Illinois is the “State of Romance” for NBC pilot

LOVE IS IN THE AIR for the first Hollywood project to be shot in Chicago so far this year, breaking the nine-month dry spell and portending more business ahead. The NBC half-hour pilot, “State of Romance,” gets underway March 30.

The half hour romantic comedy, described as a modern day “Pride and Prejudice,” will shoot for eight days entirely on location ? no sets called for at all.

Essanay is supplying the lighting and grip equipment. UPM is Rich Lederer (“The Beast”). Universal Media Studios is producing the single-camera project.

Writer-executive producers are Evanston natives Barbara Wallace and Tom Wolfe, whose company, Open 4 Business, LLC, has set up shop in rental offices at 2630 W. Bradley Place, the industrial complex that is also home to WGN.

Cast includes female lead Lindsey Broad (“Ghost Whisperer”), Grace Rex, Steve Howey and Zoe Lister Jones.

LEO BURNETT, ever-faithful to Chicago post houses, has distributed the postproduction of what will be 16 three-minute Olympic bid films to Cutters, FilmCore, Filmworkers Club, Optimus and The Whitehouse.

The films promoting the city of Chicago as the site of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, have to be finished in time for the April 2 weeklong visit of the Olympic Evaluation Committee. It will decide the site among contenders Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

CREATIVE CHICAGO EXPO, April 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cultural Center, is the sixth annual gathering of resources, services and expertise specifically for people in the arts, bringing the best of Chicago’s cultural community together under one roof.

More than 120 vendors and services, 21 wokshops and panel discussions by experts on topics specifically for individuals, arts organizations and small art businesses in film, literary, media, music, theatre, visual arts, dance and design. All this and free admission.

THE FACT THAT ANGELA BASSETT and her actor husband Courtney Vance were in town last week was a promising sign that they will set up shop here to produce their feature, “United States,” in June. The movie will be Bassett’s directorial debut.

REEL MICHIGAN: “Cracking the Genesis Code” is a Lifetime movie set to film in Grand Rapids in mid-April. The $5 million indie feature is about a college hockey player and his relationship with a female reporter at the school newspaper.

Michigan’s only other movie at this time is “Betty Ann Waters,” a bio drama starring Hilary Swank in the title role, with Sam Rockwell and Juliette Lewis that shot in Ann Arbor and other nearby locations and is about to wrap.

“THE MERRY GENTLEMEN,” the indie feature that was produced entirely in Chicago in 2007, screens at The Midwest Independent Film Festival April 7.

The screenplay was written by Draftfcb creative exec Ron Lazzeretti and the film marks the directorial debut of its star, Michael Keaton.

IMAX IN THE SUBURBS now that AMC South Barrington 30 will exhibit IMAX original films in both IMAX and IMAX? 3D starting Friday, March 27 with “Monsters vs. Aliens.”

The film has been digitally re-mastered into IMAX’s format exclusively for presentation in the IMAX auditorium.

LEGENDARY GEORGE LUCAS will be honored at the Gene Siskel Film Center annual fundraiser June 13 at the Four Seasons Hotel. He will receive the Center’s Visionary Award for Innovation in Filmmaking. Guest host is actor/ writer/director Jon Favreau.

“HANNAH FREE,” the indie feature shot here last November and starring Sharon Gless,, will have its world premiere at Frameline33: The San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.

It will screen on Pride Sunday, June 28, which is also the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

“Hannah” was produced by Tracy Baim, owner/editor of Windy City Times, written by co-producer and playwright Claudia Allen and directed by Wendy Jo Carlton.