There at the beginning of the Chicago Film Office, Debbie Beck retires after an impressive 28 years

AFTER A REMARKABLE 28 YEARS, DEBBIE BECK retired Friday from the Chicago Film Office without fanfare.

She had joined in June, 1980 a scant three months after the office was officially created by Mayor Jane Byrne as an adjunct of the police department and was headed by a police sergeant, Sam Babich.

Beck shared an office with police officers Babich, Jim Cunningham and Tom Flanagan in cramped space on the eighth floor of City Hall.

The police were in charge of issuing permits and every script requiring a permit to film on city property was carefully read. Mayor Byrne, by the way, helped cultivate film business by taking a personal interest and promoting it.

“Debbie served the office in a variety of roles over the years, most recently as still photography coordinator and screenwriting competition coordinator,” comments Rich Moskal, who was appointed CFO director when Beck was into her sixteenth year on the job.

“Her warm, unaffected personality matched with unsurpassed longevity, made her almost iconic — the heart and soul of the office. She will be extraordinarily missed.”

With current city budget shortfalls, it’s doubtful Beck’s position will filled.

The present staff of three, now the tiniest among major city film offices, is comprised of 23-year veteran Yolanda Arias, who handles commercials and still photography, Kathy Byrne (no relation to the former mayor), film and television, and Moskal.

FREE SEMINAR SATURDAY at Essanay Studios — the Minority Assistant Training Seminar — for which nearly 50 persons have signed up to hear 13 set experts talk about their experiences and the training needed for their particular jobs.

Speakers are executive producers Sandy Gordon, Lisa Masseur and Dan Lombardi; production manager Omar McClinton; locations; Mono Wilborn and Liz Goldsmith; grip/electric Dennis de la Mata; hair/makeup, Debra Dee; camera, James Pope ; camera, Alex Garcia; set decorator Tom Glinn and PAs Ryan Young and Senneca Billingsley.

FALL COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION is shaping up as a banner season, as compared with last year, according to the CFO, with jobs bidding for Budweiser, Carnival Lines and Bridgestone Tires.

As for year-to-date numbers, says Rich Moskal, “We show some pretty big numbers for August, 2008: 14 spots, including jobs for Budweiser, Harris Bank, Career Builder and AT&T, compared with three in 2007.

THE NEW “AT THE MOVIES” VERSION, with Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons instead of our beloved Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, is being produced here at Ch. 7 for show owner Disney-ABC Domestic Television. The first show will air this Saturday and Sunday on Ch. 7 at 11 a.m.

“We look forward to a long and successful run with the two Bens, and the signature cross-talk that has made this series the country’s premier movie review show,” Emily Barr, the station’s president/general manager, told Sun-Times columnist Robert Feder.

IT’S AWARDS NIGHT Sept. 10 for the Chicago Creative Club, hosted by the Chicago Ad Federation. The event will show off the best of Chicago’s creative work at the United Club at Soldier Field.

WHO’S NEW. DraftFCB hired Dan “Ziggy” Zigulich as EVP/director of creative production services. This could be called as a return engagement, in a sense, as Zigulich had worked at FCB for 16 years before leaving in 1998 to run production company Z Group.

* Fletcher Chicago hired former Victor Duncan film manager David Brush, for its new Detroit office in Farmington Hills. Brush, a cameraman, is a member of Local 600.

* The Zig agency added art directors Janay Blazejewski, a multi-award-winner who comes from DDB/TracyLocke, Dallas, and earlier an AD at Lowe, New York, and Christopher Berry, from North in Portland.