Back to the future: 26 years of delivering exclusive news to an ever-changing industry

It’s d?j? vu all over again.

In January 1979 I was living and working out of a cozy apartment at 900 N. Michigan Ave. (now Bloomingdale’s and million dollar condos).

It was not an auspicious time. It was snowing, snowing and snowing. Snow fell on top of a 7-10-inch base left over from a New Year’s Eve blizzard, setting a record of 20.3-inches of new snow on the ground.

The Chicago film industry was as dark and bleak as the weather outside. Not a lot was happening that anyone really knew about, except that talent was fleeing to sunny California. Spot production was practically invisible. Industrial films and sales meeting business static.

To add to the joys of the New Year, SAG commercial actors were on strike.

Undeterred, or perhaps oblivious, but resolute, I launched the first issue January 29 of Screen Weekly Newsletter, the Indispensable Source of Production News.

Even as a four-page, typewritten newsletter, we forged a community where none existed before.

As it turned out, there was a lot more going on than anyone knew about. All it needed was some digging and exposure.

In time, by delivering news about abounding production activity, we were able to dispel the onerous Second City Syndrome that robbed our self-esteem and belief in Chicago as an important film center.

At no time prior to my Screen on the scene had the community’s noses been counted. We broke new ground and boosted pride by quantifying the community?categorically listing companies their sales grosses. The emerging picture was of a production center significantly bigger than anyone thought.

Over the years the newsletter evolved into the Original Screen Magazine (I have to make clear distinctions from its present, unrecognizable incarnation). During its 23 years under my baton, the Original Screen made huge and important contributions to the local community.

We were credited with helping to increase local spot business by 25%. From the start, Screen’s Best honored the best performances of the past year by companies and individuals. We created the Screen Bible, the first local production-specific directory. We hosted three well-attended equipment expos and seminars. SchmoozaRama was an instant success as a networking event.

As I said, it’s d?j? vu all over again.

I presently live and work just one block north of the old 900 N. Michigan building. I’m still delivering news via my 24/7 Web ?zine to a production community that’s technically and creatively a million miles from the community we first began serving in 1979.

I know it’s crass to ask for an anniversary present, but I’m going to do it anyway.

If you have any old copies of those Original Screen magazines in a box in your basement or garage, I would dearly like them. I will happily pay the postage if you mail individual copies, or arrange to pick them up if, luckily, you really do have a box tucked away.

Please phone me at 312/274-9980, or Email