DOCUMENTARIAN KEN BURNS comes to Chicago Sept. 16 to speak at a luncheon and presentation for his new book, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” at the Union League Club.
The six-episode PBS series of the same name, directed by Burns and written and co-produced by Dayton Duncan, who co-wrote the book, will air this fall. The series recounts the adventures, mythmaking and intense political battles behind the evolution of the park system and the ideals that fostered its growth.
“CHICAGO OVERCOAT,” Beverly Ridge Productions’ mob drama produced in 2007, has the prestigious distinction of being one of only five U.S. films — out of 20 from throughout the world — selected for screening at the 45th Chicago International Film Festival Oct. 8-21.
Beverly Ridge was formed by writer/producer John Bosher, with “Chicago Overcoat” director/writer Brian Caunter, producer William Maursky, casting director Chris Charles, cinematographer Kevin Moss, and production designer Philip Plowden.
ANOTHER CONTRACT SETTLED: SAG and the motion picture and TV producers alliance reached agreement on a new, two-year contracts in TV animation and basic cable animation, expiring June 30, 2011.
The new terms include: Annual wage increases of 3% retroactive to June 10, 2009, a 3.5% hike one year later and a .5% increase in pension contributions.
WHAT’S UP with the Chicago Convergence (TCC)? Almost a month has gone by without knowing whether or not the 2009 Convergence Summit will be held as scheduled, Sept. 21-23 at the Spertus Institute.
In late July, new TCC president Bruce Montgomery told the Reel that the Summit was “on hold,” while TCC Leadership Committee pondered the Summit’s “direction and content,” much of which already had been arranged. Since then, dead silence.
Montgomery recently succeeded TCC founder John Patterson who relocated to L.A. earlier this year to work on feature production for Pixel Brothers’ in Chicago.
PRESSURE POINT, a South Loop recording studio where artists like R. Kelly and Beyonce have recorded, is facing foreclosure from U.S. Bank N.A., which is seeking to collect nearly $1.46 million on a loan.
The bank alleges that Pressure Point, Studios hasn’t made a payment on the loan’s original amount of $1.3 million since December. Pressure Point denied the nonpayment allegation and said they are working to resolve the dispute.
VOICEOVER ACTRESS SHERRI BERGER has put her cast of voice characters to work in a new and successful venture — recording audio books.
A current book she narrates, “Back Home Again,” by Melody Carlson, has just been released by Oasis Audio. Praise from the publisher: “Berger depicts seemingly effortlessly the personalities of three matronly sisters,” who live in a quaint village in simpler times.
REEL MICHIGAN: Michigan Filmmaker of the Year, Rich Brauer who has directed TV spots to features for more than 25 years, will be honored at the Michigan Film Festival, Aug. 28 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum Auditorium.
Following the presentation, there will be an outdoor screening of the Brauer-directed “Mr. Art Critic,” a homegrown comedy starring Bronson Pinchot, filmed on Mackinac Island.
NEW AT ARU: An upgrade to the newest IMAX technology in all five of its Wrigley Building recording studios.
IN MEMORIAM. A memorial service in Hollywood is planned for Sept. 27 for producer Jim Dennett, 75, who died Aug. 11 at his home in Topanga, California of lung cancer. Chicago native Andrew Davis is one of dozens of filmmakers around the country who credit Mr. Dennett as their mentor and many say they owe him their careers. Said Davis, “Jim gave me my first job.”
A charter member of the Chicago chapter of the DGA, in 1966 he co-founded the Film Group with Mike Gray and Bill Cottle. Besides producing commercials, the Film Group was known for its award-winning documentaries about the upheaval of American society at that time.
After moving to Hollywood in 1972, Mr. Dennett worked as an assistant director and production manager on features, including director Davis’ “The Fugitive,” film, Mike Gray’s “The China Syndrome” and many TV series.