DeGeneres to EP NBC reality show to shoot here in July

Ellen DeGeneres

AN NBC NETWORK reality show will start filming in Chicago in July.  Ellen DeGeneres’ company is producing eight episodes of “First Dates” with Shed Media, part of the alternative division at Warner Bros. 

“First Dates” follows a group of couples as they embark on first dates at the same restaurant. A variety of production techniques are used to probe the questions of whether or not the two are clicking and if there will be a second date.

The series is based on a popular UK TV show, Variety reports. 

QURIOSITY PRODUCTIONS brings the number of directors it represents to 13 with the addition of Chicago’s Will Meyers and tabletop director Kingvoon Chong, based in Malaysia, reports Jennifer Lumpkin, senior producer and director of sales.

Meyers spent 10 years as a freelance producer for big agencies before branching out into directing. “His specialty is visual storytelling and light comedy and he’s also working on a personal comedy webseries,” she says.

Tabletop director Kingvoon Chone, who currently is being bid for Leo Burnett jobs, started on his culinary path as a chef at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, worked in great restaurants around the world and transitioned into food styling and tabletop directing.

AT THE WHITEHOUSE, its Cap Gun Collective production division signed Barcelona-based Daniel Benmayor for US representation. Building on his resume of working for worldwide agencies and brands, Benmayor also directs features.  His most recent of three is the action drama “Tracers,” starring Taylor Lautner.  It’s currently in theatrical release and on VOD.

ACTORS ALERT. Marisa Ross Casting is calling for non-union actors to audition for roles in The Onion and web projects, Thursday, April 2, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the iO Theater, 1501 N Kingsbury.  The call is open to all ages and ethnicities.  Onion Open Call Sides tells you what the shoot is all about.

Ross reminds actors that your audition is on file if you’ve attended a previous open call.

CHANGING TIMES.  Ogilvy’s recently laid off approximately 5% of its local staff, or between 15 to 25 employees who left the agency … Cramer-Krasselt released its first campaign for new client Bic Men’s Razors, which aims to teach men “how to be a gentleman” in various settings … Droga5 no longer is the lead creative agency for Chobani Greek Yogurt since the company took most of its marketing in-house and will work with “project-based agency partners” … Calabash Animation signed Ilene Silberman of Silberman Productions, New York as its new East Coast sales rep, succeeding Ice Tea Productions.  Lauren McNamara is Calabash’s Midwest rep.

ONE OF THREE CO-CHAIRS for the national 2015 AICE Awards Curatorial Committee is Utopic editor Craig Lewandowski, along with editors Chris Franklin of Big Sky Edit, New York and Bob Spector of Beast, San Francisco.  Other Chicagoans on the Committee are Cutters’ Kathryn Hempel and Particle Audio’s Katy Mindeman.  Winners will be announced at the AICE Awards Show May 14 at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA.

MORE AGENCIES, MORE FILMMAKERS, MORE NEWS.  Send details of your latest project, award, hire et al to