG) will present “A Perfect Pairing,” a special virtual Thanksgiving and rosé wine event featuring Food & Wine Magazine’s 2018 Sommelier of the Year and Chicago’s Jon McDaniel and renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. The announcement was made today by PRG CEO Bob Gaudreau. Live from the kitchen of WP … Continue reading “Jon McDaniel, Wolfgang Puck pair for masterclass”

New photos from One Chicago’s Premiere Night

Next week, TV’s highest rated night of drama returns to WMAQ NBC-5. Filming on One Chicago Night, which includes Chicago Med, Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. has been underway at Cinespace Studios for approximately a month and a half now. With premieres scheduled for next Wednesday, November 11, NBC has provided Reel Chicago with new … Continue reading “New photos from One Chicago’s Premiere Night”

Filmscape 2020 goes online with virtual exhibitor booths

Filmscape 2020 goes virtual August 29 & 30. Exhibitors get a virtual booth on a dedicated page on the Filmscape website. Every year, Filmscape Chicago, an educational nonprofit focused on skill building for technicians and artists in the Chicago film and television industry, holds an annual event which hosts high-profile vendors, educational workshops, panels, and … Continue reading “Filmscape 2020 goes online with virtual exhibitor booths”

Players Workshop offering free virtual classes

Players Workshop, the original school of improvisation in Chicago established in 1970, is offering free virtual workshops to teachers and furloughed or laid off workers to help them overcome some of the work challenges from the pandemic. Teachers will learn improvisation exercises they can use to engage and focus their students in virtual classrooms. Those looking for work will learn how to become a … Continue reading “Players Workshop offering free virtual classes”

Cubs and White Sox read for CPL ‘Live From the Library’

Chicago Public Library announced that the upcoming group of celebrity readers for the popular “Live From the Library” program will celebrate the beginning of Major League Baseball. “Live From the Library” which features a combination of librarians, authors, celebrities, and notable Chicagoans, will highlight notable representatives of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox organizations, … Continue reading “Cubs and White Sox read for CPL ‘Live From the Library’”

ALG to represent John Belushi and Blues Brothers’ estate

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”

Chicago area celebs join CPL’s “Live From the Library”

Chicago Public Library announced this week’s group of celebrity readers for the Live From the Library program, featuring a combination of librarians, authors, celebrities, and notable Chicagoans, reading stories to children and families daily at 10 a.m. CST. Actor Joe Mantegna (7/13), actress Denise Richards (7/14), and Inside Edition Chief Investigative Reporter Lisa Guerrero (7/15) will be the latest Chicago notables … Continue reading “Chicago area celebs join CPL’s “Live From the Library””

Cinespace releases their Production Safety Guidelines

Cinespace Chicago Film Studios has released their own set of Production Safety Guidelines and announced their partnership with ServPro, which will be the exclusive cleaning service allowed on campus.  These updates come as the City and State move further into Phase 3 of Re-opening. Among the industries reopening- with strict safety guidelines- are: childcare businesses, libraries, bars and outdoor dining at restaurants.  Cinespace president, … Continue reading “Cinespace releases their Production Safety Guidelines”

‘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”

FCB & Mayor Lightfoot launch ‘Live from the Library’

The Obamas and Oprah are among the Chicago celebrities reading children’s books across the Chicago Public Library social channels. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Library (CPL), one of the largest libraries in the US with over 385 professional librarians, and the CPL Foundation have partnered to host ‘Live from the Library,’ a daily story … Continue reading “FCB & Mayor Lightfoot launch ‘Live from the Library’”

Remembering John Prine 10.10.46 – 04.07.20

(Editor’s Note: Maywood, Illinois’ John Prine died on April 7 in Nashville, Tenn. Music journalist Morgan Enos, who has bylines in Billboard, TIDAL and Vinyl Me wrote this piece that first appeared in the Grammy Newsletter about Prine’s legacy.) John Prine got his most famous acknowledgment from Bob Dylan, who praised his songs as “Proustian … Continue reading “Remembering John Prine 10.10.46 – 04.07.20”

IWOC & C3 free webinar on keeping your brand alive

Responding to the “Virus Crisis,” the Independent Writers of Chicago (IWOC) and the Chicago Creative Coalition (C3) have teamed up to come to the rescue of freelancers particularly hard hit in these desperate times with a FREE webinar on Tuesday, April 7 at 6:30 p.m. on “Building and Preserving Your Personal Brand in COVID-19 Times,” featuring … Continue reading “IWOC & C3 free webinar on keeping your brand alive”

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.”

Inside look at the ScreenCraft Writers Summit

Chicago will become the center of the TV and film universe when it hosts the eighth annual ScreenCraft Writers Summit at the Hotel Allegro next month from April 24 to April 27. Agents, producers, show runners, financiers, studio execs, and, of course, writers are scheduled to share their wisdom. Designed to connect blockbuster movie professionals with emerging … Continue reading “Inside look at the ScreenCraft Writers Summit”

From cosplay to comics, C2E2 comes to Chicago

Those who know me best might be surprised to learn that I’ve never attended a comic con, nor have I ever truly attempted cosplay. Conceptual modeling? Yes. Cosplay? Not so much. Last Halloween, I was excited to take on the challenge of creating my favorite Mortal Kombat character of all time (Kitana), while simultaneously making … Continue reading “From cosplay to comics, C2E2 comes to Chicago”

MFF launches 2020 season under new director Duffy

Erica Duffy, a transplant from San Francisco, has been part of the Chicago film community for 6 years and counting. No stranger to film production, she’s the proud owner of Camera Ambassador, a local rental house in Chicago. Camera Ambassador provides resources and services to filmmakers such as workshops and screenings.  The space also hosts … Continue reading “MFF launches 2020 season under new director Duffy”

LGBTQ Voices in Comedy panel at CCFF

The Chicago Comedy Film Festival, sponsored by Columbia College Cinema and Television Department, will present a panel of films and guest speakers around the topic of LGBTQ voices and conversations in the comedy film industry. The program is made possible by a grant from Columbia College’s academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion department. It will serve … Continue reading “LGBTQ Voices in Comedy panel at CCFF”

‘Breaking Bad’ producer Stewart Lyons at DePaul

Breaking Bad producer Stewart Lyons will be among the TV and film creators appearing at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts Visiting Artists Series this winter. The award-winning guest, who also produces Better Call Saul, will take part in the VAS’ series of feature screenings and onstage discussions with leading talent in the entertainment industry … Continue reading “‘Breaking Bad’ producer Stewart Lyons at DePaul”

Behind the scenes of the Jeep ‘Groundhog Day’ spot

Chicago-based Highdive Advertising reinvigorated an existential pop sensation through Groundhog Day, a commercial that became a classic before it even premiered during yesterday’s Super Bowl. In a fast-forward recreation of the identically-named 1993 film, the 60-second spot stars Bill Murray as Phil Connors, a weatherman caught in a kink of the space-time continuum. In scene … Continue reading “Behind the scenes of the Jeep ‘Groundhog Day’ spot”

Emmy-winner Jane Lynch joins STORY

Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actress Jane Lynch is joining STORY as a director for advertising projects. Lynch, who currently stars in the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, has already completed her first project with STORY, a two-spot campaign, currently in post-production. “Jane Lynch is one of the most gifted comic talents working today,” … Continue reading “Emmy-winner Jane Lynch joins STORY”

2nd annual “Chicago Shorts Night” & other news

Elevated Films’ 2nd Annual Chicago Shorts Night will light up the Chop Shop in Wicker Park on Wednesday, January 15th at 6 p.m. The special screening features ten Chicago-connected short films in a 100-year-old former auto body shop that is now the Windy City’s only sustainable butcher + deli + restaurant + bar. Be a … Continue reading “2nd annual “Chicago Shorts Night” & other news”

Behind the scenes with Zack Schor

Former Chicagoan talks about his upcoming role on Amazon’s ‘Hunters,’ starring Al Pacino Actor Zack Schor lost 35 pounds, learned to speak Polish, and worked in a “sobering” recreation of historical brutality while performing his role as a young Meyer Offerman in the 2020 Amazon Prime series, Hunters. Impressive, indeed, but that’s only half the … Continue reading “Behind the scenes with Zack Schor”

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”

Cow Lamp acquires a pair of Jack Newell films

Indie distributor scores ‘Open Tables’ and ‘Close Quarters’ by Second City’s Harold Ramis School Program Director Cow Lamp Films — the Midwest’s first and only full-service, independent film and television distributor — has acquired two movies by romantic comedy legend Jack C. Newell. In Newell’s signature style, both of the stories use food and humor … Continue reading “Cow Lamp acquires a pair of Jack Newell films”

Film & TV pros share expertise at ‘Courier 12’

’BlacKkKlansman’ screenwriters among panelists appearing at DePaul’s all-day industry conference on Saturday, Sept. 28   DePaul University’s annual Courier 12 Screenwriting Conference will take place this Saturday, September 28, from noon to 7 p.m. in the school’s Daley Building, 247 S. State St. Admission to the event is free and open to the public. For … Continue reading “Film & TV pros share expertise at ‘Courier 12’”

Chicago-made ‘Trained’ rolls into 33 million homes

Yuri Rutman’s guerilla-filmed, psychoerotic short begins streaming tomorrow on ShortsTV Kiev-born, Chicago-raised, LA-based filmmaker Yuri Rutman endured 48 hours of the Windy City winter to make a film that becomes available for streaming in 33 million homes tomorrow. His 18-minute short, Trained, is a love story like no other. Offering a glimpse into the lives … Continue reading “Chicago-made ‘Trained’ rolls into 33 million homes”

The venerable Players Workshop is reborn

Chicago institution that helped train Bill Murray, Bonnie Hunt, David Mamet, Amy Sedaris reopens “for people from all walks of life” after 15-year break Players Workshop, the original Chicago school of improvisation founded in 1970, is reopening its doors just in time for a 50th anniversary celebration next year. New owner Jeff Rogers, actor, creative … Continue reading “The venerable Players Workshop is reborn”

OKRP promotes four staff in Chicago

Fast-growing independent agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul also adds new finance head Fast-growing independent creative agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul has elevated four senior employees to new expanded roles as it deepens the ranks of its leadership. Rahul Roy will take on the new role of Chief Operating Officer at OKRP where he will have … Continue reading “OKRP promotes four staff in Chicago”

‘CHI-nanigans’ and the ‘perfect imperfections of youth’

An endearing new Windy City-based family web series offers laughs and lessons while helping young people build confidence It’s hard not to fall in love with the kids in CHI-nanigans, a new Chicago-based family web series with ASL translation created by Harold Ramis Film School alum Jill Ross set to premiere August 4 on YouTube. … Continue reading “‘CHI-nanigans’ and the ‘perfect imperfections of youth’”

Jon Favreau, Siskel Center Renaissance Winner

The hugely talented actor, director, and producer pleases everyone while interviewing with Robert Downey Jr. at the Four Seasons   Last Saturday night, Jon Favreau told a room full of people that he achieved success in Hollywood by failing in Chicago, and everyone burst into applause. “I want to thank Chicago for giving me that … Continue reading “Jon Favreau, Siskel Center Renaissance Winner”

Harold Ramis Film School Info Session & Tour

The world’s first film school dedicated to comedy will accept Fall session applications unitl May 15 The Harold Ramis Film School at Second City will host an Info Session and Tour next Friday, April 26, from 4-5:30 p.m. in its Old Town location at 230 W. North Ave. Founded in 2016 as “the world’s first … Continue reading “Harold Ramis Film School Info Session & Tour”

CineYouth unveils 2019 film and program schedule

Cinema/Chicago’s young filmmaker celebration will light up the Music Box Theatre with 64 films screening April 26-28 Celebrating its 15th edition in 2019, CineYouth, presented by Cinema/Chicago, yesterday announced the selection of 64 thrilling and diverse short films for a weekend of free screenings, discussions, and events. The three-day film festival will be held April … Continue reading “CineYouth unveils 2019 film and program schedule”

Mode Project announces two new hires

Growing Chicago-based creative studio adds Designer/Animator Douglas Gordon and Associate Producer Katie Hildreth Mode Project, a Chicago based design, animation and production studio, is proud to announce the addition of Designer/Animator Douglas Gordon and Associate Producer Katie Hildreth. Douglas Gordon, a native Chicagoan, returns from New York City after stints at CNN’s Great Big Story … Continue reading “Mode Project announces two new hires”

Reel Black List: Kozi Kyles, creator, actor, entrepreneur

From data plots to story plots: This native Chicagoan, Duke University alum, and marketer / filmmaker produces everything from digital series to compelling content for top brands Kozi Kyles, co-founder of Myth Lab Entertainment, is an award-winning content producer and marketing executive with film / TV and media experience. While heading up brand partnerships for … Continue reading “Reel Black List: Kozi Kyles, creator, actor, entrepreneur”

The 3% Conference rises in Chicago

Expert speakers, engaging activities, and sensational presentations helped to guide 1,300 industry attendees onto the same important long-term group project   Besides being informative, last month’s 3% Conference at Navy Pier was enlightening, collaborative, optimistic, intense, cosmopolitan, introspective, touching, intimate, raunchy, and hilarious. And that was just during the final few hours of the two-day … Continue reading “The 3% Conference rises in Chicago”

Chicago-made ‘Curtains’ rolls through festival circuit

“People would like to see Denim Underwear, Hula-hoop, or The Phases of the Moon play.” Gar Hoover More than a year after production, Beth and Gar Hoover’s Curtains continues to roll through a festival circuit that has stopped in seemingly every city but their hometown of Chicago. The 25-minute comedy is about a disgraced avant-garde … Continue reading “Chicago-made ‘Curtains’ rolls through festival circuit”

‘Olympia’ at Chicago Comedy Film Festival

“Olympia” received rave reviews at the Chicago Int’l Film Fest and is the latest from Chicago’s growing film community (Chicago, IL — 23 October 2018) Right off of a successful three-screening run at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival, Cow Lamp Films announce the film Olympia to screen for college audiences at the upcoming Chicago … Continue reading “‘Olympia’ at Chicago Comedy Film Festival”

‘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”

‘Related Destiny’ is a fresh take on an old theme

Will Thompson’s directorial debut combines excellent production values, authentic performances, and likable characters   Related Destiny — a powerful short film written, directed by, and starring Oak Park native Will Thompson — was released on Amazon last month. Described as an “urban tale chronicling three days in the life of brothers Marcus and Chris LaFair,” … Continue reading “‘Related Destiny’ is a fresh take on an old theme”

Midwest Indie Fest reveals Ad Community Shorts lineup

Working with a jury of pros from the likes of Quriosity, The Mill, and The Onion, MIFF and AICP present the popular program Nov. 6 (Chicago — 22 October 2018) The Midwest Independent Film Festival, in partnership with AICP Midwest, has announced the program lineup for the 2018 Advertising Community Shorts Night, an annual event … Continue reading “Midwest Indie Fest reveals Ad Community Shorts lineup”

Social Deviant promotes Nick Daniel to Creative Director

The award-winning Second City grad leads the agency’s CareerBuilder account and, according to CEO Marc Landsberg, “keeps us all laughing” (Chicago — 1 October 2018) Social Deviant, the Chicago-based, full-service creative agency for modern brands, has promoted Nickolas Daniel to Creative Director, effective immediately. Daniel has assumed the creative lead on the CareerBuilder account, which … Continue reading “Social Deviant promotes Nick Daniel to Creative Director”

Chicago Int’l Film Fest releases Industry Days schedule

Headliners include Oscar-­winning director Steve McQueen, Emmy-­nominated writer Bashir Salahuddin, and award-­winning producers Albert Berger and Bob Teitel (Chicago — 26 September 2018) The complete program of Industry Days (Oct. 11­14) at the 54th Chicago International Film Festival was announced today with an impressive list of guest speakers to inspire and illuminate the Midwest film … Continue reading “Chicago Int’l Film Fest releases Industry Days schedule”

Hollywood Comes to Chicago — 1979

“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”

Millennium Park Summer Film Series

Beginning June 5th, the Millennium Park Summer Film series will enhance the Tuesday night screenings that have become one of Chicago’s most beloved outdoor traditions. According to a press release issued by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), the movies will be “programmed in collaboration with a local independent film festival … Continue reading “Millennium Park Summer Film Series”

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”

Tessa, Blind Barber, and Bryce Harper’s bathroom secrets

Tessa Films partners with Blind Barber to introduce All-Star Bryce Harper as company spokesperson for signature product line Tessa Director / Writer Tim Mason and Creative Director Duncan Wolfe’s multi-faceted online strategy generates viral success, media coverage and brand awareness   (Chicago, Los Angeles — 17 April 2018) The new online campaign for Blind Barber, … Continue reading “Tessa, Blind Barber, and Bryce Harper’s bathroom secrets”

Reel Women: Carey Lundin, Filmmaker

Carey Lundin is a multi award-winning director, writer and producer specializing in comedic digital series, media for progressive candidates, and documentaries. Lundin recently directed and co-wrote The WORST Travel Show, a five-episode comedy / travel series for the newly launched Facebook Watch and WatchMojo.   Her digital series, Citizen Kate, The Outsiders’ View of Inside … Continue reading “Reel Women: Carey Lundin, Filmmaker”

“SNL’s” Rachel Dratch in new Ruby Tuesday campaign

Confession time. I’ve always had an odd crush on Rachel Dratch. Yeah, Debby Downer. Her. I can’t explain it, but I have always found the Second City alum kind of alluring through all of her oddball skits. So imagine my surprise and deep down joy (lust?) when I saw these amusing new Ruby Tuesday spots … Continue reading ““SNL’s” Rachel Dratch in new Ruby Tuesday campaign”

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”

United Airlines ends NRA discount & other news

United Airlines joins other brands in NRA boycott Chicago-based United Airlines has joined other major brands including Delta Airlines, Hertz, National and Avis car rentals as well as MetLife, Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines in discontinuing or altering their relationships with the National Rifle Association. In a tweet, United said it is … Continue reading “United Airlines ends NRA discount & other news”

Jenny Milkowski on her departure from Fox 32

(Editor’s note:) Last Friday, Fox 32 abruptly parted ways with their Emmy award winning traffic reporter, Jenny Milkowski. The #1 digital talent in the Chicago market (via Sharerocket), Milkowski was understandably stunned and saddened by the decision. She issued the following statement to her Chicago followers and fans.       I remember the day … Continue reading “Jenny Milkowski on her departure from Fox 32”

Chicago Media Standards

An Open Letter to the Chicago Film Community: The Chicago film industry continues to enjoy record-breaking growth and development. But there’s one change we are not seeing fast enough — an unequivocal rejection of the culture of sexism, misogyny, and discrimination that has long dominated this business. If our community is to continue to thrive, … Continue reading “Chicago Media Standards”

“Drive Slow” preview at Free Spirit Media’s Focus event

Free Spirit Media’s Focus event at The Ivy Room on May 31 will feature “a lot of people and a chance to get together and reflect on a great year,” says Chelsea Corbin, FSM’s development & communication manager.

“It’s a big celebration of media in Chicago,” she adds, “specifically, the youth voice.”

One of the greatest causes for celebration will be a sneak peak at the film series Drive Slow, which was made by ten emerging filmmakers in Free Spirit’s Industry Pathways Certification program.

Corbin describes the group as “super talented.”

“Open Tables” now on iTunes, Video on Demand

OPEN TABLES,” the 2015 improv feature from award-winning director/actor Jack C. Newell, is now available on iTunes and Video On Demand. The romcom uses the foodie scene as a backdrop for stories of love lost, love found and the importance of a good main course.

Included in the cast of 34 are David Pasquesi, T.L Jagodowski, Keith Kupferer, Veth Lacke, Joel Murray, Mike McNamara and Newell, whose lead role defines him through the Paris adventure.

MIFF’s Nov. 15 Ad Shorts Night to premiere 12 films

The 7th annual Ad Community Shorts Night at the Midwest Independent Film Festival will screen Tuesday, Nov. 15 instead of its regular First Tuesday Nov. 1 date, deemed as being too close to Nov. 8 election night. They are:

Hell,” John Malkovich reads Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave” while illustrations depicting humans’ worst atrocities animate edited, graphics by Ryan Gilbert and sound design by Brian Leitner.

MPG’s Hercules’ comedy among Sunday’s Pitch contenders

Like so many filmmakers, Bob Hercules of Media Process Group, a company acclaimed for its many award-winning TV documentaries, labored over a narrative feature screenplay on and off for many years.

Now, after a total of 10 years in the works, his comedy, “Waiting for the Clash,” will be one of six projects competing at Sunday’s The Pitch session, for a substantial award of in-kind services, at Gallery at GreenRiver, 259 E. Erie, from 2 to 6 p.m., co-produced by CIFF and IFP Chicago.

SCC’s Cubs spot goes wildly viral with millions of hits

A 30-SECOND CUBS SPOT, “Fly the W,” created by Chicago Cubs’ agency Schafer Carter Condon (SCC) featuring the narration of injured Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber, was designed to get fans excited about the Cubs’ National Division Series playoffs starting Oct. 7.

And it did it ever! — the spot was a hit waaaay out of the park, beyond anyone’s expectations, by garnering an amazing two million-plus views since it was posted on Facebook a scant two weeks ago.

Paonessa Talent actors head for TV and film stardom

The next 10 days will be especially exciting for talent agent Marisa Paonessa. She will be making two consecutive weekend trips to New York to celebrate the TV and film premieres of two of her agency’s talent.

She will attend the Oct. 1 premiere of “Saturday Night Live’s” 42nd season, in which her client, improv artist and sketch performer, Alex Moffat, will debut as a regular member of the iconic TV series.

Features and a TV series ahead for Chicago production

Two features and a reported TV series will be adding to the ever-lengthening slate of Chicago-based productions, which is “only the tip of the iceberg of what the industry is capable of,” notes Local 476 president Brad Matthys.

First up is a week’s worth of shooting on “Death Wish,” MGM / Paramount’s remake of the 1974 hit made famous by Charles Bronson.

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.

Well done short tickles the palette of famous chefs

Food luminaries from around the world flocked to Chicago to applaud winners of the “Oscars of the Food World” – the 25th annual James Beard Foundation Awards gala — May 4 at the Lyric Opera, the first time the awards were held outside of New York in its history. 

Dean Gonzales joins Beast; assistant Glover to editor

Ace editor Dean Gonzales, who honed his craft in LA for 15 years, joined Beast Editorial, saying Beast “seemed like a perfect fit,” with its national network, support staff and larger representation for the variety of work he does. 

Gonzales moved into his new suite Monday, from Hootenanny, where he’d edited for the past 18 months since his return from LA.

Leo Gilbert follows dad Peter Gilbert in film career

That old saying an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree is certainly true of aspiring filmmaker Leo J. Gilbert, a recent Tisch School of the Arts film graduate. 

He directed a short film for his student thesis film, “Journeyman,” which reprises classic Hoop Dreams,” produced and shot by his father, Peter Gilbert, for Kartemquin Films and celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Former Burrell execs produce a warm-hearted short

A pair of Burrell Communications alums turned their talents to narrative film, producing the short “Raggedy Man,” a seasonal, lighthearted tale of a homeless man begging food in neighborhood diner, who catches the attention and eventually the heart of a beautiful woman. 

Sunday’s Film Summit & Expo earns 4 stars all around

In no uncertain terms, Sunday’s Film Summit & Expo was a rousing success – and a somewhat surprising one given the short time frame the organizers had for assembling the parts that made it so successful: the 1,000 professionals attendees, out of 1,500 who registered. The SRO panel discussions.  Dick Wolf’s candid speech.  The crowded roomful of exhibitors.

Davies, Zehme to produce Johnny Carson mini-series

NBC is developing a scripted mini-series based on Chicago writer Bill Zehme’s Carson the Magnificent: An Intimate Portrait, a biography of Johnny Carson, legendary host of The Tonight Show from 1962-92.

“There’s a new generation running Hollywood and they’re already starting to forget about the real ‘King of Late Night,’” says John Davies, who is executive producer of the mini-series with Zehme.

Lawyer Linda Mensch coproduces Loukas’ indie drama

SHOOTING IS UNDERWAY on first-time filmmaker/actress Allie Loukas’ low-budget feature, Like Father, Like Daughter, filming which shot in Lake Forest and Waukegan and moves to Chicago locations through May 27.

Written and directed by Loukas, the story is about a chance encounter that brings young North Shore woman Kathryn (Loukas) into the life of the Chicago father (Christopher M. Walsh) she has never met. Also starring Kim DeJesus, Angela Beckefeld and Darren Marlar.

Hear great screenwriters at free Saturday conference

Want to attend a workshop with the Academy Award nominated screenwriter for Beasts of the Southern Wild? How about the guy who wrote the Back to the Future movies? Or people who have written for some of TV’s top shows?

Then head over to DePaul University’s Page One Entertainment Writing Conference this Saturday, April 20. It’s free. Yes, free. And open to the public.

The conference is the brain child of Kristen Jo Benedyk, chair of the screenwriting program at DePaul’s School of Cinema and Interactive Media. 

Lyric Opera-SC improvs a box office hit

Sands shift.  They shift under people.  They shift under institutions too.  Perhaps no cultural organization in Chicago has recognized just how much the sands are shifting beneath it than has Lyric Opera of Chicago.

And they are moving to deal with the matter before it becomes a huge problem.

Under general director Anthony Freud and creative consultant and opera diva Renee Fleming, Lyric Opera has begun an aggressive transformation act that — at the moment — seems rather enlightened.

And more importantly, it appears to be working.

Draftfcb’s sitcom spots work for new Cox-TV account

Life goes on.  Even at DraftFCB/Chicago.  No one needs to be told that the ad shop — which not that long ago could lay claim to being the city’s largest — has been hit again and again by misfortune the past couple of years — primarily in the form of major account defections.  

Those kinds of blows can knock a lot out of agency.  But for now, at least, DraftFCB appears to have hunkered down and decided it will carry on no matter what.  Such determination will be necessary to get the shop fully turned around.

Radar collaboratively teams with L.A.’s Eden FX

RADAR STUDIOS has formed a partnership with L.A.’s Eden FX, a leading high-end provider of 3D, compositing, digital environment, animation and conceptual design for features, TV shows and commercials. 

By working together, says Radar EP Graham Gangi, “Each company will be able to offer a broader range of capacity and service to its existing clients, and the partnership will offer each company a chance to branch out into new areas of work.”

Improv actor Alex Beh directs his first feature here

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.