After 11 seasons Chicago says goodbye to Shameless

After 11 seasons and 134 episodes, Chicago said farewell to Showtime’s Shameless as it came to an end on Sunday evening, April 11, 2021 with its emotional and very timely series finale. Warning: This story contains spoilers from the Sunday, April 11, finale of Shameless. Recap of Shameless finale The series’ patriarch, Frank (William H. … Continue reading “After 11 seasons Chicago says goodbye to Shameless”

Shameless releases trailer for Season 11, final season

Shameless has released its trailer for the upcoming Season 11. Here’s a peek at the wild ride of what to expect for the final season of Shameless. The premiere is set for Sunday, December 6th on Showtime. Now in its 11 season, meet the fabulously dysfunctional Gallagher family. Dad’s a drunk, Mom split long ago, … Continue reading “Shameless releases trailer for Season 11, final season”

‘Shameless’ announces final season premiere date

Showtime sets an official premiere date for the last season for the Gallagher family. Shameless, Showtime’s longest-running series had starts and stops following the COVID-19 imposed shutdown but the official premiere of the Season 11 final season is set for Sunday, December 6th. Chicago’s favorite family, made up of a wild crew of children of … Continue reading “‘Shameless’ announces final season premiere date”

Shameless in town filming this week

Showtime’s longest-running series, Shameless was seen filming in town today for some pickup shots. A small crew filmed exterior drone shots of the infamous Gallagher house for VFX plates. The award-winning series was scheduled to air this summer, but like many other productions, shut down in March due to COVID-19. The cast headed back to … Continue reading “Shameless in town filming this week”

Showtime to air final season of ‘Shameless’ this summer

Capping off an 11-season run, Showtime’s dramedy series Shameless will air its final episodes this summer. According to Deadline, President of Entertainment at Showtime Networks Gary Levine made the renewal announcement at the Winter TCA Press Tour. “Airing this summer, it will be one last hurrah for the Gallaghers and their unique blend of love … Continue reading “Showtime to air final season of ‘Shameless’ this summer”

1.34m viewers watch Emmy Rossum depart ‘Shameless’

Well, there was nothing to be ashamed of when it came to Fiona Gallagher leaving her family on the South Side. In fact, it was rather emotional as Emmy Rossum officially left on an airplane for parts unknown on the Season 9 finale of Showtime’s Shameless. Rossum announced she was leaving Shameless last year, allowing … Continue reading “1.34m viewers watch Emmy Rossum depart ‘Shameless’”

Showtime renews ‘Shameless’ for 10th season

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

Cameron Monaghan announces he’s leaving ‘Shameless’

News drops on the heels of Emmy Rossum announcing her exit after ninth season. It was great knowing you “Gay Jesus.” Just a month after Emmy Rossum who plays Fiona Gallagher, Cameron Monaghan, who plays bipolar and gay brother Ian, has now announced that he will be leaving the Showtime series at mid-season. The actor … Continue reading “Cameron Monaghan announces he’s leaving ‘Shameless’”

Cheers! “Shameless” drops first teaser for Season 9

  “Let’s Make America Gallagher Again!”     Time to get those showers running because the sleaziest (and funniest) family on the South Side is prepping for its return. Yes, Frank, Fiona, Lip, Debbie and the rest of the Gallagher clan is back as Shameless moves into Season 9. The mega-hit Showtime comedy, which is … Continue reading “Cheers! “Shameless” drops first teaser for Season 9″

Macy nabs Emmy nom for Chi-based “Shameless”

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

Who’s in and who’s out on Chicago Med for season 7

Chicago Med will return for season 7 with five of its incredibly talented original cast members. According to Deadline S. Epatha Merkerson, Oliver Platt, Nick Gehlfuss, and Brian Tee have all signed new contracts for season 7 & 8. Remaining original cast member Marlyne Barrett has one more year on her existing contract and also … Continue reading “Who’s in and who’s out on Chicago Med for season 7”

The Bear: Production begins around Chicago

The new FX pilot, The Bear, has started filming around the Chicago area. The new Disney-owned series stars former Shameless star, Jeremy Allen White, as a young chef who returns to Chicago to run the family restaurant in the half-hour series. FX gave the project a pilot order in March. The series comes from Ramy executive producer/director Christopher … Continue reading “The Bear: Production begins around Chicago”

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”

Take a virtual tour of the infamous Gallagher house

If you’re still crying in your f**ken beer about Shameless ending after 11 seasons, stop acting like a p*ssy and take this opportunity to look at the Gallagher house one last time. Right after the series finale, Showtime posted a virtual farewell event open to all fans of the hit comedy series. The two-part experience, … Continue reading “Take a virtual tour of the infamous Gallagher house”

Lena Waithe headlines DePaul screenwriting conference

Emmy Award-winning writer, creator, producer and actor Lena Waithe of  Twenties, The Chi and Queen & Slim will headline DePaul University’s Courier 12 Screenwriting Conference Feb. 5-6.  DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts will present a series of virtual panel discussions with top screenwriting talent and TV and film executives from across the entertainment industry. Slated speakers include screenwriters Liz Hannah of The Post and Nicole Perlman of Guardians of … Continue reading “Lena Waithe headlines DePaul screenwriting conference”

2020 in Review: Reel Chicago’s Biggest Stories

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

Filming continues as One Chicago enters Fall break

Following a delayed startup of the season, viewers welcomed the November 11th season premiere of One Chicago with great anticipation. With only two episodes aired, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med have paused for Fall break and will return Wednesday, January 6. Greetings from the cast of One Chicago and Wolf Entertainment. Filming continues … Continue reading “Filming continues as One Chicago enters Fall break”

‘Chicago Med’ has begun production on Season 6

Amazing news for the Chicago production community – the new season of Chicago Med is officially underway. According to Deadline, the highest rated drama on NBC’s One Chicago Wednesdays has resumed production after being stalled back in March due to the pandemic. But production has been deemed safe for cast and crew to return to work at … Continue reading “‘Chicago Med’ has begun production on Season 6”

Filmmaker Chantel Chavon tackles racism, mental health

Up and coming Chicago-based filmmaker, Chantel Chavon, makes her directorial debut by tackling the connection between racism and mental illness head on in the short film, When the Leaves Fall. Based on an original screenplay by Chavon, the psychological drama tells the story of a mentally-ill homeless woman living inside of a bus shelter, who … Continue reading “Filmmaker Chantel Chavon tackles racism, mental health”

Alex Pissios talks future of Chicago production

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

‘Empire’ airs 100th episode tonight on Fox

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

REEL WOMEN: Christina Varotsis, producer, UPM

Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready. Christina has produced a wide variety of studio and … Continue reading “REEL WOMEN: Christina Varotsis, producer, UPM”

Wayne Kubacki retires from Essanay Studios

Last month, Essanay Studio and Lighting Company co-owner Wayne Kubacki retired from the nationally recognized company that he co-founded decades ago. Widely admired for his extensive knowledge, punctilious care, and conversational efficiency, he leaves a vacancy that will reverberate far beyond the company’s Goose Island facility. “I’m going to miss him,” says Jules Tomko, Essanay’s … Continue reading “Wayne Kubacki retires from Essanay Studios”

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”

Locals show us Englewood’s funny side in ‘South Side’

Chicago brothers, Bashir and Sultan Salahuddin, find humor in everyday struggles of working class, aspirational locals.   Wow, that was funny. Like really funny.   The new Comedy Central series South Side premiered Wednesday night, and in case you didn’t get the gist from the opening line, the show is funny AF. The network has … Continue reading “Locals show us Englewood’s funny side in ‘South Side’”

12 year old to host art show at Cinespace

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

Interview with former IFO Director Christine Dudley

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

NBC renews Dick Wolf’s ‘Chicago’ franchise

Nearly 35 million regular viewers watch the Windy City trifecta every Wednesday night Chicago production community rejoice, you will have even more crime, fire and sickness to deal with next year. NBC has announced that the network plans to move forward with new seasons of all three of Dick Wolf’s dramatic “Chicago” series – Chicago … Continue reading “NBC renews Dick Wolf’s ‘Chicago’ franchise”

‘Black Panther’ star’s next project set in Chicago

AMC Networks opens a writers room for Michael B. Jordan’s Windy City series, “61st Street” Here’s potential good news for the Chicago production community. According to The Wrap, AMC Networks has opened a writers room (sorry Chicago writers, the rooms are in LA) for Michael B. Jordan’s 61st Street, a “murder mystery” that dives into … Continue reading “‘Black Panther’ star’s next project set in Chicago”

The Rock Agency adds kids and on-camera talent

The fifty-year-old agency acquires Laura Alexander, a bonafide on-camera and print director To kick off its 50th anniversary, The Rock Agency rolls into 2019 by continuing to bolster its Chicago office with another savvy hire, announcing today that it hired Chicago talent industry veteran, Laura Alexander, to helm the agency’s Chicago on-camera and kids divisions. … Continue reading “The Rock Agency adds kids and on-camera talent”

Announcing Sarofsky Labs: A Weekend Workshop Series

“The goals are to immerse students … teach invaluable working knowledge … and help produce a portfolio-worthy project.” Erin Sarofsky   (Chicago — 14 November 2018)  Erin Sarofsky and her colleagues at the Chicago-based design-driven production company Sarofsky have just announced the launch of Sarofsky Labs: A Weekend Workshop Series. The series’ first monthly installment … Continue reading “Announcing Sarofsky Labs: A Weekend Workshop Series”

Bing Liu on the making of “Minding the Gap”

“It’s sort of like watching a child grow up, ‘cause I’ve made hundreds of rough cuts over the years.” – Director Bing Liu Chicago-based filmmaker Bing Liu, the director of the Sundance award-winning Minding the Gap, sat down with Reel Chicago to discuss the making of his cinema-verite-style documentary. The film currently has a 100% … Continue reading “Bing Liu on the making of “Minding the Gap””

Charles Andrew Gardner at Black Harvest Film Fest

“We are starting to have a way for our stories to be shared, told, and heard … it’s only gonna make us and the entertainment industry stronger … It’s time” Charles Andrew Gardener, President of SAG-AFTRA Chicago, was among the guests enjoying the reception following Black Harvest Film Festival’s opening night at The Joffrey Ballet. … Continue reading “Charles Andrew Gardner at Black Harvest Film Fest”

Chicago records unprecedented TV production in 2018

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

Fox orders South Side comedy “Rel” starring Lil Rel

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

Reel Women: Jenny Lumpkin, Agent and Producer

Jenny Lumpkin is the international Artist Agent and Senior Producer for Quriosity Productions. Politely referred to as “Q #2”, she is armed with a BFA in both graphic design and creative writing from the Kansas City Art Institute. Besides offering an intimate understanding of the art of visual communication in advertising and entertainment, Jenny is … Continue reading “Reel Women: Jenny Lumpkin, Agent and Producer”

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”

Reel Women: Erin Sarofsky, ECD / entrepreneur

Erin Sarofsky established her company, Sarofsky Corp., in January of 2009 in Chicago’s booming West Loop neighborhood. Sarofsky Corp. specializes in design-driven production, working with a broad range of clients in the advertising, broadcast, network, film and entertainment industries.   Erin and her team of talented artists and producers are best known for creating gorgeous, … Continue reading “Reel Women: Erin Sarofsky, ECD / entrepreneur”

Tribute to DuShon Monique Brown

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

Chicago helps grow diversity in Illinois productions

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

SAG Awards, PGA Awards, Midnight Oil, Halo in the news

SAG Awards tee up “Three Billboards” for Oscar run Sunday night, the SAG Awards made it very clear that Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a frontrunner for the Oscars. Chicago-born Frances McDormand was named Female Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture. In the film, McDormand portrays Mildred Hayes, a distraught mother … Continue reading “SAG Awards, PGA Awards, Midnight Oil, Halo in the news”

Chicagoans shine at Golden Globes

Chicago-born Frances McDormand, Highland Park’s Rachel Brosnahan and Oprah Winfrey stood out in a sea of black dresses which symbolized the #Metoo #Timesup movements by women in Hollywood during the 75th Golden Globes. McDormand was named “Best Actress in a Drama” for her portrayal of a woman who demands justice in the excellent Three Billboards … Continue reading “Chicagoans shine at Golden Globes”

Sarofsky makes friends for new Netflix series

The new Netflix original series, Friends from College, from writer/director Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and spouse/co-writer Francesca Delbanco (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) finally debuted earlier this month.

Directed and executive produced by Stoller, the eight-episode show delves into interwoven and complicated relationships, including former romantic entanglements and comedic explorations of old bonds. As everyone tries to manage their lives as adults, they also experience nostalgia.

Havas Chicago welcomes new GCD Karen Goodman

Former Under Amour creative, Karen Goodman, has joined Havas Chicago as Group Creative Director.

According to Agency Spy, she will lead the creative on the agency’s Hefty and Reynolds accounts while reporting directly to ECD, Paul Hirsch.

In a statement, Hirsch said, “The range of experience Karen brings to Havas is invaluable. We’re building a shop infused with heart and soul and culture. There’s so much opportunity to create and Karen has the chops to run with it.”

Networks unveil fall lineups at upfront this week

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

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

Panavision now set up in big, new Chicago facility

PANAVISION CAMERAS, which returned to Chicago after a 14-year absence last October, has completed its move into a 13,000-sq. ft. facility a block-long building at 1544 W. Carroll.

The company currently has six staffers and general manager Sharon Walker says they are in the process of hiring new employees. It supplied cameras to Fox’ upcoming “ABP” series that will premiere Feb. 6, “Exorcist” and has jobs ahead on a studio feature and commercials.

Jackson co-stars in sci-fi epic to film here in 2017

It’s never too early to announce a-major film production planning to shoot in Chicago in 2017, especially when the film is a $130 million sci-fi adventure.

The film is “Inversion,” the first feature from Facing East, the new Hong Kong/Beijing-based production venture. Production will start in February, 2017 at Babelsberg Studios in Berlin before moving to Shanghai and Chicago locations.

Starring so far are Travis Fimmel (”Vikings”), Samuel L. Jackson (“The Hateful Eight”) and Chinese actress Liu Yifei (“Once Upon a Time in America”).

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.

Vince Vaughn finally sells his Mag Mile penthouse

VINCE VAUGHN IS GONE from Chicago, that is, he finally sold the three-story penthouse atop the Palmolive Building at 919 N. Michigan for a total $12.1 million, a little more than he originally paid for it and after splitting it into three different units.

Lake Forest native Vaughn bought the penthouse in 2006 for $12 million while he and Jennifer Aniston were in Chicago filming (and also dating) the rom-com feature “The Break Up.”

Powerhouse panels at lst Women in Entertainment event

ArcLight Cinemas in Lincoln Park on Monday, Oct. 24, will present Women in Entertainment to Chicago for the first time, as an extension of the Los Angeles’ ArcLight Women in Entertainment (WIE) program, with panels comprised of local leading filmmakers.

The keynote address will be delivered by Sanaa Hamri, “Empire” executive producer and director, who has also worked in Chicago on “Shameless.”

Stage 18 set for new office & space move next month

STAGE 18 WILL MOVE into its specially constructed 3,000-sq. ft. office and stage space in Cinespace’s Center Building at 16th and Rockwell in mid-September.

Says Angie Gaffney, executive director of the year-old film incubator, “We will have our own sound stage available to members, along with large and small offices, common areas, a conference room and kitchen.”

New Fox TV series greenlit; Cinespace to add stages

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

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

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. 

Quartet of filmmakers are WIF’s Focus Award honorees

Chicago native Shira Piven, now of LA, is one of four prominent leaders in film and advertising who will be honored at Women in Film Chicago’s annual Focus Awards at a luncheon Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. 

The three outstanding local leaders receiving the honor are Susan Credle, Leo Burnett’s chief creative officer; Erin Sarofsky, film company owner and creative director, and Cristina Varotsis, feature producer and unit production manager on features and TV shows. 

Big TV, film production season is underway

By midpoint this year, Chicago production had come close to the number of shooting days it had enjoyed during 2013’s record-breaking run, reports the Chicago Film Office’s Rich Moskal. “At the end of June we had issued 638 permits to shoot on city streets, as compared to 650 last year,” he says.

Wake and funeral services for Dennis Farina Monday and Tuesday

A WAKE FOR DENNIS FARINA will be held Monday from 4-9 p.m. at Monclair-Lucania Funeral Home, 6901 W. Belmont and a funeral mass will be said for the actor and Chicago native Tuesday at Assumption Catholic Church, 313 W. Illinois at 10 a.m.  Burial will be private.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be sent to the Police Chaplains Ministry and the Hundred Club of Chicago.

City’s silly tourism “ideas” miss the obvious answer

When?  When?  When will the madness end?

We’ve watched for years, decades — an eternity it seems — as Chicago has continued to grapple with that most pressing of marketing issues:  How do we make this city a hotspot for tourists?

With Rahm Emanuel now at the city’s helm, it appears he has instructed his small circle of business buddies — including potential gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner — to double down and come up with some fresh answers to a question that has proved unanswerable for so long.

2012 shoot days of 1,808 up 45% over previous year

Chicago production had its busiest year ever in 2012.  A total of 406 total projects across all visual media shot 1,808 days.  This is up 45%, when 391 projects shot 1,234 days the year before, according to stats provided by the Chicago Film Office direct Rich Moskal.

The tally was bolstered by a record-breaking four episodic TV series shooting entire seasons in Chicago.

“The closest we came before was in ’98 or ’99 when we had three shows shooting,” Illinois Film Office director Betsy Steinberg says.

Cutters will host 800 at “Bloodbath” costume party

CUTTERS HALLOWEEN PARTY Thursday night, one of the two biggest, must-attend parties of the year (along with AICP’s big night Nov. 15) expects a record-breaking 800 guests – 90% of them wearing costumes. 

The party, themed as “Bloodbath on the Orient Express,” takes place at The Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake, starting at 6 p.m.  The costume contest winners will be announced at 9:30 and the winner of the most outrageous/creative/daring costume will go home with a thousand bucks, second place winner with $500.  

In 2011, TV activity up 30%, spots 60%, features flat

Here for the sixth consecutive year is ReelChicago’s exclusive and roundup of entertainment and commercial production activity for the previous year, based on official Chicago Film Office reports.  

On the heels of 2010’s record $161 million in in-state production spending, 2011 was a mixed bag, with the loss of two TV series, the addition of at least one series, and just one studio production — albeit a big one.

Zacuto Films, Punch Films, Orbark are non-broadcast Emmy winners

A GUESSTIMATED 135 INDIVIDUALS went home with golden Emmy statuettes last Sunday, Nov. 6, at the 53rd annual Emmy Awards, the winners in more than 60 broadcast categories.  About 30 of those categories were non-news, a la documentaries, PSAs, cultural and other programming.  Out of these categories and sub-categories, we could only discern three shows that were not produced as a broadcasting entity.

Fundraiser lets audience choose projects for support

CNGM PICTURES, the cinematic collective that makes films with character-driven stories, holds its “Hats Off to Characters” fund-raiser Saturday, Nov. 12, where guests are invited to wear personality-expressive headgear or come as their favorite fictional character. 

“Hats Off” will review films finished in 2011 and projects that need funding assistance in the year ahead.  Guests can then decide which projects they wish to support.

Job openings continue for laid-off Roscor veterans

JOB OFFERS KEEP POURING IN for Roscor’s former skilled employees, 100 of whom were suddenly and sadly terminated from the 35-year old Mt. Prospect-based AV equipment company on Black Friday, Oct. 28.  Many had been with the company for 20 years, and some as long as 30 years. 

Companies from all over who learned about the mass layoffs have reached out to the former staffers with job openings! 

Invitations to send in letters, resumes and applications appear in the BackTalk, or comments section, following our recent Roscor stories.

Two new at One at Optimus; hot summer for TV shows

ONE AT OPTIMUS has expanded its Chicago-Santa Monica directorial roster with the addition of L.A.-based Jim Matlosz, who will focus on sports and product/tabletop, and Ryan Bosworth, who has a heavy  design and visual effects background.

Both directors have been freelancing, with Matlosz wrapping a series of Milka Chocolate spots in Mexico. Bosworth’s current national campaign is for Verizon.

At last, new Cinespace stage complex under construction

The timing couldn’t be worse. The much-anticipated Cinespace Chicago film studio was into construction on the first phase of the soundstages when the House rushed to pass Senate Bill 4 that calls for ending Illinois’ tax incentives in five years.

The 350,000-sq. ft. soundstage is the first of the plan for be eight contiguous stages on the 48 acre former Ryerson Steel Campus between Ogden and Western Avenues on the Near Southwest Side.

“The Boss” 8-episode TV series shoots March 12

PRODUCERS OF “THE BOSS” correctly chose Chicago over Pittsburgh for the location of the 8-episode series starring Kelsey Grammer as a Chicago mayor who faces the news he’s developed a degenerative mental disease.

When Lionsgate Television sets up a local production office in mid-March, it will be among three TV shows the city is hosting.

Chicago cop series shoots in Toronto

ANOTHER TV SERIES is set in Chicago but, like Shameless, The Good Wife and Mike and Molly, is not being filmed in Chicago. The location is Toronto, which all too often substitutes for our town. 
The family/cop drama, a genre beloved by TV networks and cable, follows policewoman Abby Kowalski (Rachael Carpani) who causes a rift with her three cop brothers when she decides to join the department’s Internal Affairs.  It also stars Treat Williams and Kathy Baker.  Universal Cable Productions is producing.

Premiere for 2010 Production Fund winner

“Salvaging,” the short film that won IFP’s 2010 Production Fund Competition, was written and directed by Joe Lyons, who works as a Local 476 union electrician and grip.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer/director and finally had the chance to go for it, as the IFP Fund allowed me to finally produce one of my scripts,” Lyons says.

“Salvaging” was the recipient last year of a grant worth $100,000 in in-kind services donated by local vendors that allows a filmmaker to complete his project.

AFTRA cancels ‘Chicago Code’ preview

The timing was unfortunate but the blizzard made cancellation Wednesday of an advance screening of “The Chicago Code’s” first episode inevitable.

The screening would’ve been held at the Kerosotes Icon theatre at 7 p.m. for the police and 8 p.m. for the 150 AFTRA actors who had roles in the series, their friends, DGA members, talent agents and casting directors

Eric Chaudron, AFTRA’s executive director, and Kathy Byrne, director of TV/theatrical contracts, invested a lot of time and energy arranging the premiere with L.A.-based Fox TV and AFTRA executives.

Draftfcb faces S.C. Johnson business review

FOR DRAFTFCB, 2011 will not start off with a proverbial bang, as S.C. Johnson, its major client of 58 years, plans to review its $1 billion marketing accounts for its entire global brand.

Draftfcb has handled advertising for many of Racine-based S.C. Johnson brands, including Pledge, Windex and Raid. Incumbents, which include RG/A, Ogilvy and Mullen, will be invited to participate in an agency review (gulp) early next year.

Christy LeMaster new director of IFP/Chicago

TAKING OVER THE REINS of the Independent Feature Project, Chicago’s 25-year old hub of indie filmmaking is Christy LeMaster, who has run IFP’s recent and successful fund-raising galas. She succeeds Ryan Jewell, who returned to his native Oklahoma City for family reasons.

LeMaster, who has a Masters in English from Truman State University, has a background in programming film festivals, starting with the True or False doc fest in Columbia, Mo.

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.

Thumbs up for Roger Ebert’s new TV show

WELCOME BACK, ROGER! It looks like Roger Ebert is returning to television with a new syndicated movie review show from Chicago, expected to be taped at WYCC/Ch. 20.

Ebert’s TV return was announced in the briefest of terms on Oprah’s Pre-Oscar Celebration show Monday, with Ebert and his wife Chaz, and pretty much confirmed by a station executive.

As part of the Eberts’ appearance on the show was “A Day in the Life of ?” which included scenes of the couple arriving at WYCC/Ch. 20.

Ebert has a full-fledged production company and t’is said that Ch.

“ER’s” John Wells returns with new TV series

“ER” executive producer John Wells is returning to Chicago Jan. 13 to shoot scenes for the pilot for his new Showtime series, “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy.

Like “ER,” “Shameless” is set in Chicago and it, also, will be filmed in Los Angeles while local crews will shoot exteriors quarterly to catch the changing seasons.

Roger Anderson of Sterling Films, who was Wells’ Chicago producer/production manger on “ER” for 14 of its 15 years on NBC, heads the local shoot.

Director Whirity goes for “Broke” like a pro as he promotes his debut comedy feature and premiere

You have to admire Bill Whirity’s moxie. A college sophomore at the time, he produced a feature length comedy on a minescule budget, rented a neighborhood theatre for a June 15 premiere, and is shamelessly beating the drum like the best of Hollywood flacks to promote it.

(His friends bombarded ReelChicago to write a story. See what we mean?)

In 2003, Whirity, 23, was a 20-year old Columbia College film student when he wrote and directed “Broke,” a road-trip comedy aimed at teen boys, inspired by the popular genre of the ’80s.