Warner Bros. delays ‘Matrix’ sequel until 2022

Even with cities and their movie theaters cautiously reopening after being shut down for three months, studios are not risking box office failure with their big tentpole films. Just shortly after delaying Wonder Woman 1984 to October 2, comes word that Warner Bros. is halting the 2021 release of the highly-anticipated fourth The Matrix film. … Continue reading “Warner Bros. delays ‘Matrix’ sequel until 2022”

Warner Bros. hires Midway’s local employees

The 100 people, mostly game developers, employed at the Midway Games studio in Logan Square are now employees of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Midway spokesman Geoffrey Mogilner said.

Midway closed Friday on the sale of the majority of its assets, including its Chicago and Seattle game development studios and an intellectual property portfolio that features juggernaut Mortal Kombat, to Warner Bros. Entertainment from $33 million.

“Rather than buying the company and taking on its liabilities, Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. producing CPR’s Glass’ O’Hare kids comedy adapted from “This American Life” shows

Ira Glass, creator and host of the ten-year-old nationally syndicated Chicago Public Radio hit “This American Life,” is developing a string of film projects, mostly adapted from the show.

First up is “Unaccompanied Minors” for Warner Bros. The O’Hare-set children’s comedy will be rewritten by Paul Feig (“Freaks and Geeks”), with an eye toward his directing. It could shoot as early as February.

ReelChicago talked with Glass the day after Warner’s announced “Unaccompanied Minors” on Nov. 7.

Courshon’s course helps filmmakers find distribution

Producer and distribution expert and former Chicagoan  Jerome Courshon tackled the distribution maze when he made his award-winning, 1998 indie God, Sex & Apple Pie, which ultimately led to Warner Bros. distribution and his learning insider information on how filmmakers can score distribution deals.

He’s recently turned his hard-won knowledge into an 18-hour course on 9 DVDs, The Secrets to Distribution: Get Your Movie Distributed Now!

Wachowskis’ original sci-fi epic UK bound, so we hear

IF THERE’S ONE THING directors Andy and Lana Wachowski  are expert at it’s keeping a tight lid on news about their projects, never publicly speaking about them and thus allowing the rest of us to wallow in rumors and speculation. 

Such is the situation with their upcoming Warner Bros. epic, “Jupiter Ascending,” the first time the siblings have written together and their first original sci-fi movie.

‘Contagion’ generated $12.5 mm here in film revenues

Director Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion thriller, centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease, opened in Chicago this weekend, almost a year after cast and crew arrived here last Oct. 19 to begin a two-month shoot.

Budgeted at $60 million, the Warner Bros. epic stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne. 

June 18 first Superman movie extras casting call

An extras casting call, starting Saturday, June 18, is out loud and clear for Warner Bros. new Superman movie, Man of Steel, that starts shooting in the western suburbs and Chicago Aug. 22 for a reported 10 weeks.  

Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead) is the director and playing Clark Kent/Superman is English heartthrob Henry Cavill (The Tudors).  Kevin Costner and Diane Lane play young Clark’s parents. 

Superman flies into Chicago to film here this summer

“SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL” lands in Chicago in early summer for a reported 12 weeks of prep and 12 weeks of filming.  The  Warner Bros. blockbuster-budgeted adventure/fantasy stars handsome, young Brit star Henry Cavill  (“The Tudors”) as the Caped Crusader and feisty Amy Adams (“The Fighter”) as smart, tough, warm ambitious and adoring Lois Lane.

Chicago could be on the “Fringe”

Chicago could benefit from the loss of New York’s film and TV production tax incentives ? and the loss of a lucrative TV series.

Gov. David Paterson increased the existing tax break to a more competitive 30% last April. The state allocated $685 million to fund the program through 2013, but it was so successful it ran out of money in less than 10 months.

New York state legislators will vote on renewing the incentives program in late April.

Consequently, the first loss to Gotham is the popular Fox TV sci-fi series, “Fringe.” Production company Warner Bros.

Chicago says goodbye to “ER” after 15 years

For the past 15 years, NBC/Warner Bros.’ Chicago-set “ER” crews came to Chicago three or four times a year to shoot exteriors with stars of the show.

Now “ER” will film here for the last time, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, according to Roger Anderson, who has been the Chicago producer/production manager on the top-rated series for all of its 15 years.

The medical drama will be treated to a two-hour finale airing March 12. Running in its slot a week later will be the mid-season drama, “Kings,” a retelling of David and Goliath set during an alternate history.

The Wachowskis’ are going full blast on posting their new “Ninja Assassin” feature here

THE WACHOWSKIS’ FIRST FEATURE coming out of their handsome new high tech facility at 5645 N. Ravenswood is the big-budgeted action movie, “Ninja Assassin,” for Warner Bros.

Story is about a young ninja who turns his back on orphanage that raised him, leading to a confrontation with a fellow ninja from the clan.

Live action was shot in Berlin from March to July and the Chicago facility staff of 15 are now busy with editing, compositing and special effects. “Ninja Assassin” is set for a January, 2009 release date.

A labor of love: Jerry Vasilatos shoots a short Batman fan tribute on dark deserted streets

Chicago filmmaker Jerry Vasilatos says “no copyright infringement is intended” by his shoestring-budgeted short film “The Dark Knight Project,” which he filmed this past weekend.

His Batman fan short bridges 2005’s “Batman Begins” and the upcoming “The Dark Knight” Warner Bros. blockbuster.

Last spring, Vasilatos returned to Chicago after 10 years in L.A. working as a producer, director and editor with clients including Universal Home Video, The Reelz Channel and Fox Atomic.

Gamebeat Studios wins the Lottery — music house to score big Summer Campaign spot package

A NICE 10TH ANNIVERSARY PRESENT for Darryl S. Duncan’s Gamebeat Studios was landing the scoring assignment for the Illinois Lottery’s Summer Campaign for the second year in a row.

Gamebeat will compose music for three TV and two radio spots each for the urban market, with version for general and Hispanic markets for lottery agency R.J. Dale and producer Darryl Manuel.

A former songwriter for Warner Bros. and A&M records in Hollywood, Duncan founded his company in April, 1998. He employs seven and works out of a 3,000-sq. ft.

Tickets all sold out for CIFF’s Chicago premiere of “The Dark Knight,” but you might try eBay

All 440 seats at the IMAX Theatre at Navy Pier have been sold out for the Chicago International Film Festival’s July 16 Chicago premiere of “The Dark Night.”

The block of tickets Warner Bros. allotted to CIFF were sold out within hours of the May 16 announcement to CIFF members. But you can bid on originally-priced $150 ticket being offered on eBay starting at $232.

A tribute and Visionary Award presentation to “The Dark Knight’s” writer/director Christopher Nolan will precede the screening of the two-and-a-half hour movie.

Hutson: eatdrink’s ?armchair general’ marches to a different beat of music, effects and design

Chad Hutson’s trademark could be the jazzy visual projects he spices up with musical numbers, like the impossibly catchy Jens Lekman tune, “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill,” found on the demo reel of creative shop, eatdrink.

Hutson’s marketing work in Las Vegas for Audio post house Soundelux and earlier experience in sales and marketing in Nashville helped establish music industry contacts.

That knowledge helped eatdrink land visual design projects for clients like Warner Bros., Island and Capitol Records.

State tax incentives are paying off with estimated $50 million so far this year

If feature film production alone continues through the end of the year, 2007 could shape up as a $90-$100 million year, according to early projections.

Revenue estimate is $50 million for the first half of the year. It includes the $30 million expected from the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight,” which has a projected $150 million budget.

The Warner Bros. sequel to the 2005 “Batman Begins” shoots in Chicago for three months beginning in June.

Illinois’ best year for film production was 1999 when revenues hit $125 million.

“Dark Knight” brightens the city this summer

“THE DARK KNIGHT,” Warner Bros.’ latest “Batman” installment could be “the largest single production ever shot in Chicago,” says the CFO’s Rich Moskal.

It could add at least $30 million to the local economy.

We don’t know if that’s “Batman’s” budget here, however, or if it represents the Chicago budget’s 2.5 multiplier or “trickle down” effect on the economy. But who cares. That’s a lot of moolah and represents a lot of work.

Christopher Nolan again directs, and Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman return in the cast.

L.A. producer Jerome Courshon separates the myths from the truth of signing a distribution deal

According to award-winning producer/writer Jerome Courshon, a Park Forest native living in L.A., “most filmmakers don’t know the right strategies and they flounder around trying to figure them out.

“I know. I was there myself.”

Eventually he obtained distribution for his movie, “God, Sex & Apple Pie,” amazingly through Warner Bros. Since then, he’s assisted other filmmakers in signing successful distribution deals.

Here, Courshon shares some secrets and debunks some prevalent lies, or what he calls popular “myths,” of distribution deals.

“Brian Wilson Performs SMiLE” concert produced in HD by Superior Street released on DVD May 24

Superior Street and director/editor John Anderson’s collaboration with music icon Brian Wilson began back in March, 1998. Since then he has directed/edited four videos of the former Beach Boy’s concert tours.

The latest is “Brian Wilson Performs SMiLE,” a live performance of Wilson’s “legendary lost masterpiece”?a Warner Bros./Rhino DVD worldwide release May 24.

The two-part package includes “Beautiful Dreamer”, a documentary on the making of SMiLE.

REELSCREEN: News & Notes

WARNER BROS. SETS MAJOR FEATURE IN CHICAGO. A remake of a Korean movie now called “Il Mare” (“The Sea”) will start shooting in mid-March and is expected to be here for four months. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves star; Argentinean Alejandro Agresti directs. Location is a house presently being built on a lake in the Forest Preserves.

Chicago native David Auburn (“Proof”) scripted the story for Chicago. Production designer is Matthew Crowley. Production headquarters are located in the Sofitel Hotel.

New “Duel Masters,” seventh “Leisure Suit Larry” videogames roll from High Voltage

Hoffman Estates videogame designer High Voltage Software created two major releases this fall for very different audiences, and is working with Warner Bros. on a famous children’s classic for release next summer.

Atari just released High Voltage’s “Duel Masters,” the first PlayStation game based on the popular card game and animated series, targeted at boys ages eight to 14.

And last month Vivendi Universal put out “Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude,” the latest installment in the venerable adult game series.

Silver Addy spurs video game scorer GameBeat’s expansion into spot music

Barely a year after its move into commercial music, Matteson-based GameBeat Studios picked up a Silver Addy last March from the Madison Ad Federation (MAF) for a theme for the Kalahari Resort Hotel near Wisconsin Dells.

GameBeat president Darryl Duncan was a staff writer from Warner Bros. and A&M in Los Angeles, writing and producing for artists including R. Kelly, Earth, Wind & Fire, and Chaka Khan. “I exited the mainstream music industry to have something where I didn’t need a hit record to feed my kids,” he said.

Behind the Scenes of The Suicide Squad with Erin Sarofsky

The Suicide Squad, consider to be the best DC Universe film of all time, is the third James Gunn superhero action adventure for the creatives and producers from one-stop cross-media production company Sarofsky, following Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Once again, the assignment presented atypical challenges for Sarofsky’s expertise in typography, … Continue reading “Behind the Scenes of The Suicide Squad with Erin Sarofsky”

‘In the Heights’ DP Alice Brooks talks crafting a big look

Cinematographer Alice Brooks discusses using DXL2 and G Series anamorphics to craft a big look for director Jon M. Chu’s musical In the Heights. In 2002, when cinematographer Alice Brooks and director Jon M. Chu were still film students at the University of Southern California, they partnered for the short When the Kids Are Away, a musical … Continue reading “‘In the Heights’ DP Alice Brooks talks crafting a big look”

Steven Spielberg sets multiple feature deal with Netflix

Steven Spielberg, a filmmaker synonymous with big-screen enchantment, has set a new deal with Netflix in which his production company, Amblin Partners, will make multiple feature films per year for the streaming giant.  The partnership, one long courted by Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, is a major get for the company that, amid increasing … Continue reading “Steven Spielberg sets multiple feature deal with Netflix”

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”

Chicago is setting for new HBO Ma-Xmas film

Production is currently underway on 8-Bit Christmas, a Max Original film from New Line directed by Michael Dowse. Set in suburban Chicago in the late 1980s, the film is a humorous and heartfelt look back at the adventures of childhood. The story centers on ten-year-old Jake Doyle’s (Winslow Fegley) herculean quest to get the latest and greatest … Continue reading “Chicago is setting for new HBO Ma-Xmas film”

Highdive’s new Jeep spot is worth making noise about

Highdive, Ad Age’s 2020 Small Agency of the Year and back-to-back winner of USA Today’s 2020 and 2021 AdMeter, premiered a new creative spot, directed by Lance Acord out of Park Pictures, for Jeep during last night’s Golden Globes. Titled “Earth Odyssey”, the spot marks the launch of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe as Jeep paves the … Continue reading “Highdive’s new Jeep spot is worth making noise about”

2020 in Review: Remembering Who Left Us

Whether you stay in Chicago to make your mark or leave to make your impact felt somewhere else, you are still Chicago. 100%. It’s a badge of honor anyone from the city, that is second to none, wears proudly. When you win, we cheer for you. And when we lose you, we cry and hug … Continue reading “2020 in Review: Remembering Who Left Us”

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”

Don Burgess reteams with Zemeckis to adapt The Witches

The Witches marks the eighth feature collaboration between director Robert Zemeckis and cinematographer Don Burgess, ASC, following such titles as Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Flight and Allied — and their partnership can be traced back even further, through Death Becomes Her and Back to the Future Part II and Part III, on which Burgess served as 2nd-unit director of photography. “It’s nice when you work with a … Continue reading “Don Burgess reteams with Zemeckis to adapt The Witches”

‘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”

What’s up doc? WTVP to air new Bugs Bunny special

Transcendence Broadcasting and PBS station WTVP/Peoria are taking a hard look at that “wascally wabbit.” On With The Show!, a look at the cultural impact of Bugs Bunny during the last 80 years will air this fall and next spring. “We’re very excited to be moving forward with WTVP Remote and pleased that we can … Continue reading “What’s up doc? WTVP to air new Bugs Bunny special”

‘Candyman’ pushed to 2021, Nia DaCosta explains why

With Tenet’s muted box office and Warner Bros‘ decision to move Wonder Woman 1984 to December 25, other studios are beginning to take note. Universal has decided to push the Jordan Peele-produced, Nia DaCosta-helmed reboot of Candyman to an undisclosed date in 2021. Many fans were hoping the Chicago-produced film would find its way to … Continue reading “‘Candyman’ pushed to 2021, Nia DaCosta explains why”

70% of AMC Theatres to be open by Friday, September 4

By Friday, September 4, moviegoers can enjoy Warner Bros.’ TENET and all of this summer’s newest releases at approximately 420 AMC Theatres nationwide, which is approximately 70% of AMC’s overall U.S. theatre count. Moviegoers throughout the United States are once again enjoying the magic of the big screen at AMC Theatres, and with every passing … Continue reading “70% of AMC Theatres to be open by Friday, September 4”

‘The Batman’ to shoot in Chicago September 30?

To say DC FanDome was a hit with fans would be a mild assessment. As millions of DC fans tuned in from around the world to see the virtual event Saturday, they were treated to new footage from several highly anticipated projects. One of the most anticipated project is Matt Reeves’ The Batman, which has … Continue reading “‘The Batman’ to shoot in Chicago September 30?”

What reviews say about ‘Lovecraft Country’

The wait is over. Lovecraft Country, which was filmed at Cinespace Studios, premiered Sunday night on HBO to 760,000 viewers, the best since Watchmen. Based on the novel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the ten-episode series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he journeys with his childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle … Continue reading “What reviews say about ‘Lovecraft Country’”

Wachowski says ‘Matrix’ is transgender allegory

Before COVID-19 shut down production last March, Chicago-born director Lana Wachowski was deep into filming the fourth, the first of a new trilogy, Matrix film for Warner Bros. Since then, the Keanu Reeves-Carrie Anne-Moss sci-fi pic has resumed production in Belgium. Sister Lilly, who identified as trans along with her sister after the films came … Continue reading “Wachowski says ‘Matrix’ is transgender allegory”

Meet ‘Lovecraft Country’s’ showrunner Misha Green

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

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: Upcoming Episodes

From showrunner and executive producer Misha Green, HBO’s new drama series LOVECRAFT COUNTRY debuts SUNDAY, AUGUST 16 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max. Based on thenovel of the same name by Matt Ruff, the ten-episode series follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he journeys with his childhood … Continue reading “LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: Upcoming Episodes”

SweeTARTS Celebrates Wonder Woman 1984

SweeTARTS Celebrates Wonder Woman 1984 Partnership with Exclusive Candy Dispenser for Brand’s Limited-Edition Golden Ropes. Fans can score an exclusive ‘Golden Ropes Holder’ created by the film’s award-winning costume designer. SweeTARTS, the iconic candy brand that believes in being more than one thing, has joined forces with the Warner Bros. Pictures’ new action adventure Wonder Woman … Continue reading “SweeTARTS Celebrates Wonder Woman 1984”

HBO debuts ‘Lovecraft Country’ filmed at Cinespace

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

Michael Shannon responds to Snyder’s ‘Justice League’

Back in 2013, Chicago fave actor, Michael Shannon, played General Zod in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. While the Chicago-shot film was divisive, it still grossed in the neighborhood of $600 million. And no one has ever criticized Shannon’s portrayal of the Kryptonian general. Shannon, always the professional, has never had a bad word to … Continue reading “Michael Shannon responds to Snyder’s ‘Justice League’”

Exclusive Look: Kevin Bacon’s YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT

NOTE FROM EDITOR, BARBARA ROCHE: Although Reel Chicago primarily covers and promotes films made in Chicago while our sister publication, Reel 360 covers national news, I could not miss this opportunity to promote a Kevin Bacon film no matter where it was filmed. If you have worked in the Chicago film industry for a while, … Continue reading “Exclusive Look: Kevin Bacon’s YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT”

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

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

Lilly Wachowski admits “rage” inspired ‘Matrix’

Like other big budget productions, The Matrix 4, directed by Lana Wachowski, has shut down until the current Coronavirus pandemic has cleared enough for studios to feel safe to go back into production. That day seems like it will come sooner rather than later as sister outlet Reel 360 reports California will reopen for film production this Friday, June 12. … Continue reading “Lilly Wachowski admits “rage” inspired ‘Matrix’”

Chicago takes a home a bundle of Telly Awards

The 41st annual Telly Awards, the world’s largest honor for video and television content across all screens, has announced the 2020 winners. With a collection of Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, Chicago-based standouts range from Bottle Rocket Media’s “Nicholas Brinley Experiences” and Studio 1847’s “Make It With Menards: Glassblower Jason Wein” to There Be Dragons LLC’s “Dustburgs” and Iron Light, PACO Collective, WTTW … Continue reading “Chicago takes a home a bundle of Telly Awards”

Chicago’s Harry Lennix hints at Martian Manhunter role

Last week, Warner Bros made big headlines by announcing the release of Zack Snyder’s version of Justice League. In 2016, Snyder stepped away from the production and was replaced by Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron director Joss Whedon, who supervised several rewrites and reshoots to the film that saw many elements cut out. One … Continue reading “Chicago’s Harry Lennix hints at Martian Manhunter role”

UPDATED: Ruby Rose leaves ‘Batwoman’

Um…. well… This is Bat Sh*t crazy! Deadline is reporting that Ruby Rose, the star of the CW’s drama series Batwoman, is leaving the Warner Bros. TV/Berlanti Prods. drama after one season. The series, which shoots exteriors in Chicago, has been renewed for a second season, will continue with the title role getting recast. “I have made the … Continue reading “UPDATED: Ruby Rose leaves ‘Batwoman’”

Chicago’s Gina Rodriguez talks up Velma and ‘Scoob!’

SCOOB!, a fully animated, full-length Scooby-Doo action adventure for the whole family, reveals how lifelong friends Scooby and Shaggy first met and how they joined with young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to form the famous Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face their biggest, most … Continue reading “Chicago’s Gina Rodriguez talks up Velma and ‘Scoob!’”

‘John Wick’ directors help out with ‘Matrix 4’ stunts

When the Wachowskis’ The Matrix premiered in 1999, it gave film audiences some of the most ground-breaking, jaw-dropping action sequences of the time. Who can forget in the opening minutes, Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) springing into the air, freezing and the camera spinning around her? Even if the subsequent sequels were not as beloved, … Continue reading “‘John Wick’ directors help out with ‘Matrix 4’ stunts”

Watch trailer for Peele and Abrams’ ‘Lovecraft Country’

HBO’s new drama series, Lovecraft Country, which had a large portion filmed at Cinespace Studios debuts this August. The series, based on the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff of the same name, follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark … Continue reading “Watch trailer for Peele and Abrams’ ‘Lovecraft Country’”

Mary Datcher, founder, Global Mixx Music & Film Forum

Mary Datcher, founder of the annual Global Mixx Music & Film Forum, joins the 2020 edition of Reel Chicago Black List, an annual celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month. The Reel Chicago Black List includes ‘The Chi’ cast member LaDonna Tittle, house music pioneer Vince Lawrence, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view … Continue reading “Mary Datcher, founder, Global Mixx Music & Film Forum”

Chicago Film Society unveils 2020 season schedule

This week, the Chicago Film Society unveiled its multi-venue 2020 film schedule in a press release of superior charm, detail, and creativity. The lineup contains enough screenings to satisfy the appetite of any cinemaficionado. Listed in the second part of the text below, it follows an introduction that is a joy to read. So without … Continue reading “Chicago Film Society unveils 2020 season schedule”

Architecture, racecars, and the Blues

The ChiFilmFest 2019 program offers moviegoers art, thrills, and the music that inspired Buddy Guy The Chicago International Film Festival announced an ambitious schedule for its 55th annual run during a press event yesterday morning at AMC Theatres River East. Hosted by Artistic Director Mimi Plauché and programmers Anthony Kaufman, Alissa Simon, and Sam Flancher, … Continue reading “Architecture, racecars, and the Blues”

Blue Chip elevates three to executive team

The Chicago-based independent agency promotes Elizabeth Bleser to SVP of Integrated Media; Jason Geis and Joel Walker will co-lead Creative Chicago-based independent agency Blue Chip is proud to announce that it has added three new members to its executive leadership team. Elizabeth Bleser has been promoted to senior vice president of Integrated Media. Bleser joined … Continue reading “Blue Chip elevates three to executive team”

Stop Us Before We Disrupt Again

Chicago Film Society unveils lineup for Season 24, “dedicated to exhibiting neglected works of cinema in their original medium” The streets of Chicago are clogged with scooters in a cutthroat competition for marketshare, behemoth commercial landlord The We Company (nee WeWork) has positioned itself as a tech company in anticipation of its IPO, and Disney … Continue reading “Stop Us Before We Disrupt Again”

Chatter: Is new ‘Matrix’ filming in Chicago 2020?

If rumors are to be believed a new Matrix, helmed by the Wachowskis could be filming in town as early as next year There is a new rumor making the rounds that ComicBookMovie.com caught wind of. If it is to be believed, the once successful Matrix franchise will return to the big screen sooner than … Continue reading “Chatter: Is new ‘Matrix’ filming in Chicago 2020?”

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”

Beyond Meat engages Stun for branding and media

Relationship kicks off with video about plant-based protein diets starring “ambassador” Kyrie Irving Beyond Meat, the world’s leading plant-based meat company, has engaged Stun, an award-winning agency and content studio as its Branding and Media partner. The announcement was made today by Stun Principals & Co-Founders Mark Feldstein and Brad Roth, who is a native … Continue reading “Beyond Meat engages Stun for branding and media”

‘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 Middle” spinoff ordered to pilot at ABC

The popular series portraying a “neither high nor low” class family is getting a Chicago-based spinoff featuring Sue Heck ABC has officially ordered the long-discussed “The Middle” spinoff to pilot. Led by Eden Sher, the untitled comedy will follow the twentysomething adventures of eternal optimist Sue Heck as she leaves the small town of Orson … Continue reading ““The Middle” spinoff ordered to pilot at ABC”

Ogilvy KO’s Cannes’ Industry Craft competition

Wednesday’s Cannes Lions Awards Show turned out to be a great one for Ogilvy Chicago as the agency won the Grand Prix for their award-winning Kiwi Shoe Polish campaign for SC Johnson, USA. The story broke inThe Chicago Egotist. The new award is described as “focusing on the artistry, skill, talent and flair required to … Continue reading “Ogilvy KO’s Cannes’ Industry Craft competition”

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”

CBS orders Ava DuVernay drama “The Red Line”

More great news to end the week for the Chicago production community. The Red Line — a drama series produced by Ava DuVernay (Wrinkle in Time) and Greg Berlanti (Supergirl, The Flash) — has been green lit for the fall by CBS. Warner Bros. Television, where Berlanti Productions is based, is the studio. Written by … Continue reading “CBS orders Ava DuVernay drama “The Red Line””

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”

Geoff Edwards tops busy week of moves in LA

CAA’s Geoff Edwards to helm R/GA Ad Age reports that Geoff Edwards, co-creator of peace coalition Saturday Morning and former CAA Marketing co-head of creative, has joined R/GA as VP Executive Creative Director of LA. Edwards, who spent a good deal of time in Chicago at DDB, FCB and Element79, is said to have a … Continue reading “Geoff Edwards tops busy week of moves in LA”

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”

United debuts Olympic / Paralympic campaign

United Airlines’ new advertising campaign for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic team is a fantastic combination of marketing, production, and support. Superheroes, created by mcgarrybowen’s New York office, celebrates the efforts of six employees and six athletes who will help the U.S. travel to and compete in the 2018 Winter Games, beginning on February 9 … Continue reading “United debuts Olympic / Paralympic campaign”

YouTuber demands ‘Justice’ for Zack Snyder fans

As social media has grown in relevance, so has the cacophony of voices supporting or disapproving their favorite films and TV series. A scroll through various YouTube videos of Star Wars: The Last Jedi shows how extreme the love and hate for the film has become. In that spirit, Justice League fans have mounted online … Continue reading “YouTuber demands ‘Justice’ for Zack Snyder fans”

Escape Pod, Ogilvy, Box Office, Foo Fighters in the news

Escape Pod launches freelance recruitment app Go Shortlist Today, Escape Pod announced the creation of a free online platform connecting the industry’s top creative freelancers with top ad agencies. Created by Escape Pod’s interactive arm, Ora Interactive, “Go Shortlist” uses a proprietary algorithm combined with a personalized talent assessment to rank the top creative freelancers, … Continue reading “Escape Pod, Ogilvy, Box Office, Foo Fighters in the news”

Latest from Leo B, McDonald’s, and the box office

Burnett celebrates the top-performing agencies in global network Last week in Chicago, Leo Burnett Worldwide hosted the 20th annual Leo Burnett “Agency of the Year.” This global celebration recognized the best agencies in the global network by reviewing what Burnett has based their credos on — creative prowess and business results. Leo Burnett Beirut took … Continue reading “Latest from Leo B, McDonald’s, and the box office”

Strange Loop, Uber, Digital Kitchen, SNL in the news

Production company Strange Loop has teamed-up with Uber to produce a short documentary campaign promoting Uber’s recent partnership with the Youth Guidance organization in Chicago. The organization provides mentorship to hundreds of students at pivotal points in their lives through their BAM (Becoming a Man) and WOW (Working on Womanhood) programs. Helmed by director David … Continue reading “Strange Loop, Uber, Digital Kitchen, SNL in the news”

Digitas, Indianapolis Art, Box Office, SNL in the news

DigitasLBI, AOR for Maytag, has produced a humorous new thirty second spot called Delivery that supports Maytag’s tagline, “What’s Inside Matters.” Directed by Martin Granger from Moxie Pictures, the spot follows the Maytag Man as he (and clones) stands in for a variety of appliances as they leave the factory and are delivered to various … Continue reading “Digitas, Indianapolis Art, Box Office, SNL in the news”

Havas, Escape Pod, MIFF, Thor, Larry David in the news

Anna Parker promoted to Chief Strategy Officer at Havas Havas Chicago announced that it has promoted Anna (Newburn) Parker to Chief Strategy Officer. She joins Havas Chicago’s executive leadership team which includes Paul Marobella, Jason Peterson, Tatia Torrey, Jennifer Marszalek, Lisa Evia and Angelo Kritikos. Considered a major contributor to the transformation of the Havas … Continue reading “Havas, Escape Pod, MIFF, Thor, Larry David in the news”

“Outrageous rollbacks” reignite SAG-AFTRA strike threat

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

“Batman vs. Superman?” Ad execs weigh in on the victor

As you undoubtedly know, “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” one of 2016’s most anticipated films – produced for a stunning $410 million — opens globally at theaters today.

Chicago is no stranger to the DC Universe, having first doubled as Gotham, in 2005’s “Batman Begins” and 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” and then morphing into Metropolis in 2013’s “Man of Steel.”

Anthony joins “Mahalia” movie as exec producer

Chicago based producer/writer Blake Anthony, of Blake Anthony, Inc., has joined Joyful Noise, LLC, producers of the music biopic about gospel great Mahalia Jackson, as executive producer.

Anthony brings more than 15 years of writing and production experience on major studio productions and his own company’s films to serve on “a great film like Mahalia,” he says.

“Batman vs. Superman” prepro starts in Pontiac studios

At a reported budget of a jaw-dropping $250 million, “Batman vs. Superman” will unquestionably be the biggest movie ever shot in Michigan (and yes, we’re jealous)! The budget alone is equivalent to about a year’s gross income from film that Michigan enjoyed for about three years, before the current governor drastically curtailed the state’s film incentives. 

Wachowskis comments send a distorted message

Filmmakers Lana and Andy Wachowski have been on a media blitz lately, popping up in national magazines, local newspapers and radio.  What makes this is a huge story in itself is that the Beverly natives are notoriously secretive and rarely if ever give interviews.  Even the CIA is envious of the tight security at their CGI Kinowerks studios in Ravenswood.

June 30 memorial for Burrell co-founder Emmett McBain

The life of Emmett McBain, co-founder of Burrell McBain Advertising in 1971, and a renowned water color artist, will be celebrated at a very upbeat memorial party Saturday, June 30, 2-4 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

Mr. McBain died May 22 in his Hyde Park home of cancer.  He was 77.  He was a naturally-gifted artist, an accomplished art director who created award-winning album covers for the Playboy Jazz All-Stars, Mercury Records and others.

Michigan doubles film grant cap to $50 million for 2013

Gov. Rick Snyder has upped Michigan’s film grant money to $50 million, from the present $25 million that all but killed what had been one of the biggest US film markets, for the new fiscal year that starts in October. 

The higher cap, which still must be approved by legislators, is considerably less than the film industry and pro-film legislators had been seeking, reports The Detroit Free Press.  

Hopefully State doubles film grant to $50 million cap for 2013

The Wachowskis want to produce big movie here – but…

WE HEAR that Lana and Andy Wachowski want to make their next big budget, big name, big effects movie in Chicago.  Which makes sense since they operate out of their super secret North Side Ravenswood Kinowerks post and effects studio, and Andy has a home here.  Their project is “Jupiter Ascending,” the duo’s first major science fiction action franchise screenplay since The Matrix.  

Celozzi’s Sam Giancana doc bows Saturday at Siskel

“To me he was an uncle,” Nicholas Celozzi says about Sam Giancana -— his great uncle, actually.  “He was a generous man, took care of all his family and a had great sense of humor.  An intelligent man.”

To the public, Giancana was the 1960s Outfit boss whose 1975 murder in his Oak Park kitchen remains officially unsolved. 

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.

Alessandra hosts Coffee Break script Seminar Oct. 26

One of L.A.-based screenwriting guru Pilar Alessandra’s missions when she returns to Chicago Oct. 26 is to meet with one of her former students who writes for Rosie O’Donnell’s “The Rosie Show,” now taping at Harpo Studios. 

This is something Alessandra says she always enjoys doing as it validates that the techniques she has been teaching do work.

Alessandra is only the fourth Hollywood script expert to personally visit the city this year, which is rather surprising since Chicago is actually a large locus of produced and aspiring screenwriters.

Wachowskis’ Kinowerks the best of green technology

New York’s billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently gave a $6 million grant to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to use for various city programs. One of them is finding ways to create greater energy savings, a top item on Emanuel’s agenda for a greener Chicago.  

But when it comes to green buildings, however, few can compare with Lana and Andy Wachowski’s environmentally efficient Ravenswood Kinowerks postproduction and effects studio.

Six weeks of non-stop TV show and feature filming

Regardless of what you want to call it – a perfect storm, a surfeit of riches – the next few weeks will be the “crazy busiest,” as Local 476’s Mark Hogan puts it, but he’s far from complaining.

Action started July 12, with the FX TV movie Powers and will accelerate the following weeks, five high-profile entertainment projects will be in some phase of production in and around Chicago.

Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal says we haven’t seen such activity since the late ‘90s, “when we had going three on-going TV series and numerous features.”

‘Harry Potter’ eagerly awaited by Michigan 3D artists

Up in Traverse City, Michigan, no one is more excited about next Friday’s release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 than a group of 3D visual effects artists there, who had a hand in its production.

The 13 full-time artists in the new West Michigan branch of Culver City-headquartered I.E. Effects worked on 3D conversion for the wildly anticipated last installment of the Harry Potter canon.

NetherRealm’s new ‘Mortal Kombat’ scores high

Lost amid the April 23 chaos at Pete Wentz’s Angels and Kings club at the Hard Rock Hotel, was the celebration going on for the release Mortal Kombat,  a retelling of the whole super heroes fight for the future of humanity against an evil king.

Released April 19, the ninth main entry into the billion dollar Mortal Kombat franchise, running 120 minutes, was developed by Chicago-based NetherRealm Studios.  

Senate unananimously passes SB398 moving the tax credit sunset to 2021

ON FRIDAY, the state Senate unanimously passed SB398 that pushes the Illinois tax credit sunset 10 years hence to 2021 — and who knows what can happen by then.  All you film folks who phoned and faxed your state senator in protest should feel a great sense of accomplishment in your part in defeating the five year clause.  This shared action also showed what we can positively achieve when we rally together to move the film industry forward.

Toronto comedy director Shamata now on Dictionary Films’ roster

TORONTO-BASED DIRECTOR Jesse Shamata formerly on the roster of Imported Artists in Canada and known for his comedic vision, has joined the roster of Dictionary Films, the 18-month old division of Cutters, and his first official U.S. market representation.  

“Jesse is a writer, director, editor, a great collaborator with the creatives – he does it all,” says Dictionary executive producer Megan Maples about their new addition. 

R/GA Chicago brings aboard two A-list creatives

TWO TOP AWARD-WINNING CREATIVES, Ken Erke and Matt Marcus, joined the Chicago office of R/GA, called advertising’s most creative interactive agency, as executive creative directors to help bolster the agency’s work out of Chicago.

R/GA Chicago currently has 13 employees and looks to grow to upwards of 30 by the end of the year.

Previously, Erke was an EVP/CCC at Y&R and crafted award-winning integrated campaigns for Sears, Craftsman and Die Hard, among others, and launched the Miller Genuine Draft “MGD 64” campaign.

Schwimmer and Cumming to walk the Red Carpet

DAVID SCHWIMMER AND ALAN CUMMING are the stars at CIFF’s Red Carpet Monday night. The Festival welcomes openly gay actor Cumming, who receives the fest’s Artistic Achievement Award as part of its OUTrageous Program, celebrating contributions to GLBT films.

New talent revitalizes Vitamin digital media

Infused with a batch of proven new talent from Dallas, Vitamin, the digital media arm of Filmworkers Club, has been relaunched and revitalized with plans for expansion into broadcast and feature entertainment graphics.

New executive creative director is Danny DelPurgatorio, along with three cohorts, who were transported here from Radium/Reel FX, Dallas, a prominent movie and TV commercial/effects company with a Santa Monica office.

New team members from Dallas are art directors Matt Behary, a Cincinnati native, and Rob Foster, originally from Tampa.

mr. moqo enters the design scene

A new design studio, mr. moqo, headed by graphic designer Robert von Bjal, has opened in shared space with Hootenanny and fxphd, where he will become part of the collaboration among the creative media companies.

Von Bjal will provide entertainment and advertising clients with his brand of designimation, a unique blend of animated typography, mnemonics, branding and identity systems.

“I am not mr.

Story signs Andy Richter as spot director

ACTOR, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR ANDY RICHTER joined Story for exclusive representation as a commercial director ? the first time he is available to direct spots. Story will market the former Conan O’Brien “Late Night” sidekick for his comedic talents.

First assignment for Richter was directing Missouri Lottery spots for St. Louis agency, Adamson.

Story executive producer Cliff Grant says Richter is “extremely well prepared to step behind the camera.

Film Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office at the one year mark percolates with all kinds of projects

This month, Film Wisconsin marks two important milestone: The third anniversary its founding as private-public film advocacy group, and the first anniversary of formalizing it by opening what is comparable to a state film office in Milwaukee.

At the helm is Scott Robbe, one of founders and a former filmmaker who spent 20 years with cable networks in New York.

After working solo for a year, Robbe now has a staff of six. Full-time associate director, Melissa Musante, a local filmmaker, had been the volunteer director of the Milwaukee Film Festival.

The Wachowskis’ new North Side post/FX facility should focus favorable attention on local scene

The Wachowskis’ new North Side post and special effects studio will give Chicago the Hollywood glitz it has long needed to move it into the foreground of production.

The native South Siders of “The Matrix” fame, will open a high tech facility at 5645 N. Ravenswood in what had been the Ravenswood Studio, a scenic design shop.

The Wachowskis’ new North Side post and special effects studio will give Chicago the Hollywood glitz it has long needed to move it into the foreground of production.

The Wachowskis’ glitzy new special effects studio should provide new jobs

The Wachowskis’ new North Side post and special effects studio will give Chicago the Hollywood glitz it has long needed to move it into the foreground of production.

The native South Siders of “The Matrix” fame, will open a high tech facility at 5645 N. Ravenswood in what had been the Ravenswood Studio, a scenic design shop.

Given the Wachowskis well-known propensity for privacy, little is known about the studio operation, such as the official date of opening, staff size or whether local artists will be hired or all imported from L.A.

Nick Celozzi and partners’ studio ramping up for non-stop production, including a DeNiro feature

Less than a year after three onetime Chicago actors launched their Chicago Motion Picture Studios (CMPS), they’re co-producing “20% Fiction,” with Robert De Niro as executive producer.

L.A.-based Nick Celozzi is a producer and his CMPS Chicago partners, Tony DeGuide and Nick Kanari, are co-producers of the dramatic comedy that shoots in L.A. in April and May.

The story about a disenchanted L.A. acting coach who seeks fulfillment in small town life was written by Barry Primus, DeNiro’s longtime acting coach, who will direct. Val Kilmer will star.

Kids cartoon king McClenahan gives scheming ?Edgar & Ellen’s’ Nicktoons series Star treatment

PREQUEL: Star Farm Productions’ flagship property, “Edgar & Ellen” cartoon series, is big business, supported by books, animated TV and an online community.

“Trick or Twins,” “Nobody’s Fool” and “Nod’s O-lympians” feature the scheming twins, who have been immensely popular with 6-12-year olds since Star Farms animated them from books created by Rick Carton.

In 2002, Carton, Trish Lindsay and Sara Berliner founded Star Farm Productions to produce “Edgar & Ellen.” Employing a staff of 32, the Farm is located in a 3,000-sq. ft. West Loop loft.

Neuberger produces music festival webcast

HANK NEUBERGER, Chicago’s sound guru, is currently in Palm Springs where he will head a 90-member crew, including lots of Chicago guys, to produce a three day webcast of the big annual Coachella Music Festival of contemporary rock and pop music.

The festival will be captured with 18 HD cameras, with video support provided by Trio Video.

It will run on website www.at&tblueroom.com for 10 hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The following weekend, the entire crew moves to the Empire Polo Field in nearby Indio, Calif.

Four Chicago features play in 23rd Annual Chicago Latino International Film Festival April 13-25

THE CHICAGO LATINO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL boasts four Chicago features among the lineup of 59 features and 31 shorts at its 23rd annual fest, April 13-25.

Jaime (“Dusk”) Mariscal’s second feature “Welcome Back To Barrio” follows a college kid (Ramses Jimenez) who returns to his old neighborhood and gets reeled into a gang conflict.

With Tony Ramirez, Carmen Cenko and Phil Camacho. David J. Miller of Mindlight Films produced and co-wrote with Mariscal. April 15 at 4 p.m. and April 17 at 10 p.m. at Facets Multi-Media, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave.

Felicia Middlebrooks’ award-winning Rwanda doc “Somebody’s Child” has first Chicago screening

WBBM news anchor and radio journalist Felicia Middlebrooks will screen her powerful, prize-winning 52-minute documentary, “Somebody’s Child: The Redemption of Rwanda” March 31, at Landmark’s Century Centre Cinema.

Producing the documentary “was a divine assignment,” Middlebrooks said while recalling the unexpected events that led her to record 44 hours on DVcam during two weeks in Rwanda in 2004.

“Somebody’s Child” chronicles why and how the genocide happened and the fate of survivors.

Sexton says goodbye to friends, heads for L.A.

THE WEATHER WAS FRIGID, but the feelings were warm as 50 guests said a fond good-bye to former IFO director Brenda Sexton at a party hosted by her friend, Chaz Ebert, at Gibson’s Monday night.

Sexton reminisced about some of the highlights and triumphs and individually thanked many of the people in the room for their support her during her four years at the IFO helm.

She remarked laughingly that she’d been told “nobody ever says no to me,” a testament to her sales ability as she sought sponsorship and cooperation for high profile IFO events.

“Happyness'” Chris Gardner in Wal-Mart spot

CHRIS GARDNER, whose determination to succeed was amazingly chronicled in the movie “Pursuit to Happyness,” appears in a Wal-Mart spot celebrating Black History Month.

Directors Corners’ Al Hawkins directed for E. Morris, Barb Stieglitz produced for the agency, The Whitehouse handled post and Gamebeat Studios the music.

Harpo to produce two primetime shows

THE QUEEN OF DAYTIME is headed for primetime. Oprah’s Harpo Productions sold two reality shows to ABC, the first time she’s attached her name to a weekly primetime series.

These are the first series to emerge from Harpo’s recently formed TV development group, headed by EVPs Ellen Rakieten and Harriet Seitler.

The shows will be shot in L.A. Oprah is said to appear in at least one of the two shows, although it’s not known if she’ll be the host on either one.

Harpo to produce two primetime shows

THE QUEEN OF DAYTIME is headed for primetime. Oprah’s Harpo Productions sold two reality shows to ABC, the first time she’s attached her name to a weekly primetime series.

These are the first series to emerge from Harpo’s recently formed TV development group, headed by EVPs Ellen Rakieten and Harriet Seitler.

The shows will be shot in L.A. Oprah is said to appear in at least one of the two shows, although it’s not known if she’ll be the host on either one.

No Vin Diesel “Transit” to Chicago; his pullout cancels the $30 mm feature due to shoot here

Actor Vin Diesel dealt an unexpected blow to Chicago when he reportedly pulled out as the star of Accent Pictures’ $30 million action-drama “Black Water Transit.” It was due to start shooting here July 31.

Five L.A. staffers had just begun to settle into offices at Chicago Studio City when they were told June 15 the movie was canceled and they returned to L.A.

Accent Pictures told CSC owner John Crededio that they would like to return to Chicago once the starring role was recast.

Elder’s “Piaf” concert doc set for U.S. distribution

GEORGE ELDER’S CONCERT DOC, “Piaf: Her Story ? Her Songs,” sung by French jazz singer Raquel Bitton, is set for June 19 release by Lionsgate to major national U.S. retailers and throughout Europe.

Elder first filmed Bitton, considered the greatest interpreter of Edith Piaf’s song, in concert in September 2001, and completed the 90-minute show two years later.

Elder’s Luminair will co-produce for the fifth season restaurateur Rick Bayless’ “One Plate at a Time” with Frontera Media Group.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

CHICAGO’S LOSS IS PITTSBURGH’S GAIN. When the Art Institute politely declined to serve as the setting for a new TV pilot about art thieves, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum said to come on over.

The pilot for CBS will shoot for about five days in Pittsburgh. Ray Liotta stars as “Smith,” the leader of gang looking to steal a pair of Rembrandts.

While the Art Institute wouldn’t have been identified as such, the Chicago setting, the stairs and lions nonetheless would’ve been a dead giveaway.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

L.A. POST HOUSE HIRES are Therese Hunsberger, Optimus’ executive producer overseeing all operation, while Cutters added editor Fernando Villena, both for their respective Santa Monica companies.

Award-winning Hunsberger is a 20-year post veteran who previously was FilmCore’s executive producer working on such high-profile commercials as Expedia, Gatorade, Geico and Toyota.

Major studios launch future of digital cinema

Technicolor Digital Cinema announcement of its long-awaited deployment plan for digital cinema will seismically altered the film distribution landscape.

The venture intends to deploy up to 5,000 DCI-compliant screens during the next three to four years. Over 10 years, Technicolor plans to take the system to a total of 15,000 screens, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Overwhelming industry support persuades Hudgins to keep IFO job

He’s back by popular acclaim. Bob Hudgins, deputy director of the Illinois Film Office, said he was convinced by “a long list of people” to remain on the job after he had tendered a Dec. 31 resignation.

Hudgins’ decision to get back to work caused a collective “whew” among the local community that has relied on his expertise for the past six years. They were also concerned about the consequences an unqualified replacement would have on the industry.

“Batman” brass gives high marks to city cooperation during three week shoot

“Batman” flew back to London Aug. 22 and downtown streets are back to normal after intense movie action was packed into a relatively short three week schedule.

Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal and CFO project coordinator Kathy Byrne began last January to clear the way for filming that required “the full force of city participation,” said Moskal.

“Virtually the entire downtown needed to be involved ? the CTA, Transportation, Bureau of Bridges, police and fire departments, Office of Emergency Management and the city,” he said.

TV pro Jon Katzman to head Columbia College’s Semester in L.A. Program

After a seven month search to fill the vacancy, Columbia College named 15-year Hollywood entertainment executive Jon S. Katzman as the director of its popular five-week Semester in L.A. Program.

He will be the second director in the program’s six-year history. The six-year old program was founded and directed by Bob Enrietto, who died suddenly late last December.

Said Columbia president Warrick L.

Caped protector “Batman” flies into city with famous friends this summer

The city will be replete with A-list actors when the fifth in the “Batman” series films in Chicago starting in late July and running through August.

“Batman Begins” is directed by Christopher Nolan and written by David Goyer. Filming started last week in Iceland and then moves to London before coming here. Chicago production budget is unknown at this time.

“Batman” co-stars “American Psycho” actor Christian Bale as Batman and Oscar winner Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler, Alfred. Gary Oldman plays Lt.

Doubling 2003’s $25.6 million for features/TV is this year’s IFO goal

Feature business last year in Illinois was not only a heckuva lot better than it first appeared ? and it also looks like it’s going to significantly improve in 2004.

Clocking in at $25.6 million in direct expenditures, revenues for 2003 dipped only $2 million from 2002’s $27.6 million. Using the 2.5 multiplier, $45 million flowed into the local economy from movies.

Less than half the total came from the $12 million spent by the just-released “Barber Shop II,” the only feature filmed in its entirety in Chicago last summer.

Reeling LGBTQ+ International Film Festival lineup

Reeling will celebrate its 38th anniversary this fall with a new virtual edition of the second-oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in the world. Showing 30 features, 54 shorts across eight shorts programs from 21 countries, Reeling will offer home viewers access to new films not currently available on commercial streaming platforms. Over the course of 11 days – … Continue reading “Reeling LGBTQ+ International Film Festival lineup”

Entertainment lawyer Jay B. Ross to receive CMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award Jan. 27

The guy who responds to “how are you today” with “not bad for a beginner” will receive a prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the 27th annual Chicago Music Awards Jan. 28.

Honoree Jay B. Ross, who has a mile-long list of achievements in the music field, has been an entertainment lawyer in Chicago for 40 years.

A full house of 1,500 is expected at Park West for the CMA awards recognizing outstanding Chicago entertainers and others in the music industry in 42 categories.

Oprah’s contract to be extended?

It looks like Oprah may not leave her show in 2006 after all. It’s been reported she could renew through the 2007-08 season with distributor King World and the seven ABC-owned stations that carry the show to an average audience of about 26 million viewers a week.