IFO fielding calls about locations and incentives

IFO DIRECTOR BETSY STEINBERG is optimistic that Chicago will enjoy “a very busy summer” of Hollywood entertainment projects, based on the calls the offices has been fielding about locations and tax incentives.

That’s good to hear, since May marks the tenth month that Chicago has not not hosted any Hollywood movies or TV shows, excepting a nine-day reality pilot shoot. The sole local film was the indie “Polish Bar.”

Two TV series whose first seasons shot in Chicago have vaporized away. TNT’s “Leverage” opted to shoot the next 15 episodes in Portland, Ore., instead of continuing to shoot in Chicago. A&E’s “The Beast’s” is on hold as its star Patrick Swayze heroically fights cancer.

ASPIRING FASHION DESIGNERS will audition for a spot on “Project Runway” season 7 this coming weekend at an invitation-only casting session at the James Hotel. Chicago is one of the five auditioning cities, along with Atlanta, L.A., New York and Seattle.

Production company Bunim-Murray is no stranger to the city, having produced reality show “Starting Over” here a few years ago. Season 7 will air on Lifetime, a switch from its previous six seasons on Bravo.

THE LUNA FILM FESTIVAL of 10 short films by, for and about women, will be held this Saturday at Victory Gardens. The sponsor is LUNA, maker of high protein XXX Clif bars. Beneficiaries are two worthy causes: the Respitory Health Association to prevent lung disease and the Breast Cancer Fund. More details about this and other events in Screenings & Events.

CHICAGO DRAMATISTS TURNS 30 and it will hold the Blue Moon Ball May 31 at the Galleria Marchetti to celebrate. Founded by artistic director Russ Tutterow, Chicago Dramatists is a non-profit theater dedicated to the development of new plays and playwrights that contribute to the American theatre repertory.

THE SAG/AFTRA OFFICE bid adieu last Friday to Gwen Guy-McDaniels, who retired after 26 years with the organization. She’d been the unions’ commercial and broadcast contracts administration.

Earlier, she had been in the record business here, starting with DJ records, a division of legendary Chess Records, recently portrayed in the movie, “Cadillac Records.”

THE REELINK FAIR, where business networking rises to a new level, takes place Saturday, Aug. 15 at Essanay Studios.

Hosted by REELCHICAGO, it’s the first showcase of the area’s visual media’s professional services and resources in 15 years. The day will include a mini-expo, leading experts on ways to improve your business and a cocktail reception. Stay tuned.

WHAT A YEAR IT’S BEEN for globe trotting producer Misty Tosh. She is back in her Chicago home after a rewarding month of humanitarian work in a tiny Indonesian village through her 4th World Love nonprofit.

Before that, she and her team spent eight months producing the “Southern Belles” reality show that will debut on SOAPnet May 21 at 9 p.m. central time.

Produced by Lifetime Television, “Belles” was shot in Louisville with five pretty, young (24-34) women with “issues” to be discovered and resolved during the course of the series.

AN INSPIRED VENUE for IFP’s 3RD annual gala on Sept. 25 is theWit, the new hotel opening May 27 at 201 N. State. TheWit, a Doubletree hotel, is both the host and premiere sponsor of the fund-raising event.

One of its attractions will be SCREEN, a super deluxe HD theatre that seats 40, designed with the most cutting-edge projection and audio technology available today.

Last year’s gala at Salvage One raised $65,000 to support the IFP’s various programs throughout the year.

FCB ALUMS OF THE ’80S are invited to to FCB-APALOOZA, July 16 at what is now 435 N. Rush, or Riccardo’s if you remember that far back.

To take part in the nostaligic night, Charlie Robb, a former FCB ACD, now running the Charchin ad agency in Port St. Lucie, Florida at