Women protagonists in ABC, NBC pilots filming here

Paula Patton has the lead in “Runner”

FOX TV IS SO PLEASED at the cooperation, professionalism and ease of working here on the smash hit “Empire,” that it sent production of two pilots here.  They started shooting last Monday at Cinespace Studios and city neighborhoods and will wrap Friday, March 27.

Both pilots have women protagonists for a change of pace.

Paula Patton, in her first TV series commitment, stars as wife and mother Lauren in the ABC adventure/drama “Runner.” Based on the Turkish series, “Son,” it’s about the world of arms trading, where Lauren is thrown into the world of secrets and crime. 

In NBC’s drama “Love is a Four Letter Word,” Cynthia McWilliams plays Julie, a successful attorney in a story loglined as “the collision of race, sexuality and gender.”

Fox-owned 20th TV is the co-production company with ABC Studios for “Runner” and with Fabrik on “Love is a Four Letter Word.” 

PSST! WE HEAR … There is a good possibility that if a single-camera sitcom pilot being shot in another city is greenlit for a series, it will be shot here.  Stay tuned.

ILLINOIS LOTTERY DIRECTOR Michael Jones is leaving his job Friday, at the end of his appointed term, Crain’s reports. In a memo to his staff, Jones said, “I was asked to become the Illinois Lottery director in 2011 to ‘straighten’ out the lottery’s new private manager model.  As many you know, ‘straightening’ it out provided to be a much more difficult task, in an artificially difficult environment, than I could have ever imagined.”

Jones added he did the best job he could and plans to go on a surfing vacation next week.  Gov. Rauner’s office did not comment on Jones’ departure.

Y&R’S NEW PRESIDENT, John Fraser, moved over from mcgarrybowen where he’d been chief operating officer, to succeed Kary McIlwain, a 26-year Y&R veteran of its New York and Chicago offices.  Fraser also previously had worked at Element 79 and FCB.

The move follows the departure of CCO Bill Cimino who left the agency in January and Pam Mufson and Jeremy Smallwood were promoted as co-ECDs. 

HY CONNECT has gained another new client in less than a month: Chicago’s First Lady Cruises, operators of a fleet of vessels accommodating two to 250 guests.  On Feb. 20 Hy Connect gained the Land O’Frost account.

FOR THE 2015 AICE AWARDS, Utopic editor Craig Lewandowski was named a co-chair of the Curatorial Committee, along with editor Chris Franklin of Big Sky Edit, New York and Bob Spector of Beast, San Francisco. 

Other Chicagoans on the Committee that will choose the winners are Cutters’ Kathryn Hempel and Particle Audio’s Kathy Mindeman.  Winners will be announced at the AICE Awards Show May 14 at the Skirball Cultural Center in LA.

THE REASON THE REEL didn’t arrive in your Inboxes earlier this week was due to a monstrous crash of my computer that, due to a series of subsequent repair disasters, took SIX DAYS to correct. And it’s still not functioning properly.

One of the problems was:  I could send, but you couldn’t receive.  Another was: the system was archiving 35,000 emails, one-at-a-time. Don’t ask.  The good thing is we’re back and will make up for our news absence the rest of the week.

EVERYBODY’S BUSY so that means you’ve got lots of news of share with ReelChicago’s 50,000 readers.  Send to ruth@reelchicago.