REELSCREEN: News & Notes – 07/16/04

VICTORY GARDENS BUYS BIOGRAPH. Victory Gardens Theatre will buy the Biograph, at 2433 N. Lincoln Ave., for $2 million and spend $7-$8 million renovating it into a new 299-seat main stage ? increasing capacity by 50%, a 130-seat studio theatre, a rehearsal hall and space for special events. Funds will come from a $1.5 million Illinois First program and $2.5 million in special direct funding from the city. Victory Gardens will retain its home down the street from the Biograph, converted a small studio into offices and renting the rest of the building. The movie theatre ends operations in September and a grand opening for Victory Gardens is slated for September, 2005.

CRAIG LEAVES RED CAR. L.A.-based Red Car apparently had other plans for its Chicago office when it gave Vivian Craig her walking papers. Craig had been managing director of the local Red Car operation for seven years and is widely acknowledged for having developed Red Car’s business here from scratch. Her replacement is former Avenue Edit and agency producer Marc Lichtenstein. Earlier Craig had spent a dozen years as operations manager of now- defunct Skyview. Her future plans are not known.

FEATURE IN FALL. Miramax’s upcoming “Derailed” starring Brit star Clive Owen is tentatively scheduled to shoot in Chicago in October. The thriller, which will be directed by Mikael Hafstrom, is co-written by “Pirates of the Caribbean” scribe Stuart Beattie and novelist James Siegal. Based on the novel by Siegal, the film is about an unexpected turn a businessman’s life takes after he misses his morning train.

CHANGE FOR SEMESTER IN L.A. The new director of Columbia College’s popular Semester in L.A. will be officially announced in August, said Doreen Baroni, dean of the Media Arts Department. One candidate for the position is former Chicagoan Stuart Gordon, founder of the Organic Theatre and an L.A. film producer. The new director will fill the seven-month vacancy left by the death in December of Columbia College instructor Bob Enrietto, who founded the school’s Semester in L.A. five years ago and was its director. Earlier, Mr. Enrietto had been an assistant director on scores of Hollywood features and TV shows shot in L.A., Ireland and Hawaii before returning to Chicago for family reasons.

CSC BUILDINGS SOLD. The biggest stage complex between coasts, Chicago Studio City that ironically sits a mile west of the proposed Center City Studios, is being dismantled with the recent sale of two of the newer buildings out of the five comprising the complex. Owner John Crededio sold a 43,000-sq. ft. building to a church, and a 18,500-sq. ft. building for office use. Three stages and the 10 acres of land remain for sale. Lack of production and city indifference caused Crededio to end the studio’s 20-year run, the site of more than 400 feature films and TV series. Columbia College, meanwhile, continues to look at a variety of stage sites for an advanced production center for the Media Arts department.

GOLF OUTING. MCAI Chicago invites fellow golfers to tee off with them Aug. 24 at Flagg Creek Golf Course in Countryside for a day of golf, food, drinks and fun. Awards will be made for the longest putt, closest to the pin, longest drive and best score. Full package, $65 members, $75 guests, includes nine holes of golf with carts, drink tickets and dinner. Or dinner and open bar only, $35/$45. First tee time is 1 p.m., dinner at 5, awards at 6. Register via, for club info see flagg_creek_golfcourse.htm.

DIRECTOR McNAUGHTON TO SPEAK. The Screenwriters Group and the Discovery Center on Aug. 21 will host Chicago-based writer/producer/ director John McNaughton in the second installment of “Hollywood Speaks in Chicago” series. McNaughton’s career took off with his first film in 1986, “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer,” and he went on to direct major studio movies and acclaimed TV series dramas. “Hollywood Speaks” will be held at the Westin Hotel; tickets are $39-$59. Call 773/348-8120 to reserve.