Pappas and ABC 7 host ‘Black and Latino Houses Matter’

Treasurer Maria Pappas and ABC 7 Chicago will host Black and Latino Houses Matter on March 11, 2021, a phone bank to help Cook County homeowners find refunds, apply for property tax exemptions and avoid the Tax Sale, Pappas said today.  “I am grateful to ABC 7 for participating in my program to return money to taxpayers and … Continue reading “Pappas and ABC 7 host ‘Black and Latino Houses Matter’”

Michelle McGee picked from 7,000 for one year
coveted ABC/Disney Writing Fellowship in L.A.

The last three months have been momentous for Michelle McGee, former Post Effects scheduler and future ABC/Disney TV comedy show writer.

McGee was married in September, and was tapped in December as one of 10 winners of the ABC/Disney Comedy Writing Fellowships, selected from among 7,000 applicants.

On Feb. 5 at 9 a.m., she reports to ABC on the Disney lot in Burbank to start what is basically a one year paid internship on an ongoing TV show. “If you find a show you click with, they keep you there,” McGee said.

“Working in television was always my dream.

Official cast photos for Season 7 of Chicago Med

Welcome back to the cast of Chicago Med! The halls of Gaffney Medical Center are busy again but there’s a couple new faces in the Season 7 official cast photos. The season premiere had a shake up of cast as we ushered out Dr. Natalie Manning (Torrey DeVitto) and nurse April Sexton (Yaya DaCosta) and … Continue reading “Official cast photos for Season 7 of Chicago Med”

Nine time Emmy award winner Allison Payne has passed at age 57

Nine time Emmy award winner Allison Payne, the former anchor at WGN, passed away earlier this month at age 57, her former employer announced over the weekend. Payne was with WGN-TV in Chicago for 21 years, covering everything from politics to sports. According to WGN, she traveled to Kenya for a story on former President … Continue reading “Nine time Emmy award winner Allison Payne has passed at age 57”

Chicago actress “mixes” it up on hit ABC sitcom

Deb Snyder’s creative path of acting has been a nomadic, long, and winding road of self-discovery beginning from her early days in Chicago and leading all the way to Los Angeles, where she now appears on ABC’s mixed-ish. As a recurring guest star, Deb plays ‘Dolores’ on the hit series that follows black-ish’s Rainbow Johnson … Continue reading “Chicago actress “mixes” it up on hit ABC sitcom”

Janet Davies leaves WLS-7 after 37 years

After almost 37 years, Janet Davies has announced in a Facebook post that she is no longer affiliated with the ABC owned Chicago station WLS. Her post followed the station’s recent decision not to renew her contract as a freelance employee after her status as a full-time employee ended in 2013, when ABC 7 cancelled … Continue reading “Janet Davies leaves WLS-7 after 37 years”

‘Chicago’ Encores win 7 straight weeks in total viewers

NBC’s encore “Chicago” lineup won the night among the Big 4 networks in total viewers and has now finished #1 among those nets on seven of seven Wednesday nights so far this summer. An encore telecast of “Chicago Med” (0.4 rating in 18-49, 3.6 million viewers overall from 8-9 p.m. ET) retained 100% versus the … Continue reading “‘Chicago’ Encores win 7 straight weeks in total viewers”

Hollywood Comes to Chicago — 1979

“Blues Brothers” director John Landis describes impending explosions while scouting locations in John Davies’ vintage short film In 1979, Chicago filmmaker John Davies produced a short titled, Hollywood Comes to Chicago, that featured a tour through the Windy City and its film production industry. He planned to submit the piece to WTTW’s Image Union, a … Continue reading “Hollywood Comes to Chicago — 1979”

Hercules’ doc about Bahá’í faith premieres May 13 on ABC

First-ever feature documentary on founding of the Bahá’í faith to premiere nationwide Directed by award-winning documentarian and co-founder of Chicago’s Media Process Group Bob Hercules, “​The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith” will be broadcast on ABC affiliates across the country May 13   (Chicago — 7 May 2018) Spring Green Films today announces ​the … Continue reading “Hercules’ doc about Bahá’í faith premieres May 13 on ABC”

24/7 — Studio Mechanics Local 476

The members of Studio Mechanics Local 476, the Chicago branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union, work behind the scenes of every Cinespace production. Without their contribution, the magic that comes out of Cinespace would be much more difficult to make. On a typical production, according to Business Manager Mark Hogan, … Continue reading “24/7 — Studio Mechanics Local 476”

Big Mouth actor, 14, co-stars in new ABC family sitcom

Local casting has not yet begun in earnest for the upcoming flood of TV series that will start shooting here shortly, but that doesn’t mean talent agencies and casting companies haven’t been busy.  Case in point: agents Kelly Wilkening and Brooke Tonneman’s Big Mouth Talent agency.‎

Their 14-year old client, Sean Giambrone, was tapped for a starring role on a new ABC family sitcom, “The Goldbergs,” that will air during the 2013-2014 season.

Ch. 5 vs. Ch. 7 in race to bring home viewer gold

Can Larry Wert at long last bring home the gold?  Now may be the best opportunity in a long time for long-standing NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 general manager Wert and his local news team to make a legitimate run at dethroning ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, the longtime champion in the late local news ratings competition.

How so? In case you haven’t heard, we are deep into the quadrennial Summer Olympics sporting extravaganza, and millions of eyes in this country are glued to NBC each evening for marathon prime time coverage of the event.

Ch. 7 still late night news leader, but a point down

With one day to go in the Nielsen March TV ratings book, the results in the local late news ratings competition show ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 continues to hold on the No. 1 spot in the rankings.

But as was the case in February, the station’s 10 p.m. rating of 8.2 Monday through Friday is down more than a full rating point from where it was a year ago at 9.5.  (Each local ratings point represents 35,000 households.)

Ch.2 ratings right behind Ch.7’s dropping numbers

According to Nielsen’s February sweeps book, local late news ratings competition is tighter than it was a year ago. Though still No. 1, longtime frontrunner ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 is down some 16 percent to an 8.1 rating at 10 p.m., from a 9.7 rating a year ago Monday through Friday.

The falloff comes despite a seven percent ratings increase in Channel 7’s lead-in to the 10 p.m. news.

Ch. 7 still rules as all 10 p.m. news ratings slip

Whoever said we humans are creatures of habit was right. For years, however, that truism has been a source of more than a little frustration to more than a few general managers and news directors at Chicago television stations.

Over time they have done just about everything thinkable short of handing each and every viewer in the city and suburbs a cool million dollars in cash to get them to change their late news viewing habits.

Ch. 7’s ‘Windy City Live’ in Oprah’s slot finds its groove

It’s rare that a brand new, built-from-scratch TV show springs to life in perfect shape.  It’s even rarer when the show happens to be a live, local telecast such as top-rated ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7’s new Windy City Live, which launched in late May immediately following the final farewell from Chicago’s former reigning talk diva Oprah Winfrey.

Windy City Live, as we know by now, is the hour-long show conceived by fearless WLS general manager Emily Barr and her production team to fill the 9 a.m. weekday slot that Winfrey dominated for a quarter century.

Low ratings, incentive doubt kill ‘Detroit 1-8-7’

SERIES CANCELED. Chicago wasn’t the only location outside of L.A. to lose a big network TV series last week.  On Friday the 13th, ABC canceled Detroit 1-8-7. Like Fox’s Chicago Code, its ratings weren’t strong – but Gov. Rick Snyder’s dismantling of the film incentives with his proposed $25 million cap, didn’t help, either.

Claire Simon Casting put 371 local actors in network series

Claire Simon Casting so far has cast the most Chicago AFTRA actors in network television shows, 371 in all – 198 in the 13 episodes of Fox’ “The Chicago Code,” and 173 in 18 episodes of ABCV’s “Detroit 1-8-7.” 

“I’m really proud of our Chicago actors, they are amazing,” she says.  “Everyone involved with the two series was totally happy with their work.”

Ch. 7 poised for new morning show

ABC 7 HIRED TWO DAYTIME PROS to create and oversee a new post-Oprah live, local morning show to originate from Ch. 7′ State Street studios.

Heading the production team of tentatively titled show, “Morning Rush,” are two producers with extensive experience in live, daytime television. Executive producer is Marlaine Selip, former EP of Ch.

What’s going to replace Oprah at Ch 7 next year?

When Oprah packs up and moves to L.A. next year, her talk show replacement won’t be another syndicated show.

Instead, it will be a brand new, live, local morning show with a studio audience, tentatively titled “Morning Rush,” to originate from WLS-Ch. 7’s studios at 190 N. State St., according to broadcast reporter Robert Feder’s

That’s the word from Emily Barr, president/general manager of the top-rated ABC-owned station, which has served as Oprah’s flagship outlet at 9 a.m. Monday through Friday for a quarter-century.

Claire Simon casting a Detroit series; Element 79 layoffs due to account losses

CASTING DIRECTOR CLAIRE SIMON is in Detroit last week casting parts for a new ABC series, “The Prince of Motor City,” to be directed by “Lost” writer Jack Bender, known for action and drama.

Cast of the hourlong drama includes Andie MacDowell, Piper Perabo, Aunjanue Ellis and Warren Christie thus far.

According the ABC, “The Prince” is inspired by Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Philosophy lecturer Billy Hamilton is the Hamlet character, questioning whether to take over his father’s business after his scion dad is murdered.

Sean Hannity hosts the MBC’s live presentation of the Hall of Fame Awards to air over ABC radio

Sean Hannity, co-host of Fox News’ nightly “Hannity & Colmes” will host the live, one-hour presentation of the 2007 National Radio Hall of Fame.

The Nov. 3 annual induction of radio greats will be broadcast live at 9 p.m. over ABC Radio from the black tie gala at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel.

The 2007 inductees are: Baseball broadcaster Jerry Coleman, the voice of the San Diego Padres for 32 years; rock radio pioneer Dan Ingram, one of the best Top 40 DJs of all time and Marian McPartland, host of “McPartland’s Piano Jazz” heard over National Public Radio for 25-plus years.

SMS Productions hosts Sept. 27-29 Cine Tech Expo with new equipment and illuminating workshops

Call the Chicago Cine Tech Expo a labor of love for expo producers Helena and Man Sung Son.

Their goal for the Sept. 27-29 showcase is not profit (“we only want to cover expenses,” says Helena), but rather to help promote the city’s talent and resources and introduce filmmakers to new technology and ideas.

Columbia College’s expanded and remodeled eighth floor is the Expo venue, larger and more convenient that last year’s test run at North Park College.

Chicago’s comedy bones to tickle with first ever Comedy TV Pilot Competition ? March 27 deadline

The Chicago Comedy TV Pilot Competition, designed to embellish Chicago’s stellar reputation for comedy, will bow at the Music Box Theatre next July.

Presented by Wits’ End Productions and the Chicago Film Office, the competition will be judged by savvy jury of Hollywood TV show executives and offer a sizable cash prize.

Deadline is March 27, which gives filmmakers and producers ample time to turn their ideas for TV shows into pilots, said Marion Sours, founder/director of Wits’ End.

Harpo Productions buys nearby 17,000 sq. ft. building formerly owned by Peter Elliott

Oprah’s Harpo Productions has purchased the former Peter Elliott studios cater-corner from Harpo at 1115 W. Washington St., the studio confirmed.

The 17,000-sq. ft. production complex will have a number of uses, one of which is reportedly a new studio for Oprah’s daytime show on ABC. The building is being renovated and should be ready for occupancy in August, sources said.

Neither the sale price nor the cost of renovation was disclosed.

Harpo’s expansion should help quell rumors of the Oprah show moving to Los Angeles.

Dreaming Tree shoots HD “revenge remix;” expands teen web series to ten cities in 2005

Dreaming Tree Films continues its combination of heavy-hitting sponsors and teen apprenticeships with a city-funded feature and a major expansion of its Wrigley-financed “Fresh Films” online series.

Next summer the four-year-old Dreaming Tree will expand its “Fresh Films” filmmaking contest series to 10 cities, up from two cities last summer.

Jones follows Greenlight movie with indie “Outing Riley” premiering at Chi Film Fest

“Outing Riley,” Pete Jones’ independent followup to his 2002 Project Greenlight movie “Stolen Summer,” has its world premiere Oct. 10 at the Chicago International Film Festival.

“We’ve gotten some offers for a U.S. theatrical release but the money was not what we wanted it to be,” Jones said.

“We’re hoping we can catch lightning in a bottle in Chicago and find a studio to get behind the film. My biggest goal is to get my investors their money back, and get myself another job.”

Reid, 7 others, win AWRT awards

Production veteran Nancy Reid is one of four persons to be honored by the Sept. 19 Angel Awards presented by American Women in Radio & Television’s Chicago chapter.

Reid, VP/development for Fred Blurton Productions and former VP/general manager of Broadview Media, will receive the Profile Award “for enhancing the positive profile of AWRT in the community.”

The Angel awards are named in honor of Angel (Mrs. Paul) Harvey, an early AWRT supporter and recipient of the first recognition award in 2002.

Awards are presented to individuals and companies in four categories.

ABC and AFTRA seek diversity with national talent search here

The ABC Talent Showcase in conjuction with National AFTRA is coming to Chicago in search of diversity among actors for national television shows.

Local SAG, AFTRA and Actors Equity members have until March 15 to get their headshots in for this first-time opportunity. The Showcase will held in June.

The goal of the AFTRA-initiated showcase “is to help produce programming that reflects what we see out in the landscape of America, in terms of gender, disability, ethnicity and age,” said Ray Bradford, AFTRA’s national director for equal employment opportunities.

2020 in Review: Remembering Who Left Us

Whether you stay in Chicago to make your mark or leave to make your impact felt somewhere else, you are still Chicago. 100%. It’s a badge of honor anyone from the city, that is second to none, wears proudly. When you win, we cheer for you. And when we lose you, we cry and hug … Continue reading “2020 in Review: Remembering Who Left Us”

Lightning strikes Trump Tower before debate

Apparently, Mother Nature may have an opinion on the Trump Biden debate. Before Thursday’s presidential debate, Trump Tower was struck by what appears to be three simultaneous bolts of lightning, though one Twitter user pointed out that it could just be one lightning strike followed by what are called “stepped leaders,” or a series of … Continue reading “Lightning strikes Trump Tower before debate”

WLS news legend Joel Daly passes away at 86

2020 has taken so many legends from us. Reel Chicago is sad to report that iconic newsman Joel Daly, who spent nearly 40 years at ABC affiliate WLS, died today at around 5:30 a.m. at his home in LaGrange. He was 86. “He died peacefully,” his daughter Kelly told the Chicago Tribune referring to her father who … Continue reading “WLS news legend Joel Daly passes away at 86”

2019-2020 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Nominations List

Congratulations to our friends and advertisers who have received nominations for a Chicago/Midwest Emmy. The 62nd Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards will broadcast virtually in November. Regions covered by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter include Chicago, Illinois; Peoria-Bloomington, Illinois; Rockford, Illinois; South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana; Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Wausau-Rhinelander, Wisconsin; and Madison, Wisconsin. Here is the complete list … Continue reading “2019-2020 Chicago/Midwest Emmy Nominations List”

Cubs and White Sox read for CPL ‘Live From the Library’

Chicago Public Library announced that the upcoming group of celebrity readers for the popular “Live From the Library” program will celebrate the beginning of Major League Baseball. “Live From the Library” which features a combination of librarians, authors, celebrities, and notable Chicagoans, will highlight notable representatives of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox organizations, … Continue reading “Cubs and White Sox read for CPL ‘Live From the Library’”

Motion salutes Women’s Day with ‘Our Focus Our Future’

The Motion Agency celebrated International Women’s Day by inviting dozens of industry guests to a panel discussion and networking event titled, “Our Focus Our Future,” at their River North office on Friday afternoon. Described as “20 Women Leading the Way in 2020,” the highlight of the program featured nearly two-dozen female executives and entrepreneurs answering … Continue reading “Motion salutes Women’s Day with ‘Our Focus Our Future’”

Jussie Smollett: Timeline of a “hoax?”

Grand jury convenes this week to determine if the “Empire” star filed a false police report The alleged “homophobic” and “racist” attack on Jussie Smollett, which reportedly took place in the early hours of January 29, has taken more twists and turns than an hour of the locally-filmed hit Fox series Empire. One could almost … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett: Timeline of a “hoax?””

Two Nigerian suspects in Smollett attack arrested

Report: Chicago Police raided the home of “two persons of interest” on Wednesday night, investigation continues According to The Wrap, two “potential suspects” have been brought in for questioning by Chicago PD for the attack on Empire actor Jussie Smollett. Friday morning, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, confirmed they are talking to two men, they … Continue reading “Two Nigerian suspects in Smollett attack arrested”

Fusion92 named one of Chi’s best places to work

Apparently working differently not only works but gets you accolades. Fusion92 has been recognized as one of the 2018 Chicago’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in the Small Business category. Based on an independent research firm evaluation of key topics in various categories, only the most innovative, thoughtful and resourceful companies receive the … Continue reading “Fusion92 named one of Chi’s best places to work”

Piven Excellence Award to TV actress Kate Walsh

“PRIVATE PRACTICE” STAR Kate Walsh will be honored with the Joyce Piven Artistic Excellence Award Oct. 17 at the Piven Theatre Workshop’s 2010 Awards Brunch.

Walsh, a Piven Workshop alum, is being honored for her continued support of the Workshop and her outstanding contributions to the theatre world.

Kartemquin fills two important new positions

KARTEMQUIN FILMS’ LONG RANGE PLANS under executive director Justine Nagan are taking shape with two new additions.

Martin Perdoux is the new Director of Development, the former Associate Director of Development at the School of the Art Institute and faculty in its graduate-level art therapy program. Earlier he was with Columbia College’s interdisciplinary Arts graduate program.

Jacinta Banks, who spent seven years at Kraft Foods in project management, joined as Distribution Associate.

Chicago PD: this week’s pics & promo ‘The One Next to Me’

This week’s new episode of Chicago P.D. titled The One Next to Me is airing Wednesday at 9 PM CST on NBC 5. Here’s the official information that NBC has made available for Wednesday’s episode: Officer Kim Burgess fights for her life as the team scrambles to find her kidnapper. Dep. Supt. Sam Miller is desperate to find … Continue reading “Chicago PD: this week’s pics & promo ‘The One Next to Me’”

Chicago Fire official cast photos for Season 10

We’re back! The official cast photos have been released for Season 10 of Chicago Fire. Now that it has been revealed that our team has survived the life-threatening underwater rescue it is safe to show the photos of our beloved cast of Chicago Fire for Season 10. We are hoping there won’t be any tearful … Continue reading “Chicago Fire official cast photos for Season 10”

Interfirst plans to hire 250 Chicago area teachers as mortgage loan officers

Interfirst – a leading digital mortgage company – announced plans to hire up to 250 teachers searching for a new career from across the Chicago area as mortgage loan officers. This is a major part of its initiative to invest $5 million to expand its presence in the region. “Teachers build personal relationships with people in their community every … Continue reading “Interfirst plans to hire 250 Chicago area teachers as mortgage loan officers”

IFA Chicago hosts Grey’s Anatomy director Daniel Willis

IFA Chicago’s Executive Talks event series, is hosting Chicago-native, award-winning television director, producer, and writer, Daniel Willis in a virtual conversation moderated by IFA Chicago Executive Director, Angie Gaffney. Daniel Willis’ directing credits include Freeform/Hulu’s Cruel Summer, ABC’s The Rookie, NBC’s The Blacklist, and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. He also recently served as producer/writer for the … Continue reading “IFA Chicago hosts Grey’s Anatomy director Daniel Willis”

Paper Girls filming scenes in Wheeling this week

Paper Girls completed filming scenes in Wheeling this week. According to a tweet from the Wheeling Police and Fire Department, production ended last night. The new Olive Productions /Amazon Studios /Legendary Entertainment series Paper Girls will continue filming in the Chicago area through mid September. “That’s a wrap! Film crews from Olive Productions, LLC in … Continue reading “Paper Girls filming scenes in Wheeling this week”

Chicago’s Open Culture artist lineups and programs

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced even more returning, new and reimagined summer cultural events across Chicago — plus artist lineups and other details for City programs previously announced as part of “Open Culture” — just one component of the Mayor’s Open Chicago initiative to safely and fully reopen the city.  … Continue reading “Chicago’s Open Culture artist lineups and programs”

World famous Bud Billiken Parade and Festival is Back!

Chicago’s youth will march alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, and a number of other local and national stars in the 92nd Annual Bud Billiken Parade on Saturday, August 14, 2021 at 10 a.m. The theme for this year’s parade is “Back to School, Back to Life, Back to Bud Billiken.” Produced by the Chicago Defender Charities, it is the largest … Continue reading “World famous Bud Billiken Parade and Festival is Back!”

Our Top 10 list of the best TV shows set in Chicago

As we say goodbye to our favorite heroes from One Chicago for the summer, it’s fun to look back on all the amazing TV shows set in the Windy City over the years. Chicago has been a production powerhouse for decades and has given us some of the best movies and TV shows that were … Continue reading “Our Top 10 list of the best TV shows set in Chicago”

Chicago’s beloved architect Helmut Jahn has died

AIA Chicago’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Helmut Jahn, a prominent German modernist/postmodernist architect who designed an Illinois state government building (James R. Thompson Center) and worked on the design of the FBI headquarters in Washington, was killed in a bicycle accident involving two vehicles as he was riding his bicycle outside Chicago according to the … Continue reading “Chicago’s beloved architect Helmut Jahn has died”

Chicago Med set pics ‘What A Tangle Web We Weave’

There is a new episode on this week’s Chicago Med titled What A Tangle Web We Weave airing this Wednesday at 7 PM CST on NBC 5.  Here’s the official information that NBC has made available for Wednesday’s episode: An auto accident sends Goodwin into a spiral as she tries to help a young boy … Continue reading “Chicago Med set pics ‘What A Tangle Web We Weave’”

Chicago’s Paul Raci wins Spirit Award for Metal

Chicago was once again represented at an awards show and no, the film didn’t begin with Trial or Ma. After being shut out of Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and winning a BAFTA, Chicago-born Paul Raci won an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male for his critically-acclaimed performance in Sound of … Continue reading “Chicago’s Paul Raci wins Spirit Award for Metal”

The Parker Andersons & Amelia Parker Chicago-based duo

BYUtv, a family entertainment network available over cable, satellite and free streaming, announced a gamechanger with the premiere of a duo of new single-camera family comedies – The Parker Andersons and Amelia Parker. The two interwoven scripted series highlight events in the life of a blended multicultural, interracial family from two different perspectives.  This completely new and … Continue reading “The Parker Andersons & Amelia Parker Chicago-based duo”

Byron Allen’s ‘This TV’ expands its distribution footprint

Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group announced its recently-purchased over-the-air 24/7 broadcast television network This TV will expand its distribution to eight major market ABC-owned television station subchannels as of April 1, 2021.  This TV broadcasts 24 hours a day and is now available in approximately 86 million U.S. households via over-the-air, cable, and online platforms. The free premium network  brings original … Continue reading “Byron Allen’s ‘This TV’ expands its distribution footprint”

Chicago Med set pics ‘So Many Things We’ve Kept Buried’

A new episode of Chicago Med titled So Many Things We’ve Kept Buried airing this Wednesday at 7 PM CST on NBC 5. This week’s Chicago Med looks like it’s going to have plenty of drama in the Emergency Room, based on the promo and pics NBC has made available about this next episode. Here’s … Continue reading “Chicago Med set pics ‘So Many Things We’ve Kept Buried’”

Chicago-based films fare well in Oscar noms

Actor-producer Priyanka Chopra Jonas and singer, songwriter and actor Nick Jonas announced the 93rd Oscars nominations today (March 15), live from London, via a global live stream on,, the Academy’s digital platforms, an international satellite feed and broadcast media. Films that are either based in Chicago, or featured Chicago talent, fared very well when the nominations settled. In this very … Continue reading “Chicago-based films fare well in Oscar noms”

RBL Spotlight: producer, Storm Smith

Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. During the month of February, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like Storm Smith with … Continue reading “RBL Spotlight: producer, Storm Smith”

Lena Waithe headlines DePaul screenwriting conference

Emmy Award-winning writer, creator, producer and actor Lena Waithe of  Twenties, The Chi and Queen & Slim will headline DePaul University’s Courier 12 Screenwriting Conference Feb. 5-6.  DePaul’s School of Cinematic Arts will present a series of virtual panel discussions with top screenwriting talent and TV and film executives from across the entertainment industry. Slated speakers include screenwriters Liz Hannah of The Post and Nicole Perlman of Guardians of … Continue reading “Lena Waithe headlines DePaul screenwriting conference”

Groundbreaking doc ‘What About Me’ to air in Feb

Groundbreaking documentary What About Me will air in syndication February 6–28, 2021. In an effort to change the negative perceptions of African American Men in the media, 5J Entertainment in collaboration with a prominent assembly of Black leaders and professionals is pleased to announce the pioneering documentary. What About Me is a riveting look into … Continue reading “Groundbreaking doc ‘What About Me’ to air in Feb”

Two Chicago Bachelorettes vie for Matt James’ rose

Thirty-two incredible women went in for love with Matt James when the exciting, landmark 25th edition of The Bachelor premiered on MONDAY, JAN. 4 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on ABC.  By the end of night one, 24 lucky bachelorettes remained to toast the Bachelor and join him on the romantic adventure of a lifetime! Two of them were from … Continue reading “Two Chicago Bachelorettes vie for Matt James’ rose”

Meijer takes ‘Believe’ message into Covid era

Retail chain Meijer launched its latest holiday commercial, You Better Not Pout,’ on Black Friday, 27th November, which chronicles a family’s attempt to celebrate a COVID-impacted Christmas. The work was created by Chicago-based independent advertising agency The Distillery Project (TDP) and doesn’t feature any imagery of stores or merchandise. Instead, the focus is on one family … Continue reading “Meijer takes ‘Believe’ message into Covid era”

Cooper’s Coffee is growing a network of good taste

The staff at Reel Chicago and Reel 360 are hooked on Cooper’s Gourmet Coffee and Cooper’s is offering our readers an exclusive 40% discount! Cooper’s Gourmet Coffee helps javaficionados satisfy their taste for joe while saving money. Besides offering a global selection of beans that are roasted on demand, the company boasts a referral program … Continue reading “Cooper’s Coffee is growing a network of good taste”

“We did it Joe!” Chicago reacts to the news

In celebration across the country, the overwhelming reaction to the news that Joe Biden won the presidential election was met with cheers, honking horns and dancing in the streets. In an unprecedented response, people yelled from balconies, banged pots and pans, and gathered in the streets in celebration. The morning began with a phone call … Continue reading ““We did it Joe!” Chicago reacts to the news”

Ebert Fest 2020 Symposium Series continues Nov 5

The 2020 Ebert Symposium Series conversations with filmmakers, executives and others involved in a changing media industry, continues on November 5 with an executive from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and University of Illinois Alumni. Christine Simmons, the academy’s chief operating officer, will be featured in a panel discussion of inclusion and equity in … Continue reading “Ebert Fest 2020 Symposium Series continues Nov 5”

Two paws up for Scaredy Cat first horror movie for cats

Just in time for Halloween, TEMPTATIONS™ brand cat treats premieres Scaredy Cat the brilliant first-ever horror movie for cats. The terrifying tale, went live Friday, October 16 on YouTube and it’s a hit. The story follows a lone kitty through a spooky haunted house. As a storm rages outside, a mysterious ball of yarn leads the cat from room … Continue reading “Two paws up for Scaredy Cat first horror movie for cats”

Diving into Highdive and their Emmy nomination

Daring to break the traditional agency mold, Highdive is producing exciting work that pushes the envelope in new ways. Most recently, the Ad Age Small Agency of the Year partnered with Jeep to create a Super Bowl spot celebrating the 90’s classic Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. The commercial resonated with audiences as it was … Continue reading “Diving into Highdive and their Emmy nomination”

Burrell taps ESPN’s Ryan Smith to moderate Town Hall

Award-Winning Burrell Communications Group Taps ESPN/ABC News Correspondent Ryan Smith to Moderate Virtual Town Hall Event, “Black Lives Have Always Mattered to Us” Burrell Communications Group has announced that it will host a virtual town hall, “Black Lives Have Always Mattered to Us,” on Thursday, July 30 at 1 p.m. CT. Moderated by ESPN/ABC News correspondent Ryan Smith, the … Continue reading “Burrell taps ESPN’s Ryan Smith to moderate Town Hall”

Chicago Filmmakers announces Film Education Program

Chicago Filmmakers announces the launch of Masterwork: Industry Conversations, a series of virtual interviews designed to provide insight into the careers of long established and award-winning filmmakers. The first session will take place on July 23 with cinematographer Jeff Jur, and the second will be on August 27 with cinematographer Michelle Crenshaw, both followed by a … Continue reading “Chicago Filmmakers announces Film Education Program”

Chicago broadcasting icon Hugh Downs passes at 99

He was a pioneer of broadcasting whose career would span a century. On July first, we lost 99-year-old TV News legend Hugh Downs. Downs passed away peacefully at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Downs was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1985 for having logged the most hours on network television, with more than … Continue reading “Chicago broadcasting icon Hugh Downs passes at 99”

‘Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago’ lineup

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today announced the lineup of Chicago and national celebrities who have come together to celebrate and pay tribute to the over 35,000 graduating high school seniors across Chicago. “Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago.” is a live, commercial-free 60-minute ceremony hosted and co-created by the City of Chicago and Citadel to … Continue reading “‘Graduation 2020: For Chicago. By Chicago’ lineup”

‘Chicago Fire’ encore is Wednesday’s top show

NBC’s encore “Chicago” lineup won the night among the Big 4 networks in total viewers and tied for #1 in all key adult-female demographics. An encore telecast of Chicago Med (0.4 rating in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall from 8-9 p.m. ET) won the timeslot among the Big 4 networks in total viewers and was … Continue reading “‘Chicago Fire’ encore is Wednesday’s top show”

Pam Zekman among those laid off at WBBM CBS-2

The economic impact of Covid-19 has hit CBS News and its Chicago affiliate WBBM CBS-2 in a big way. After 39 years of delivering award-winning investigative stories, iconic Pam Zekman was laid off. Zekman shared two Pulitzer prizes for her work at the Chicago Tribune, from 1971 to 1976, and the Sun-Times, from 1976 to … Continue reading “Pam Zekman among those laid off at WBBM CBS-2”

A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO Chicagoland during WW II

A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO, narrated by legendary journalist Bill Kurtis, is a comprehensive telling of nearly everything that happened in Chicagoland during World War II.  This one-hour documentary won the 2018 Chicago International Television Festival Gold Plaque Award for best nonfiction program, and is currently airing on more than 130 public television stations across … Continue reading “A CITY AT WAR: CHICAGO Chicagoland during WW II”

NBC Sports presents Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again

On the date of the originally-scheduled 2020 Indianapolis 500, NBC Sports will celebrate the traditions of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with its enhanced presentation of the 2019 Indianapolis 500 – Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again – this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. The enhanced race broadcast will feature a new pre-race program from … Continue reading “NBC Sports presents Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again”

‘Chicago’ encores finish #2 in total viewers

An encore telecast of Chicago Med (0.5 rating in 18-49, 3.8 million viewers overall from 8-9 p.m. ET) joined with the episode’s original telecast on Nov. 6, 2019 (8.1 million) to total 11.9 viewers. A rebroadcast of Chicago Fire (0.5 rating in 18-49, 4.2 million viewers overall from 9-10 p.m. ET) ranked #2 in the … Continue reading “‘Chicago’ encores finish #2 in total viewers”

‘Chicago Fire’ ‘Med’ season finales #1 and #2 in ratings

NBC’s Chicago Fire and Chicago Med led the network in total viewers. The shows ended their season ranking #1-2, respectively. The season-concluding Chicago P.D. captured the show’s most-watched episode. The Masked Singer, Survivor  and ABC’s comedies all lost out the season closer of Chicago Med (1.1 rating in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall from 8-9 … Continue reading “‘Chicago Fire’ ‘Med’ season finales #1 and #2 in ratings”

‘Chicago Med’ & ‘Fire’ #1 and 2 scripted series

NBC has tied for #2 in the key adult 18-49 demographic for the primetime ratings week of April 6-12, averaging a 0.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 4.6 million viewers overall, according to “live plus same day” figures from Nielsen Media Research. In total viewers, Monday’s The Voice was the #1 alternative series of the … Continue reading “‘Chicago Med’ & ‘Fire’ #1 and 2 scripted series”

Barbizon shares list of support resources for the industry

Barbizon Lighting has compiled a resource list of discounted or free educational opportunities and tools for our industry. If you are aware of one not listed below send an email to Tobin Neis with the item and a link and we can get it added! The lights will come up again; in theatres, on film sets, museums, … Continue reading “Barbizon shares list of support resources for the industry”

Can out of work film crews help prepare for COVID-19

Workers in the entertainment industry have been particularly hard hit as production sets and performance venues find themselves completely shut down as a precaution against the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. According to IATSE who spoke to The Wrap, 120,000 below-the-line production people are out of work in Hollywood.  Tobin Neis is the Director of Marketing at … Continue reading “Can out of work film crews help prepare for COVID-19”

Sundance picks 12 Filmmakers for Screenwriters Intensive

Twelve screenwriters have been selected to participate in Sundance Institute’s eighth annual Screenwriters Intensive in Los Angeles, to take place March 4-5, 2020. One of the students selected is Chicagoan, Jason Park. The Intensive, a two-day workshop for select emerging writers and writer/directors from underrepresented communities, focuses on the development of first fiction features. Fellows … Continue reading “Sundance picks 12 Filmmakers for Screenwriters Intensive”

Glenance Green, Deputy Director, Free Spirit Media

Glenance Green, Deputy Director of Free Spirit Media, joins the 2020 Reel Chicago Black List, a celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month. The Reel Chicago Black List includes Global Mixx founder Mary Datcher, McDonald’s US Marketing Director Lizette Williams, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view the archives, click here. Glenance Green is … Continue reading “Glenance Green, Deputy Director, Free Spirit Media”

Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry to speak at Macy’s

Macy’s on State Street will celebrate Black History Month with a screening of the Academy Award-winning short film Hair Love followed by a thoughtful discussion with the film’s writer and director, Chicago native Matthew A. Cherry. The event takes place on February 20 at 6 p.m., Macy’s Narcissus Room, 111 North State St. Hair Love, … Continue reading “Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry to speak at Macy’s”

Reel Black List: Phil Lee, editor, director, Spin Artist

Phil Lee, director and editor at Spin Artist, joins the 2020 edition of Reel Chicago Black List, an annual celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month. The Reel Chicago Black List includes ‘The Chi’ cast member LaDonna Tittle, house music pioneer Vince Lawrence, and filmmaker Rhyan LaMarr. To view the archives, click here. … Continue reading “Reel Black List: Phil Lee, editor, director, Spin Artist”

Bong Joon Ho scores a win for everyone at the Oscars

America showed the world one of the things that it does best during the 92nd annual Academy Awards on Sunday night. Celebrating film with an internationally-televised, star-studded presentation, the country demonstrated beyond a doubt that the best movies on earth come from nowhere else but the good old US of A. Unless, of course, we’re … Continue reading “Bong Joon Ho scores a win for everyone at the Oscars”

Reel Black List: Troy Pryor, producer, actor, speaker

Troy Pryor is the inaugural honoree for the 2020 Reel Chicago Black List, an annual celebration of African-American creativity published during Black History Month. Troy Osborne Pryor is an award-winning producer, actor, and speaker from Chicago. He is a Chicago Scholars 35 Under 35, Black Enterprise TCX Fellow, and ADColor nominated Innovator of the Year. … Continue reading “Reel Black List: Troy Pryor, producer, actor, speaker”

WGN America to launch prime-time ‘News Nation’

Nexstar Media Group, Inc. announced today that its wholly-owned cable network, WGN America, which reaches approximately 75 million U.S. TV households, will begin airing a live daily three-hour national newscast called News Nation this summer. News Nation will air in prime-time, from 8 pm ET to 11 pm ET, and will draw on the local … Continue reading “WGN America to launch prime-time ‘News Nation’”

Alex Pissios to chair A Safe Haven anniversary

Cinespace President joins film, media, and arts leaders at event to benefit ASH’s ‘award-winning model to solving homelessness’ Cinespace Chicago President Alex Pissios will join a group of notable film, media, and arts leaders as Chair for tomorrow night’s A Legacy of Excellence, the 25-year Anniversary Gala for homeless support organization A Safe Haven (ASH) … Continue reading “Alex Pissios to chair A Safe Haven anniversary”

Seaton, Simon are GlobalMixx ‘Game Changers’

Annual Film and Music Forum will honor Carl Seaton and Claire Simon for “giving back to the community” Chicago Television Director Carl Seaton and Simon Casting President Claire Simon will be honored as a Game Changers at the Global Mixx Music and Film Forum next weekend. Bestowed upon individuals who have “impacted in some way … Continue reading “Seaton, Simon are GlobalMixx ‘Game Changers’”

Mezcla to debut film division at Indie Co-Lab

Chicago hub for “diverse boss women behind the camera” celebrates entry into the industry on October 24 Mezcla Media Collective, a new 501(c)(3) organization in Chicago, is making its formal debut to the film and entertainment industry at An Evening With Mezcla Media Collective, Thursday, October 24, 2019, 6-9:30 p.m. at Indie Co-Lab. Founded in … Continue reading “Mezcla to debut film division at Indie Co-Lab”

Tandem founder Tyler Jay to appear on ‘Shark Tank’

Chicago-based film director to pitch Plop Star, “the holy grail of toilet deodorizers” on Sunday, October 20 After sacrificing countless off-work hours transforming a product idea into a marketable reality, Tandem founder Tyler Jay will present the fruits of his labor to American television audiences. On the October 20 episode of ABC’s Shark Tank he … Continue reading “Tandem founder Tyler Jay to appear on ‘Shark Tank’”

Free Spirit Media succeeds at ‘Building Bridges’

Film leaders echo the inspiration of emerging creators at Founder’s Circle fundraising event   A panel of young professionals made it clear that Free Spirit Media is worth the hype that it consistently generates during an event at the Arts Club of Chicago on October 1. Explaining the organization’s worthiness to a room full of … Continue reading “Free Spirit Media succeeds at ‘Building Bridges’”

Escape Pod & Merrick Pet Care launch ‘The Barklorette’

Did you know that according to, 75% of women now say they wouldn’t date someone without their dog’s approval? True story. Apparently, dogs are in charge even when it comes to their pet parents dating habits. So, The Escape Pod and Merrick Pet Care have decided to put that to the test. Last Monday, … Continue reading “Escape Pod & Merrick Pet Care launch ‘The Barklorette’”

Throwback Thursday: ‘Barbershop 2’ to film here

Sixteen years ago, Founder Ruth Ratny reported on the status of a highly anticipated sequel and the fate of Chicago Studio City Editor’s Note: Beginning today, Reel Chicago will do its own ‘Throwback Thursday’ featuring stories from our archives. The following article was originally published on March 21, 2003. Chicago Studio City is still going … Continue reading “Throwback Thursday: ‘Barbershop 2’ to film here”

Director Sheldon Candis signs with Quriosity

Baltimore native and USC grad brings inclusive and breathtaking style to Chicago- and LA-based production company Sheldon Candis — a writer and director known for his work in documentary, cause marketing, inspirational, and entertainment genres — has signed with Chicago- and LA-based production company, Quriosity. Candis’ work draws heavily on the influences of strong women … Continue reading “Director Sheldon Candis signs with Quriosity”

DDB helps State Farm get funny with celebs

Ken Jeong and Terry Crews share their ‘Hidden Talents’ in a new campaign about life insurance State Farm’s Hidden Talents campaign — created by DDB and featuring actors Ken Jeong and Terry Crews — launched yesterday. The campaign is inspired by the fact that that State Farm is just as much an expert on life … Continue reading “DDB helps State Farm get funny with celebs”

WTTW premieres season two of ‘Urban Nature’ March 20

Watch host Marcus Kronforst eat a salad made of greens picked from an alley in Chicago at If you know where to look, you’ll find the most surprising slices of nature thriving amidst the urban jungle of America’s largest cities. In season 2 of WTTW’s digital series Urban Nature, University of Chicago evolutionary biologist … Continue reading “WTTW premieres season two of ‘Urban Nature’ March 20”

2019 Academy Awards Review

Colin Costello recounts the thrill passion, and spectacle of Hollywood’s biggest night of the year There’s no way to prepare for the spectacle that is the Oscar celebration in Hollywood. Frankly, I was blown away. The, pomp, the limos, the security and the enormous amount of international press – the cameras, the microphones, the reporters, … Continue reading “2019 Academy Awards Review”

No host. No “obvi” winner. Here are our Oscar picks!

Awards season finally comes to a curious, confounding and sometimes confusing end this Sunday when the Oscars announce their winners at the Dolby Theater. This year, there is no host (may come to regret that, Kevin Hart detractors) for Hollywood’s version of The Super Bowl. And in a Black History Month where a notable number … Continue reading “No host. No “obvi” winner. Here are our Oscar picks!”

Beyond Meat engages Stun for branding and media

Relationship kicks off with video about plant-based protein diets starring “ambassador” Kyrie Irving Beyond Meat, the world’s leading plant-based meat company, has engaged Stun, an award-winning agency and content studio as its Branding and Media partner. The announcement was made today by Stun Principals & Co-Founders Mark Feldstein and Brad Roth, who is a native … Continue reading “Beyond Meat engages Stun for branding and media”

Reel Black List: Kozi Kyles, creator, actor, entrepreneur

From data plots to story plots: This native Chicagoan, Duke University alum, and marketer / filmmaker produces everything from digital series to compelling content for top brands Kozi Kyles, co-founder of Myth Lab Entertainment, is an award-winning content producer and marketing executive with film / TV and media experience. While heading up brand partnerships for … Continue reading “Reel Black List: Kozi Kyles, creator, actor, entrepreneur”

Rage against the Oscar keeps growing

The Academy’s impending ceremonial snub continues to spark outrage among film industry groups and professionals This may be talked about more than the “whoops” moment two years ago at the Academy Awards when La La Land was announced as Best Picture and it was really Moonlight. Whoops. In another “What were they thinking?” move – … Continue reading “Rage against the Oscar keeps growing”

Jussie Smollett performs in L.A.

The “Empire” star talks about the assault and his recovery during an emotional Saturday-night set at the Troubadour “I fought the f–k back.” Only four days after Empire star, Jussie Smollett was allegedly attacked by what sources close to him have called MAGA Supporters, the actor/singer appeared in concert on stage at Los Angeles famed … Continue reading “Jussie Smollett performs in L.A.”

Tony Hawk helps spread “Concrete Dreams”

Chicago-made skatepark doc gains widespread distribution on legendary athlete’s YouTube channel Concrete Dreams, a documentary about public skateparks written and directed by Little Cabin Films co-founder Nick Nummerdor, has gained distribution through Tony Hawks’ RIDE Channel on YouTube. Concrete Dreams documents the decade-long struggle and ultimate triumph of Paulina Jimenez, a “suburban super-mom” who spearheads … Continue reading “Tony Hawk helps spread “Concrete Dreams””

Hidden Valley’s campaign of love from mcgarrybowen

360 campaign featured a level of irreverence that enticed Zach Braff to come on board as narrator and director Hidden Valley Ranch’s new campaign “You Either Love It or You Really Love It,” which rolls out this week, is an exciting shift for Hidden Valley Ranch, as they celebrate the love consumers have for their … Continue reading “Hidden Valley’s campaign of love from mcgarrybowen”

mb, Lil Jon, and Kool-Aid man make Yuletide history

The Chicago shop captures the legendary rapper and the iconic pitcher at their holiday best in the new anthem, “All I Really Want For Christmas” In a new spot by mcgarrybown, Kool-Aid Man and Lil Jon unleash a musical collaboration that is well on its way to becoming a Yuletide classic. All I Really Want … Continue reading “mb, Lil Jon, and Kool-Aid man make Yuletide history”

‘Heavens to Betsy 2’ premiere at Landmark Highland Pk

Highly anticipated sequel starring “Parks & Rec’s” Jim O’Heir follows with DVD and VOD releases in February Sole Productions is pleased to announce that their new comedy, Heavens to Betsy 2, will be having its Northside Chicago Premiere on Thursday, December 13 at the Landmark Theatre Renaissance Cinema in Highland Park, IL. The film will … Continue reading “‘Heavens to Betsy 2’ premiere at Landmark Highland Pk”

Barbizon leads CineTech’s all-day educational program

“We’ve got the vendors and we’ve got the new toys, but we’re also sponsoring a lot of classes.” —Ned McGregor, Barbizon As a presenting sponsor of next week’s CineTech event at Cinespace Studios, Barbizon Lighting Company intends to provide attendees with one of the industry’s most valuable resources: knowledge. “The goal of this thing is … Continue reading “Barbizon leads CineTech’s all-day educational program”

Craig Zadan, prolific stage, TV & film producer, has died

Producer of movie musicals “Chicago” and “Hairspray” and co-producer of NBC’s  “The Sound of Music Live!” dies of complications following surgery Craig Zadan, one of film and TV’s most prolific producers of musicals, has died at the age of 69. Zadan’s death was announced Tuesday by NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, who called Zadan “my dear … Continue reading “Craig Zadan, prolific stage, TV & film producer, has died”

CineTech returns to Cinespace in September

The Midwest’s biggest film and television production event will feature guest speakers, comprehensive courses, and access to vendor products Barbizon Chicago presents CineTech 2018, the Midwest’s premier education event for film and television lighting and support, on September 8 at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. Sponsored by IATSE Local 476, DePaul University, and Cinelease Chicago, the … Continue reading “CineTech returns to Cinespace in September”

Macy nabs Emmy nom for Chi-based “Shameless”

Aside from Macy and “Roseanne’s” Laurie Metcalf, Chicago connections went ignored: nothing for “The Chi,” “Empire,” and Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” series   Frank Gallagher is the worst father on TV, but for Two-time Emmy winner William H. Macy, the shiftless dad is pure gold. The talented actor scored his fifth Emmy nomination for his work … Continue reading “Macy nabs Emmy nom for Chi-based “Shameless””

DDB network claims a pride of Lions at Cannes

The concepts for “Exclusive the Rainbow” and “Trolling is Ugly” are worth the praise alone, but the executions are also exceptional.   So far this week, DDB and its specialty units have claimed a massive haul of awards at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. With Exclusive the Rainbow for Skittles and Trolling Is Ugly … Continue reading “DDB network claims a pride of Lions at Cannes”

‘Black-ish’ star joins Netflix South Side hip-hop movie

Deadline is reporting that Black-ish star Anthony Anderson has come aboard to star in Netflix’s Beats, a coming-of-age drama set in Chicago’s South Side hip-hop scene. The pic, from Global Road Entertainment and 51 Minds Entertainment, just began filming with The New Edition Story director Chris Robinson helming Miles Orion Feldsott’s original script. A 2019 … Continue reading “‘Black-ish’ star joins Netflix South Side hip-hop movie”

Reel Women: Jacquelyn Jamjoom, Executive Producer

Jacquelyn Jamjoom is a film and television producer serving as Executive Producer of Chicago based film production company Digital Hydra. At Digital Hydra, Jacquelyn has produced internationally renowned TV series’, feature films, music videos and commercial content for brands such as McDonalds, Chicago Bulls, Chicago Blackhawks and Facebook. Jacquelyn also serves as contract producer and … Continue reading “Reel Women: Jacquelyn Jamjoom, Executive Producer”

Cow Lamp Films acquires “The View From Tall”

The Chicago-based national indie distributor signs Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss’s intimate coming-of-age comedy-drama   (Chicago — 16 My 2018) Cow Lamp Films announced today that they have acquired all rights in North America to Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss’s The View From Tall. Written and directed by Parrish and Weiss (CBS TV’s upcoming The … Continue reading “Cow Lamp Films acquires “The View From Tall””

Female-led “Range Runners” films in IL this summer

Fatal Funnel Films announces cast for upcoming thriller   Actors from Chicago’s hottest shows to perform in inaugural feature shooting in Shawnee National Forest and nearby Carbondale     (Chicago — 7 May 2018) Fatal Funnel Films, an Illinois-based independent film company, today announces the complete cast and production team of their inaugural feature film, … Continue reading “Female-led “Range Runners” films in IL this summer”

Milwaukee to Kampala: the int’l Windy City Horrorama

The upcoming 2018 Windy City Horrorama is already on the radar of thrill seekers, horror lovers, and DIY-film enthusiasts. However, international-film lovers should pay attention as well. Besides five Chicago-made films and a host of other gory US-made features and shorts, this year’s Horrorama is packed with seven of the hottest genre films on the … Continue reading “Milwaukee to Kampala: the int’l Windy City Horrorama”

Havas and Hardee’s serve up “Hick-Hop” for ‘Merica

No, that wasn’t a Chevy Truck spot we just watched. It was Hardee’s. However, if one wasn’t paying too much attention, the new anthemic, feel-good spot which introduces the concept of “comfort culture” could get mistaken for something that rolled out of Detroit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Hardee’s, which is Carl’s Jr on … Continue reading “Havas and Hardee’s serve up “Hick-Hop” for ‘Merica”

Periscope praises “Empire,” Trump calls “Roseanne”

Half of ‘Empire’s’ mid-season premiere filmed as one-act play (Spoiler alert: Please don’t read ahead unless you’ve seen “Empire’s” midseason premiere.) Sheesh, it sure has been a minute since Empire has been on. The series, which is filmed at Cinespace Studios, returned with its mid-season premiere last night. In the episode titled “Birds in a … Continue reading “Periscope praises “Empire,” Trump calls “Roseanne””

Dee Rees, Yessian LA lead the week’s industry moves

“Mudbound” director Dee Rees signs with Anonymous Content Production and Management Company Anonymous Content has announced Mudbound director Dee Rees has signed for commercial representation in the U.S. and U.K. The news kicks off a groundbreaking 2018 for Rees, whose feature drama Mudbound has been met with sweeping praise and four Academy Award nominations, including two … Continue reading “Dee Rees, Yessian LA lead the week’s industry moves”

Tessa, mcgarrybowen, Arc, Jenny Milkowski on the move

Puppet master and stop-motion specialist join Tessa Films’ roster Meghann Artes and Toben Seymour have joined the directorial roster at Tessa Films. The duo arrives at Tessa Films with skillsets that are bound to overlap in both conventional and unconventional ways. Artes is a master of stop motion. Seymour is a master of puppetry.   … Continue reading “Tessa, mcgarrybowen, Arc, Jenny Milkowski on the move”

Oscars 2018: Colin Costello’s winning picks

Awards season, which Reel Chicago has been covering all along, finally comes to its climax with the broadcast of the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday night. Amid the glamour, the Jimmy Kimmel jokes, the expected #metoo and #TimesUP speeches, and the sleep-inducing running time, there will be awards given out. Twenty-four, to be specific. After … Continue reading “Oscars 2018: Colin Costello’s winning picks”

Women dominate latest wave of industry activity

Stacie Boney is new president of Hanson Dodge Women’s History Month starts off with big news: former Energy BBDO executive Stacie Boney has been named by Milwaukee-based Hanson Dodge as its first female president. Boney succeeds Tim Dodge, who is said to be staying with the integrated marketing agency as CEO. She came to the … Continue reading “Women dominate latest wave of industry activity”

Wolfgang L.A., Jimmy Kimmel & other West Coast news

TRUECar & Panda Express name Wolfgang of Los Angeles AOR Consider Venice Beach-based Wolfgang of L.A. on a roll. Since winning Halo Top in January, the agency/consultancy, formed by former David&Goliath execs, Mike Geiger, Seema Miller and Colin Jeffrey has added two more wins in the form of TRUECar and Panda Express to its client … Continue reading “Wolfgang L.A., Jimmy Kimmel & other West Coast news”

Erv Dahl “nails” Rodney Dangerfield in new Lampoon film

Chicago performer Erv Dahl plays Rodney Dangerfield in the recently released Netflix movie, A Futile and Stupid Gesture, about the rise and fall of National Lampoon magazine. In addition to recreating the facial twitches and hand gestures that helped bring fame to the man who gets no respect, Dahl “nails Rodney Dangerfield’s voice,” according to … Continue reading “Erv Dahl “nails” Rodney Dangerfield in new Lampoon film”

Social Media reacts to Jenny “Milk” leaving Fox 32

Fox 32 made a stupid move. Not my words, although I would fall on that side of the fence, but the response of a Jenny Milkowski fan after learning that the Emmy-winning traffic reporter “abruptly” departed the station last Friday. In her own statement, Milkowski, the #1 digital talent in Chicago according to sharerocket, wrote … Continue reading “Social Media reacts to Jenny “Milk” leaving Fox 32”

Fay Ferguson, Urban Grind, The Avengers, Apple

CAF honors Burrell’s Fay Ferguson Burrell Communications tweeted that The Chicago Advertising Federation (CAF) named agency Co-CEO, Fay Ferguson, as the 2017 Silver Medal Award winner. Ferguson is the 22nd professional to receive the prestigious award. Nominated for her outstanding service in the advertising industry both locally and abroad, Fay is among an elite group … Continue reading “Fay Ferguson, Urban Grind, The Avengers, Apple”

OKRP serves up first new work for Chili’s

Last July, we reported that Chicago agency O’Keefe Reinhard & Paul had won an assignment from Dallas-based Chili’s. Well, the agency, and the baby back ribs, are back with a twist. OKRP has updated the classic Chili’s jingle — “I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…” — to include menu items that made … Continue reading “OKRP serves up first new work for Chili’s”

Sam Jackson sings, Bears go red, Kirk leaves Sun-Times

I’ve been meaning to write about this for the last couple of weeks since I saw it, but finally got around to it. Have you seen the new Sam Jackson spot for Capital One and Spotify?

If you haven’t, it’s just a fun little piece where Sam puts the moves to Al Green’s classic song, “Let’s Stay Together.” As Jackson croons, Capital One announces that with the Quicksilver Card clients can receive 1.5 percent cashback on every purchase and 50 percent back on Spotify Premium.

Sunnier days ahead for Chicago Sun Times?

The Chicago Sun-Times has new owners. And it’s not rival Chicago Tribune.

The struggling tabloid, as well as The Chicago Reader, were sold to former Chicago Alderman Edwin Eisendrath and a group of investors that includes The Chicago Federation of Labor, four other unions, former ABC7 anchor, Linda Yu and corporate turnaround specialist Bill Brandt.

McDonald’s ends four-decade run with Olympics

There will be no more gold…en arches for the Olympics as the fast food giant, effective immediately, has mutually parted ways with the IOC.

In a surprise move, McDonald’s Corp (Chicago agencies: We Are Unlimited and Burrell Communications) severed its 41-year-old alliance three years early. In a joint statement delivered June 16, the two organizations severed ties as the fast food giant continues to re-evaluate and focus on its core business. This, along with rising Olympic sponsorship costs and declining TV ratings, made for a combo platter of reasons for the separation.

Timely doc “Raising Bertie” screens at Siskel Center

THE FIRST THEATRICAL RUN of Kartemquin’s and Beli Film’s award-winning feature doc, “Raising Bertie” produced and directed by Margaret Byrne, screens Nov. 18-19, at the Gene Siskel Film Center.

Set in North Carolina’s rural Bertie County, the doc is a six-year portrait of three African American boys growing into adulthood as they grapple with unemployment, violence, first love, fatherhood and the complex relationships between generational poverty, economic isolation and educational inequity.

Online ‘Video Summit’ featured at Geek Culture Gala

Columbia College hosts its all-day, 3rd annual Geek Cultural Gala, the student-run fandom convention, with panels, screenings, workshops, presentations and more on what’s tops in pop culture — Saturday, April 23 and open to all.

One of the six panels, calling itself the “Video Summit,” will delve into the continuing explosion of short form video for online and mobile — a subject being taught at Columbia by instructor Brent Kado, who organized and will moderate the Video Summit.

Mostly women-led dramatic indie feature now filming

Frequent theatre collaborators director Erica Weiss and writer Caitlin Parrish are heading an independent feature being produced by an all Chicago cast and a crew primarily staffed by women.

They are co-directing the coming-of-age drama now filming in North Side neighborhoods and the western suburbs and scheduled to wrap Nov. 9.

Dean Gonzales joins Beast; assistant Glover to editor

Ace editor Dean Gonzales, who honed his craft in LA for 15 years, joined Beast Editorial, saying Beast “seemed like a perfect fit,” with its national network, support staff and larger representation for the variety of work he does. 

Gonzales moved into his new suite Monday, from Hootenanny, where he’d edited for the past 18 months since his return from LA.

Lee Daniels’ “Empire” launches Chicago pilot season

Chicago’s pilot season starts off with some of the biggest names in the entertainment business scheduled to shoot here. Fox Television has greenlighted “Empire,” a drama from “The Butler’s” team of executive producer/director Lee Daniels and writer Danny Strong.

“Empire” will headquarter at Cinespace and shoot for 12-13 days in mid-to-late March.

“Upstarts” OKRP lands $50 million Big Lots! account

CALLING THEMSELVES “SCRAPPY UPSTARTS” the boutique agency O’Keefe, Reinhard & Paul (OKRP) – celebrating its first anniversary in March — landed the Big Lots! account which bills a big $50 million, following a review.

The Columbus, Ohio-based company is a closeout retailer with 1,525 stories in 48 states.  The agency’s first work for its new client will launch in early February.

It’s that time again: Optimus Block Party on Aug. 2

OPTIMUS 18TH ANNUAL BLOCK PARTY is right around the corner on Friday, Aug. 2 (always the first Friday in August) bringing together clients, colleagues and friends for its annual summer afternoon-into-night of fun.  “Yes, we’ll have a special guest as always,” someone well known and unexpected promises Gretchen Praeger, VP/managing director of Optimus post, and one of the party planners. 

Busy Simon Casting hires Sayyed as associate

AFTER THREE YEARS with Shirley Hamilton Talent as a TV and film agent, Sanaa Sayyed joined Claire Simon Casting as a casting assistant – where she first worked as an intern practically off the plane from Houston. 

Casting was always her first love, she says, and right now there’s no place busier than Simon, which is casting for TV series “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” “Betrayal,” “Crisis” and sci-fi feature “Jupiter Ascending.”

Chicago actors spotlighted in entertainment shows

Chicago talent is absolutely ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille. 

Seven TV series and two features (to date) rolling into production now through the next three months will give local performers their best shot ever at TV and movie roles without having to leave town.

The first season of Dick Wolf’s NBC “Chicago Fire” generated more than 300 days of work for local actors during its first 22 episode-season.

Season of TV series and movie filming gets underway

ENTERTAINMENT FILMING has begun in earnest with action on features and TV series from now through October.  Although teen sci-fi “Divergent” wraps July 17 after a large second unit shoot, The Wachowskis’ sci-fi epic “Jupiter Ascending” officially starts rolling July 13. It will film at Cinespace and on many locations around the city.

20 West’s new docusoap set in famous Texas bar/grill

TWO NEW SHOWS FOR 20 WEST PRODUCTIONS. According to Scot Thor, SVP/development and production, the Intersport division is going into production into its first MTV program – a docusoap called “South of Heaven.” It follows the beautiful 20something girls who work at the famous “Redneck Restaurant and Bar (a fan gave it 5 stars: 3 stars for the food and an extra 2 stars for the women) in Lewisville, Texas, near Ft. Worth. 

Glory of TV news game gone, only the numbers remain

So the goodbyes have been said.  The tributes presented.  An era has ended.

Late last week, bona fide Chicago broadcasting legends Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson signed off for the last time as co-anchors of CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2’s 6 p.m. weekday newscast — a role both had performed with considerable dignity since the fall of 2010.

The duo were immediately replaced by Rob Johnson and Kate Sullivan, who have had the honor of fronting the station’s flagship 10 pm. newscast also since the fall of 2010.  

Ch. 20 debuts original news show; music show in April

Station manager Paul Bruckner and executive director of media services Ron Schofield came to Channel 20 WYCC with a mission.

“We realized we needed a facelift and to rebrand the station,” says Bruckner.  “We needed a program that would become our signature program.”

A year and a half later, they are launching “In the Loop,” a half-hour weekly public affairs show that promises to look at the voices other news organizations are missing.

Director Eduardo Cintron to Dictionary Films’ roster

DIRECTOR EDUARDO CINTRON has signed exclusively with Dictionary Films, Cutters production division, as the seventh director on its roster and the third director based in Chicago, says Dictionary’s executive producer Megan Maples.

The award-winning bilingual director, called “a digital genius” by one of his peers, since 2007 has worked as an art director and ACD at Energy BBDO, R/GA and Lapiz/Leo Burnett.

Two (or more?) TV pilots to shoot here for 3 weeks

TV pilot frenzy is underway in L.A., with networks and cable stations having greenlit more than 75 pilots for the 2013-14 television season. 

While two of those 75-plus pilots have landed in Chicago thus far, Local 476’s Mark Hogan is confident about several others filming here – mainly two pilots for ABC and Dick Wolf’s NBC comedy, “Girlfriend in a Coma,” that, if picked up for a series, could efficiently piggyback on “Chicago Fire’s” established facility and resources here.

“Boss” an important show for director Van Peebles

Say this for Mario Van Peebles: Despite the dark themes of Startz “Boss,” the director presides over a festive set.  Before filming ended on the second season July 10, Van Peebles shot a final scene at in a private suite at Arlington Park racetrack.

Despite the chandeliers and gratuitous Doric columns, Van Peebles wore lime green shorts and boat shoes. The rest of the largely Chicago crew wore hats – fedoras, panamas, newsboy – in honor of their day at the races, darting off to make bets in between scenes. 

June 30 memorial for Burrell co-founder Emmett McBain

The life of Emmett McBain, co-founder of Burrell McBain Advertising in 1971, and a renowned water color artist, will be celebrated at a very upbeat memorial party Saturday, June 30, 2-4 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

Mr. McBain died May 22 in his Hyde Park home of cancer.  He was 77.  He was a naturally-gifted artist, an accomplished art director who created award-winning album covers for the Playboy Jazz All-Stars, Mercury Records and others.

The Onion brings new webisode series to Chicago

As the Onion media empire relocates its headquarters from New York to Chicago in July, it arrives bearing gifts: three new webisode series. They’ve been filming at Foundation Content and on location.

The new shows – one a reality and the other a talk show — are part of the Onion’s expanded web-based productions. They’ve partnered with YouTube on a premium channel, The Onion Channel, to create a continuing number of series. Rights to all The Onion shows are owned by YouTube.

The first series airs July 12 on YouTube’s Onion Channel.

NBC’s ‘Chicago Fire’ starts filming here in mid-July

Good news for Chicago entertainment production! NBC Universal not unexpectedly ordered a full season of Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire.”  The series will start shooting in mid-July and “will go at least through to the end of year and possibly into the spring of 2013,” says Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal.

The series is set to air on NBC this fall.  

NBC’s “Smash” ratings decline in Chicago. Again.

We said we’d keep you updated on the ratings story for the heavily-hyped NBC prime time series “Smash.”  And we are.

“Smash” is the show — executive produced by film legend Steven Spielberg — that purports to be a behind-the-scenes saga of life in the Broadway theater world.

Episode three of the series aired Monday, and the Nielsen overnight ratings for that edition of “Smash” in Chicago — a theater town of some magnitude — have declined again, after also dropping for episode two.

Spielberg-produced NBC show a “Smash”-ing disaster

Let’s just say it flat out.  “Smash” is a train wreck of a show like few others we’ve ever endured on TV. And get ready.  It’s headed right at us in Chicago on Monday, Feb 6., the day AFTER the Super Bowl.

In case you haven’t heard (though you should have, given the enormity of the hype this hopeless mess has already received), “Smash” is the new NBC prime time series that takes us behind the scenes to meet key characters involved in the creation of a new Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe (cue the music!).

DraftFCB’s Dow teaser ad labeled ‘mathematical poem’

Tease. Tease. Tease.  It’s a familiar tactic in the advertising industry to whet the public’s appetite for what’s to come.  And DraftFCB/Chicago is doing just that in a big way via a 46-foot-tall chalkboard now visible on the side of a building in Soho in lower Manhattan.

Passersby at the site this week will see a gentleman writing out a lengthy, puzzling mathematical equation that, we’re told, combines mathematics and numbers that relate to significant aspects of human achievement.

Late news ratings remain static, according to latest Nielsens

The August 2011 Nielsen television ratings book ended Wednesday, and the results suggest the principal contenders in the hotly-contested late news ratings wars haven’t budged much from where they have been ranked in recent months.

Admittedly, ratings have been known to fluctuate during the summer months when TV viewing habits may vary a bit.  Numbers go up or down depending on how many folks are on vacation or otherwise occupied during the late evening hours.

Sonixphere is Greg Allan’s new music company

Award-winning composer/executive producer Greg Allan has a new vision of what today’s music business is light and it’s light years away from Spank! Music and Sound Designer, his company for the past 14 years.

“It was time for a change,” he says.

Allan purchased 100% of the stock of Spank! Music from former partner/composer Matt Morse to create new company Sonixphere

PSAs on value of Michigan incentives now airing

Two months after it was completed, a PSA promoting the economic reasons why Michigan’s film incentives should be continued is now airing on TV stations and theatre screens.

The 30- and 60-second spot, “Keep it Rolling,” runs on Detroit’s ABC/7 and WADL/38, and in West Michigan’s Goodrich Theatres’ auditorium screens and lobby monitors.  

More TV stations and theatre chains are expected to join the movement now that the ball has finally started to roll.  

Success stories abound as Free Spirit Media turns 10

Jeff McCarter has no regrets about having left his successful film and TV career to start Free Spirit Media, which, since 2001 has put 2,500 underserved urban youth “on the path to tell their stories in this crazy industry.”

On Thursday, June 9, Free Spirit Media will celebrate its “10th incredible anniversary” at Café Brauer at Lincoln Park Zoo, to help raise funds for FSM’s continuing work in its partner schools.  

Lewis Lazare’s media columns to run in the Reel

We’re back.  Just like that.  Ruth Ratny, a longtime chronicler of the Chicago advertising, post production and film industries, has asked us to write a column for

So we are. We spent the last 10 years writing about advertising, radio and television for the Chicago Sun-Times. It was a period of major transition in those industries in Chicago. There is a continuing story here and, of course, we want to be part of reporting on it.

Ten years later, reality show debuts June 2 on A&E

After 10 years of frustration, determination and not taking no for an answer, the reality show created and persevered by executive producers Gary Sherman and Bob Schneiger will premiere June 2 on A&E at 9 p.m. and run for six weeks.

Since it follows “The First 48,” one of  A&E’s top rated shows, it should have an excellent chance of finding an audience.

What makes their “The First 48: Missing Persons” especially important is, this is the first time ever the Chicago Police Department has ever given a film crew unrestricted access to ongoing police investigations.