Government staffers largest group among film Task Force appointees

The highly touted Task Force for the film industry that DCEO director Jack Lavin assured would help lead filmmaking to new heights has been named. As a matter of fact, two weekly meetings at the State of Illinois building have already been held and committees formed.

It’s difficult, however, to determine the rationale for the appointment of some of the 22-members of the Task Force. While each has expertise in his own field ? few can top the credentials of AFL-CIO president Margaret Blackshere, for instance ? the Task Force appears devoid of members with genuine, hands-on production experience, and business owners with long-term, major investments in the community. Exurban and Downstate filmmakers are noticably absent.

Of the 22 members, nine are paid by the state/city; three represent labor interests; three have distant filmmaking affiliations; two are non-Illinois residents and two represent television interests.

Task Force members are (categorized by current position):

Production: Mark Egmon, IPA president and commercial producer, and Bob Teitel, the Chicago-connected feature producer, are the only two with hands-on production experience, although the IFO’s Bob Hudgins and the CFO’s Rich Moskal have production backgrounds.

State/city employees: DCEO’s Jack Lavin, DCEO’s public information officer Laura Hunter; IFO’s Brenda Sexton, deputy director Bob Hudgins, and newly-appointed diversity officer Joyce Davis, whose background includes legislative liaison for state comptroller Dan Hynes, and communications specialist for House Speaker Michael Madigan. The CFO’s Rich Moskal.

Five Task Force committees:

Diversity: John Bellamy, Sharon King, Margaret Blackshere, Randy Crumpton, Ricky Hendron, Vans Stevenson and Pepe Vargas.

Infrastructure: John Bellamy, Randy Crumpton and Ricky Hendon.

Investment funding: John Bellamy, Randy Crumpton, Ricky Hendon, Sharon King, Rich Moskal, Bruce Sheridan, Vans Stevenson and Pepe Vargas.

Legislative: Margaret Blackshear, Randy Crumpton, Tim Evans, Ricky Hendon, Bruce Sheridan and Vans Stevenson.

Sales and marketing: Tim Evans, Rich Moskal and Ricky Hendon.

Legislators: Skip Saviano and Ken Dunkin, House representatives and sponsors of the wage tax credit bill and the Senate sponsor Ricky Hendon.

Labor: Margaret Blackshere, Illinois AFL-CIO president, and a member of the AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils; Local 476 secretary-treasurer Paul Oddo and the Teamsters’ secretary-treasurer Bob Hogan.

Non-Illinois residents: Bob Teitel and Vans Stevenson of the MPAA, Washington, D.C.

Others: Dunkin’s campaign manager and attorney Randy Crumpton; John Bellamy, head of Artistic Communication Center; Sharon King, extras casting; Bruce Sheridan, Columbia College’s film department chair; Tim Evans, Steppenwolf development director and Pepe Vargas, founder/director of the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

Television: Jerry Rose, founder/president of the Total Living Network, and former owner of Ch. 38, and Cheryl Curry of Harpo Productions.

It’s not known where the nominations for Task Force appointees came from. Recommendations ostensibly were made by the governor’s office, which has to rely on others and they may have lacked knowledge of the community’s long-time and committed leaders, who would have made significant contributions in their areas of expertise.