Toby Keith first up on WTTW’s “Soundstage” revival


Country star Toby Keith

MEGA COUNTRY STAR TOBY KEITH kicks off the return of WTTW/11’s “Soundstage” on public television stations with Thursday’s first taping at the station’s Grainger Studio in front of a live SRO audience.  

WTTW’s Kim Mattes is producing the series, the number of hourlong shows yet to be determined.  Director is music meister Joe Thomas, previous owner of a recording company, cofounder of HD Ready productions and frequent collaborator with Brian Wilson.  Currently he’s VP/audio-visual for BMG International, a co-sponsor of the revived “Soundstage” series.

Confirmed so far for fall tapings are up-and-coming county singer Jason Isbell, singer-songwriter/guitarist Boz Scaggs who gained fame in the ‘60s and 70s and Blondie who’s set for December.

WTTW-produced “Soundstage” became the seminal live concert series and set the template for music shows when it debuted in 1974 and aired on public television stations.

Sidebar: Keith will be a guest on NBC’s “The Late Show with Steven Colbert,” Sept. 8.

A COMEDY ABOUT ROGER EBERT the movie he made with sexploitation king Russ Meyer in the ‘60s, is being produced by STX Entertainment.  The Ebert-Meyer movie, “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” was a sexy satire on Jacqueline Susann’s racy best-selling book and movie.  Backed by 20th Century Fox, it became the first X-rated film ever released by a major studio amidst a forest of controversy.

Josh Gad (“The Wedding Ringer”) will portray Ebert, then a budding film critic, and Will Farrell plays Russ Meyer.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER NANCY REID has joined director/editor’s Gail Gilbert’s Cerise Films to focus on expanding the company’s foothold in Hispanic and healthcare markets, for both production and post. 

Reid, a film/video production/post expert, has managed projects for agencies, corporations, associations, university, PR firms and programming for broadcasting and cable.  She is also a producer of webcasts and commercials. Earlier, she was the general manager of several large local facilities.  She can be reached at 312/560-0542.

Clients of Gilbert, who is bilingual in Spanish, include Crest, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, McDonald’s, Clairol, One-A-Day and Kohler.  

TV SHOW CREATOR EDWARD BERNERO will be the special guest at the 20th anniversary celebration of the Chicago Screenwriters Network Sunday, Sept. 13.  The former Chicago policeman turned writer, who cofounded the organization in 1995, moved onto a non-stop career in television as the creator/producer of “Criminal Minds,” “The Third Watch” and “Crossing Lines.”

The anniversary party is also a fundraiser and membership drive,  with a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle, at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, 3905 N. Lincoln.  Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door and may be purchased here.

THE REEL RETURNS after Labor Day, but doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send your news in the meantime.  Or phone  312/274-9980. Enjoy your holiday and we’ll regroup Sept. 8.