Three network pilots to shoot here mid-March

That overly long Hollywood dry spell will finally end in early March, with three TV pilots getting underway, a fourth being talked about for early spring, and a Vince Vaughn feature in May.

“Matadors,” from Sony TV and writer/executive producer Jack Orman, is in production offices at Chicago Studio City in preparation for shooting the first or second week in March.

Chicago is familiar territory to Orman, who came here for 14 years as executive producer, writer and often director of Chicago-set “ER.”

The “Matadors” series is a natural for Chicago as the story centers on two feuding wealthy Chicago families, who find themselves in an on-going struggle of power and pride. The series will air on ABC.

Demetra Diamantopoulos is the pilot’s UPM; Lynn Raynor is the producer. Other than actor Zach Gilford (“Saturday Night Lights”), cast and director has yet to be announced.

March 10 is the start date for “Ridealong,” the cop drama from “The Shield” creator Shawn Ryan, the writer/executive producer on the new series.

Ryan, a Rockford native, says the show will mostly take place on the streets of Chicago and will be populated with unique people, including the lead, a Polish-American cop, who plays up his heritage.

Production offices are at Panavision’s former building in the WGN complex on Bradley Place. Director, DP, stars or cast have yet to be announced.

A mini-pilot — call it a sizzle reel — for a proposed Vince Vaughn series, to be produced by his Wild West Productions, is also said to be slated for early March.

Vaughn will film his comedy, “Your Cheating Heart,” in Chicago, in May, as exclusively reported earlier in the Reel. The story is about a man who discovers that his best friend’s wife is having an affair.

Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard will direct; Vaughn and Brian Glazer are producing.

Another Sony TV pilot possibility is the drama, “ATF,” centering on an ATF agent who hunts down the most dangerous criminals while trying to balance life as a dad to his teenage daughter who has re-entered his life.

Sony TV developed the project and is coproducing with CBS TV Studios.

On the big-budget feature side, DreamWorks/ Universal’s “Transformers 3” is rumored to favor Chicago as the sci-fi fantasy’s location. The official word has not come down from high as yet, however, and Bay also scouted Detroit and Washington, D.C.

Bay was the producer of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” that filmed here from May through July in 2009, working out of Chicago Studio City.

“Transformers 3” and “Your Cheating Heart” share both a May start and a July 1, 2011 release date with “Your Cheating Heart.”