It’s that time again: Optimus Block Party on Aug. 2

OPTIMUS 18TH ANNUAL BLOCK PARTY is right around the corner on Friday, Aug. 2 (always the first Friday in August) bringing together clients, colleagues and friends for its annual summer afternoon-into-night of fun.  “Yes, we’ll have a special guest as always,” someone well known and unexpected promises Gretchen Praeger, VP/managing director of Optimus post, and one of the party planners. 

Poster designed by Optimus’ senior designer Mark Butchko“There will be some fresh new additions, too, such as a dozen of our staff rotating as DJs throughout the night, and the usual  hot dog and ice cream trucks and catering by Volare,” the fine Italian restaurant across the street, she says.  The party rocks from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the street behind the Optimus building at Grand and St. Clair.

Praeger says in the 17 years she’s been with Optimus, she’s only missed one party.  That was in August, 2006, when her daughter was born.

LOCATION SPOT ACTION this week: L.A.-based Motion Theory is into its third week of an Exxon shoot for Interpublics’ Universal McCann.  Southwest Airlines starts shooting this weekend – not at the airport as one would expect, but at the Art Institute.

USING THEATRES TO PREVIEW TV is the innovative route AMC is taking. It will reveal the first episode of its new original, gritty Detroit-set drama, “Low Winter Sun,” at the Music Box Theatre July 29.  The Music Box is one of 20 movie houses across the US offering the public a sneak peak of the series bowing Aug. 11. 

Q&A after the 7 p.m. screening with series’ EP Chris Mundy (“Criminal Minds”) and cast members Mark Strong (“Zero Dark Thirty”) and Lennie James (“The Walking Dead”).  Moderator is Mark Binelli, contributing editor at Rolling Stone and author of “Detroit City is the Place to Be.”

The screening is free.  Guests, however, may donate to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America that provides mentoring services to help disadvantaged children improve in school. AMC will match donations.

FILMING UPDATES for TV series, according to Rich Moskal of the Chicago Film Office: “Chicago Fire” has started shooting its second season. ABC’s series “Betrayal” starts rolling today, while “Crisis,” “Sirens” and “Mind Games” are gearing up to start production in August. “Chicago PD” kicks off in September.

On the feature side: “Jupiter Ascending” films through Aug. 17 when “Transformers 4” cameras roll, through Sept. 28.  Reason to love them:  These two sci-fi epics are expected to generate $51 million in local jobs and economic development.

THE INFAMOUS CHICAGO 7, a controversial radical anti-war group of the ‘60s, will come to life again as Dreamworks revived the Adam Sorkin screenplay, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” that’s been languishing since 2008 when executive producer Steven Spielberg suspended it.

“Chicago 7” is based on the 1969 federal conspiracy trial held in Chicago arising out of the 1968 protests and police violence during the Democratic National Convention here.

Budget is $20-$30 million and production is said to start to January. No word yet as to its production locale. 

THE KINO LORBER DISTRIBUTION COMPANY acquired North American rights to Kartemquin Films’ “The Trials of Muhammad Ali,” directed by Bill Siegel (“The Weather Underground”). Its national rollout starts Aug. 23 in New York at the IFC Center. The doc premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.

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