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.

EURO HIRED ROB TRIPAS as SVP/ director of interactive services, from interactive executive producer at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. He’ll be responsible for interactive creative strategy for the agency’s clients.

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.

ED GRAF’S SPOT FILMWORKS of Madison, Wisc., an AAF Mosaic Award-winner has now collected seven awards for its International Peace Council PSA.

The Mosaic is especially important because this was the first time the big, Madison Avenue ad federation recognized a local company in a small market. Ad giants like Pepsi, Kraft and MasterCard are usually AAF award recipients.

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 screenplays “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.

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 708/826-5636, or

SAG AND INDUSTRY NEGOTIATORS tentatively agreed to a 20% raise in residuals for basic cable animation series. Actors are prepared to strike, however, if they don’t get an acceptable boost in residuals for live action basic cable series. This would mark the first new contract in 16 years for both cable show categories.

THE MINNESOTA AICP is urging members to get involved in Shoot in Minnesota, a fledging private, non-profit organization being formed to lobby the state legislature for competitive film incentives.

COUPLES WANTED for the Ganz Brothers’ series, “Life in Process,” with Dr. Laura Berman and filming at the downtown Berman Center. Producer Harry Ganz says they need 32 couples for the series and have signed half so far, and completed two weeks of shooting. Interested? Call 800/854-0018 and take it from there.