THE REEL THING: News & Notes

VINCE VAUGHN, whose every meal, drink and partying fills inches of column space, will give columnists serious delirium long after his film, “The Break Up,” wraps and the players return to Hollywood.

Vaughn plans on becoming a permanent Chicago resident, by virtue of the condo he’s in the process of buying and his shiny new Illinois drivers’ license.

Said and long and often, what Chicago needs to authenticate it as the booming film center it is, is a generous sprinkling of active Hollywood actors like Vaughn a couple of feature directors living here, plus a few major distributor branches. With annual production of 100 to 125 indie features, Chicago could certainly carry the title of Indie Nation.

Stephen Collins of Billian Entertainment speaking at ReelChicago-IFP Lights, Camera, Illinois informational lecture Wednesday night, noted how pleased he was with Chicago’s abounding talent in all areas, and its welcoming work environment?good reasons why his company is planning “a slate of films” to be filmed locally.

IPA ELECTED NEW OFFICERS at its Thursday board meeting. President Eileen Willenborg of AFTRA/SAG heads for her second term; Essanay’s Wayne Kubacki is first VP; The Whitehouse’s Sandy Gordon is second VP; Steppenwolf Films’ Apphia Parsons, secretary and Fletcher Chicago’s Sally Fletcher is treasurer. DGA’s Dan Moore continues to head the legislative committee.

AN OSCAR NOMINATION went to producers Peter Gilbert of “Hoop Dreams” acclaim, and Adam D. Singer for their feature length doc, “With All Deliberate Speed” in the Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking. Winners unveiled Sept. 11 in L.A. Doc is about the historic Brown V Board of Education Supreme Court decision. It was released May 14, 2004 to coincide with the ruling’s 50th anniversary.

DOWNTOWN PARTNERS is the winner of the estimated $20 million Northwestern Mutual account. The DDB unit, whose sharp CD is Jim Schmidt, former head of Euro, replaces JWT which had the account for a record 60 years.

SWEET HOME ILLINOIS II the IFO party for ex-Chicagoans in the industry in L.A., takes place Sept. 26 at the Hilton L.A. hotel in Universal City. The 2004 party attracted 800 guests. Private sponsors fund the event.

MAYOR DALEY and the City Council declared Erie St. outside the FCB building “Fairfax Cone Way” in honor of the advertising agency’s legendary leader. FCB’s top creative Jonathan Harries presides over the special July 26, 10 a.m. ceremonies attended by Mr. Cone’s daughter and her family. Says Harries: “Fairfax Cone was one of the truly great ?admen’ whose insights and ideas wrote the history of advertising in Chicago and beyond.”

DDB’S TWO EMMY NOMINATIONS in the outstanding commercial category were for Chicago/DDB’s Anheuser-Busch’s “Applause,” and L.A./DDB’s Ameriquest Mortgage spot, “Surprise Dinner,” got the nod from the TV Academy. “Applause” was a tribute to U.S. troops and aired during the Super Bowl.

FREELANCE SPOT PRODUCERS ARE GROUSING about the dearth of local commercial production. Vendors also note this summer is one of the slowest for business since the 2001 recession. Fortunately, other sectors of production are thriving.

COCA COLA is back at Burnett for undisclosed “special communications projects.” Burnett’s U.S. Army account contract was recently extended for another six months until the end of the year. The Army is expected to boost billings to an estimated $250 million in light of sagging recruitments.

SHARON BARRETT is Chicago-based supervising producer of HGTV’s “Design on a Dime,” and Jim Lichtenstein has the same title for “Designed to Sell.” L.A.’s Pie Town Productions is producing the two shows.

WFMT RADIO NETWORK RECORDINGS has been launched with “George Gershwin Alone,” performed by pianist Hershey Felder at the Royal George Theatre recently. The two CD box set sells for $30 via www.wfmt.com, and heads for retail outlets shortly. Felder will speak to SAG, AFTRA and Actors Equity members July 31 at the theatre.

A $250,000 DONATION was generously made to the Museum of Broadcast Communications by Lee Phillip Bell, co-creator of soapers “The Young and the Restless” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” Her donation will be used for exhibit development. Phillip was a major star on Ch. 2 before she and her late husband, Bill Bell, moved to L.A.

WTTW’S 50th ANNIVERSARY will be celebrated Saturday, Aug. 20 with two hours of programming. A live special 7:30-9 p.m. eminates from the Jay Pritzer Pavilion on Millennium Park will be hosted by Joe Mantegna, with special guests Ann Hampton Callaway, Liz Callaway, Liz Carroll, Otis Clay, Orbert Davis, Irma P. Hall, Susanne Mentzer, Samuel Ramey, the Grant Park Orchestra, and much more. This is preceded 7-3:30 p.m. by stories highlighting different aspects of Ch. 11’s history, produced by Rich Samuels.

NO THIRD TERM for SAG national president Melissa Gilbert. She said the union’s political infighting was a factor in her decision.

THE WASHINGTON STATE FILM OFFICE,?run by Susie Kellett, the former IFO director?narrowly missed the fate of Wisconsin, Indiana and other states that figured taxpayers weren’t getting enough cinematic bang for their buck. Democratic lawmakers snatched the film office from extinction and gave it an $822,000 budget for the next two years.

DIGITAL CAPTUREhas made a critical dent in Kodak sales and its employee ranks. Due to the fast pace of digital camera use, Kodak lost $146 million in the second quarter on revenue of $3.7 billion. Film stock sales were down 18%. As a consequence, the 100 year old company will cut 10,000 jobs.

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