NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’ starts filming here in mid-July

‘Chicago Fire’ star Taylor Kinney

Good news for Chicago entertainment production! NBC Universal not unexpectedly ordered a full season of Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire.”  The series will start shooting in mid-July and “will go at least through to the end of year and possibly into the spring of 2013,” says Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal.

The series is set to air on NBC this fall.  

The show, exploring the complex heroic men and women of the Chicago Fire Department, says Moskal, “is an extraordinary boost to the city, especially coming from Dick Wolf’s team that has been so successful with the long-running ‘Law and Order’ and ‘Law and Order SVU’ series.

“It also means long-term employment for crews and a great opportunity for Chicago actors, and demonstrates the proven ability of the Chicago film industry to host a number of full series,” he adds.

Dick Wolf“Chicago Fire” will be the third TV series shooting simultaneously in Chicago and is expected to return to Cinespace studios where Starz’ “Boss” will wrap second season episodes in July, and MTV’s “Underemployed” will headquarter through August.

The action-driven drama stars Taylor Kinney (“The Vampire Diaries”), Jesse Spencer (“House”), Monica Raymund (“The Good Wife”), former Chicagoan David Eigenberg (“Sex and the City”), Eamonn Walker (“Kings”) and Lauren German (“Hawaii Five-0”).

Derek Haas and Michael Brandt (“3:10 to Yuma”) wrote the script and are executive producing with Wolf.

Wolf signed a new contract with NBC where he also is producing a new military competition reality series with Mark Burnett.

Dick Wolf Productions here a second time

“Chicago Fire” marks the second time Dick Wolf Productions has produced a series here.  Back in 2001 his company produced a TV documentary series called “Arrest and Trial,” with host Brian Dennehy, which one reviewer called “one of the best TV crime documentaries ever made,” and wished it could have continued into subsequent seasons.

2001 was one of several bonanza years for Chicago-Hollywood entertainment, with a massive 40 productions — features, feature docs, TV specials, TV shows, and locations for shows –that either originated here, shot here in their entirety or in part. 

Among them, the most memorable were Joan Cusack’s ABC TV series, “What about Joan;” “ER,” of course, with its quarterly week-long location shoots; George Tillman and Bob Teitel’s “Soul Food,” for cable; the long running fixture, “Judge Mathis;” realty shows “Trading Spaces,” “The Real World and “Food Nation with Bobby Flay;” “The Road to Perdition” feature with Paul Newman and Tom Hanks,” and lots of cable doc features and low-budget indies.

But the greatest period for all-time multiple Hollywood-in-Chicago production was the late ‘90s. In 1998, 52 entertainment projects set up shop here, up two from 1997 — proving that with some initiative, effort and smarts Chicago can successfully compete and win.