Superman flies into Chicago to film here this summer

“SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL” lands in Chicago in early summer for a reported 12 weeks of prep and 12 weeks of filming.  The  Warner Bros. blockbuster-budgeted adventure/fantasy stars handsome, young Brit star Henry Cavill  (“The Tudors”) as the Caped Crusader and feisty Amy Adams (“The Fighter”) as smart, tough, warm ambitious and adoring Lois Lane.

Jim Sikora feature “The Critics,” 12 years in the making

Twelve years after Jim Sikora shot his film adaptation of Adam Langer’s play “The Critics,” the caustic satire of theatre and the people who cover it finally sees the light of day in a premiere run Feb. 18 and 19 at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Jim Donovan, Mark Vanesse, Juliet Schaefer, Mary Beth McMahon, James William Joseph, and Maht Wells play five theater critics and their editor at Chicago alternative weekly “The New Void,” sussing out who among them has secretly written a new play that excoriates thinly veiled caricatures of each of them.

Series about Chicago politicians in the works

GIVEN THE TREMENDOUS SUCCESS of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” it comes as no surprise that the Chicago equivalent of the Prohibition era is being adapted as a TV series.

Actor Joe Sikora (Hans Schroeder on “Boardwalk Empire”) and writer/director Phil Donlon, both Chicago natives, are developing a series called “Lords of the Levee,” based on books by Lloyd Wendt and Herman Kogan’s depiction of two of Chicago’s most notorious and colorful politicians.

Christian filmmaker Phil Vischer is back

Phil Vischer, the creator of “VeggieTales,” has been reborn, in a sense, by returning to the business of creating whimsical characters who tell Bible tales to children.

He surmounted the emotional and financial effects of the bankruptcy of his Big Idea Production empire and started JellyTelly Labs, a production company using hand-puppets to do the work of a bunch of vegetables.

Unlike his former Lombard building and a 200-person staff, Vischer has a full-time staff of four and contentedly works out of a 3,000-sq. ft. Wheaton office with a 500-sq. ft. stage.

Radio Hall of Fame inductee disputed

“DuMONT’S HALL OF SHAME” headlined an expensive, full-page Tribune ad last week, protesting the induction of far-right broadcaster James Dobson of “Focus on the Family” into MBC’s National Hall of Fame on Nov. 8. Bruce DuMont is the founder and president of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, which annually holds the prestigious Hall of Fame fund-raiser.

“DumpDobson.com calls for DuMont to “Dobson is an ideologue who has built his radio empire on anti-gay hatred and discrimination,” declares the ad, paid for by by anti-bigotry organizations.

Adworld special: New York’s The One Show print winners are on display at Columbia College

THE ONE SHOW of great advertising from New York’s One Club, which judged 18,000 entries from 50 countries, has made its annual pilgrimage to Chicago and the 2007 print winners are on display at the Conaway Center at Columbia College, 1104 S. Wabash, through Oct. 18.

Meanwhile in New York, three industry luminaries will be inducted in The One Club’s Creative Hall of Fame Oct. 17 at a black tie gala.

John Champion and Jeff Kehe produce pop culture “land of geekdom” webTV shows for cult followers

WHO THEY ARE: Founders of two-year-old, Evanston-based Stone Face Productions, director John Champion and writer Jeff Kehe produce the webTV “BIF! BAM! POW! WOW!” at www.bifbampowwow.tv.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT: In less than 10 minutes, quirky, Lincoln Park comic book store manager Tom Seymour hosts viewers through the “land of geekdom,” with cartoon-style segments about superheroes, sci-fi or pop culture.

The show is produced for ON Networks, the company which owns and distributes “BIF! BAM! POW!

New Chicago Cinema Forum fosters discussion with screenings of rare films and built-in mingling

Chicago Cinema Forum is a new group made up of ambitious young cinephiles who aim to bring Chicagoans rare films, along with the chance to talk about them with film scholars in post-screening discussions.

Founders Christy LeMaster, Gabe Klinger and Darnell Witt are working together to turn this vision into a reality.

Although all three collaborate on programming choices, LeMaster concentrates on fundraising, while Klinger and Witt deal with the nuts and bolts of finding film prints and guest speakers.

Neuberger produces music festival webcast

HANK NEUBERGER, Chicago’s sound guru, is currently in Palm Springs where he will head a 90-member crew, including lots of Chicago guys, to produce a three day webcast of the big annual Coachella Music Festival of contemporary rock and pop music.

The festival will be captured with 18 HD cameras, with video support provided by Trio Video.

It will run on website www.at&tblueroom.com for 10 hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The following weekend, the entire crew moves to the Empire Polo Field in nearby Indio, Calif.

River West’s Avec reels in oceans of praise for its red snapper, out-tasting that enjoyed in Bali

While I was in Bali on a recent shoot, a sun-blistered fisherman suggested which red snapper I should buy for lunch from among the several he’d caught a few hours earlier from the Indian Ocean.

I returned to my oceanside hotel and handed my one pound, 50 cent bounty to the chef and asked him to whip it up Balinese-style for me.

The tab for the entire char-grilled fish, a mound of white rice and tossed salad cost less than $2 two-dollars and was quite delicious. But after a few bites I was stunned to realize that the red snapper I’d enjoyed at Avec, 615 W.

Locally-shot “Ice Harvest” director Harold Ramis talks about directing, his career and philosophies

Major industry player and Second City alum Harold Ramis built a career as a leading writer, then writer-director of comedies like “Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day.”

Ramis’ latest, darkest film, the noir “The Ice Harvest,” was shot in spring 2004, mostly in the area around Ramis’ Highland Park home, on a reported $16 million budget. It opens Nov. 23.

It stars John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton as a couple of Wichita Falls embezzlers trying to escape retribution on Christmas Eve.

Independent Production Roundup

CRAIG JAMES PIETROWIAK of Squid Brothers and Scott Preston of American Stonehenge Films are joining forces to co-produce two back-to-back HD features next year.

First up in spring is Pietrowiak’s under-$75,000 “Wrigleyville,” a coming-of-age ensemble drama that he’s been developing as a TV pilot. He plans both feature-length and hour-long cuts, “to maximize exposure.” Financing is from retired People’s Gas employee, E.P. Patrick Hogan.

Johnson’s “Star Wars” homage shoots in August; Pantoliano, Fisher, Lloyd to co-star

Patrick Read Johnson starts production in late August on his autobiographical coming of age story “5-25-77,” set on the day “Star Wars” was released.

Joe Pantoliano and Carrie Fisher will play the parents of the main character, who has not yet been cast, according to line producer Leigh Jones. Also attached are Christopher Lloyd as a theater owner and Sara Tanaka (“Rushmore”) as the love interest.

Telling Truth in Chicago:
A Survey of Local Docmakers, Part II

This is the second in a two-part survey of local documentarians, who they are, their background and credits. Ranging from national leaders like Kartemquin, Towers and Kurtis Productions, to small to mid-size companies, they capture public imagination and affect social change by telling true stories.

Bob Hercules

Engineering with the big guys

Audio engineer Michael Kammes said he’s still glowing from his experience as part of a stellar sound team on a $2.2 million PBS documentary airing this month.

The first two hours of “Kingdom of David: The Saga of the Israelites” aired May 14; the second part airs May 21 over Ch. 11. It’s part of PBS’ acclaimed “Ancient Empires” series.