The Colonie welcomes Zach Day as Producer/New Business

Award-winning post-production studio The Colonie has hired Zach Day as Producer/New Business. Day brings more than fifteen years of ad agency experience, most recently as a Senior Producer at Leo Burnett. In his new role, Day will focus on developing business and forging agency alliances beyond the studio’s base in Chicago. The Colonie Partner/Editor Bob … Continue reading “The Colonie welcomes Zach Day as Producer/New Business”

Cubs 2022 Promotional Schedule Bobbleheads, #BudFridays, and more

The Chicago Cubs today released the schedule for promotional items, theme nights and Special Ticket Offers for the 2022 regular season. Five bobbleheads top the list on select Saturdays in May, August and September, the return of #BudFridays and seven theme nights such as WWE Day, Shark Week Night and the ever-popular Sesame Street Day. … Continue reading “Cubs 2022 Promotional Schedule Bobbleheads, #BudFridays, and more”

UPDATE: Burrell CCO Lewis Williams to join Weber Shandwick

Yesterday, Reel Chicago broke the story that award-winning Chief Creative Officer, Lewis Williams, had resigned from Burrell Communications. He will join Weber Shandwick as EVP, head of Brand Impact early next year. Terrence Burrell will take the helm as Interim Chief Creative Officer. In this role, Terrence will lead the agency’s creative teams in developing strategic … Continue reading “UPDATE: Burrell CCO Lewis Williams to join Weber Shandwick”

Mark Gross takes the Highdive into creating spots for Super Bowl LVI

We are now less than 100 days away from Super Bowl LVI. Seventy-five to be exact. While the first quarter of the Big Game has yet to be played, ad agencies, across the country, are in the fourth quarter of pre-production, or even production, for their showcase work. From the Budweiser heydays of DDB to … Continue reading “Mark Gross takes the Highdive into creating spots for Super Bowl LVI”

Chicago Thanksgiving Parade returns with hundreds of talented performers

This year marks the 87th year of the Chicago Thanksgiving Parade with hundreds of talented performers from near and far. Several hundred thousand Chicagoans and visitors are expected to line the streets in celebration of this time-honored event.  On Thursday, November 25, the free, family-friendly event will kick off at 8 a.m. on the corner … Continue reading “Chicago Thanksgiving Parade returns with hundreds of talented performers”

Another Country names Tim Konn as Managing Director

Another Country Founder and Cutters Studios Partner John Binder and his colleagues worldwide announce the immediate promotion of Another Country’s Executive Producer Tim Konn to the position of Managing Director. “Working with Tim is always an outstanding experience,” Binder said. “He keeps the whole process real and fun, and that attitude absolutely shines through with … Continue reading “Another Country names Tim Konn as Managing Director”

Director/Writer/DP Steve Conry joins Seed Media Arts

Award winning storyteller, Director/Writer/DP Steve Conry has joined the Seed Media Arts roster. This announcement comes days after a musical performance directed by Conry featuring JP Saxe and Julian Michaels aired nationally as part of the 2021 JUNO Awards.  Conry’s style of visual storytelling is becoming increasingly sought after by brands looking to grow their … Continue reading “Director/Writer/DP Steve Conry joins Seed Media Arts”

Burnett, DDB, FCB represent Chicago at Andy Awards

The Andy Awards announced their winners on April 12 and Leo Burnett, DDB Chicago and FCB Chicago represented the windy city for their work on Kraft Heinz Country Time, Miller Lite and Coors Light respectively. Burnett The Chicago office took home an Idea Andy for their work on Country Time Lemonade’s Littlest Bailout. , which … Continue reading “Burnett, DDB, FCB represent Chicago at Andy Awards”

Gerety Awards announces new deadline and new category

The Gerety Awards 2021 deadline has been extended until April 30 and a new category for humour is announced. The humour category will celebrate the best in advertising humour. Funny advertising becomes a part of popular culture. Just like Whassup for Budweiser by DDB Worldwide Chicago or Betty White’s spot from the campaign “You are not you when you are … Continue reading “Gerety Awards announces new deadline and new category”

Where does Chicago rank for football fans?

For many Chicago football fans, as well as fans across the country, Super Bowl is far more than just a game: it’s a sacred American tradition. Fans aren’t just spectators, but are also participants. They do more than just proudly wear a team’s jersey, perfect game-day chili or tailgate with fellow fans. But as passionate … Continue reading “Where does Chicago rank for football fans?”

Coors Light, Seltzer Big Game ad runs in dreams

During the Super Bowl, commercial breaks are notoriously swamped with beer advertisements. A certain, other beer brand seemingly controls the ad space – so much so that Coors is legally locked out from playing on TV screens nationwide during the Big Game. However, AB has announced it is sitting out Super Bowl LV this year. … Continue reading “Coors Light, Seltzer Big Game ad runs in dreams”

Best of the Midwest goes to ‘Like a Girl’ from Leo Burnett

Best of the Midwest voted on by attendees as iconic ads are highlighted in benefit event for Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis food banks. The hors d’oeuvres were whatever you had on hand, the tinkling of cocktail glasses was done from afar and the applause was a bit muted, but that didn’t stop the Midwest advertising, … Continue reading “Best of the Midwest goes to ‘Like a Girl’ from Leo Burnett”

Watch the original Wassup! audition video

Editor’s Note: To remind people to check in on friends and family during social distancing and self-quarantining, Budweiser re-visited its iconic 20-year-old ‘Wassup’ campaign. Using the original cast with re-recorded audio, the spot successfully led viewers to believe that the original cast was hollering at each other during quarantine. Taking the concept two steps further, … Continue reading “Watch the original Wassup! audition video”

DDB Worldwide ranked Second Most Creative Agency

The World Advertising Research Center (WARC) has released the results of its second annual Creative 100, ranking the most creative agencies, networks and campaigns in the world. For the second year in a row, DDB Worldwide was ranked the #2 most creative agency network in the world.  Two DDB agencies were ranked among the world’s top … Continue reading “DDB Worldwide ranked Second Most Creative Agency”

CD Justin Hori returns to Squeak E. Clean Studios

International creative audio network Squeak E. Clean Studios welcomes Justin Hori back as a Creative Director out of the Chicago office. A talented composer, Hori has developed a knack for crafting poignant, contemporary audio stylings for branded content, crafting original music for award-winning projects with such top clients as Apple, Reebok, Adidas, Volkswagen and Budweiser, … Continue reading “CD Justin Hori returns to Squeak E. Clean Studios”

Maestro Rob Churchill joins Cutters Studios’ Flavor

The leaders from creative production studio Flavor are very proud to announce the addition of Rob Churchill to their Chicago staff in the position of VFX Director. The announcement was made by Flavor’s Executive Producer, Neal Cohen. According to Churchill and executives from Flavor parent Cutters Studios, this momentous development also involves Churchill as a … Continue reading “Maestro Rob Churchill joins Cutters Studios’ Flavor”

Carbon strengthens roster across the USA

Key hires and promotions reinforce new Chicago studio and seamless continental workflow Visual effects and design studio Carbon is proud to announce the promotion of Phil Linturn to Managing Director of Carbon North America and Gretchen Praeger to Executive Producer of the Chicago office. Additionally, the company is excited to announce new hires including Jeff … Continue reading “Carbon strengthens roster across the USA”

Jeffrey DeChausse sows in with Seed

French / American director and artist combines documentary style with a strong performance background Emmy-winning filmmaker Jeffrey DeChausse has signed on to work with his long time friend, Roy Skillicorn, owner / EP of Seed Media Arts. Jeffrey was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and in the Loire valley in France, where he worked and lived … Continue reading “Jeffrey DeChausse sows in with Seed”

SocialDeviant hires new CCO, opens new studio

Hart Rusen becomes Chief Creative Officer as agency grows by 2,400 sq. ft. in downtown Chicago Seven years after its founding as a modern agency for modern brands, SocialDeviant is doubling down on its commitment to creativity by hiring Hart Rusen as its Chief Creative Officer, effective immediately. This, along with building out their own … Continue reading “SocialDeviant hires new CCO, opens new studio”

Liz Taylor named Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett

Former FCB Chief Creative Officer will assume leadership across Publicis Communications North America in new role Award-winning creative leader Liz Taylor will join Leo Burnett Worldwide as chief creative officer. Starting July 8, she will sit at the agency’s Chicago headquarters leading the creative direction of the global agency network. Taylor will work alongside the … Continue reading “Liz Taylor named Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett”

Cutters promotes a pair in Chicago

The editing and post-production studio moves Heather Richardson to Executive Producer, Patrick Casey to Head of Production Cutters Studios Managing Director and Partner Craig Duncan today announced the promotion of Heather Richardson to Executive Producer, and the promotion of Patrick Casey to Head of Production. Both Cutters Chicago leadership appointments are effective immediately. According to … Continue reading “Cutters promotes a pair in Chicago”

Bob Carr to be inducted into AICP Hall of Fame

Award-winning ‘great Chicago guy’ who mentored many and cut high-profile ads for Budweiser and McD’s to receive posthumous honor The late Bob Carr, an award-winning editor and co-founder of the Chicago post boutique NuWorld, will be inducted into the Post Hall of Fame at the 2019 AICP Post Awards, set to take place here on … Continue reading “Bob Carr to be inducted into AICP Hall of Fame”

“Rock star” director Erin Sax joins Seed

“Drug fueled fights, guns a-blazing, and middle of the night visits by Robin Williams defined much of her childhood” “Director Erin Sax is a ‘Rock Star’ in more ways than one,” says Roy Skillicorn, owner and EP of Seed Media Arts, the Chicago- and Los Angeles-based production company that recently welcomed Sax to its directorial … Continue reading ““Rock star” director Erin Sax joins Seed”

Carr family hosts tribute to Bob Carr this Sunday

“I started to realize, ‘oh, he’s putting together these clips to tell a story.’ That’s really what he loved about (editing).” David Carr, on his father, Bob The family of editor Bob Carr, who passed away last month, will host a memorial celebration in his honor at Healy’s bar in Forest Park this Sunday from … Continue reading “Carr family hosts tribute to Bob Carr this Sunday”

Cutters Studios welcomes editor Livio Sanchez

Virtual reality storytelling pioneer and internationally-acclaimed editor Livio Sanchez joins Cutters Studios New York location   (New York — 20 July 2018) – Cutters Studios is very proud to announce the addition of internationally-acclaimed editor Livio Sanchez to its New York staff, effective immediately. The announcement was made by New York Executive Producer Elizabeth Krajewski. … Continue reading “Cutters Studios welcomes editor Livio Sanchez”

Lewis Williams named to AdWeek’s Creative 100 List

AdWeek recently listed Lewis Williams, Chief Creative Officer of Burrell Communications Group, on the 2018 Creative 100 List. Honored for his leadership in developing first-class collaborations to produce award-winning campaigns, Lewis Williams is recognized amongst notable leaders in advertising, entertainment and art, both locally and abroad. Other creatives listed include acclaimed filmmaker, Ava Duvernay, rapper … Continue reading “Lewis Williams named to AdWeek’s Creative 100 List”

Nicole Wasserman joins Big Deahl Productions

(Chicago, Los Angeles — 9 May 2018) Los Angeles- and Chicago-based commercial production company Big Deahl Productions has announced that Nicole Wasserman will be coming on board in the role of Executive Producer, beginning May 14th, 2018. “Nicole is armed with the experience and networking ability to take BDP to the next level!” exclaims Big … Continue reading “Nicole Wasserman joins Big Deahl Productions”

Cutters, Mill, Optimus, Utopic among AICE Shortlisters

Rachelle Madden, VP, Post Production and Digital Production Affairs for AICP, has announced the Shortlist for this year’s AICE Awards for post production excellence. “Our 2018 Shortlist is the result of hours of work by our judges,” says Madden. “We want to thank them all for their contributions and also salute all the editors and … Continue reading “Cutters, Mill, Optimus, Utopic among AICE Shortlisters”

SoStereo hires Creative VP LaBelle for new Chicago office

This past week, rapidly growing music licensing company SoStereo announced the opening of a Chicago office with the key hiring of Jessie LaBelle as VP of Creative and Sync. Over the past couple of years, SoStereo has been on-boarding new artists and label partners from some of the most culturally relevant, up-and-coming creators in music … Continue reading “SoStereo hires Creative VP LaBelle for new Chicago office”

The Reel Black List: Steve Conner, CEO

Steve Conner is noted for producing global, viral success stories with his branding and entertainment technique. He is also an Emmy-nominated writer/film director/DP and an award winning product designer. Steve pioneered his way of working at his branding/ production company in NYC – STEVE/STORM FILMS. The most notable success story was the global phenomenon – … Continue reading “The Reel Black List: Steve Conner, CEO”

Barry Burdiak leaves DDB for Epsilon, other recent moves

Barry Burdiak leaves DDB for Epsilon Barry Burdiak, a nearly 30-year veteran of DDB Chicago, has left the agency to lead data-driven Epsilon Chicago as Senior Vice President, Executive Creative Director. He’ll focus on new business efforts for new and existing clients. A mutiple Cannes Lion winner and Emmy nominee, he will report to a … Continue reading “Barry Burdiak leaves DDB for Epsilon, other recent moves”

The Reel Black List: Lewis Williams, Creative Leader

“There is no better story than life itself.” Lewis is a passionate, award winning creative leader and storyteller with extensive experience in total, ethnic and multicultural marketing. As a thinker across all platforms, digital and traditional, he thrives for both breakthrough and effective solutions. During his career he has created work for major brands such … Continue reading “The Reel Black List: Lewis Williams, Creative Leader”

Cubs introduce W’ville

With the postseason here and the Cubs gearing up to #FlyTheW once more, it’s officially “W season” in Wrigleyville. And in a stroke of sports marketing genius, the Cubbies are converting Wrigleyville into a pop-up event right next to Wrigley stadium. ‘W’ville will feature free games, family-friendly entertainment, giveaways and opportunities to win 2017 Cubs … Continue reading “Cubs introduce W’ville”

Rob Gregory, Gretchen Praeger, Carmichael Lynch

Rob Gregory wins American Photographic Awards “Series” category Congratulations are in order for local photographer, Rob Gregory, who was named a winner in the 2017 American Photographic Awards “Series” Category.   Earlier this year, we covered a series Gregory did for Cancer Kids featuring them as superheroes. Below are a couple of pieces from the … Continue reading “Rob Gregory, Gretchen Praeger, Carmichael Lynch”

“Table Read,” BBDO, DDB, Gitersonke in the news

A 30-SECOND CUBS SPOT, “Fly the W,” created by Chicago Cubs’ agency Schafer Carter Condon (SCC) featuring the narration of injured Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber, was designed to get fans excited about the Cubs’ National Division Series playoffs starting Oct. 7.

And it did it ever! — the spot was a hit waaaay out of the park, beyond anyone’s expectations, by garnering an amazing two million-plus views since it was posted on Facebook a scant two weeks ago.

The flag “is the fabric that brings an entire nation together,” Schwarber says.  “It says to the world, we will never lose faith … and maybe this October, if we fly it high enough, and loud enough and proud enough, well, you get the idea.”

Was SCC’s CD Ron Sone, who created the spot with CD Michael Dorich, surprised at the overwhelming reaction? “No, just at the speed it caught on,” he says. And those  two million hits were only from a Facebook posting, although the spot also appears on other social media outlets.

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.

FCB Chicago names Ogilvy global ECD Taylor new CCO

Award-winning Liz Taylor moves from global executive creative director at Ogilvy & Mather Chicago to become FCB Chicago’s chief creative officer on Sept. 15, replacing Todd Tilford, who remains with the agency, and joins FCB global CCO Susan Credle at the top of the Interpublic-owned agency.

Taylor will partner with CEO/President Michael Fassnacht to lead the 750-person shop and work on such accounts as Fiat and Clorox, newly won this year, Radio Flyer, digital work for Humana and others. 

FCB hires St. Clair in new integrated production role

DDB Chicago’s SVP/executive producer Will St. Clair will join FCB Chicago on Monday, April 11 as its Director of Integrated Production, a new position created within the agency’s production capabilities.

St. Clair’s new position was announced Friday by FCB’s Chief Creative Officer Todd Tilford in a memo sent to agency staffers.

“The agency’s continuous evolution and growth is due in part to bringing in innovative, talented people who can add new dimensions to what we do,” he said.

Neumann’s 20 years of capturing destinations

It’s been 20 years since Michael Neumann opened full-service live action, editing and animation house One World Productions out of a single room he rented from another production company on Dayton Street. 

“We now own a beautiful large loft near Chicago Avenue and Halsted with stunning views, multiple balconies, several edit bays and an amazing vibe,” Neumann says.

“The anniversary reminds me that we must be doing something right.  After our projects people often tell us how easy we make things for them.”

Colin Costello boosted to top creative post in L.A.

IT ONLY TOOK A MONTH for Colin Costello, a former local agency CD and recent L.A. transplant, to land a big agency job.  Walton Isaacson (of which Magic Johnson is a partner), the agency for which he’s been freelancing, jumped him up to senior creative director, on staff, of course, after he executed successful campaigns for the agency’s Lexus and Los Angeles Dodgers accounts.

Bud’s Super Bowl spot could’ve killed but was so so

Super Bowl 2013 is history.   A game that began looking as if it would be a rout, ended a thrilling — dare we say unforgettable — football game.

But how about the 2013 Super Bowl advertising that every year is the focus of at least as much attention as the game itself?

Plenty has been written about Super Bowl advertising in the weeks leading up to the game and in the couple of days since it was played.

MillerCoors cuts Draftfcb in favor of WPP consortium

The news couldn’t have been more devastating. At 10:30 Tuesday morning DraftFCB/Chicago president Michael Fassnacht picked up his phone and discovered MillerCoors chief marketing officer Andy England was on the line. Without wasting time, England delivered the long-rumored bombshell.

Only it was worse than expected.

England told Fassnacht MillerCoors was pulling all its business — every single bit — out of DraftFCB and redistributing it across a couple of entities.

Optimus ups Ciacciarelli to ECD, Bauer to design CD

Optimus has made two important personnel changes, naming of 13-year post house veteran Mike (Chick) Ciacciarelli to the newly created position of Optimus executive creative director and promoting former design director Donnie Bauer to creative director, Ciacciarelli’s previous role.

As executive creative director, says Optimus president Tom Duff, “Chick will bring to the entire company the holistic approach to creative direction skills that he honed when leading the design group. 

Nathan Brown joins re:think studios as partner/EP

When Nathan Brown was in college in St. Louis, he was told that if he wanted to get into advertising he should drive up to Chicago, pick a company that sounded interesting and just walk in the door in the hope of getting an informational interview.

The door Brown decided to push open was Cutters and the person who happened to greet him at the door was Brian Bullock, director of CGI, who graciously spent the next hour-and-a-half showing him around and fielding his barrage of questions.

Voiceover pro Harlan Hogan builds sound business online

Harlan Hogan, the veteran voiceover known for informing the PBS program was “made possible by viewers like you” and “That little itch should be telling you something,” is also the recording expert behind his own online company.

Voice Over Essentials sells everything needed for home recording – home studio microphones, stands, software, sound effects, even how-to books and DVDs – to voice actors, broadcasters, musicians, and various production personnel.

Burnett kills with 35 wins at NY Int’l Ad Awards

LEO BURNETT WORLDWIDE was not only the “Agency of the Year” at the International Advertising Awards in New York earlier this month, but it won a record 35 awards, including six of the total 24 Gold prizes, from 14 global offices. “This demonstrates yet again, the remarkable creative talent we have residing inside this network,” boasts Leo Burnett Global CCO Mark Tutssel.

Gustafson’s Bud spots the viewers’ choice

Cutters’ Grant Gustafson has earned a special place in the pantheon editorial excellence by having editing two of the most popular Super Bowl commercials of the decade.

In the “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials” special that aired on CBS Feb. 4, the Friday before Super bowl XLV, viewers voted his Budweiser spots their first and second most favorite spots.

Bob Winter becomes Y&R’s chief creative officer

A MAJOR AGENCY CHANGE is at hand as Bob Winter will join Y&R as chief creative officer of the Chicago office, starting in December. He moves over from Leo Burnett where he was SVP/ECD for more than three years on Altoids, Kellogg’s, Greenpeace and Caesars Palace.

Winter succeeds Ken Erke whose departure shocked Michigan Avenue when he joined digital agency R/GA a few months ago as executive creative director. Erke joined Y&R in2000 from Cramer/Krasselt.

Big extras casting call for “Contagion”

AN OPEN EXTRAS CASTING CALLS for Steven Soderbergh’s big budget, big cast “Contagion” will be held by Rich King Casting of L.A. Sept. 25 at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center, 2045 Lincoln Park West, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and Sept. 26 at the Annoyance Theatre, 4830 N. Broadway, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

King says he’s looking for adult men and women, 18 and older, all sizes, shapes, types and ethnicities. It’s a paid gig and meals are included.

“Contagion,” will spend two months shooting in and around Chicago, starting Oct. 19, arriving here from filming in Hong Kong.

Cutters adds new editor/partner

Grant Gustafson, award-winning spot editor known for his high-profile work on Anheuser Busch brands, has joined Cutters, from a dozen years at The Whitehouse and its predecessor company, The Lookinglass.

Gustafson joined in mid-August as Cutters ninth Chicago editor and the fifth partner of the 25-year old post house. The move, he says, “felt like a good career move to branch out and expand my horizons.”

“It’s exciting to have Grant join us,” says Cutters founder/president Tim McGuire.

Ace New York editor joins Red Car

New York editor Michael Coletta exchanges the Mad Ave scene for Michigan Ave – more accurately East Illinois St. — when he returns home Aug. 16 after a nine-year absence.

He joins Red Car from Nomad Editing, bringing with him that New York panache from having worked with bi-coastal A-list spot directors for the biggest agencies and the most famous brands.

Red Car managing director Craig Duncan characterizes Coletta as “a natural storyteller with impeccable comedic timing.

July 10 start here for 3D “Transformers 3”

“TRANSFORMERS 3” IN 3D? That’s what director Michael Bay and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told USA Today — that they will shoot in 3D and oh yes, it will have “a killer ending” as they bring the franchise to a close.

The excitement starts July 10 for six weeks, wrapping Aug. 19, as a crew of 200 films machines invading Michigan Avenue and the Loop, somehow engaging with the Russians in a space race.

The crew then spends two days, June 12-13 in Milwaukee to shoot a pivotal scene at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Comma Music honored at AICP MoMa Show

COMMA MUSIC was the only Chicago honoree among the hundreds of bi-coastal commercial companies that swept the 19th annual AICP Show June 8 held annually at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The winning reel will screen in Chicago Nov. 18 at the annual AICP Show.

Comma was honored in the Musical Arrangement category for its 2-minute music video for Nike/Wieden & Kennedy, featuring basketball stars LaBron James and Kobe Bryant, and rapper Lupe Fiasco.

Chicago’s late, great editor Yamus recognized

Some years ago, spot editor Yamus (real name Jim Mudra) was working on a PSA spot. The footage involved many children and atmospheres, related his friend and colleague Red Car editor Bob Carr.

After reviewing the footage, Yamus called the copywriter and said he’d found a single 30-second take that was perfect. “You don’t need an editor,” he said. “The magic was captured in this one take.”

Called “the consummate craftsman,” Yamus will be inducted into the AICE’s Hall of Fame during the 9th annual AICE Awards Show, May 20 at the Field Museum.

Good sign for commercial production

SOME POSITIVE PRODUCTION NEWS. Judging by how busy casting directors are right now, late summer spot production for the city is lookin’ good.

For instance, casting director Mickie Pasal of Tenner, Paskal & Rudnicke, reports a torrent of casting calls for commercials, including those for Leo Burnett clients Secret, McDonald’s and Eggo; Budweiser, DDB and the Illinois Lottery/Energy BBDO.

Paskal is most pleased at having cast six Chicago actors for a Blue Cross-Blue Shield shoot in New York Aug.

New Chicago Convergence president

BRUCE MONTGOMERY, a co-founder of the two-year old, ever-growing Chicago Convergence, has stepped up as president. He is CEO of Wi-Fi Technologies and executive producer and host of long-running cable show, “Technology Access Television,” on CAN-TV Ch. 21, and a member of the Mayor’s Council on Technology, among others.

Montgomery succeeds fellow Convergence founder John Patterson, Pixel Brothers’ development director, who moved to L.A.

Becky Cattie casting for Towers

FIRST ASSIGNMENT for Towers Productions’ new casting director, Becky Cattie is to find the perfect cast for Towers’ “Housewives of Chicago” reality TV show, currently in development.

Cattie, who moved here from L.A. last summer, has six years experience casting unscripted TV shows, including “Extreme Makeover,” “America’s Got Talent,” “My Fair Wedding,” “10 Years Younger” and “The Simple Life.”

Response to the “Housewives” casting call has been “fantastic,” says Cattie.

Actress Helen Hunt directed a spot here

ACTRESS HELEN HUNT was in Chicago last weekend with Chelsea Pictures/L.A. to direct a 60-second spot for Frito-Lay’s new TrueNorth healthy snack brand that will air on the Oscars’ Feb. 22 telecast.

TrueNorth launched a consumer contest last summer for stories that described how they or someone they know had the pursuit of their life’s passion. The winner, out of 2,300 entries, will be featured in a spot and receive a cash prize of $25,000.

The Oscars’ spot will kick off the brand’s 2009 ad campaign which will highlight real people who pursued their life’s passion.

Another Country adds ace mixer David Gerbosi

One of the city’s favorite sound designer /mixers, David Gerbosi, is gearing up for a month of work on a big package of Anheuser-Busch/DDB Super Bowl spots in his new 25th floor mixing room at Another Country.

Gerbosi joined Cutters’ sound division Monday, after his current contract with CRC expired in November after 16 years with the company.

DDB put a hold on its two favorite Bud brand sound designers, Gerbosi and John Binder, for a slew of Anheuser-Busch brands — Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime and American Ale -? 2009 Super Bowl spots to air Feb. 1 from Tampa.

Battle-scarred reality vet finds safe haven here

Emmy-winning producer Joan O’Connor is suffering culture shock.

Recently returned here after spending two decades toiling in the Los Angeles reality TV trenches, she says, “The difference between LA and Chicago is the people are more friendly. Actors here are so grateful. They thank me after the audition. You don’t get that graciousness in L.A.”

After a successful career working her way up from an entry level job doing research on “Rescue 911” starring William Shatner, O’Connor produced all genres of reality TV, including crime shows and soap documentaries.

TicTock takes training program to Detroit

FILM MICHIGAN: TRAINING EXPANDS. More than 60 students are taking the 2-week Basic Film Training Program at the Henry Ford Community College in Wayne County, now through Oct. 3, reports Dori DePree, head of Educational Outreach for TicTock Studios of Holland, Mich.

So far, 45 people have been trained in the Basic Film Set Training at the Holland location, she says.

From the pilot program launched by TicTock Studio this summer, 40% of the students found employment on a film set within 30 days.

Beck retires from CFO after 28 years; Chicago Creative Club holds Awards Night Sept. 10

DEBBIE BECK RETIRED from the Chicago Film Office last week without fanfare, after a remarkable and dedicated 28 years serving the film community.

“Debbie’s warm, unaffected personality, matched with unsurpassed longevity, made her almost iconic — the heart and soul of the office. She will be extraordinarily missed,” says Rich Moskal, who was appointed CFO director when Beck was into her sixteenth year on the job.

There at the beginning of the Chicago Film Office, Debbie Beck retires after an impressive 28 years

AFTER A REMARKABLE 28 YEARS, DEBBIE BECK retired Friday from the Chicago Film Office without fanfare.

She had joined in June, 1980 a scant three months after the office was officially created by Mayor Jane Byrne as an adjunct of the police department and was headed by a police sergeant, Sam Babich.

Beck shared an office with police officers Babich, Jim Cunningham and Tom Flanagan in cramped space on the eighth floor of City Hall.

DDB/Chicago sweeps the Mobius Awards with a spectacular win ? 7 prizes for Bud spots alone

It was DDB’s night all the way, winning big at the 2007 International Mobius Awards for Advertising held Jan. 28 in Hollywood.

The agency took home 15 awards, including two Best of Show awards, 13 First Place Mobius Awards and eight Second Place Certificates for Outstanding Creativity.

Seven First and Second prizes in non-broadcast categories went to five Chicago agencies.

Ten category winners emerged from among 36 nominees from 29 countries and entrants came from 35 countries.

Chicago-connected films and filmmakers head for Sundance; “Obama in Africa” gets local premiere

CHEVY CHASE hosts an evening at Sundance for the world premiere of Phil Ranstrom’s doc, “Electrified: The Story of the Maxwell St. Urban Blues” Jan 25 at Harry O’s in Park City.

Narrated by Chicago native Joe Mantegna, “Electrified” tells how Maxwell Street’s neighborhood led to the hard driving sound of the urban blues and ultimately to rock ?n’ roll.

Ranstrom’s companion film, “Cheat You Fair,” documents the last days of Maxwell Street market. Ranstrom began both projects in 1994 shortly before the Maxwell Street market was demolished.

High-end colorist Fred Keller of New York heads Filmworkers Club’s ambitious telecine expansion

WHO HE IS: Bronx native Fred Keller was hired by Filmworkers’ Reid Brody in April of last year as fresh new talent to match a new facility upgrade.

WHAT HE DOES: Operates one of its three $1 million Spirit telecines, including a new 2K DataCine, and one of three DaVinci upgrades to 2K-Plus.

He color corrected Oprah Winfrey’s 2007 Oscar special and spots for McDonald’s, Hallmark, Capital One, Allstate and Blue Cross Blue Shield and KFC.

Kent Smith, Digital Kitchen’s new top guy, has impressive background producing national spots

WHO HE IS: The new GM/EP at Digital Kitchen production house since March 12 is relocating to Chicago from Indianapolis where he’s freelanced as a producer for some 18 years.

HOW HE VIEWS HIS JOB: Helping to coordinate the production; seeking the work; getting projects in the door and then determining the most fitting music and settings.

Susana DeSantiago celebrates first anniversary as owner of former Salazar & Navas talent agency

WHO SHE IS: Susana DeSantiago, owner/president of DeSanti Talents, bought the multi-cultural Salazar & Navas Talent Agency a year ago in February 2006 from Myrna Salazar, who retired from the business after 24 years.

HOW SHE VIEWS HER JOB: A former Miller and Budweiser poster girl, DeSantiago understands the modeling, promotions and entertainment biz.

Joe Pytka wins 15th DGA nomination

THE VENERABLE JOE PYTKA scored his 15th nomination from the DGA’s 26th annual Best Commercial Director Awards.

The other nominees were Dante Ariola and Tom Kuntz of MJZ; Bryan Buckley and David Gray of Hungry Man. Winners will be feted at a gala Feb. 3 in L.A.

Buckley is a three-time nominee and 1999 winner; Kuntz and Gray were nominated for the first time.

Pytka’s nod was based on spots that include Chicago work — for Budweiser/DDB and Disney/Leo Burnett, and also the World Trade Center’s Memorial/TBWA/Chiat/Day.

Bienvenidos El Grupo Zeta — an Hispanic spot house repping four hot directors

Since Chicago is home to the second largest Hispanic population in the U.S., it makes sense that a production company dedicated to Spanish- language commercials would open its doors here to serve this fastest-growing of all markets.

The new spot house is El Grupo Zeta, a division of Dan Zigulich’s thriving Z Group Films.

Executive producer is Aldo Gagliardi, who had produced in Miami for Hispanic ad agency Oolala for a year, after six years of working as an assistant director. He moved to Chicago a year ago to broaden his opportunities.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

CHICAGO’S LOSS IS PITTSBURGH’S GAIN. When the Art Institute politely declined to serve as the setting for a new TV pilot about art thieves, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum said to come on over.

The pilot for CBS will shoot for about five days in Pittsburgh. Ray Liotta stars as “Smith,” the leader of gang looking to steal a pair of Rembrandts.

While the Art Institute wouldn’t have been identified as such, the Chicago setting, the stairs and lions nonetheless would’ve been a dead giveaway.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

CHICAGO’S LOSS IS PITTSBURGH’S GAIN. When the Art Institute politely declined to serve as the setting for a new TV pilot about art thieves, Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum said to come on over.

The pilot for CBS will shoot for about five days in Pittsburgh. Ray Liotta stars as “Smith,” the leader of gang looking to steal a pair of Rembrandts.

While the Art Institute wouldn’t have been identified as such, the Chicago setting, the stairs and lions nonetheless would’ve been a dead giveaway.

Optimus expands graphics department, adds Daly

OPTIMUS ADDED MATT DALY as visual effects director Jan. 18, as part of its graphics department restructuring. He’d been Digital Kitchen’s visual effects director.

One of Daly’s main responsibilities will be accommodating increased client requests for an effects specialist on the set.

Services have been expanded to include advanced design, 3D/CGI animation and graphics.

Partner Glen Noren heads the nine-person graphics department; Mike Ciacciarelli leads the internal design group and Daly, who says he plans to expand his department, visual effects.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

L.A. POST HOUSE HIRES are Therese Hunsberger, Optimus’ executive producer overseeing all operation, while Cutters added editor Fernando Villena, both for their respective Santa Monica companies.

Award-winning Hunsberger is a 20-year post veteran who previously was FilmCore’s executive producer working on such high-profile commercials as Expedia, Gatorade, Geico and Toyota.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

“PRISON BREAK” has broken out in full-scale shooting of 12 episodes of the Fox TV series at Joliet prison and Chicago locations. The series stars Dominic Purcell and Stacy Keach. On the set: Production manager Frank Conway is also filling in for producer Gary Brown who was temporarily called away. Shows are budgeted at between $3 to $6 million per hour. First episode will air Aug. 29.

THE OTHER JOLIET MOVIE, “You are Going to Prison,” won’t be around to confuse you.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

THE ONLY U.S. MEDIA LION awarded at Cannes this year went to Oprah for the much talked-about giveaway of more than 200 Pontiac G6 cars to Oprah Winfrey’s studio audience, engineered by GM’s media-planning agency, Publicis Groupe’s GM Planworks, Detroit. It was the only U.S. entry among more than 1,000 in the category to win a Lion.

ROGER EBERT’S STAR DEDICATION on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood Thursday was studded with stars, fellow movie columnists and friends of the critical icon.

Traynor’s HD horror “Witches’ Night” aims for adult audience; plans a 4-week September shoot

Paul Traynor of Hay Moon, Inc. is out to make “Witches’ Night” a horror movie for grown-ups on a $500,000 to $1 million budget he’s raising from private investors.

Traynor is courting investors with a demo scene he shot on HD last October at Moraine Hills State Park in McHenry, employing strikingly high production values.

His script follows four buddies on a camping trip who get lured into the occult sex rituals of a band of beautiful witches.

“I’ve always been afraid of witches since I was a kid, but I never got a sense of what they actually did,” said Traynor.

THE REEL THING: News & Notes

HERE’S HOW IT SHAKES DOWN. The IFO’s Joe Amari and Todd Lizak, assisted by intern Lisa Banks, will share some of the duties handled by deputy director Bob Hudgins who exited the film office last month. Gone, however, is state-provided location scouting — another fallout from Hudgins’ departure. Now an IFO representative will ride with production companies while they decide if they’ll film here. Beyond that, the out-of-towners will have to hire freelance location scouts to finalize the deals.

Former DDB GCD Immesoete does double-duty at Backyard’s new Seed content company

Backyard Productions is never one to stand still, always finding a new way to serve emerging trends?like its newly-formed Seed, a content company led by former DDB award-winning group creative director John Immesoete.

Immesoete is Seed partner/creative director and also a director for Backyard.

Seed will concentrate on “entertainment opportunities such as TV shows and Web-based films,” said Backyard partner/principal Roy Skillicorn.

Since signing with Backyard in December, Immesoete directed the “Lady” Bud Light Super Bowl spot in collaboration with DDB.

BBDO, Burnett, DDB score “best of show” honors at Chicago Creative Club Awards

Call it the battle of the big agencies shooting it out for honors at the recent second annual Chicago Creative Club Awards show. Four big agencies won 29 of the 32 categories of awards, while Leo Burnett won half, with 16 prizes mostly for Altoids gum.

DDB brought home seven Bricks (the award trophy) for Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser and Young & Rubicam won six awards mainly Miller Brewing.

Hugos feature DDB, Burnett winners, lifetime career awards to Pytka, Marin

Joe Pytka departed from his signature grunge look to deck himself out in a tux, his long blondish-gray flowing around his shoulders, to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hugos at Park West March 11.

Pytka, the Pittsburgh director who made good in Hollywood and the undisputed master of 30-second storytelling, has directed 5,000 commercials, many of them for long-time clients DDB and Leo Burnett, which were represented by top creatives Bob Scarpelli and Cheryl Berman, respectively.

Third Wave makes waves encoding 5.1 surround on Super Bowl commercials

These are busy days for Chicago’s resident audio guru Hank Neuberger. Make that Super busy. He and Terry Fryer, his partner in recently formed Third Wave Productions, had an important hand in giving eight Super Bowl spots you’ll see this weekend more impact.

A week later on Feb. 8, some of those commercials will air on the Grammy award show, whose broadcast audio Neuberger has supervised for 15 years. Both shows air on CBS.