“ER’s” John Wells returns with new TV series

“ER” executive producer John Wells is returning to Chicago Jan. 13 to shoot scenes for the pilot for his new Showtime series, “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy.

Like “ER,” “Shameless” is set in Chicago and it, also, will be filmed in Los Angeles while local crews will shoot exteriors quarterly to catch the changing seasons.

Roger Anderson of Sterling Films, who was Wells’ Chicago producer/production manger on “ER” for 14 of its 15 years on NBC, heads the local shoot. Anderson anticipates working with a crew of 80 to 90 and 130 extras and mentioned that a few of the actors may be cast here.

Location scouting takes place here Thursday and Friday.

Emmy winner and Oscar nominee Macy, who starred as Dr. David Morgenstern in 31 “ER” episodes, reunites with Wells in “Shameless” to head the cast as Frank Gallagher, a father whose wife has left him with a very unconventional family of six kids fending for themselves.

“Shameless” is an American TV adaptation of a successful British show that has aired for six years in the U.K. For five of those years, Wells attempted to land the show for the U.S.

In the U.S. version, the Gallagher family has been transplanted to working class Chicago during the challenging times of today’s recession.

Macy is the alcoholic patriarch who usually ends up passed out on the living room floor, while his 18-year-old daughter has the task of keeping her five younger brothers and sisters on the straight and narrow, a task that usually proves impossible.

Macy spent has strong Chicago ties — although it’s rumored he did not want he to live in Chicago to film the series.

He moved to Chicago after college graduation in 1971 and spent the next nine years of his formative acting years working in the theatre.

In 1975 he became a founding member of the St. Nicholas Theater, with David Mamet and writer Steven Schachter, where he originated the role of Bobby in Mamet’s “American Buffalo.”

When “ER” ended last April, Wells was presented with a Local 476 gold card, in appreciation for what he did for the local film industry. Over “ER’s” 1994-2009 run, the series pumped about $33.5 million into the local economy.

Working on Anderson’s crew will be production supervisor/accountant Kathe’ Walton; key grip Bradley Matthys; gaffer, Ron Lahey; makeup, Dee Dee; hair, Pam Malone; script, Mary Tallman; transportation coordinator, Calvin Chin; stunts, Rick LeFevour; decorator, Dan Clancy, effects, Don Parsons and location manager Robin Breen.