THE REEL THING: News & Notes

MEGAN VIDAS JOINS THE IFO in charge of the TV commercials sector in mid-November. Vidas, wife of uber-rep Rich Newman, is a former producer of political videos and commercials, who once was with political consultant David Axelrod and has a background in public affairs. Vidas completes the IFO roster of eight employees.

THE BANKRUPCTY AUCTION Tuesday of Superior Street’s assets yielded $125,000 to pay creditors instead of the hoped-for $750,000.

COLIN COSTELL’S SITCOM PILOT, “With Friends like These,” which he wrote back in 2003, will air?to his surprise?Nov. 10 on the Black Family Channel. “The pilot was meant to sell the idea, and was never meant for air. I wouldn’t have aired this version, but what the heck,” he said.

While happy with the script, he feels the pilot needs rewriting, recasting and reshot if expanded into 10 episodes for airing on the new network. Singer/actress Trina plays Cleo who inherits a beauty shop from her late aunt along with her aunt’s arch rival, and discovers running a business requires a lot of work.

“PRISON BREAK” TAKES A BREAK after its Nov. 28 fall finale for possibly up to six months. Fox TV returns “American Idol” and “24” to “Prison’s” time slot. The additional nine episodes that were announced with great jubilation will return at some later date, maybe late spring.

FILM WISCONSIN, the private sector replacement of government-supported Wisconsin Film Office has, ironically, support from the governor, who which killed the 19-year old film office last June.

Nonetheless, Governor Jim Doyle and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett pledged their support of a proposed incentive plan, which Film Wisconsin claims will be one in the U.S. The plan will be presented to the January session of the state legislature. Film Wisconsin has moved into its new Milwaukee offices at 648 N. Plankinton.

GARY SINISE and his Lt. Dan Band perform “A Salute to the American Veteran” benefit Nov. 12 at Joe’s Bar on Weed Street. Proceeds to the U.S. Vietnam Arts Program. Sinise had a band way back when he was a teen growing up in Highland Park. His dad, Bob Sinise, was a successful spot editor who owned Chicago’s first editing boutique.

TALK ABOUT SYNERGY — WPP Group ? owners of OgiIy & Mather, Young & Rubicam and JWT ? joined other investors in the Weinstein Company, launched late last month by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who founded Miramax in 1979. WPP’s stake in the company was undisclosed; so far $490 million has been invested in the new company. The Weinstein first theatrical release is “Derailed,” partly filmed in Chicago last winter. The film is based on the book by Jimmy Siegel, a senior ECD at BBDO, New York.

COUNTRY STAR MERLE HAGGARD gives filmmaker Bob Blinn’s song, “I Still Can’t Say Goodbye,” another big boost. It appears on Haggard’s just-released “Chicago Wind” album. The song was recorded earlier by country legend Chet Atkins and in 2000 by British artist Charlie Landsborough, whose album landed in the #2 spot on the U.K charts and remained in the top 20 for 43 weeks

HOME GIRL SHERRY LANSING receives the Chicago Spirit Awards Dec. 9 at the Vine St. Lounge in Hollywood. Columbia College hosts the awards to celebrate Chicagoans who’ve made it really big in Hollywood. Lansing was Paramount Pictures chairman. Husband is fellow Chicago native, Oscar-winning director Bill Friedkin.

CHICAGO-BASED MUNIER SHARRIEFF, former Burrell CD/art director-turned-spot director, signed with New York’s Zero 2 Sixty (0:2:60) for exclusive representation. He was with Burrell from 1998-2004 when he transitioned into directing through Fabrication Films of L.A. A comic book collector for years, Sharrieff co-created the DC Comics “Battle Chasers” optioned by 20th Century Fox.

A PARTY AT SUNDANCE in January a la Sweet Home Illinois is being planned by the Illinois Film Office.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE BENSON COLLEGE FUND to provide a college fund for the daughters of the late Gail Kennedy Benson, wife of Cerny American engineer Bob Benson, can be made through PayPal on www.gailfund.com, or sent to the Benson Memorial Fund, First National Bank of LaGrange, 620 W. Burlington Ave., LaGrange, IL 60525.

JUST ASKING. Now that Vince Vaughn sold his Los Feliz house (for near his $3,995,000 asking price) and bought a River North condo here (for $1.425 million), and now that he’s romancing Jennifer Anniston, will she move to Chicago to be with him? P.S. We heard that John Cusack bought a condo at the ritzy Fordham.

GAME$ WIN OVER MOVIES. With global revenue of $24.5 billion in 2004, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the video game industry dwarfs the $9.5 billion in domestic theatrical revenue earned by the film industry. Movie executives hope to turn all those loyal gamers into equally eager ticket buyers.

CALL MARIA KLUCHENEK at 312/933-3582 about ReelChicago advertising. Kluchenek is a knowledgable sales professional with experience in all phases of film production. Ask about new ad sizes and placement.

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