THE REEL THING: News & Notes

CHICAGO’S LOSS IS PITTSBURGH’S GAIN. When the Art Institute politely declined to serve as the setting for a new TV pilot about art thieves, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum said to come on over.

The pilot for CBS will shoot for about five days in Pittsburgh. Ray Liotta stars as “Smith,” the leader of gang looking to steal a pair of Rembrandts.

While the Art Institute wouldn’t have been identified as such, the Chicago setting, the stairs and lions nonetheless would’ve been a dead giveaway.

Size of the crew and equipment admittedly made museum officials nervous.

RICK THOMPSON joined Optimus as design director from Digital Kitchen where he’d been a senior designer on high profile entertainment clients. He also spent a decade at S2 as an Inferno artist winning awards for Budweiser, McDonald’s and Adidas commercials.

CHICAGO CAGE MATCH is a clever event being organized by the AICE to demonstrate to agencies how editors work. Film & Tape Works’ stage May 11 will be the Cage Match arena.

Six teams of four editors each will be randomly chosen and given footage to creatively cut into short pieces up to 5-minutes within two hours. Agency guests will select the winners.

CLEVELAND SNAGGED “SPIDERMAN 3,” beating out Detroit for the 10 day shoot. Two years ago Spidey 2 filmed in Chicago. The producers apparently liked the revitalized Greater Cleveland Film Commission’s offer of free use of the Cleveland Convention Center as a sound stage.

OSCAR WINNER PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, we hear, will play Roger Ebert in a movie about the late, controversial auter Russ Meyer.

The connection: Ebert wrote the screenplay “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” and “Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens” for Meyer.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Meyer created a moral commotion in the ’60s and ’70s with movies like “Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill!” “MotorPsycho,” and “Wild Gals of the Naked West.”

SEEING STARS. Producer/director/actor Bob Balaban, will be honored at the “Reels and Deals” gala at the Gene Siskel Film Center April 21 at the Peninsula Hotel. Jeff Goldblum will present Balaban with the Renaissance Award. Roger Ebert hosts.

Comedian Tom Dreesen emcees the St. Michael in Old Town Parish’s gala honoring actor Dennis Farina April 22 at the Kendall College River Walk.

FILM WISCONSIN is urging statewide filmmakers to write to the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance to assure that the agressive film incentives bill is on the agenda for a vote when the committee convenes March 30.

ZOOVIDEO PRODUCTIONS is the name of Howard Greenblatt’s new company. The former award-winning producer/videopgrapher for Brookfield Zoo left after 18 years to focus on non-profit and corporate projects.

Greenblatt is currently finishing a video for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. He can be reached at 708/836-5635, or

A VICTORY FOR ACTORS performing in animated shows made for basic cable. SAG negotiators won a 20% increase in residuals as part of a tentative agreement reached between the Guild and major producers of animated basic cable programming (including Walt Disney Pictures & Television, Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios).

If approved by SAG’s national board, the new contract will be retroactive to January 1, 2006 and will run through June 30, 2008.