Wachowskis’ “Sense8” renewed for second season

OUT OF THIS WORLD NEWS.  The Wachowskis’ Netflix sci-fi series, Sense8, that filmed at Cinespace last summer, has been renewed for a second season, “thanks to fan response that’s been overwhelming,” said drama co-creator and writer J. Michael Straczynski (“Babylon 5”) with Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski.

The 10-episode series, the Wachowskis first for television, is about eight strangers around the globe who are connected through shared visions and thoughts.

No word as yet as to when production on the new season will start or be shot be shot. But since Chicago is the siblings’ home base, odds are favorable for its return to Cinespace.

PILOT SEASON 2016 in Chicago is starting very early – and a harbinger of things to come? – with the arrival of Showtime production execs setting up shop Aug. 28 at Cinespace.  No specific details about the new show, except that the plot sounds like a drama fittingly set in Chicago.

FOX’ HIT “EMPIRE,” which was named Program of the Year by the Television Critics Association Saturday night in Beverly Hills, will be a’glow with stars this upcoming new season.

Watch for guest appearances by Adam Rodriguez, Chris Rock, Kelly Rowland, Alicia Keys, Lenny Kravitz, Pitbull and Marisa Tomei in a recurring role. Mariah Carey will also guest star but the character she will play hasn’t been announced.

AT BLACK HARVEST FILM FESTIVAL’S opening night Saturday, Black Ensemble Theater founder Jackie Taylor received the 2015 “Deloris Jordan Award for Excellence in Community Leadership,” for her exceptional work in creating educational community outreach programs.

NBC/5’s LeeAnn Trotter presented the award to the distinguished director, producer, actress, singer, and playwright.

Black Harvest is screening 30 films, now through Sept. 3 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.  Some are made-in-Chicago and many are accompanied by directors, actors and panel discussions.

55 TEAMS ARE PARTICIPATING in the 48 Hour Film Project starting Friday, Aug. 14 and film teams still have time to register, reports filmmaker Jerry Vasilatos who’s leading this year’s creative race against time. 

To help the teams, Magnanimous Media is offering equipment rentals at a 20% discount; Johnsonese Brokerage will supply affordable production insurance and casting director Sarah Clark will be auditioning actors for team talent pools this week.

Screenings, Aug. 18-19 at the Logan Theatre; tickets, $12, may be purchased here

THE CITY OF CHICAGO is offering arts organizations the rare opportunity of residency in the landmark Chicago Cultural Center at Randolph and Michigan.  The program is accepting applications through Monday, Aug. 31, for selected residents, providing them with space, equipment and marketing support.

In exchange, the resident must present four high quality free programs for residents and visitors at the Cultural Center over the course of the following year.  Many details involved, so check them out here.

GOT NEWS? WE WANT IT. A lot is going on as the summer segues into busy fall so send your news and notes to ruth@reelchicago.com.