'Chicago Code' is canceled; city loses $25 million

May 11, 2011

Governor Pat Quinn with 'Chicago Code' creator Shawn Ryan and star Jennifer Beals in September 2010

Fox Broadcasting Company announced the cancellation of five new shows this season on Tuesday, including The Chicago Code, a police drama set and filmed locally.

Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, reported that production of the pilot and first 12 episodes of Chicago Code generated an estimated $25 million for the city in production-related costs.

“Losing that is disappointing,” Moskal said. “What’s tremendous about television series like Chicago Code is how consistently they’re contributing to the local economy.”

Moskal says despite the attention paid to the film industry, shooting a television series can be far more lucrative for a city than a movie.  That's, in part, because a television show creates work and purchases goods and services over an extended period of time.  But he said the local acting community was probably the most visible beneficiary of the Code’s presence, calling the new roles created every episode a tremendous opportunity for actors.  

Even so, all is not lost for Chicago.

"We're in a fortunate position of not having all our eggs in one basket," Moskal said. 

That's because Chicago Code is not the only show being filmed in Chicago right now.  The new Starz show Boss, starring Kelsey Gramer as a fictional Chicago mayor, began filming a few weeks ago, as did the highly touted Playboy from NBC. Moskal believes signs look good for Playboy's future, given its “cool factor” (the show has piggybacked off the current popularity of Mad Men by looking at the lives of Playboy bunnies in the 1960s).

Moskal also mentioned Powers, a pilot about detectives who deal with superhero homicides, based off the comic of the same name. Powers is attached to FX, and is set to start filming in July. 

On Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn met with Kelsey Grammer and the producers of Boss to celebrate the opening of a new film and television studio at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. The state is investing $5 million in the project, which will become the largest facility of its kind outside of Hollywood and  has enough space to accommodate three to six productions at a time. It's estimated to create thousands of new jobs.

In 2010, the Illinois Film Office (IFO) reported $161 million in spending, and more than 8,000 job hires. Managing Director of IFO, Betsy Steinberg, said that though they were disappointed with the cancellation of Chicago Code, IFO was not concerned about the future of Cinespace.

"You know, series television is not for the faint of heart. It’s always, always a rollercoaster. The studio is, I believe, going to be busy regardless," Steinberg noted. "[The cancellation] does not spell disaster for the community."

The Chicago Code was critically well-received, and starred Jennifer Beals as the police department's first female superintendent. It paid homage to Chicago's corrupt political history with several character arcs, including one that featured Delroy Lindo as a corrupt alderman. Its ratings had been waffling, however, for several weeks, leaving its future uncertain.

Responding to the news of cancellation last night, creator Shawn Ryan, a native of Rockford, IL, tweeted that The Chicago Code will be finishing out its season, with the final two episodes airing in the next two weeks.

"Fox suits loved the show, but have a business to run," he tweeted.

 

Updated 5/11/11 @10:40pm Previous version was updated to correct typographical errors and to reflect that the Fox announcement was made on Tuesday.