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

Kelsey Grammer, “The Boss” of Chicago

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.

A pilot for “Playboy,” about the Playboy Bunnies and club of the 1960s, will shoot for two weeks starting March 14. Brian Glazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television are producing for NBC.  

On March 18, CW’s “Cooper and Stone” will spend 8 days filming a  “presentation pilot” for CBS Television execs, directed by John Dahl (“Californication,” “Justified”). The title refers to a pair of Chicago female detectives, a la “Cagney and Lacey,” who are best friends and as adept at discussing fashion, music and pop culture as they are in solving homicides.

Finally, “Shameless,” the Showtime series starring William H. Macy has been renewed for a second season.  A second unit crew films here monthly.  

RADAR ADDED STAFF as a result of “a lot of new business on the live action production side,” says executive producer Lisa Masseur, for Chicago’s Don Hoeg and Sam Macon, and L.A. based director Danny J. Boyle and animators/animation directors Walter Robot (comprised of Bill Barminski and Christopher Louie). 

New additions: Producer Eve Cross, who had freelanced for Radar, fills the new position of head of production.  Recent U of Iowa grad Stephanie Schertz serves as client services/marketing.  

Promoted: Graham Gangi to executive producer/post production from post producer, and James Henry to producer from associate producer.   

Recent projects: Playskool/Uproar, New York spots, directed by Hoeg and Boyle; a stop motion McDonald’s/TBWA, Paris spot shot by director Sam Macon in Paris and Walter Robot’s take on Jigazo self-portrait puzzle spot, also for Uproar.

CHARLIE SHEEN’S long-suffering and caring father, actor Martin Sheen, who had an Irish mother and Spanish father, will be a narrator at Old St. Pat’s 15th annual Siamsa na nGael. The celebration of Celtic Arts of music, dancing and storytelling takes place March 16 at Symphony Center.  Tickets, $25-$55, go fast and can be purchased at cso.org.  

SEN. RICKEY HENDON attributed his abrupt resignation from the state legislature after 17 years to disgust over the low turnout of black voters in the recent mayoral election.  Hendon denied resigning over any “federal problems,” although he took leave- not too long after the U.S. Attorney’s Office began looking into state-funded grants made with Hendon’s assistance.

One such recipient was a for-profit agency run by his sister,  who received $1.08 million from two grants in 2007-08.  Of that, $650,000 was allegedly used to fund a $650,000 movie, shot in Chicago in 2008, that was never distributed and only recently surfaced on Video on Demand.

THE WINNER’S CIRCLE.  Filmmaker Steve Payne beat out 12 national finalists to take the $1,000 top prize in the 2010 Cult Video Short Contest, for his 8-minute horror film, “The Hawthorne Effect.”  It features local actors Chad Sheveland, Katie Mack and Ron Fitzgerald who, with his cape and fangs, is a popular vampire addition to many horror conventions. 

Years back, Payne had worked as a location scout, assistant cameraman and other in crew positions, and is a screenwriter with two optioned scripts.  He now works in Crate & Barrel’s office, “having reached an age where I needed stability in my life,” he says.

GEORGE ELDER’S Luminair and chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Media Productions won their first Tasty Award in L.A. for “Mexico,” the best single topic series among five competitors.  The show, which films in Mexico and Chicago, is getting ready for its 8th season, directed by Luminair’s Scott Dummler.

ENERGY BBDO won a Gold Pencil at the One Short Entertainment awards, also held in L.A. for Orbit gum’s “Dirty Shorts.”  The agency created the web series with DumbDumb, the L.A. digital content and production studio of Will Arnett and Jason Bateman

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU who told us how much you like the updated iteration of ReelChicago. The compliments rightly belong to designer Sean Maloney, who persuaded me on what today’s readers need and want in a news site, and programmer Eric Janofski.  

We’re in the process of making further changes.  One of them is providing you with a steady stream of news you can check out daily, instead of the outmoded “weekly issue” model, and notifying you of these stories via Facebook and Twitter. 

This also would be a good time to let us know what else we can do to make your Reel experience better, faster and more useful. Bring it on by Emailing ruth@reelchicago.com