“Last Rites of Joe May” in Tribeca’s exalted circle

STEPPENWOLF’S FEATURE, “The Last Rites of Joe May, was selected among a record 5,624 films for screening at the 10th annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York. It will compete with 11 other features for The Founders Award.

Joe Maggio wrote and directed what’s called “the classic urban drama,” and the ensemble cast includes Dennis Farina, Jamie Allman, Ian Barford, Meridith Droeger, Chelcie Ross and Gary Cole. It was shot entirely in Chicago last winter and finished in New York.  

Co-producers were Faded Films and BillyGoat Pictures. 

Needless to say, Steppenwolf’s Tim Evans is ecstatic over the selection.  This is the second Steppenwolf Films feature that has premiered at a major American film festival in the last few years. “Diminished Capacity,” directed by Terry Kinney, premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. 

COMMERCIAL ACTION THIS WEEK. Bi-coast Tool of North America shoots real people testimonials for Seattle’s Best coffee around town … The Lottery through BBDO shoots through 59 Films … Second City Productions captures corporate sketches at Essanay, which also is renting lighting and gear for “Take the Money and Run” reality TV show filming at the Niles police state.

WHO’S NEW. Euro RSCG San Francisco transferred digital marketing expert Kevin Newby to Grand Avenue as director, digital strategy.  Most recently, Newby managed the Digital Service Group in San Francisco, whose clients included the U.S. Air Force, Sony Computer Entertainment American and Genentech. 

Evan Cohen joined Foundation L.A. in its architecturally grand Hayden Tract studio in Culver City.  Most recently Cohen was with L.A.’s Cornerstone Promotion as director of strategic marketing and creative. 

Pete DeBenny and Joe Scupien joined fast-growing Canadian Miranda Technologies as director of channel sales and broadcast account manager, Midwest, respectively.  

“Miranda is a perfect fit for me, with my background in manufacturer sales and running a reseller company,” says DeBenny, former sales manager of VTP video hardware and media solutions.

Scupien previously was with Data Direct Technology and  Omneon digital content storage systems.

WHAT’S NEW.  Nestle’s Tombstone Pizza moved its advertising to Draftfcb, where it joins Nestle’s other pizza brands, DiGiorno and California Pizza Kitchen – all formerly owned by Kraft.

TO CELEBRATE the recently launched “Ebert Presents At the Movies,” the newest-oldest movie review in Chicago, Chaz and Roger Ebert are hosting a reception March 17 at the Peninsula Hotel.  Since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, the Ebert-O-Tini and the Ebertini drinks will be introduced.

Ebert’s new show premiered in late January on PBS stations. He has giving thumbs up or down to movies on TV since 1975, when he teamed with the late Gene Siskel. Their “Sneak Previews” first aired in 1975 on Ch. 11 and PBS stations.  

THE BEVERLY HILLS FILM FESTIVAL seems to likes Jim White’s work, having accepted White’s latest screenplay, “The Journal,” into its 2011 event. It’s a love story against the background of the horrendous 1920s most horrible race riot in American history, spanning a period of 80 years.  

Last year, White’s “Dinky Dau” was a Bev Hills finalist and in 2008, his doc script for “Butterbean: The Bob Love Story” won a top prize for best screenplay.

Producer/director White is the screenwriter of “Butterbean,” the movie called “The King’s Speech” of America, about the former Bulls star’s crippling stutter and how he overcame it to give inspirational talks to 250,000 people a year, from school kids to VIP corporate executives.  

“SHORTCUTS” IS BACK for the fourth year.  The Illinois Film Office’s annual short film contest is accepting entries 15 minutes or less from all Illinois residents over 18 and students over 18 who attend Illinois colleges.  

Deadline is Aug. 1 and the winner will receive a cash prize and the October Chicago International Film Festival will screen the winning film.  Films will be judged by film industry professionals.