“The Promotion” wins MWFF best feature award

PRACTICALLY EVERY INDIE FILMMAKERS turned out 350 strong at Rockit Bar & Grill Tuesday for Midwest Independent Film Festival’s annual awards and first-time fund-raiser.

Beautiful crystal awards were given to a variety of winners, and the grand prize went to “The Promotion,” the comedy written and directed by Steve Conrad, who was present, along with co-star Seann William Scott and producer Steven Jones. Richard Roeper made the presentation.

MWFF’s executive director and driving force Michael McNamara let the enthusiastic crowd in what’s screening on screen Feb. 2, when MWFF reconvenes in 2009. Ready?

It’s “The Merry Gentlemen,” shot here in early 2007, written by production exec Ron Lazzeretti and starring Michael Keaton, who made his director debut. Definitely a don’t miss evening.

HOLIDAY HIGHLIGHTS. On Thursday, CRC’s annual party launches the holiday season? On Friday, “Cadillac Records” opens theatrically. Although not shot in Chicago, it’s about the Chicago jazz and blues record label during the turbulent 1950s. Adrien Brody stars as powerhouse label co-founder Leonard Chess, Jeffrey Wright is Muddy Waters and Beyonce is Etta James.

AT THE IFP HOLIDAY BLOWOUT Dec. 8 guests will learn about Kodak’s new product launch and screen the winning film of the IFP’s 2008 Production Fund. That’s at 1104 W. Wabash, 7-10 p.m. Free and open to all.

PATRICK SWAYZE’S SERIES “The Beast,” the FBI-themed, Chicago-set dramatic series, bows Jan. 15 over A&E at 9 p.m. CST. “The Beast” filmed here from July, shortly after the valiant Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and wrapped just before Thanksgiving.

MANIFEST DIGITAL was the winner of recent PhizzPop, Chicago’s 2016 Olympic Bid Awareness Challenge. A recognition bow to Manifest Digital’s design challenge team Brian Henkel, Kevin Panke and Dan Thompson, They competed against agencies Quilogy, Roundarch and Tanagram.

IPA’S NIGHT AT THE MOVIES Dec. 15 will be a giant networking party for everyone in the biz, with the purpose of raising money to help promote the benefits of our newly-won 30% tax incentives.

The venue is The Ashland, an iconoclastic bar owned by three former L.A. club owners. IPA members free, of course, and non-members pay $20. Free pizza, popcorn, movie candy and surprises are part of the fun.

DRAFTFCB RECEIVED A WELCOME YEAR-END GIFT from MillerCoors. Its first assignment for the Miller Lite brand was production of six holiday-themed spots that air through Dec. 31.

JOAN CUSACK often said if she did another TV series, it would be like her “What About Joan” sitcom and produced in Chicago. According to the Sun-Times’ Bill Zwecker, Cusack is planning just that – a new NBC series based on the world of psychiatry.

SCREENWRITING CONSULTANT PHILLIPPA BURGESS tells the Chicago Screenwriters Networkers (and guests) how move their careers forward and other vital breakthrough info at the Dec. 7 CSN meeting.

Burgess certainly knows her stuff. She’s a partner in Creative Convergence, a multifaceted entertainment company representing writers, directors, producers and the like. (See Screenings & Events for details.)

THE BIG PRIZE of the CSN’s first-ever screenwriting contest will be putting winning entries into the hands of 21 Hollywood literary agencies and production companies. Rapidly approaching contest deadline is Dec. 31.

LOCAL TV STATIONS rarely produce programming outside of the news, so it is of modest interest — but worth noting — that Ch. 9 has produced “Chicago’s Very Own Holidays” (a play on WGN’s slogan ? Chicago’s Very Own Station).

Ch. 9’s very own Mark Suppelsa hosts the half-hour nostalgic look at Chicago Christmases over the past 100 years. The show airs Dec 20 and Dec. 24.

THE QUESTION OF THE DAY IS ? when will Gov. Blagojevich sign the 30% incentives bill sitting on his desk, so we can get the long-awaited show on the road before Dec. 31???