Art gallery owner “Chit Chats” on CAN-TV

Executive producer David Leonardis has rounded up a diverse group of Chicagoans with celebrity status to discuss wide-ranging topics on his upcoming TV series, bowed Tuesday on CAN-TV at 10 p.m.

His show, “Chit Chat,” is a series of eight hourlong shows, with eight encores, and features established Wicker Park art gallery owner Leonardis and co-host Sarah Cooley, a reality show personality.

The premiere show gets red carpet treatment at The Joynt, a sophisticated retro club and live jazz bar in River North, where four “Chit Chats” were taped last winter.

Leonardis also writes a couple of online entertainment columns and said that moving into TV was “so cool, where I can talk about what I’m interested in.”

It turns out he has wide range of interests besides entertainment, as the shows sweeps across provocative questions to gain insight and opinions about sports (Cubs or Sox? Hold your head up high!), health care reform, the Chicago parking meter contract, current events (“why didn’t Elin Woods go to jail?” local and national politics, and, of course, art.

As for the type of guests Leonardis invited on the show, “I chose from people I know,” including several who have bought artwork from him for years. “Art collectors are better, more well-rounded people in my opinion,” he has concluded.

Leonardis’ diverse friends and acquaintances on the series include celebrity writer Bill Zehme; entertainer Joe Piscopo; socialite and website host Candace Jordan; Marty Casey of the alternative rock band Lovehammers.

And there’s Mark Thomas, owner of The Store sports bar; Cleo Wilson, formerly with Playboy Enterprises for many years; former Chs. 5 and 7 news anchor Joan Esposito and Stanley Wozniak, The Joynt owner.

The show was produced by Leonardis, directed and shot by Josh Copeland at Ari Golan’s Atomic Imaging studio and The Joynt and edited at Zaf Media — all on “a minimal budget,” with an eye towards sponsorship or being picked up by a local outlet.

One of the episodes that’s a particular favorite of Leonardis was shot at the Georgia museum of contemporary folk artist, Howard Finster, whose printed silk screens are carried in the gallery.

Celebrating its 18th year in business, the David Leonardis Gallery carries contemporary, pop and folk art, early 20th Century lithographs and photographs.

Said Leonardis, “Being able to promote art and culture on TV is another venue for me to creatively spread a message, share perspectives and promote artistic ideas.”

A red carpet “Chit Chat” screening party, open to the public, will be held at The Joynt, 650 N. Dearborn, starting at 6 p.m., followed by other parties: April 29 at The Shady Lady, 712 N. Clark, 8 p.m. and May 13 at Bob McCullough’s Pub and Billiards, 8 p.m., in Schaumburg.