WIFC’s Focus Award honors Merri Dee

WOMEN IN FILM has made a righteous choice to honor broadcast trailblazer, talk show host, news anchor and community activist Merri Dee as its 2010 Focus Award honoree.

Dee has parlayed her celebrity into many children’s and educational charitable works. She spearheaded Illinois’ victims rights’ legislation after she and one of her talk show guests had been kidnapped, driven to a wooded area, shot twice in the head and left for dead, in 1971.

After retiring from WGN-TV in 2008 after 30 years, Dee formed full-service MD Communications. The 2010 Focus Awards will be held in late October.

A FULL HOUSE is expected Wednesday at Avid Post Solutions event. Avid experts, in partnership with Roscor, will exhibit the latest Avid products, including the new Media Composer 5, ICON and ProTools HD and show how to master Red and S-3D workflows with Media Composer 5 and Avid DS 10.3.

It takes place at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, 2233 S. Martin Luther King Drive, 4-8:30 p.m., including a 4:45-7:45 p.m. reception.

INDIE FILMMAKER TODD SOLONDZ (“Welcome to the Dollhouse”) visits Chicago July 22 in connection with his new film, “Life During Wartime,” is being presented by IFP/Chicago at the AMC River East theatre.

The story is part sequel, part variation of Solondz’ controversial “Happiness,” and features an ensemble cast in a hilarious exploration of forgiveness, family and love.

Solondz’ Q&As will be moderated by Scott Tobias, Film Editor of The AV Club after the 7:30 p.m. screening.

“I’M OVER THE MOON,” justifiably declares director Ron Lazzeretti whose feature, “Something Better Somewhere else,” rated glowing reviews from Roger Ebert, three stars from tough Tribune critic Michael Phillips, and Time Out Chicago. The feature plays all this week at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER MARK ANDROW of Story, who knows a little something about the AICP, was elected president of the Midwest Chapter, succeeding Radar’s executive producer Lisa Masseur.

Androw is an old AICP hand, who has served on the national AICP board for 15 years, served as national treasurer for eight years and was national chairman for two years.

, DOCUMENTARIAN KEN BURNS , makes a rare Chicago appearance Aug. 19 to promote his new book, “The Tenth Inning,” at a luncheon at the Union League Club. TV Academy members pay purchase tickets for $40, $60 for non-members, through the NATAS office.

10-YEAR OLD PURE IMAGINATION of Batavia expanded into larger space over the weekend into a building it bought at 12 E. Wilson St. in the suburb. The marketing agency will occupy 4,000-sq. ft., which includes a 1,000-sq. ft. studio, and an editing room with two editing suites.

SAG PRESIDENT KEN HOWARD will be in town July 29 to talk to AFTRA/SAG members in the unions’ on-going “Conversation with?” program. The event is open to union members, at the Kaufherr Center at 7 p.m.

Also on July 29: A New York premiere for director Esai Melendez’ “Immigrant Nation: The Battle for the Dream,” at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival (an encore on Aug. 1) at the Chelsea Theatres. Melendez is a producer at WYCC, Ch. 20.

On July 30, CHIFCPUG goes to Arlington Park for its annual summer networking event, where there’s food, drink, wagering, raffle throughout the day. THE RECENT IPA ELECTION gave Local 476’s business manager Mark Hogan the presidency for a second term. Other new officers are lst VP, Eileen Willenborg, SAG/AFTRA; 2nd VP Scott Erlinder, DePaul professor; secretary, Dan Moore, DGA and treasurer Sally Fletcher, Fletcher Camera.

Board members are: Mark Androw, The Whole Story, Mike Ciaccio of the Teamsters; Eric Chaudron, the new SAG/AFTRA executive director; Justin Conway, Cameraman’s 600; Erlinder; Hogan; Jennifer Jobst, Wardrobe Local 769; casting director Sharon King; Wayne Kubacki, Essanay Studio & Lighting; Rich Lederer, DGA; CPA Jim Laubinger; Moore; casting director Claire Simon; Scott Smith, Chicago Audio Works, and Willenborg.

AHH, IF ONLY we could live the life of Michael Kutza, Chicago International Film Festival founder/artistic director. He’s been in Cannes, where he hosted a yacht party sailing the Mediterranean for film people and the press,from 27 international cities.

Kutza says his trip’s purpose was “to promote filmmaking in Chicago and Illinois and promote our 46th Chicago International Film Festival. There’s no place like Cannes if you love film.”

Chicagoans partying on the yacht “Magic,” donated by long time festival friend Clint Atkins, were the Tribune’s Michael Phillips and Patrick McGavin of the Tribune and Screen International, his wife Monika, Facets programmer Charles Coleman, Time Out Chicago’s Ben Kenigsberg, Radio Chicago’s Zbigniew and Beata Banas, Lisa Nesselson of Screen International, , Carl Iwata, , representing , Roger Ebert, and , Alexis Atkins, , Miss Illinois Teen USA.

FYI. AFTRA has overtaken SAG as the top actors union as AFTRA, for the first time, will represent more scripted series on TV networks next season than SAG. There will be 45 AFTRA series on the air vs. 38 SAG shows. This is a major switch, as compared to last year, when 48 series were under SAG and 26 under AFTRA.

LOCATION PRODUCTION IS RETURNING TO L.A. Location filming increased 16% for the second quarter, according to non-profit FilmL.A. that coordinates L.A. city and county location permits. A total of 11,134 permitted production days (PPD) were recorded for the period, compared to the 9,597 PPD logged in 2009. Part sequel, part variation on his acclaimed and controversial HAPPINESS, the newest film from celebrated director Todd Solondz (WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, PALINDROMES) assembles an amazing ensemble cast including Allison Janney, Shirley Henderson, Paul Reubens, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ally Sheedy, Charlotte Rampling, and Ci?ran Hinds in an utterly hilarious exploration of the boundaries of forgiveness, family, and love. Ten years have passed since shocking revelations shattered the world of the Jordan family, and now sisters Joy (Henderson), Trish (Janney), and Helen (Sheedy), each embroiled in their own unique dilemmas, struggle to find their place in an unpredictable and volatile world. The past now haunts their family both literally and otherwise, and jeopardizes the future. Alternately hilarious and tragic, outrageous and poignant, LIFE DURING WARTIME is an audacious comedy with unexpected resonance. Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 7:30pm AMC River East 21 322 East Illinois Street Chicago, IL 60611 A Q&A with Director Todd Solondz, **PLEASE NOTE! Admission is guaranteed for IFP/Chicago members. For non-members, admission is first come/first served! All who wish to attend MUST RSVP in advance by emailing LIFE DURING WARTIME and your name to chicago@ifp.org!! Unless you are an IFP/Chicago member, sending an RSVP DOES NOT GUARANTEE ADMISSION, so please show up early!!!