Spring a’bloom with new and ongoing features

A SLATE OF CURENT AND UPCOMING FEATURES are bringing plenty of spring sunshine are making a lot of people happy campers.

As related by Local 476’s Mark Hogan, here’s the lineup: “Batman” or whatever its secret title is supposed to be, starts this month and shoots through September.

Starting May 8 for six weeks from QED Entertainment is “The Witness Production Program,” starring Larry the Cable Guy. And L.A. transplant Tom Busch returns to Chicago to serve as production manager on the project.

“The Return,” directed by Neal Berger (“The Illusionist”) and starring Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams and Michael Pena is scheduled for two or more weeks in the area. The big budget-big cast production will also shoot in St. Louis, Las Vegas and Colorado.

Shooting the entire season finale episode of “E.R.” instead of just a monthly weekend of pickup shots, will add to all the glitzy activity here.

Then, for a couple of weeks we’ll see two or three weeks on “Wanted,” a Universal TV series that began last fall.

Two indie features continue to roll along: writer Ron Lazzeretti’s “The Merry Gentlemen,” starring Michael Keaton, and “Poker House,” budgeted at $650,000.

BECAUSE OF ALL THIS, CFO director Rich Moskal can’t find the time to co-represent our film interests at the combined CFO/IFO booth at Locations Expo in L.A. next week. Manning the exhibit will be IFO’s Todd Lizak and Lisa Banks and 476’s Mark Hogan.

Phones are ringing off the hook, says the IFO, with producers inquiring about filming here, now that the word’s really out there about Illinois’ generous tax credits.

HOW TIME FLIES! This month marks Roger Ebert’s 40th anniversary as film critic for the Sun-Times. In honor of his being “a continual, positive supporter” of the Chicago International Film Festival throughout its history, the upcoming 43rd festival season will be dedicated to Ebert, says fest founder Michael Kutza .

Ebert will be honored onstage at the Chicago Theatre during the festival’s opening night festivities on Oct. 4.

BRIDGES MEDIA GROUP named Selina Hood SVP/EVP, who’s main focus will continue to be fostering creative relationships between BMG and clients. Hood is one of the founders of Women in Film/Chicago and is a VP and sponsorship chair.

BMG recently hired assistant producer Diana Soldo, whose background includes work with Bally Total Fitness and Digital Kitchen.

BURNETT RAMPS UP with the addition of creatives Jon Wyville and Dave Loew who become SVP/creative directors. They move from Y&R to work for a wider array of clients.

FUNNY COUPLE Stephnie Weir of “MadTV” fame, and her husband Bob Dassie will perform in the “Weirdass” show at the iO improv emporium April 28 during the Chicago Improv Festival. Weir is a Chicago native.

FILM WISCONSIN’S SCOTT ROBBE is expected to be named head of the newly-formed private/public Wisconsin Film Office next week.

Robbe, one of the founders of Film Wisconsin, and its spokesman, has moved from Madison to Milwaukee, where the office will be located. Office location and other staff members also will be announced.

STATE SEN. KEN DUNKIN, co-sponsor of the film tax credit bill, will be honored at a May 16 cocktail reception at O’Brien’s restaurant.