Hugos to be SRO when it honors Joe Pykta at TV/spot festival March 11

Joe Pytka needs no introduction. The King of Commercials ? the director who’s made billions of dollars for the biggest advertisers in the world, the winner of every conceivable commercial award, including three DGA Commercial Direction Awards, whose commercials have appeared 30 times on the Super Bowl ? will be in Chicago, in person, to win still another award.

This one is a Career Achievement Award and tribute at Park West March 11 from the Hugo Awards, a division of the Chicago International Film Festival. The great Pytka was recommended as the worthiest of recipients by Film Festival board members, old friends and clients Bob Scarpelli of DDB and Jonathan Harries of FCB.

The presentations will include highlights from the mind-blowing 5,000-plus spots Pytka has directed over his 30-year career. They include such memorable icons as Ray Charles’ “Uh-huh,” an archeology dig recovering a Coke bottle, and Cindy Crawford for Pepsi; Bo Jackson’s “Bo knows;” Larry Bird and Michael Jordan doing “Nothing but Net” for McDonald’s; the immortal Ed and Frank of Bartles and James saying “Thank you for your support.”

And who can forget his four post 9/11 New York City Miracle PSAs ? Woody Allen skating and Henry Kissinger sliding into home plate.

Pytka, a Pittsburgh native, was an athlete and aspiring painter. He originally studied chemical engineering at the University of Pittsburgh but dropped out. He landed a job at WRS Motion Picture & Video Lab where he first learned his craft by working on documentaries. His Iron City beer spots caught the attention of a San Francisco-based rep, a turning point in his life.

You’ll learn and see more at the Hugo Awards. Since it’s certain to be SRO, our recommendation is to reserve now. Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker hosts the ceremony. Cocktails etc. at 5:30, presentation at 7:30. Tickets range from $50 to $125 and can be bought by calling 312/425-9400 or Emailing info@chicagofilmfestival.com.

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