Cinematographers gather Saturday at Fletcher

EMMY WINNING CINEMATOGRAPHER Bob Primes (“Sleeper Cell,” 14 episodes of “Felicity”) heads the speakers at the all-day SOC Midwest Camera Operators Workshop March 24 at Fletcher Chicago.

He’ll be joined by Chicago native Steven Poster, former president ASC and steadicam operator Larry McConkey (“The Good Shepherd.”) Steve Fracol of Kanas City organized the event.

BETSY STEINBERG, the new IFO director just six weeks on the job, was the guest of honor at a lavish reception hosted by members of the Illinois Production Alliance Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel, which outdid itself in service, food and venue.

Among the nearly 100 guests were Jonathan Towers, with whom Steinberg worked for after coming to Chicago from Washington, D.C., Michael Smith, the new head of the treasurer’s Lights, Camera, Illinois! filmmakers loan program — who assures the program is back in play — and American Airlines’ government liaison June Taylor.

WE HEAR that after a 14-year partnership, spot director John Komnenich and his executive producer Judy Friedman have parted ways. Friedman is now freelancing. FYI: Another lengthy partnership is in the throes of a divorce. Stay tuned, exclusively in The Reel.

AT LEAST KRAFT FOODS kept its Miracle Whip business in Chicago when it awarded the account to DDB after more than 70 years at JWT. Billings unknown.

BUT APPLEBEE’S MAY DEPART. The restaurant chain has put its $175 million advertising business in review, ending its seven-year relationship with DraftFCB.

NEW FACES AT IFP. New assistant director Lynn Steadman comes from Ann Arbor and Chicago International film festivas as a programming associate ? The new position of development director is being filled by Colleen O’Neill, formerly with IFP/L.A. who moved her in 2003.

AT THE SAME TIME it’s hasta la vista to managing director Molly Hansen now in L.A. working on a film from former Chicagoans Ben Berkowitz and Ben Redgrave’s Benzfilm to be shot here ? And to Apphia Parsons, IFP’s interim assistant director since Jan. 1, who leaves March 16 for new challenges. She’d come from assistant producer at Steppenwolf Films.

“PROJECT RUNWAY” wends its way to Chicago April 3 as part of its four-city search for fashion designers. Other cities are L.A., New York and Miami. The show airs over Bravo.

EBEL’S BASS STUDIOS has reopened as a rental facility. The original 5,500-sq. ft. garage was rehabbed several years ago at a cost of $400,000. Upgrades are new floors, lighting, heating and air conditioning.

IN MEMORIAM. Funeral services were held Friday for Sterling “Red” Quinlan, who in the early ’80s led the Chicago Coalition, the voluntary organization that catapulted a nearly non-existent spot production into a $40 million industry.

Mr. Quinlan, 90, who died of heart failure, had been a television pioneer and innovator, creating the late night talk show format, among many other types of shows. He was a mentor and supporter of movie director William Friedkin back when Friedkin was a show director at Ch. 7, which Mr. Quinlan headed.

Mr. Quinlan later ran Ch. 32 and after the station was sold, he became a highly regarded broadcast consultant. ch. 11 was one of his clients for many years. He also was the author of five books about the television business.

Within the 1980-1985 years of Mr. Quinlan’s Coalition leadership, spot production soared from sales of $5 million to $40 million, through a concerted effort of selling the economic advantages of working in Chicago to locally-based advertisers and their agencies.

Although agencies at first were incensed at Mr. Quinlan’s audacity in approaching their, in short order he had converted them into active Coalition members and allies.

Mr. Quinlan is survived by his wife, Mary, and two sons. For those wishing to send condolence cards, Mary Quinlan’s address is 5121 Harvey, Western Springs, 60558.

RICH KOZ, AKA “SVENGOOLIE” will host the TV Academy’s 2007 Silver Circle Awards May 4 at the Drake Hotel.

Honored for their television contributions are producer Len Aronson, reporter Muriel Clair, scenic designer Jack Hakman, news anchor/reporter Robert Jordan, producer/writer/reporter Mary Laney, director Phil Ruskin and producer/camerawoman/editor Hedy Zussman.