Christmas feature films here next month

SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN in the person of Paul Giamatti when the Vince Vaughn starrer “Fred Claus” starts shooting here Jan. 7 for a full month.

Vaughn plays Santa’s bitter older brother, and the movie also stars Kathy Bates, John Michael Higgins, Ludacris, Miranda Richardson, Kevin Spacey and Rachel Weisz. Director is David Dobkin (“Wedding Crashers”).

A production office has been operating out of Chicago Studio City for two months where sets are being built in all three stages for a full month of filming.

The crew then hits locations to capture Chicago in full Christmas regalia. Fletcher Chicago provided the crew’s Arri 435 and ultra prime lenses.

DIRECTOR/CAMERAMAN JOHN WASSEL was the only non-TV station person to win a regional Emmy for “Upscale Chicago,” a magazine-format show that ran on UPN but will bow over Fox Dec. 9 at midnight.

Executive producer is Laura Grochocki of Upscale TV/Haute House Entertainment, and host is William Kelly, a former writer for posh “CS” (“Chicago Social”) magazine.

“Upscale Chicago” has achieved an enviable status as being one of only four Chicago-produced shows on local TV. The others are Ch. 11’s long-running “Chicago Tonight” and “Check, Please,” and Ch. 7’s “191 North.”

THREE WINNERS of the 7th biennial Illinois/Chicago Screenwriting Competition are filmmakers, actor/playwright Mike Houlihan for “Ballhawk;”’s Frederick Mensch for “Bones,” and Cliff Zimowski for “Lunch and Learn.”

They received cash prizes and a trophy and their scripts will be submitted to Hollywood producers for consideration.

HADRIAN’S WALL is the second shop to be sold to out-of-town buyers in approximately one month. Talent agency Voices Unlimited was acquired by L.A. ‘s Innovative Artists in October.

MERGER MANIA continues unabated until one day there will be one holding company for all the agencies in the world, just like Disney will own all the TV stations and Rupert Murdock all the newspapers. Word is that Publicis Groupe (Leo Burnett here)is deciding whether or not to acquire Interpublic Group of Cos.

If so, the merger would create a $12 billion colossus with a client list topped by the world’s two largest automakers and two of the world’s largest package-goods players.

A NEW CAREER for Calabash founder Ed Newman?illustrating children’s books for Moo Press, the children’s division of Keene Publishing of New York, and not a far stretch from his 20 years of drawing animated advertising characters.

Newman’s latest is “Marvin Monster’s Teacher Jitters,” a story for 6-to-9 year olds whose moral is “learn not to listen to or believe in the gossip you hear,” he says.

CALABASH REMAINS BUSY as always with spots for Lucky Charms and Trix/Saatchi-New York, but finds time to produce on its third animated short, “Botnik” about a beatnik, written and directed by Jackie Brennan. Calabash’s staff of nine full-time staffers and freelancers pitch in to help on drawers. It should be finished early next year.

BROADVIEW UPDATE. Assurance was given Rich Hawksworth that he can remain in Broadview’s long-time space at 142 E. Ontario through January or until the 7,500-sq. ft. space is sublet. Meanwhile, Hawksworth is in negotiations on new space a block away. He says, “With the buildout and everything, we probably won’t be relocated until April.”

FACTOIDS: An AAF study reveals that most advertising leaders believe that 10 to 29% of TV ad dollars will shift to broadband video by 2011 … Not only that, but online video spending will grow to $1.3 billion in 2011 from $251 million in 2005, according to a Jupiter Research study.

The growth will outplace other forms of display advertising, nearly tripling video advertising’s share of the online display ad market.