“Mahalia” a top screenplay finalist at Harlem Fest

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION.  As many of you may know, I’ve been working on a feature, the dramatic music biopic about Mahalia Jackson, the world’s greatest gospel singer and Civil Rights Champion, whose music and money amplified the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Since teaming up with screenwriter, director and Columbia College screenwriting instructor Vaun Monroe on the “The Mahalia Jackson Story” screenplay, the project is gaining recognition.

The screenplay was one of three finalists, out of a record-breaking number of entries, in the 8th annual Harlem International Film Festival, being held this weekend in New York. The winning screenplay was a story about murdered rap star Tupac Shakur.

“Mahalia” will be produced in Chicago, Mahalia’s home of 45 years, with the support of civic, business and church leaders and the local film industry. A Mahalia Facebook page will be posted shortly.

“THE PITCH,” the AMC show in which agencies go up against each other for a new account, airs Thursdaywith Chicago-based Commonground and Libertyville’s Bee-Line Communications will shooting it out. The prize will be the Little Caesars pizza account. Previous agencies had LA agencies competing and Thursday’s episode will be the first time Chicago shops are up at bat.

AS THE AGENCY WORLD TURNSDraftfcb will lose Bruce Fougere, SVP/director of innovation for the past two years, at the end of the month when he leaves to pursue other opportunities.  He joined the agency after nearly five years as VP/GDC at the Marin agency

*Energy BBDO SVP/GCD Leon Wilson left the agency just after a year to return to his native Australia.  He will be the CCO at Proximity, also part of the Omnicom network …

*Seven month old O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul (OKRD) added Jamie McGarry as director of new business.  She joins after a decade at Draftfcb, where she led the recent successful pitch for Aramark and helped retain Kmart.

*Independent Upshot/Chicago landed LiftMaster, makers of garage door openers, for all integrated marketing, advertising and communications for bothits consumer and B to B components, agency president Brian Kristofek announced.  Upshot counts among its clients Procter & Gamble, Crown Imports, Subway and Kraft Foods.

ON THE REP BEAT. Baer Brown chris@baerbrownreps.com is the name of Chris Brown’s new rep firm, starting with two clients: bi-coastal Epoch Films, whose star directors are Michael Downing, Phil Morrison, and Everynone, and LA based Uber Content, with their stars, directors Fred Savage and Eliot Rausch.

Maureen Butler’s MoButler Reps was tapped to represent The Traveling Picture Show Company in the Midwest.  LA-based TPSC opened in Chicago earlier this year under the aegis of EP John Noble, a former agency executive and most recently with Optimus.  Butler also started her career with an ad agency and the two have known each other for many years.

NOT TO EARLY TO SAVE THE DATE. Put Dec. 5 on your calendar for the annual Off the Street Club luncheon at the Swissotel. 

In the meantime, Sept. 19 is the date of Utopic’s invitational semi-annual Gallery Night, displaying the creativity of local artists Johnathan Bond, James Bowman, Erin Murphy, Kevin O’Rourke and Jessie Smith-Larson.

And on Sept. 20, SCC has invited the rock band Leagues to put on a private show at its fall party at the SCC Tap in their West Loop building.  Leagues has a hit song and an upcoming global campaign for Bose, so the agency wants to enjoy the guys and their music before they hit the big time.

You can read more about “Mahalia” in a story in Shadow and Act.

This is the start of the busy season, but take time to send what’s going on with you with Reel readers.  Email news to ruth@reelchicago.com.