Christy LeMaster new director of IFP/Chicago

TAKING OVER THE REINS of the Independent Feature Project, Chicago’s 25-year old hub of indie filmmaking is Christy LeMaster, who has run IFP’s recent and successful fund-raising galas. She succeeds Ryan Jewell, who returned to his native Oklahoma City for family reasons.

LeMaster, who has a Masters in English from Truman State University, has a background in programming film festivals, starting with the True or False doc fest in Columbia, Mo. She’s been the Chicago Underground Film Festival coordinator since 2005 and also with the Chicago Children’s International Film Festival since 2005.

She also contributors film stories to WBEZ and writes the listing of underground screenings for Cine-file.com.

BARCELONA CREATIVE GROUP is generously helping to fill a local food pantry by holding an Open House and Food Drive for non-perishable food items Nov. 22 at its office at 12416 S. Harlem in Palos Heights. A raffle will also help the cause.

“REAL TO REEL: From Stage to Film and Back Again” is the SAG/AFTRA and Actors Equity panel 6 p.m. Monday night at the Kaufherr Center, with local film, TV and stage Ed Kross, Becca Spence and Cedric Young and talent agent Jennifer Rudnicke.

AFTER 15 YEARS as a solo practitioner, entertainment law specialist Linda Mensch has joined the international law firm of Bryan Cave LLP. Her new phone number is 312/602-5049. Mensch has long represented music artists and movie projects.

CHANGING TIMES: Producer Jeff Tudor on Nov. 8 joins Big Shoulders as staff producer. He’s been with Resolution Digital Studios practically since it started in early 2005, where he produced “The Moleman of Belmont Avenue,” and many webcasts and broadcasts.

“I’m excited to be working downtown again,” he tells the Reel. Previously Tudor worked at Broadview Media on Ohio Street for three years and prior to that he was with CNN in the Tribune Tower.

LEO BURNETT’S LOSS of the Blackberry account was the reason given for downsizing more than 30 people from the staff.

BOB WINTER JOINS Y&R as chief creative officer of the Chicago office, starting in December, moving over from Leo Burnett where he was SVP/ECD for more than three years. He succeeds Ken Erke whose departure shocked Michigan Avenue when he joined digital agency R/GA a few months ago as executive creative director. Erke joined Y&R in 2000 from Cramer/Krasselt.

Sidebar: Nick Traxler who left Leo Burnett to join the Martin Agency in Richmond, Virgina, is now working for Y&R, New York.

AS SCOOPED IN THE REEL back in early August, best selling “The Devil in the White City” novel by Erik Larson was in the process of becoming a movie, that casting was already taking place in New York and it would be shot in Chicago in 2011.

Now it’s official: Leonardo DiCaprio will star in “White City” as the first known serial killer, the evil Dr. H. H. Holmes, who killed a slew of women during Chicago’s 1893 Columbian World’s Fair.

The movie will be produced by Chicago native Michael Shamberg, who’s currently in town with star-laden “Contagion.”

Shamberg said it will take about nine months before the script ? to be written by an Academy Award winning screenwriter — and casting are completed. So it looks it’ll be 2012 before the fabled White City” will rise again in Chicago.

In August we reported since the book was published in 2003, book rights had been bought and expired and bought again and nothing happened. DiCaprio, who had his eye on the story for a long time, waited patiently until the book rights were again available and snapped them up.

Meanwhile, we’re told the producers are tweaking the storyline to heighten the drama.

ABC HAS PICKED UP another five episodes of the Detroit homicide cop show, “Detroit 1-8-7,” thus extending the series to Dec. 17. After a short hiatus, the show returns on Jan. 3 and another nine episodes are pending. All good news for Fletcher Chicago which is supplying cameras for the series.

Seasoned UPM Roger Anderson will handle the Nov. 10-15 second unit exterior shots for “Shameless,” the upcoming Showtime series set in Chicago, starring William Macy as the boozy widowed father of six. Anderson is an experienced hand at this, having produced 15 years of “ER’s” quarterly filming here.

HOLIDAY PARTY NOTICES start with the Chicago Latino Network’s 10th annual Toy Drive at Tantrik, 800 W. Superior, starting at 5:30 p.m. Brings toys ? or $30.

SPECIAL GUEST at the Nov. 17 Filmmaker Meetup at Chicago Filmmakers will be Julian Grant, writer/director of “The Defiled,” a new horror film that premiered at CIFF. Grant has produced and directed more than 25 features.

BECAUSE BARRI EVANS’ BIG IDEAS’ screenwriting seminar Nov. 12-14 will be an immersion weekend, i.e., long, intense hours, it’ll be held in a private Edgewater home for a small group of 10. L.A.-based Evans, an NU grad, approaches her material from a producer’s level ? “to help writers discover the right idea for them to write. I’m interested in catapulting careers quickly and I love to work with new writers,” she tells the Reel.

Before forming her own company, Evans worked her way up through the executive ranks starting as a development executive. One of her first projects was “Assassins,” the Wachowski brothers’ first screenplay.

Ultimately, she supervised and packaged numerous major movie studios and cable networks. She’s currently in development of a character-driven dramatic thriller starring Tobey Maguire, who will both star and co-produce.

For more information about the seminar and to register, see SIGNUP@bigbigideas.com.

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