The reality is, city shut down TV show building over permit lack

The City of Chicago shut down construction on the house where the network reality series “Starting Over” was set to shoot.

Reality clashed with television “reality” this week when the city shut down the remodeling of the Gold Coast building to be used for the NBC syndicated series, “Starting Over,” for lack of proper construction permits.

Police investigated complaints about construction noise from neighbors of the multi-family residence on the corner of LaSalle and Schiller. Determining the building owners did not have permits, the remodeling construction was shut down.

“The construction has nothing to do with the show,” said an informed source, saying the owners were at fault in not obtaining the proper permits. A suit against the building owners is set for civil court. The series’ start date is in flux and could be pushed back two or three weeks until after the court date.

Or, the series’ producers, Bunim/Murray Productions of L.A., could pull out of the LaSalle Street building and opt for another location, although that decision has not yet been made.

A local producer voiced ironic puzzlement over the choice of the house. “With all the available houses in the city of Chicago,” he said, “you would think that the producers would not have chosen a building under construction.”

Apparently the lease Bunim/Murray signed with the owners stated that the remodeling would be completed by the start of the taping, which had been scheduled for the first of the month.

Adding to the hubbub is the neighbors’ complaint, saying they are concerned that the show might attract unsavory characters to the neighborhood. They also claim the program is a commercial enterprise and therefore violates residential zoning laws.

“But the show will go on, in this property or another,” said the source. A crew of about 40 is being hired to work for the six-to-seven month duration of the shoot, said series producer Jim Johnston. Local producer is Cliff Grant.

“Starting Over” premieres locally Sept. 8 on Ch. 5. The series is being syndicated by NBC Enterprises Domestic Syndication and NBC affiliates and other stations have bought it, covering 80% of the country, said Johnston.

See Archives for last week’s exclusive “Starting Over” story.

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