REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 05/21/04

MICHIGAN’S LEGISLATURE stepped up to the incentive plate and knocked home a financial incentive package that’s “a first for Michigan,” said an elated Janet Lockwood, Michigan film office director. “I’m very positive about what it will do for filming in the state,” she said.

As Lockwood explained the package, producers can get 1) the statewide 6% sales tax exemption ? and along with that, in keeping with Michigan law, 2) a 6% use tax exemption and 3) a 1.9% Single Business Tax.

“Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic

THIS GUY NEEDS WORK? Capitalizing on his national notorietary as “The Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic visited FCB, DDB and Leo Burnett in search of commercial work last week. He was accompanied by his Wm. Morris agent Eric Seastrand , a former Chicago talent agent who still knows his way around Michigan Ave. FCBers showed the most interest with around 100 turning out to hear the Orland Park native give a short talk. Rancic, 32, owns a multimillion dollar business and doesn’t need the money commercials would bring. Still, he does look good on television, as we already know, and is very sincere.

WHO’D THUNK IT? Waay back in 1964 a youthful Michael Kutza surveyed filmmeisters and got thumbs up for his idea of launching a film festival, actually the city’s very first. It’s now 40 years later and the Chicago International Film Festival, now the oldest in North America, is accepting submissions for this milestone event. Deadline is July 30. For details and prizes see or call 312/425-9400.

UP & DOWN THE AVENUE. New at Del Hall Video: Pax Harris from Boulder, Colo., where he owned Supa-Tek Media Inc., a multimedia and interactive firm. He moved here when his fiancee came here to work on the Jerry Springer show …

Wayne Johnson former Leo Burnett creative and “The Today Show’s” first domestic diva, joined Ch. 5 for a weekly segment on domestic arts … Marguerite Juliusson now reps L.A.-based Dektor Film, whose roster includes legendary director Leslie and sons Paul and Mark, director and director/cameraman, respectively … Former Burnetters ACD Ron Smith and A/D Kelly Nedock joined Point B Communications … Former FCB creatives John Godsey and Aaron Evanson have joined JWT/Detroit and Waylon Advertising, St. Louis, respectively.

AVID ON THE MOVE. Bill Kurtis will be the Chicago customer presenter at Avid’s “Experience Avid|In Motion” tour landing June 9 in Chicago, one of five major cities on the tour. Kurtis will talk about real-life applications for his shows and new Digidesign and Softimage 3D products will be demonstrated.

More from Avid: The Avid Certified User (ACU) Program bows June 1 in response to strong post house demand for reliable standards in operational proficiency. Users who pass a monitored exam will receive operator-level certification from Avid.

FESTIVAL FAVORITE. Writer/director Thomas Gustafson’s short musical fantasy, “Fairies,” was one of the Chicago entries in the Tribeca Film Festival and is continues to make the round of 21 gay and lesbian festivals around the world.? Shot in Chicago in March, 2003 it stars Wendy Robie (“Twin Peaks”) James McKay (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre) and Peggy Roeder (“Road To Perdition”). Gustafson works as a background casting director (“The Weatherman”). “Fairies” is his second short indie film.