Piven Excellence Award to TV actress Kate Walsh

“PRIVATE PRACTICE” STAR Kate Walsh will be honored with the Joyce Piven Artistic Excellence Award Oct. 17 at the Piven Theatre Workshop’s 2010 Awards Brunch.

Walsh, a Piven Workshop alum, is being honored for her continued support of the Workshop and her outstanding contributions to the theatre world. She has appeared in TV shows “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Fugitive,” “The Drew Carey Show” and in 20 movies, including “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “The Family Man.”

Restaurateur and club owner Billy Dec and his Rockit Ranch Productions will receive the Byrne Piven Community Service Award in appreciation of his support for the Workshop and the Chicago theatre community.

Actors Joyce and the late Byrne Piven founded the Evanston Workshop in 1975. Among its distinguished alums are John and Joan Cusack and Jeremy Piven, of course.

The brunch will be held at Dec’s Sunda restaurant. ABC 7’s Linda Yu is MC and the Workshop’s premiere student troupe will perform.

COMEDY VETERAN JOE KEEFE, who calls himself “the ancient mariner of Chicago comedy,” and is the executive producer of several thousand comedy productions, supervises a creative and production team of 20 on another episode of “firdaynitebYtes.com.

The interactive sketch comedy series makes subscribers partners in the creative process working with us to produce hilarious and high-production value comedy video,” says Keefe, who directs the series.

Keefe also ghostwrites suspense novels and is a script doctor on made-for-cable historical fiction projects.

IFP GALA CHAIR COLLEEN O’NEILL will spend the month of October in Los Angeles with her screenwriting husband, Ashton Reech, to work on funding and talent for their first small indie film, “Blind Faith,” which is set in Chicago.

Their romantic comedy with a supernatural twist “is the one we always wanted to see here and we won’t stop until it’s produced in Chicago,” says O’Neill.

O’Neill lived in L.A. for five years working in fundraising and development with Film Independent (formerly IFP), which produces the annual Independent Spirit Awards, returning to Chicago in 2005. “We plan for us to transition back and forth to L.A. and bring as much production as possible,” she says.

INTREPID DOCMAKER MALACHI LEOPOLD heads back to Africa, this time to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in mid-October for three weeks to direct a short film for the American Bar Association’s human rights works. “Specifically, the film will be about the on the sex and gender-based violence taking place there,” Leopold says.

NEWLY ELECTED SAG OFFICERS are headed by actor/voiceover Ilyssa Fradin who was elected president for a two-year term. She is the chair of AFTRA/SAG Chicago’s Community Organizing Outreach Committee, a council member since 2000 and vice president since 2004.

Also elected to a two-year term serving with Fradin are Regan Rohde , 1st vice president, Craig J. Harris, (2nd vice president and Michael Joseph Thomas Ward, recording secretary.

Todd Hissong was re-elected to the National Board, a three-year term. Bob Baron, William Dick, Jay Disney, Martin Halacy and Alma Washington were elected to three-year terms on the Branch Council.

They will assume office Sept. 25 at SAG’s annual meeting at the Kauffher Center, at 6 p.m.