“Playboy” pilot shoot starts in mid-March

“PLAYBOY,” THE NBC PILOT, about the start of the Playboy Clubs in Chicago, about the opening of the first Playboy Club in Chicago in 1963 (at the site of what is now the 100 E. Walton St. building) will shoot here for 13 days starting in mid-March, reports Local 476’s Mark Hogan.

Starring as iconic Playboy bunnies are Laura Benanti (“Eli Stone”) an established Playboy Club star who knows her days as a Bunny are numbered, according to Deadline Hollywood.

Also starring as Bunnies are Natari Naughton (“Fame”) who aims to be Playboy magazine’s first African American centerfold and Amber Heard (“Zombieland”) as her friend and roommates in the Bunny Hutch dorm (originally located in a building adjacent to the Playboy mansion on N. Dearborn Parkway.

PILOT SEASON IS STARTING TO DEVELOP, although so far it looks like it won’t be as lush as the same period last year when Chicago boasted five pilots of which one hit as a series.

A pilot for “Cooper and Stone” from CBS TV Studios will be directed by John Dahl, who directed multiple episodes of “Dexter” and “Californication,” will shoot about the same time as “Playboy” in Chicago.

The story is about two smart young female North Side detectives, who are best friends.

THE LOCATION FOR “THE BOSS,” which will go from pilot directly into an 8-episode series, being decided any moment between Chicago, a natural, and impossibly, Pittsburgh.

The Chicago mayor will be played by TV reliable Kelsey Grammer, and Gus Van Zant will direct the pilot in his TV debut.  Lionsgate TV is producing the series.

A NEW FACE at Foundation Content is producer Adrienne Britzman, from The Mill in New York, who brings five-plus years in post and a background in visual effects.

BEHIND THE SCENES.  Mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel and his policy people have met with industry leaders to learn about the city’s film industry and all the room it has for improving revenues from Hollywood entertainment projects.

YOU ARE INVITED to adman Ben Counts’ Oscar Party Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at Viand, to watch the salute to the big screen on a big screen – a 12-ft. rear projection TV – while dining on a 3-course gourmet dinner specially priced at $25.  To join the festivities, send Counts an Email at bcounts@CCFC.com and mention you saw it in the Reel.

A GLOWING REVIEW for director/producer John Davies and co-producer Reid Brody’s doc, “Phunny Business,” appeared in a review in The Hollywood Reporter.  “Snappy editing and visual effects are at one with the breezy proceedings,” it said about the first black comedy club, All Jokes Aside, and how it launched the careers of many famous black comedians.

AT LAST, AFTER 3 YEARS of languishing in limbo without ever having achieved any distribution other than DVD, locally produced “Of Men and Boys” can finally be seen on Video on Demand.
This is the 2007-08 movie, whose producer, the head of the for-profit Anointed Harvesters and sister of state Sen. Rickey Hendron, received a $1.08 million DCEO grant.  The movie’s budget was $640,000.

NO LESS THAN 14 ORGANIZATIONS have united to present an intensive weekend workshop, Doing Your Doc: Diverse Visions, Regional Voice, Feb. 25-27 at the Instituto Cervantes, 31 W. Ohio.  Leading this special 3-day event is internationally renowned speaker, Fernanda Rossi, author and consultant to more than 300 films.

The organizations that banded together for this event are NALIP, CPB, the NEA, Instituto Cervantes of Chicago, and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, in association with IFP Chicago, WTTW, Latino Public Broadcasting, CAAM, ITVS, NBPC, PIC, NAPT, and Women Make Movies.

THE NEW REEL is still getting organized as it we tweak it into perfection.  Give us your opinion, what you do and don’t like, want to see more of or eliminated.  And Email those news releases over to us, at Ruth@reelchicago.com.