WBEZ | film http://www.wbez.org/tags/film Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Get to know the man behind the 'Nostalgia Critic' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/get-know-man-behind-nostalgia-critic-109210 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="320" src="http://blip.tv/play/gbk7g5OrTwI.x?p=1" width="620"></iframe><embed src="http://blip.tv/api.swf#gbk7g5OrTwI" style="display:none" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed></p><p>The titular frontman of the popular web series &quot;<a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic" target="_blank">Nostalgia Critic</a>&quot;&nbsp;is not the most warm and fuzzy of characters.&nbsp;</p><p>On the contrary, Chicago-based writer, comedian, and filmmaker Doug Walker&nbsp;plays the Critic as a bitter and maniacal loose cannon, reviewing mostly nostalgic films and television shows, sometimes old commercials and video games (often of the cheesy 80s and 90s variety, but recently contemporary works too) with frequent sarcasm and bursts of rage.&nbsp;</p><p>Yet Walker&#39;s&nbsp;satirical lashing of everything from &quot;The Care Bears&quot; to &quot;Catwoman&quot; is also the very basis of his appeal, and the reason why millions of Internet viewers keep tuning in to watch his videos week after week.</p><p>The episodes &mdash; available for endless hours of free viewing on <a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com" target="_blank">That Guy with the Glasses.com</a>&nbsp;&mdash; are consistently smart, fresh, and funny, with plenty of clips and expertly-edited footage to keep Walker&#39;s signature brand of comedic timing both delightfully nerdy and satisfyingly sharp.&nbsp;</p><p>I&#39;ve been a fan of Walker for many years, first discovering his videos on YouTube (where &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; originally launched in 2007), then following him to his current partnership with online media production company <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Awesome" target="_blank">Channel Awesome</a>&nbsp;and content host&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blip.tv" target="_blank">Blip.tv</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>Other shows and specials that Walker has launched include &quot;Shut Up and Talk,&quot; the Q&amp;A comedy series &quot;Ask That Guy,&quot; &quot;Sibling Rivalry&quot; with brother and co-writer Rob Walker, &quot;Bum Reviews,&quot; the science fiction parody film &quot;To Boldy Flee,&quot; and&nbsp;<a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses" target="_blank">many more</a>.</p><p>But when I pulled up to Walker&#39;s office in Lombard to finally meet the man behind the content,&nbsp;I wasn&#39;t quite sure what to expect.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NC%20Anime.jpg" style="float: left; height: 226px; width: 300px;" title="(Courtesy of Doug Walker/Channel Awesome)" />I was greeted by Mike Michaud, chief executive officer of Channel Awesome, who gave me a tour of the facilities. A living area with a couch and TV (which I immediately recognized from recent &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; sketches) opend up to a surprisingly large warehouse space in back, containing a treasure trove of assorted costumes, props, lights, cameras, and set pieces.</p><p>I also spotted a green screen used in many of Walker&#39;s videos, as well as a colorful &quot;Saved by the Bell&quot; diner-inspired set for a new Channel Awesome game show, which Michaud said will premiere in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p>When Walker arrived, we began what ended up being a nearly two hour-long conversation about his creative process. He was incredibly gracious, friendly, and sincere; the kind of guy you could easily imagine geeking out with over pizza and a &quot;Batman&quot; movie marathon, or warmly welcoming Nostalgia Critic devotees who&#39;ve waited in five-hour lines at conventions&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXviOGIG9F0" target="_blank">just to get his autograph</a>.</p><p>In person, Walker&#39;s charisma seems effortless. Coupled with his quick wit and refreshing lack of pretension, it&#39;s no wonder that he has acquired a massive fan following over the years.</p><p>Michaud said <a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com" target="_blank">That Guy with the Glasses</a> averages about 220,000 site visits a day and between 20 and 22 million page views a month, with 1 million being unique views from new visitors.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Some background:&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Walker was born in Naples, Italy; and because his father was in the Navy, lived in many different places across the United States when he was growing up. He went on to study film at Northern Illinois University, majoring in communications.</p><p>After college, he worked as an illustrator and started making YouTube videos for fun. He first grabbed viewers&#39; attention with clever&nbsp;<a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/5-second-movies" target="_blank">5 second movie</a>&nbsp;versions of popular films, and gained more notoriety with his snarky &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; reviews. &nbsp;</p><p>In 2008, &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; moved from YouTube to the independent site That Guy With the Glasses and Channel Awesome. By 2009, an increased income from advertising on the new site allowed Walker to quit his day job (a video that he made to commemorate the occasion also&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0MyoyRd44s">went viral</a>) and develop his web persona full-time.&nbsp;</p><p>Toward the end of 2012, Walker briefly retired the &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; to concentrate on another web series,&quot;Demo Reel.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>The Critic made his triumphant comeback in the January special,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqJmDs-5ViI" target="_blank">The Review Must Go On</a>, but under&nbsp;some new conditions:</p><ul><li>The sixth season of the show would be more sketch-driven than seasons past, with &quot;Demo Reel&quot; actors Malcolm Ray and Rachel Tietz coming on board as side characters. &nbsp;</li><li>The Critic would be able to review more recent releases &mdash; like &quot;The Odd Life of Timothy Green,&quot; the awful 2012 film that directly inspired his return &mdash; in addition to the usual 80&#39;s and 90&#39;s fare.</li><li>New episodes would go up every two weeks, instead of once a week, with a Nostalgia Critic editorial every other week.&nbsp;</li></ul><p><strong>You&#39;ve played the Nostalgia Critic for about six years now. Is he a different character now than he was at</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NC Profile.jpg" style="height: 169px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="(Courtesy of Doug Walker/Channel Awesome)" /><strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>the start?</strong></p><p>DOUG WALKER: He really has evolved, because if you look at the Critic from the beginning of the show, he&#39;s just a big loser. I mean, everything has to be his way &mdash; he&#39;s always screaming, always shouting, always angry &mdash; so after a while, we evolved him so that he&#39;s a little more open, and he questions things a little bit more.</p><p>The big thing that I&#39;ve found when I was doing the character was that people were siding with him beforehand and wanting to get on his side, and that wasn&#39;t my intention! [Laughs] I was like, &#39;Don&#39;t get on this guy&#39;s side, he&#39;s not a good guy!&#39; I realized that I needed to even him out, because a lot of people were seeing him as a hero. So I said, &#39;Let&#39;s actually make him more relatable.&#39;</p><p>Even through the anniversary specials, you can see that he opens up a little bit more, which makes sense. For any character, if you want to evolve them, you have to show a different side. Since the Critic was already unpleasant, it made sense to evolve him into something a bit more likeable.</p><p><b>How would you define the role of a critic today? What does being a critic mean to you A.E. (After Ebert)?&nbsp;</b></p><p>DW: I used to think that the role of a critic, whether they&#39;re just being themselves or playing a character like I have, is to say whether something is good or bad. But that&#39;s kind of presumptous, because it&#39;s all subjective. So then I thought, maybe it&#39;s just giving your opinion and stating it very well. But his opinion might not match my opinion, so what does that necessarily mean?</p><p>Now, what I&#39;ve come to in terms of being a critic is this: what a critic should do is challenge&nbsp;someone&#39;s point of view. Even if you agree with it, just give some different outlook or point of view that perhaps another person hasn&#39;t thought about before.</p><p>That&#39;s what I liked about Ebert, and Gene Siskel, is that you could listen or read their work and they could bring up something that you&#39;d just never thought of. If I really liked a movie they hated, or they liked a movie that I hated, I could still find a different point of view in there that I&#39;d never really considered. That&#39;s what I really liked about them, and also how they just cared so much about film, and were so passionate about it.</p><p><b>What advice do you have for young critics who might want to follow in your footsteps?</b></p><p>DW: The first thing I would usually say is, &#39;don&#39;t.&#39; [Laughs] Because I totally acknowledge that I got really lucky when I came into this; I was just the right person at the right time.</p><p>But I think a lot of people that now make a living out of this obviously did go for it. So, if you absolutely have to, if you have it embedded in you and you can&#39;t get it out, try doing what other people aren&#39;t necessarily doing. And if you absolutely have to do something that&#39;s similar to someone else, find your own angle and your own point of view on it &mdash;because if you say, &#39;I want to be just like the Nostalgia Critic,&#39; well, &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; is already doing that. Try to do something from an angle that nobody is doing, and be consistent. Get the stuff out constantly.</p><p>Not to their discredit at all, but I think a lot of people put a lot of time and effort into making a video look good and sound good, which means that the videos look great, but might only come out once every couple months or something, and you&#39;re not going to keep an audience with that. Also, try to ask yourself, &#39;If I was going through the Internet, what would I click on?&#39; or &#39;What would I want to see?&#39; because there&#39;s a lot of potential viewers out there who are doing the same thing.</p><p><strong>Have you ever changed your mind about a &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; episode that you said you would never, ever do?</strong></p><p>DW: It&#39;s funny, because just looking at how things change over time and just looking at numbers, now whenever somebody says, &#39;You can&#39;t do this, you absolutely can&#39;t do this, we&#39;ll be offended,&#39; I sort of look at it more and think &#39;Maybe I should do this...&#39;&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Like &quot;Matilda?&quot;</strong></p><p>DW: Honestly, at some point, I will do &quot;Matilda.&quot; I know that I will now, because there&#39;s been so many people saying, &#39;Don&#39;t do it!&#39; which makes me think, &#39;The views on this are gonna be great!&#39; [Laughs] But I know that I can&#39;t just rush into that; it&#39;s still something that we&#39;re trying to get ideas for, because we really want to do it&nbsp;right, because it&#39;s been so built-up.</p><p>But yeah, it still has to be something that I feel I can get material out of. If it&#39;s something that I know nothing about, or I know that I&#39;m going to be out of my element with it, I&#39;ll stay away.&nbsp;</p><p>That&#39;s what I should have done with <a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/32327-lets-play-barts-nightmare" target="_blank">Let&#39;s Play Bart&#39;s Nightmare</a>, because I knew very little about it, and I dove in still knowing very little, and it blew up in my face. You take a chance and see what&#39;s new, and sometimes it&#39;s going to bomb, and part of the process is learning what to do with a failure. Now it&#39;s a fun joke, like &#39;Is this as bad as Bart&#39;s Nightmare?&#39; and so forth. You just have fun with it.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/A21.jpg" style="float: left; height: 169px; width: 300px;" title="(Courtesy of Doug Walker/Channel Awesome) " /><strong>You recently invited Greg Sestero, the actor who played Mark in &quot;The Room,&quot; to appear on an episode of &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; after he said that he enjoyed your review of the film. Who have been some of your favorite guests to have on the shows so far?</strong></p><p>DW: Every time that someone has [said something nice about the shows], we try to have them on. It would be cool to get Dante Basco, who played Rufio in &quot;Hook&quot; and Zuko in &quot;Avatar: The Last Airbender.&quot; I talked about him for a while in the vlogs, and he really liked it and posted a link and stuff like that, so that was really cool.</p><p>Obviously, Mara Wilson [former child star of &quot;Ms. Doubtfire&quot; and &quot;Matilda,&quot; who appeared in the &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; review of her film &quot;A Simple Wish,&quot; the first episode of &quot;Shut Up and Talk,&quot; and on &quot;Demo Reel&quot; as the wife of Walker&#39;s character].</p><p>Some of the creators of &quot;Batman,&quot; the animated show, have said that they liked our work, and the people from &quot;Anamaniacs&quot; came on for a special. So, honestly, to anyone who reaches out, I say, &#39;Come on in!&#39;</p><p><b>Besides the late, great Roger Ebert tweeting the &quot;Nostalgia Critic&quot; episode A Tribute to Siskel &amp; Ebert and calling it &quot;the best, funniest video about Siskel &amp; Ebert I&#39;ve ever seen&quot; (you said you <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYQsKWhfY88" target="_blank">framed the tweet</a>&mdash;I would have too!), what has been the most meaningful feedback that you&#39;ve received for your work?</b></p><p>DW: The coolest ones for me are when fans write in to say, &#39;I went through something tough,&#39; or &#39;I have depression, I have an illness, I lost somebody close to me, I&#39;ve had a tough year ... and you&#39;re stuff has really helped.&#39;</p><p>Because you just think, I&#39;m making an ass of myself and just being really stupid and goofy, but what can that do. It&#39;s funny, but what can that do? But for a lot of people, it really means something.</p><p>So that&#39;s always cool every time I get those, and I try to save those too, and actually keep them in a nice collection. That always means the world, because like I said, you don&#39;t expect it, and it&#39;s like, &#39;Ok, let&#39;s keep doing this.&#39;</p><p><em>For more information on everything related to Nostalgia Critic and Channel Awesome, visit <a href="http://thatguywiththeglasses.com" target="_blank">thatguywiththeglasses.com</a>&nbsp;and follow Walker&#39;s <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Doug-Walker/127127037353766" target="_blank">Facebook page</a> for updates on what&#39;s next!</em></p></p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 08:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/get-know-man-behind-nostalgia-critic-109210 15 female TV writers you should know http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" jordin="" of="" showtime="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jordin%20Althaus%3AShowtime.jpg" states="" the="" title="Diablo Cody on the set of her Showtime series &quot;The United States of Tara.&quot; (Jordin Althaus/Showtime)" united="" /></div><p>Headlines about women in television can be confusing and contradictory. Some say progress for female TV writers is moving at <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/wga-releases-annual-writing-report-and-women-make-small-progress" target="_blank">a snail&#39;s pace</a>, while others&nbsp;say 2013 is a great year to be a woman breaking into Hollywood&#39;s &quot;cigar-chomping&quot; <a href="http://www.glamour.com/entertainment/2013/08/meet-the-women-who-run-your-favorite-movies-and-tv-shows#slide=1" target="_blank">boy&#39;s club</a>.</p><p>My take? We&#39;ve come a long way since Irma Kalish of &quot;All in the Family&quot; and Susan Harris of &quot;The Golden Girls&quot; first paved the road for women to be taken seriously as TV writers and showrunners, but we still have a long way to go.</p><p>The Hollywood Reporter&nbsp;just announced their&nbsp;annual list of Top 50 Showrunners, and only <a href="http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/the-hollywood-reporter-announced-the-top-50-showrunners" target="_blank">10 women</a> (many of them working in teams with men) made the cut.</p><p>Still, just a brief glance at the progress that&#39;s been made &ndash; from Chicago native Agnes Nixon creating the TV <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnes_Nixon" target="_blank">soap opera</a>&nbsp;in 1968, to Tina Fey becoming the first female head writer at &quot;Saturday Night Live&quot; in 1999, to Lena Dunham inspiring a million <a href="http://splitsider.com/2012/04/24-thinkpieces-about-girls/" target="_blank">Internet think pieces</a> with each zeitgeist-y episode of &quot;Girls&quot; &ndash; is enough to see that times are slowly but surely changing for the better.</p><p>And despite numerous sexist roadblocks that still need to be torn down (shows like &quot;Californication,&quot; and &quot;Veep&quot; <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/03/28/1787671/from-californication-to-veep-the-tv-shows-that-hired-no-women-or-writers-of-color-in-2011-2012/" target="_blank">did not employ a single female writer </a>during their 2011-2012 seasons), plenty of women in television are making waves by taking charge.&nbsp;</p><p>In no particular order, here are 15 groundbreaking female TV writers you should know:&nbsp;</p><p><strong>1. Jenji Kohan</strong></p><p>Kohan started out writing for shows like &quot;Will and Grace,&quot; &quot;Gilmore Girls,&quot; and &quot;Sex and the City;&quot; and in 1997, won an Emmy Award as supervising producer of the HBO sketch comedy series &quot;Tracey Takes On...&quot; In 2005, Kohan become the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the dark comedy &quot;Weeds,&quot; starring Mary Louise Parker, which ran for eight seasons on Showtime. Today, Kohan is the co-creator and executive producer of the Netflix prison dramedy &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenji_Kohan" target="_blank">Orange is the New Black</a>,&quot; which is gearing up for a highly-anticipated Season 2.</p><p><strong>2. Elizabeth Meriwether</strong></p><p>Meriwether is a Yale University graduate who got her start as a playwright before transitioning to film and TV. She got her big break writing the screenplay for the 2011 film &quot;No Strings Attached,&quot;landing her a spot in &quot;<a href="http://www.interviewmagazine.com/culture/liz-meriwether" target="_blank">The Fempire</a>&quot;&nbsp;next to fellow female screenwriters Dana Fox and Lorene Scafaria. Meriwether went on to write for the Adult Swim series &quot;Children&#39;s Hospital&quot; and is now the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of &quot;New Girl&quot; on Fox.</p><p><strong>3. Michelle Ashford</strong></p><p>Ashford has a long list of writing credits to her name, including two Emmy-winning television miniseries: 2008&#39;s &quot;John Adams&quot; and 2010&#39;s &quot;The Pacific.&quot; However, Ashford&#39;s most prominent role to date is as creator and showrunner of the new Showtime drama &quot;Masters of Sex,&quot; which premiered in September to <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masters_of_Sex" target="_blank">widespread critical acclaim</a> and has already been renewed for a second season in 2014.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. Amy Sherman-Palladino</strong></p><p>Sherman-Palladino is best known for creating the whip-smart and heartwarming series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilmore_Girls" target="_blank">Gilmore Girls</a>,&quot; which debuted on The WB in 2000 and became a tentpole for the network. The show that would make huge stars of Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, and Melissa McCarthy later moved to WB&#39;s successor network The CW, where it ended after seven seasons in 2007. Sherman-Palladino went on to create the ballet dramedy &quot;Bunheads&quot; for ABC Family in 2012; but much to fans&#39; disappointment, the series was not renewed for a second season.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5. Nahnatcha Khan</strong></p><p>Khan has written and produced a slew of creative shows, from the Saturday morning cartoon series &quot;Pepper Ann&quot; to the Seth MacFarlane vehicle &quot;American Dad!&quot; In 2012, Khan created her own ABC sitcom called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Trust_the_B----_in_Apartment_23" target="_blank">Don&#39;t Trust the B---- in Apartment 3</a>,&quot; which, despite its questionable title, turned out to be a shining example of truly great yet underrated comedic television. Unfortunately, not enough viewers tuned in to watch James Van Der Beek play a hilarious washed-up version of himsef, and the show was cancelled after two seasons in January.</p><p><strong>6. Shonda Rhimes</strong></p><p>Rhimes is a Chicago native and graduate of Dartmouth College. She also is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the long-running ABC medical drama &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; and its shorter-lived spinoff &quot;Private Practice,&quot; as well as creator and showrunner of the current ABC smash hit &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandal_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Scandal</a>.&quot; To date, Rhimes is the first African-American &ndash; man or woman &ndash; to create and produce a top-rated, one-hour series that has run for more than one season. &quot;Grey&#39;s Anatomy&quot; is now in Season 10.</p><p><strong>7. Julie Plec</strong></p><p>Plec graduated from Northwestern University in 1994, and went on to write scripts for Wes Craven&#39;s (&quot;Scream&quot; and &quot;Cursed&quot;) and the ABC Family sci-fi series &quot;Kyle XY.&quot; Plec hit the television big leagues in 2009, when she co-created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vampire_Diaries" target="_blank">&quot;The Vampire Diaries&quot;</a> with Kevin Williamson for The CW. The supernatural teen drama has become a domestic and international juggernaut, prompting Plec to create a spinoff called &quot;The Originals&quot; in 2013. Plec also co-created a third series for the CW this year: &quot;The Tomorrow People,&quot;&nbsp;based on the popular British science fiction TV series of the same name.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>8. Liz Sarnoff</strong></p><p>Sarnoff got her start writing episodes of &quot;NYPD Blue&quot; and &quot;Crossing Jordan&quot; before joining the crew of &quot;Deadwood&quot; in 2004 as an executive story editor and writer for Season 1. The following year, Sarnoff joined the writing team of &quot;Lost&quot; in the series&#39; second season, and won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for her work. She was promoted to co-executive producer of &quot;Lost&quot; for Season 5, and executive producer in the show&#39;s sixth and final season. In 2011, Sarnoff co-created the Fox series &quot;Alcatraz,&quot; an ambitious <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatraz_(TV_series)" target="_blank">J.J. Abrams-produced prison series</a> that lasted 13 episodes.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>9. Jane Espenson</strong></p><p>Espenson had a five-year stint as a writer and producer on &quot;Buffy the Vampire Slayer,&quot; followed by work on the sci-fi cult classic &quot;Battlestar Galactica&quot; and its prequel spinoff &quot;Caprica.&quot; In 2010, she wrote an episode of HBO&#39;s &quot;Game of Thrones&quot; and joined the writing staff for Season 4 of the British television program &quot;Torchwood.&quot; Espenson also has written episodes for Joss Whedon&#39;s &quot;Firefly,&quot; &quot;Angel,&quot; &quot;Tru Calling,&quot; and the ABC fairy tale series &quot;Once Upon a Time.&quot; Currently, Espenson is the co-creator, writer, and producer of a sitcom web series called &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Husbands_(sitcom)" target="_blank">Husbands</a>,&quot; now in Season 3 on The CW Seed.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>10. Mindy Kaling</strong></p><p>Kaling first joined NBC&#39;s &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Office_(U.S._TV_series)" target="_blank">The Office</a>&quot; as a writer at the age of 24, and as the only woman on a team of eight. She later took on the role of Kelly Kapoor, while still writing and directing episodes. In 2010, she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series with Greg Daniels for the episode &quot;Niagara.&quot; After &quot;The Office&quot; came to end earlier this year, Kaling became the first South Asian-American woman to create, write, and star in her own network television show: &quot;The Mindy Project,&quot; now in Season 2. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. Ann Biderman</strong></p><p>Biderman won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Drama Series for an episode of the police procedural &quot;NYPD Blue,&quot; and went on to become the creator and executive producer of the &nbsp;NBC/TNT series &quot;Southland.&quot; Now, Biderman is the creator and showrunner of &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Donovan_(TV_series)" target="_blank">Ray Donovan</a>,&quot; a powerful crime drama on Showtime starring Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. A second season of &quot;Ray Donovan&quot; will air in 2014.</p><p><strong>12. Emily Kapneck</strong></p><p>Kapneck created the popular animated program &quot;As Told by Ginger,&quot; which ran on Nickelodeon from 2000-2009. She also has served as a consulting producer on NBC&#39;s &quot;Parks and Recreation&quot; and is currently the creator, executive producer, and showrunner of the ABC sitcom &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburgatory" target="_blank">Suburgatory</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>13. Kay Cannon</strong></p><p>Cannon received her B.A. in Theatre from Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill. and trained in improvisation at both The Second City and The I.O. Theater ( formerly ImprovOlympic) in Chicago. She went on to write for the NBC series &quot;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kay_Cannon" target="_blank">30 Rock</a>,&quot; winning three Writer&#39;s Guild of America Awards and later a Peabody Award in 2008 for her work on the show. Cannon also wrote the screenplay for the 2012 sleeper hit film &quot;Pitch Perfect.&quot;</p><p><strong>14. Issa Rae</strong></p><p>Rae is the creator of the YouTube comedy series &quot;<a href="http://www.issarae.com" target="_blank">The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl</a>,&quot; in addition to the vlog series &quot;Ratchetplace Theatre&quot; and a collaboration with Black&amp;Sexy TV called &quot;RoomieLoverFriends.&quot; A new comedy series for HBO, co-written with Larry Wilmore and starring Rae, is currently in development.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>15. Diablo Cody</strong></p><p>Cody may be best known for writing the 2007 indie film &quot;Juno,&quot; but the Chicago native also has found a great deal of success in television. She created &quot;The United States of Tara&quot; in 2009, an Emmy-Award winning drama starring Toni Collette that ran for three seasons on Showtime. Cody also has recently been tapped to create a new &quot;<a href="http://www.avclub.com/articles/diablo-cody-and-josh-schwartz-are-developing-a-new,103923/" target="_blank">smart, sassy teen girl drama</a>&quot; for Fox, alongside &quot;The O.C.&quot; producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz.</p><p>To end this list: an adorable video of Amy Poehler interviewing her TV idol, pioneering comedy writer Irma Kalish:</p><p style="margin-left:.25in;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5seuoKvXvSc" width="560"></iframe></p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-11/15-female-tv-writers-you-should-know-109073 The future of Chicago film, TV http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/future-chicago-film-tv-109048 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" flickr="" spencer="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr%3ASpencer%20Hughes.jpg" title="Filming an explosion for &quot;Transformers 4.&quot; (Flickr/Spencer Hughes)" transformers="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/meet-the-new-bossyou-get-what-you-pay-for/Content?oid=924074" target="_blank">Illinois Film Office head</a>&nbsp;Betsy Steinberg recently told the <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/illinois-film-industry-booming-tax-breaks-expiring/Content?oid=11339369" target="_blank"><em>Chicago Reader</em></a> that while studios are making fewer films, &quot;a huge influx of episodic television&quot; has been great for job security. &quot;We love our movies,&quot; she adds, &quot;but one season of &#39;Chicago Fire&#39; could easily outspend a blockbuster movie.&quot;</p><p>Steinberg says that six TV series are currently filming in Chicago:</p><ul><li>NBC&#39;s &quot;Chicago PD&quot;</li><li>NBC&#39;s &quot;Chicago Fire&quot;</li><li>ABC&#39;s &quot;Betrayal&quot;</li><li>ABC&#39;s &quot;Mind Games&quot;</li><li>USA network comedy &quot;Sirens&quot;</li><li>NBC&#39;s &quot;Crisis&quot;&nbsp;</li></ul><p>Meanwhile, the blockbuster films that used Chicago as a backdrop in 2013 include:</p><ul><li>the Wachowski&#39;s &quot;Jupiter Ascending&quot;</li><li>Michael Bay&#39;s &quot;Transformers 4&quot;</li><li>the Bollywood musical &quot;Dhoom 3&quot;</li><li>the dystopian thriller &quot;Divergent&quot;&nbsp;</li></ul><p>When asked for comment on this record-breaking year for film and television in Chicago, Steinberg said the success is due in large part to the <a href="http://www.illinois.gov/dceo/whyillinois/Film/FilmTaxCredit/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">Illinois Film Tax Credit</a>, which offers producers a credit of 30 percent of all qualified expenditures.</p><p>&quot;As much as people love to be in Chicago, and as much as Chicago is such an excellent setting for film and television, we wouldn&#39;t have any business without the tax credit,&quot; Steinberg explained, &quot;In today&#39;s climate, with many states competing in the very lucrative film and television industry, our 30 percent tax credit has been instrumental in attracting business.&quot;</p><p>But what will happen when Section 181, the federal film tax benefit that guarantees investors will get back up to <a href="http://dakdan.com/investor_relations.html" target="_blank">75 percent</a>&nbsp;of&nbsp;their investment before a film is even distributed, expires at the end of this year?</p><p>Section 181 has expired before,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/illinois-film-industry-booming-tax-breaks-expiring/Content?oid=11339369" target="_blank">most recently in 2011</a>, and been reinstated. Plus, according to Steinberg, the Illinois Film Tax Credit is much more integral to productions at the state level than Section 181.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m sure there are plenty of producers, especially those who are in a certain range of $15 to $20 million films, who have been relying quite heavily on Section 181,&quot; Steinberg says, &quot;But the type of business that we have been seeing, both in television and with studio movie blockbusters, aren&#39;t really the productions that depend on Section 181.&quot;</p><p>The evolution of <a href="http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com" target="_blank">Cinespace Studios</a>&nbsp;also has played a major role in elevating the Chicago film and TV industry to new heights. Adds Steinberg: &quot;Cinespace has increased the square footage that projects can now use to build huge sets. So basically, because of all this increased space, we can now hold a volume of work never before possible.&quot;</p><p>Still, in a city crammed with raw filmmaking talent and increasingly creative means for distribution, do other alternatives for film and TV production exist?&nbsp;</p><p>Future success may lie in the web series, which has formed a kind of underground scene in Chicago that also has been rapidly gaining traction online.</p><p>&quot;Easy Abby,&quot; a lesbian romcom web series from Chicago-based writer/director Wendy Jo Carlton, recently hit <a href="http://easyabby.com/2013/05/11/easy-abby-hits-5-million-views/" target="_blank">5 million views</a>&nbsp;and has garnered substantial audiences in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, France, Germany, and the UK.</p><p>Other popular web series filmed in the Chicago area include the <a href="http://funemployedchicago.com/about-us/" target="_blank">millennial comedy</a> &quot;Funemployed,&quot; now in Season 3;&nbsp;&quot;Kam Kardashian,&quot; written up by the Chicago Tribune as &quot;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-25/entertainment/ct-mov-0426-chicago-closeup-20130426_1_minority-status-web-series-kardashians" target="_blank">a web series worth watching</a>;&quot; and &quot;Celestial Bodies,&quot; a live-action&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/CelestialBodiesTV" target="_blank">space adventure</a> show for all ages that features a bevy of Chicago writers, artists, actors, and athletes.</p><p>Coming soon:&nbsp;a new project from award-winning local writer/director <a href="http://www.jasonknade.com/about/" target="_blank">Jason Knade</a> and &quot;My Block, My Hood, My City&quot; from Chicago author&nbsp;<a href="http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/738632684/my-block-my-hood-my-city" target="_blank">Jahmal Cole</a>.</p><p>As much as I hope that big-budget TV shows and features will continue to be made in Chicago for many years to come, I&#39;m also excited to see which Kickstarter-funded local web series and indie films will catapult their creators to national or even worldwide stardom.&nbsp;</p><p>After all, wouldn&#39;t it be nice if the resounding refrain from industry professionals was not &quot;You have to move to L.A. to make this happen,&quot; but rather, &quot;Why move to Hollywood when you can do it here?&quot;</p><p><em>Note: A previous version of this story misstated the expiration date of a film tax credit. The text has been updated to correct this error. Additional comment from the Illinois Film Office have also been added to further clarify. </em></p></p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/future-chicago-film-tv-109048 13 Chicago inventions and firsts http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/13-chicago-inventions-and-firsts-109024 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Original%20Brownie%20Recipe%20at%20the%20Palmer%20House.%20Flickr%3AOkun.jpg" style="height: 620px; width: 620px; " title="The original brownie recipe at the Palmer House. (Flickr/Okun)" /></p><p>On March 1, 1893, the gates opened at the Chicago World&#39;s Fair: an entertainment wonderland attracting 26 million visitors over the course of six months with never before seen art, food, alcoholic beverages, and a newfangled bevy of technological gadgets.&nbsp;</p><p>120 years later, the Field Museum has unveiled&nbsp;<a href="http://fieldmuseum.org/happening/exhibits/opening-vaults-wonders-1893-worlds-fair" target="_blank">Opening the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World&#39;s Fair</a>, a 10-month long exhibit of incredible artifacts and specimens from the fairgrounds to commemorate the occasion.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>A recent post by WBEZ&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/your-ticket-white-city-108994" target="_blank">Curious City</a> also paid homage to the incomparable splendor of the World&#39;s Fair, and it got me thinking about the many Chicago &quot;firsts&quot; that the fair produced.</p><p>Which Chicago inventions debuted at the 1893&nbsp;fair, and which came after? And which of these can our city really claim?</p><p><strong>1. Brownies. </strong></p><p>The beloved chocolate treat was created in Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_brownie" target="_blank">Palmer House</a>&nbsp;kitchen in 1893. Bertha Palmer, wife of millionaire hotelier Potter Palmer, wanted a new dessert to serve at the World&#39;s Fair that was smaller than a cake, but still had cake-like qualities. These first brownies were baked with semi-sweet chocolate, an apricot glaze, and crushed walnuts, and they are still beng made at the hotel according to the <a href="http://www.hiltontopchef.com/recipe/the-chocolate-fudge-brownie/" target="_blank">original recipe</a>.</p><p><strong>2. Yellow pencils.</strong></p><p>In 1889, the Hardtmuth Company of Austria introduced a <a href="http://www.pencils.com/blog/why-are-pencils-yellow/" target="_blank">fancy new line of pencils</a> into the World&#39;s Fair of Paris. The pencils were made from the finest graphite in the Far East and painted with 14 coats of golden-yellow lacquer. In China, the color yellow is associated with royalty. Four years later, European producer Koh-I-Nor brought the yellow pencils to Chicago&#39;s World&#39;s Fair, where they made <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/steinberg/11008357-452/happy-175th-birthday-chicago-city-of-firsts.html" target="_blank">quite a splash</a>&nbsp;and officially became an American staple.</p><p><strong>3. The Ferris Wheel.</strong></p><p><a href="http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/ferris.html" target="_blank">George Ferris</a> invented this engineering marvel to outdo the Eiffel Tower, which was the centerpiece of the 1889 World&#39;s Fair in Paris. Making its debut at the 1893 Chicago World&#39;s Fair, the first Ferris Wheel carried 36 elegantly outfitted passenger cars, each of which could fit 40 people sitting or 60 peiple standing. The wheel was dismantled in 1894, rebuilt in Lincoln Park the following year, and then sold in parts to St. Louis, where it was eventually&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hydeparkhistory.org/newsletter.html" target="_blank">destroyed</a>&nbsp;by dynamite.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>4. The zipper.</strong></p><p>First introduced as a &quot;clasp locker&quot; at the 1893 World&#39;s Fair by Chicagoan <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitcomb_Judson" target="_blank">Whitcomb L. Judson</a>, the original zipper was a complicated hook-and-eye shoe fastener that still wowed fairgoers as a technological marvel at the time. The zipper as we use it today &mdash; based on a system of interlocking teeth &mdash; was invented by <a href="http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/zipper.htm" target="_blank">a Swedish employee</a> of Judson in 1913.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>5.&nbsp;</strong><strong>The vacuum cleaner.</strong></p><p>The first manually powered vacuum cleaner was born in the basement of Chicago inventor&nbsp;<a href="http://vacuumcleanersensei.blogspot.com/2007/10/history-of-vacuum-cleaners-ives-w.html" target="_blank">Ives. W. McGaffey</a>&nbsp;in 1869. Made from wood and canvas, the &quot;Whirlwind&quot; was lightweight but difficult to maneuver, as it required the user to turn a hand crank while pushing it across the floor. The machines were sold for $25 in Chicago and Boston, until the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 incinerated all but two of them. One of these original models <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_cleaner" target="_blank">currently resides</a>&nbsp;at the Hoover Historical Center in North Canton, Ohio.</p><p><strong>6. Softball.</strong></p><p>Some sources say the sport originated<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball" target="_blank">&nbsp;in France</a> as early as 1334, while others point to the British game <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseball" target="_blank">rounders</a> as inspiration for what softball and baseball would later become. However, it is also widely believed that softball &mdash; a variant of baseball played with a larger ball and on a smaller field &mdash; was invented in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day 1887, when members of the Farragut Boat Club began playing <a href="http://www.asasoftball.com/about/asa_history.asp" target="_blank">indoor ball</a> with an old boxing glove and a broomstick.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>7. The electric dishwasher.</strong></p><p>After <a href="http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bldishwasher.htm" target="_blank">Josephine Garis Cochran</a> of Shelbyville, Ill. showed off her novel yet highly practical contraption at the 1893 World&#39;s Fair, the habitual chore of washing dishes would never be the same. The first electric dishwashers were primarily used in hotels and large restaurants until the early 1950s, when the everyday feasability of these machines began to catch on with the general public. Cochran also founded a company to manufacture her dishwashers, which eventually became <a href="http://www.invent.org/hall_of_fame/256.html" target="_blank">KitchenAid</a>.</p><p><strong>8. The film critic.</strong></p><p>Being a film critic was not considered to be a &quot;real job&quot; until 1914, when the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Tribune hired Jack Lawson as the first paid&nbsp;<a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=2TEEaCrPiWsC&amp;pg=PT340&amp;lpg=PT340&amp;dq=jack+lawson+film+critic+chicago&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=ba_1VR2QcY&amp;sig=_Zb2_szoWk-x61z16IBdlO_kyj4&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ei=ZnxwUsDiGMThyQHP8YGAAw&amp;ved=0CDQQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&amp;q=jack%20lawson%20film%20critic%20chicago&amp;f=false" target="_blank">full-time film critic</a>. Lawson&#39;s hiring paved the way for many more famous names to follow, including Gene Siskel at the Tribune&nbsp;and Roger Ebert at the Chicago&nbsp;Sun-Times<em>.</em>&nbsp;Ebert also became the first person to win a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Pulitzer_Prize" target="_blank">Pulitzer Prize</a> for film critcism in 1975.</p><p><strong>9. The telephone.</strong></p><p>Scottish engineer <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Graham_Bell" target="_blank">Alexander Graham Bell </a>is widely credited with inventing the first practical telephone in Boston circa 1876. However, Elisha Gray of Highland Park, Ill. was also experimenting with acoustic telepathy during this time, and filed a caveat with the U.S. Patent Office on the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisha_Gray_and_Alexander_Bell_telephone_controversy" target="_blank">same day</a>&nbsp;as Bell. Three days later, Bell succeeded in getting his telephone to work, &nbsp;but only after using a transmitter that matched Gray&#39;s design. Bell also drew a diagram in his notebook similar to that in Gray&#39;s patent caveat, leading many skeptics to theorize that Bell stole the invention.</p><p><strong>10. The frozen pastry industry.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>The famous&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Lee_Corporation" target="_blank">Sara Lee Corporation</a> of Downers Grove, Ill. began as a popular Chicago bakery chain in the 1950s, founded by Charles Lubin and named after Lubin&#39;s daughter, Sara Lee. Today, the corporation is divided into two companies: one for North American operations renamed Hillshire Brands (though the Sara Lee name remains on many of the desserts and deli products) and the other for international beverage and bakery businesses named D.E. Master Blenders 1753. Some of the most <a href="http://saraleedesserts.com">well-known brands</a> under this umbrella include Hillshire Farms, Jimmy Dean, Pickwick Tea, and Sara Lee frozen desserts.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>11. The first cartoon character.</strong></p><p>Walt Disney may have been born in Chicago, but contrary to popular belief, he did not invent the first animated cartoon character with the introduction of &quot;Steamboat Willie&quot; Mickey Mouse in 1928. In fact, that honor belongs to lesser-known cartoonists Wallace Carlson&nbsp;and Winsor McCay, who created <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gertie_the_Dinosaur" target="_blank">&quot;Gertie the Dinosaur&quot;</a> in 1914. The following year, Carlson debuted a new character called &quot;Dreamy Dud,&quot; who appeared in perhaps the country&#39;s first <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oup5EnKMGxM" target="_blank">afterschool special</a>&nbsp;for Chicago&#39;s Essanay Studios.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>12. Skyscrapers.</strong></p><p>Chicago&#39;s Home Insurance Building, built in 1884, is widely considered the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/john-r-schmidt/2012-03-01/worlds-first-skyscraper-96741" target="_blank">world&#39;s first skyscraper</a>.&nbsp;At 10 stories high and 138 feet tall, it was also the first building to use structural steel in its frame. The building was demolished in 1931 to make way for the Field Building (now the LaSalle National Bank Building). Chicago is also home to the tallest skyscraper built by a female architect, Jeanne Gang. She and her team at Studio Gang Architects constructed residential skyscraper&nbsp;<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_(skyscraper)" target="_blank">Aqua</a>&nbsp;in 2009.</p><p><strong>13. Deep dish pizza.</strong></p><p>In 1943, Ike Sewell invented deep dish pizza at his restaurant&nbsp;<a href="http://unos.com/about.php" target="_blank">Pizzeria Uno</a>, where delicious Chicago-style pies are still served today.&nbsp;Other Chicago food inventions include Twinkies, Cracker Jacks, Juicy Fruit gum, Oscar Mayer weiners, Jays potato chips, Italian Beef, and, of course, the Chicago-style hot dog.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett.</a></em></p></p> Wed, 30 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/13-chicago-inventions-and-firsts-109024 Guide to Chicago Halloween 2013 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/guide-chicago-halloween-2013-108992 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicagogeek.jpg" title="Halloween decorations at the Meysenburg Mansion in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. (Flickr/ChicagoGeek)" /></p><p>From Halloweekend to Día de los Muertos, Chicagoland is brimming with eerie events, spellbinding shows, and wickedly fun Halloween-themed parties that give a whole new meaning to the phrase &quot;ghost town.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>But first, a few protips:</p><p><strong>1. Explore the suburbs.</strong></p><p>If you have the means to embark on a mini-adventure before the 31st, take a daytrip outside of Chicago to visit a beautifically autumnal&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagonow.com/wild-side-chicago/2013/10/the-top-five-chicago-pumpkin-farms-to-visit-in-2013/" target="_blank">pumpkin patch</a> or an orchard for&nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-apple-picking-near-chicago/" target="_blank">apple picking</a>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>2. Embrace the power of the costume, but don&#39;t abuse it.&nbsp;</strong></p><p>Halloween is the only time of year that you can walk around dressed like Wolverine or Obi-Wan Kenobi and receive little to no judgment from passersby, so why not seize the opportunity and geek out to your heart&#39;s content? Of course, an ignorant lapse in cultural sensitivity (or downright&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theroot.com/multimedia/racially-insensitive-halloween-costumes" target="_blank">racism</a>)&nbsp;does not count.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>3. Enjoy the holiday while it lasts.</strong></p><p>Do the Monster Mash, bake ghost-shaped Pillsbury sugar cookies, and treat yourself to repeated viewings of &quot;Mom&#39;s Got a Date with a Vampire,&quot; &quot;Hocus Pocus,&quot; and &quot;Don&#39;t Look Under the Bed.&quot;</p><p>Also, make sure that you venture out into the city every once in a while, walk around in the brisk autumn air, and experience all of the Halloweentime joys that Chicago has to offer!</p><div><p><strong>Festivals:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/franken_plaza.html" target="_blank">Chicagoween</a>: Delight in spooky entertainment, hayrides, trick-or-treating, a costume contest, and a fall farmers&rsquo; market when&nbsp;Daley Plaza becomes Franken Plaza. Oct. 25-27.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://www.chicagobotanic.org/hallowfest" target="_blank">HallowFest:</a>&nbsp;Head to the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe for fortune telling, face painting, a carved pumpkin gallery and more. Oct. 26-27.</li><li><a href="http://lincolnpark.patch.com/groups/events/p/clark-street-spooktacular-2013" target="_blank">Clark Street Spooktacular</a>: The annual Lincoln Park neighborhood event returns with family friendly games, trick-or-treating, street magicians, jugglers, balloon artists, and a costume contest. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="http://www.downtownbatavia.com/batfest" target="_blank">BatFest</a>: A parade, pumpkin roll, entertainment, trick-or-treating, hayrides, games, and farmers&rsquo; market along the Riverwalk in Batavia. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="http://www.parkfun.com/programs/special-events/halloween-boonanza" target="_blank">Halloween Boonanza</a>: Kids ages 14 and under can participate in hayrides, crafts, carnival games, and trick-or-treating&nbsp;at the community center in Schaumburg. Saturday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://www.lpzoo.org/events/calendar/spooky-zoo-spectacular">Spooky Zoo Spectacular</a>. Arrive in costume to enjoy the arts and crafts, trick-or-treating, and live outdoor music at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Thursday, Oct. 26.</li></ul><p><strong>Parties:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/201503493365565" target="_blank">Nocturna All Hallow&#39;s Eve Ball at Metro</a>: The annual music hall extravaganza will feature a costume contest with cash prizes, a photo booth, vendors, and Halloween-themed performances. DJ Scary Lady Sarah spins. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="http://chicagohistory.org/boo/#sthash.j8mHEd8L.dpbs" target="_blank">Boo: A Halloween Ball at the Chicago History Museum</a>: A night of terrifying tales, dancing, and craft cocktails. Thursday, Oct. 31.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://hauntedyacht.eventbrite.com/" target="_blank">Haunted Yacht Party at Navy Pier</a>: Hop on board! Thursday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://scofflawchicago.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-ghost-of-bonnys-returns-again.html" target="_blank">Scofflaw&#39;s 2nd Annual Bonny&#39;s Halloween Party</a>: The Ghost of Bonny&#39;s returns! Scofflaw opens the shuttered Logan Square bar for a late-night dance party. Thursday, Oct. 31.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://www.royalesociety.com/" target="_blank">Dead Celebrities at Enclave</a>: Expect Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and Marilyn Monroe to make appearances. Also, bring your A-game in the costume department: the winner gets $3,000. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="http://www.oldtownpourhouse.com/2nd-annual-costume-party-event-222.php" target="_blank">Costume Party at The Boundary and Old Town Pour House</a>: $100, $50 and $25 gift cards will be awarded to the best dressed. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="http://thenumbereddays.com/buy-tickets-for-upcoming-events/" target="_blank">The Numbered Days Halloween Loft Party</a>: Head to Logan Square Auditorium for a dance party, trick-or-treat collaborative art, a costume contest, and DJ sets from Clash Gordon, Kyle Garner, and Matt Roan. Thursday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/626465874071032/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming" target="_blank">Pumpkin Carving Party at Cafe Mustache</a>: BYOP (Bring your own pumpkin) to the annual night of jack-o-lantern carving, beer drinking, and DJ mix jamming. Thursday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://community-bar.com/" target="_blank">Noche De Muertos: I Put A Spell on You Halloween Party</a>: Celebrate Halloween and the Day of the Dead at Maria&#39;s Packaged Goods &amp; Community Bar. Friday, Nov 1.&nbsp;</li></ul></div><p><strong>Haunted Houses:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="http://www.thefearhauntedhouse.com" target="_blank">The Fear Haunted House at Navy Pier</a>:&nbsp;This award-winning attraction features both an agressive adult-themed haunted house at night and a low scare, lights-on attraction during the day. Open now through Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://statesvillehauntedprison.com" target="_blank">Statesville Haunted Prison &amp; City of the Dead</a>: Located just outside of Chicago, this terrifying institution of horror has been voted Best Haunted House in Chicago, Scariest Haunted House in Illinois, and one of the Top 25 Haunted Houses in America. Open now through Nov. 2.&nbsp;</li><li>More haunted houses in the Chicago suburbs:&nbsp;<a href="http://fearcitychicago.com" target="_blank">Fear City</a>&nbsp;in Morton Grove, <a href="http://www.asylumxperiment.com" target="_blank">The Asylum Xperiment</a>&nbsp;in Villa Park, and&nbsp;<a href="http://42fear.com" target="_blank">Basement of the Dead</a> in Aurora.&nbsp;</li></ul><p><b>Music:</b></p><ul><li><a href="http://cso.org/TicketsAndEvents/EventDetails.aspx?eid=5842" target="_blank">Hallowed Haunts</a>: Come in costume for spooky music and pre-concert activities at the Symphony Center. For all ages 5 and up. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="http://www.martyrslive.com/thu-oct-31-8pm-10" target="_blank">Halloween at Martyrs</a>: A Halloween blowout featuring music from Terrible Spaceship, Diana and the Dishes, and The Lincoln Squares. Thursday, Oct. 31</li><li><a href="http://www.brooklynvegan.com/chicago/2013/10/pictureplane_pl.html" target="_blank">Pictureplane at Berlin</a>: Berlin&#39;s Total Therapy event on last Thursdays happens to fall on Halloween this year, and witch house musician Pictureplane is headlining. Thursday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://do312.com/event/2013/10/31/halloween-spectacular-featuring-terrifyingly-amazing-performers" target="_blank">Halloween Spectacular at Emporium Arcade Bar</a>: Advertised as the &quot;Best Halloween Party in Town!&quot; (and it very well might be) the barcade spectacular will include music from Mucca Pazza, Mack the Knife, and DJ Risky Bizness/Sean Doe. Thursday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://www.wickerparkbucktown.info/events-1/annual-double-door-halloween-party-wickerpark-bucktown" target="_blank">Halloween at Double Door</a>: The Wicker Park music venue&#39;s 17th annual bash will take place over the course of two spooky nights this year, featuring Slutter as KISS, Sex Therapy as Janis Joplin, and The Dead On as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Oct 31-Nov 1.</li></ul><p><b>Theatre</b>:</p><ul><li><a href="http://events.chicago.cbslocal.com/chicago_il/events/all-hallows-eve-eve-variety-show-/E0-001-062194977-8" target="_blank">All Hallow&#39;s Eve Eve Variety Show at California Clipper</a>:&nbsp;Get Halloween started early with some shadow puppetry, literary readings, and a raffle to benefit Chicago&#39;s newest literary institution, ChiPRC (Chicago Publisher&#39;s Resource Center). Multimedia performers include Audrey Niffenegger, Chris Hefner, Chris Bower, and Fred Sasaki. Wednesday, Oct. 30.</li><li><a href="http://www.theatreinchicago.com/newswire.php?newsID=917" target="_blank">Musical of the Living Dead at Stage 773</a>: This musical journey about a zombie apocalypse was named Best Musical in 2012 and Best New Play in 2012 by the Chicago Reader. Playing now through Nov. 9.</li><li><a href="http://www.chicagoburlesque.org/belmont-burlesque-revue-halloween-2013" target="_blank">The Belmont Burlesque Revue at Theater Wit</a>: The annual Halloween show will feature the Belmont Bombshells, the Amazing Tomas, and several special guests. Thursday, Oct. 26</li><li><a href="http://chicago.metromix.com/events/mmxchi-nightmares-on-lincoln-ave-5-b-is-for-blood-event">Nightmare on Lincoln Ave 5: B is for Blood</a> and <a href="http://chicago.metromix.com/events/mmxchi-death-toll-a-drinking-game-performance-1-event">Death Toll: A Drinking Game Performance</a>: 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday through Oct. 31 (&quot;Nightmares&quot;) and 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday through Oct. 31 (&quot;Death Toll&quot;) at <a href="http://chicago.metromix.com/venues/mmxchi-the-cornservatory-venue">The Cornservatory</a>.</li></ul><p><strong>Movies:</strong></p><ul><li><a href="http://chicago.metromix.com/events/mmxchi-horror-movie-night-2-event" target="_blank">Horror Movie Night at Delish</a>: Indulge in&nbsp;a three course prix fixe meal while watching a&nbsp;horror movie&nbsp;classic in the days leading up to Halloween. Film selections include &quot;The Shining,&quot; &quot;Carrie,&quot; &quot;Night&nbsp;of the Living Dead&quot; and more. Oct 24-31.</li><li><a href="http://www.thelogantheatre.com" target="_blank">Horror Movie Madness at The Logan Theatre</a>: Watch &quot;Rosemary&#39;s Baby,&quot; Trick &#39;r Treat,&quot; &quot;The Shining,&quot; and John Carpenter&#39;s &quot;Halloween&quot; on the titular night. Oct 24-31. &nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://www.classiccinemas.com/location.aspx?house=2263" target="_blank">&quot;Shaun of the Dead&quot; at Woodstock Theatre</a>: The cult British zombie comedy screens at midnight. Friday, Oct. 25.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com" target="_blank">Horror Movies at the Music Box Theatre</a>: The lineup includes a &quot;Halloween: Treats and Tricksters&quot; program as part of the 2013 Chicago International Children&#39;s Film Festival, in addition to scary films like &quot;The Wicker Man,&quot; &quot;Rosemary&#39;s Baby,&quot; &quot;Escape from Tomorrow,&quot; and two midnight screenings of &quot;The Rocky Horror Picture Show.&quot; Oct. 24-31.</li><li><a href="http://wickerpark.org/partners/chicago-park-district" target="_blank">Haunted Indoor Drive-In at Wicker Park Fieldhouse</a>: Hate-watch a different film from the &quot;Twilight&quot; series each night at the annual film festival. Oct 24-27.</li></ul><div><p><strong>Other Events:</strong></p></div><ul><li><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/1425653127658100/" target="_blank">Paranormal Brunch at the Empty Bottle</a>: In addition to delicious food and storytelling from the Chicago Paranormal Investigator team, there will be craft-making, Tarot readings, and vintage flicks projected on the big screen. Dress up in costume for extra EB street cred. 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.</li><li><a href="https://hubbardinn.projectparties.com" target="_blank">The Haunted Inn at Hubbard Inn</a>: The popular River North bar and restaurant has transformed into a haunted hotel. Stop by for a specialty themed cocktail or three-course harvest menu, if you dare. Now through Nov. 1.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://nowyouknowevents.com/ai1ec_event/chicago-halloween-trolley-crawl-2013-2/" target="_blank">Halloween Trolley Crawl</a>: Halloween Pub Crawls are kind of a big deal in Chicago, but the &quot;Trolley of Terror&quot; may beat them all. Saturday, Oct. 26.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://garfield-conservatory.org/" target="_blank">Creatures of the Night at the Garfield Park Conservatory</a>: Spooky spiders, owls, and bats are showcased in this Halloween-themed program. Wednesday, Oct. 30.&nbsp;</li><li><a href="http://www.northalsted.com/pages/17th_annual_northalsted_halloween_parade/114.php">Northalsted Halloween Parade</a>:&nbsp;Twisted Circus is this year&#39;s theme. Costume categories are drag, group, original, pet, and scariest. Thursday, Oct. 31.</li><li><a href="http://www.navypier.com/things2do/entertainment/halloween.html">Halloween at Navy Pier</a>: The seasonal celebration includes costume contests on&nbsp;Saturday, fireworks Saturday at 9:30 p.m., and trick-or-treating for children ages 12 and under on Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday. Oct. 26-31.</li></ul><p>What are your favorite Chicago Halloween traditions and haunts?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 24 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/guide-chicago-halloween-2013-108992 Cult film director John McNaughton returns with a 'shocker' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-10/cult-film-director-john-mcnaughton-returns-shocker-108964 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Harvest-W.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><em>Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer</em> is one of the great <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-04/movie-made-chicago-gritty-70s-and-80s-era-films-define-city-98124">Chicago films</a>. But it&rsquo;s also one of the great horror films.</p><p dir="ltr">Made in 1985 for a mere $100,000, <em>Henry</em> is both shocking and groundbreaking.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s spare, documentary-like aesthetic, terrifying soundscape, and nihilistic story has become a touchstone for depictions of serial killers. Along with a handful of other controversial films, it helped establish the NC-17 rating, which has proven both <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-23/why-hollywood-wants-nc-17-to-become-more-accepted">blessing and curse</a> for directors whose films blur the line between art and exploitation.</p><p dir="ltr">It also secured the reputation of its director, John McNaughton, a Chicago South Side native who went on to make equally compelling films, like <em>Normal Life, Mad Dog and Glory</em> and the deliciously disturbing <em>Wild Things</em>.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s been over a decade since McNaughton&rsquo;s made a feature, but now he&rsquo;s back with <em>The Harvest</em>, which has its world premiere Saturday at the Chicago International Film Festival.</p><p dir="ltr">McNaughton, like other independents, has faced some hefty challenges getting his films not only made but released. <em>Henry</em> was shelved for a number of years - nobody wanted to distribute a film stamped with the scarlet X of pornography. <em>Normal Life</em> pretty much went straight to video. And McNaughton hasn&rsquo;t always helped his own cause. He sparred with Universal Pictures over a line of dialogue at the end of <em>Mad Dog and Glory</em> and says he hasn&rsquo;t worked with the studio since.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>The Harvest,</em> which McNaughton calls a &ldquo;shocker film,&rdquo; stars Michael Shannon, Samantha Morton and Peter Fonda. It too was a struggle to make, from securing money and squabbling producers, to the catastrophic Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York just as McNaughton was finalizing his crew and preparing to head upstate to shoot the film.</p><p dir="ltr">Along for the ride was his long-time producer, Steven A. Jones, the man McNaughton calls the &ldquo;good cop&rdquo; in their relationship.</p><p dir="ltr">When I sat down with McNaughton and Jones recently, they talked about how they started making movies together, the inspiration for Henry, and what they love/hate about the horror genre.</p><p><em>The Harvest</em> screens Saturday, Oct. 19 at the AMC River East 21.</p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author"> Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram </a></em></p></p> Fri, 18 Oct 2013 14:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-10/cult-film-director-john-mcnaughton-returns-shocker-108964 Who's behind those eyes? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/whos-behind-those-eyes-108882 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/115479411&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The <a href="http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/">Chicago International Film Festival (CIFF)</a> is fast approaching the mid-century mark.</p><p>This year is the 49th outing of the longest running competitive film festival in North America.</p><p>So what accounts for its longevity? The commitment to showcasing work by new directors? A Midwestern audience starved for non-Hollywood movies?</p><p>Or could it be that alluring logo?</p><p>That&rsquo;s what caught the eye of John Laffler, who founded <a href="http://www.offcolorbrewing.com/home">Off Color Brewing</a>, one of the many craft beer ventures upping Chicago&rsquo;s reputations for great suds.</p><p>Laffler&rsquo;s never even been to CIFF. But he was well aware of the festival&rsquo;s presence when he asked Curious City:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Whose ubiquitous eyes are those on the Chicago International Film Festival posters? Is she single?</em></p><p>Now I&rsquo;ll be honest. This wasn&rsquo;t the most challenging Curious City assignment. All it took was a peek at the CIFF&nbsp;website to answer Laffler&rsquo;s question.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/history/">never mind</a> &mdash; there&rsquo;s always more to a good story!</p><p>So I brought Laffler together with Michael Kutza, who founded CIFF (and still runs it). He created the logo in 1967.</p><p>Laffler said a bit more about those &ldquo;ubiquitous&rdquo; eyes.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re so catching, so seductive and nuanced,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s an amazing logo and I just never knew who it was.&rdquo;</p><p>Well, in this <a href="https://soundcloud.com/curiouscity/whos-behind-the-eyes-in-the" target="_blank">interview </a>Kutza explains that it took a while to come up with the logo. In 1965 he had a simpler concept: an image of a globe and a reel of film side by side.</p><p>The next year he turned to photographer <a href="http://skrebneskiphotographs.com/home.html">Victor Skrebneski</a> to &ldquo;sexy&rdquo; things up. That&rsquo;s where the image of this sixties <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It_girl">&ldquo;it girl&rdquo;</a>, all shaggy bangs and mysterious shades, comes from.<a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/01+Colleen+Moore+INSPIRATION+CIFF.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CROPPED Colleen Moore INSPIRATION CIFF.jpg" style="height: 228px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Colleen Moore, silent film star and inspiration for the CIFF logo. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a></p><p>But it was an &quot;it girl&quot; from a much earlier generation who inspired the final design: <a href="http://www.colleenmoore.org/">Colleen Moore.</a></p><p>&ldquo;She was in the &#39;20s the most successful comedian in silent film,&rdquo; said Kutza. &ldquo;She was part of the D. W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford era of film.&rdquo;</p><p>Moore, famous for personifying the flapper, saw her career flounder in the transition to sound.</p><p>After retiring she married Homer Hargrave and <a href="http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1955&amp;dat=19690320&amp;id=b5AjAAAAIBAJ&amp;sjid=s6AFAAAAIBAJ&amp;pg=4832,3716722">made Chicago a home for over 30 years.</a></p><p>Kutza says he met Moore through legendary<em> Chicago Sun-Times</em> gossip columnist <a href="http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/June-2004/The-Lost-World-of-Kup/">Irv &ldquo;Kup&rdquo; Kupcinet</a>.</p><p><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/01+cif+large.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/01 cif.jpg" style="height: 181px; width: 140px; float: left;" title="The Chicago International Film Festival Program, 1965. The original logo. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a>After Moore&rsquo;s husband died in 1964, Kup thought she needed someone to pull her out of her &ldquo;widow role&rdquo; and predicted she and Kutza would be a good team. And he was right.</p><p>&ldquo;She helped me with the first film festival and introduced me to some amazing people who were her buddies in the old days,&rdquo; recalled Kutza. &ldquo;Lillian Gish came through. Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, they&rsquo;re all hanging out with this lady Colleen Moore, at the Pump Room.&rdquo;</p><p>Kutza says it was the iconic look of the silent era that inspired the final logo.</p><p>&ldquo;<a href="http://thehairpin.com/2013/01/scandals-of-classic-hollywood-the-most-wicked-face-of-theda-bara">Theda Bara</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mae_Murray">Mae Murray</a>, they all had the same look!&rdquo; said Kutza. &ldquo;But you put them together, and take the eyes, the hair and &lsquo;the this.&rsquo; You come up with the symbol.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/02+cif+large.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/02 cif.jpg" style="height: 192px; width: 150px; float: right;" title="The Chicago International Film Festival Program, 1966. A sexier version. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a>Kutza says the logo doesn&rsquo;t refer to a real person; instead, it distills the general power of film.</p><p>Still, Moore lent her very real star power to jump starting CIFF.</p><p>&ldquo;From the very first film festival here in Chicago, we had Betty Davis and King Vidor, you name it,&rdquo; Kutza recalled. &ldquo;We didn&rsquo;t have an audience but we had movie stars.&rdquo;</p><p>The audience did grow. But save for minor tweaks, the logo has remained the same.</p><p><a href="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/curiouscity/CIF/03+cif+large.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/03 cif.jpg" style="float: left; height: 196px; width: 150px;" title="The Chicago International Film Festival Program, 1967. Those ubiquitous eyes finally appear for the festival’s third outing. Click to enlarge. (Image courtesy of Michael Kutza)" /></a>Sadly, not many of Colleen Moore&rsquo;s films have survived, though here&rsquo;s a snippet from her most famous role <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88PMhS1oYjs">Flaming Youth</a>.</p><p>She does leave another legacy in Chicago: Her fantastical, fabulous &ldquo;Fairy Castle,&rdquo; a dollhouse she had built over seven years. It now resides in the Museum of Science and Industry: Take a tour <a href="http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/fairycastle/history-of-the-fairy-castle/">here.</a></p><p><em>The 49th Chicago International Film Festival runs October 10-24.</em></p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter</a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a></em></p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/whos-behind-those-eyes-108882 Chicago hosts first film and media summit http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-10/chicago-hosts-first-film-and-media-summit-108853 <p><p>OK, so they didn&rsquo;t set off the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/entertainment/the-scene/Giant-Transformers-Explosion-Fizzles-Out-226204481.html">mother of all bombs</a>.&rdquo;</p><p>But the Transformers: Age of Extinction film shoot confirms what many have already noted: Chicago is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tv-and-movie-crews-spending-more-time-filming-chicago-106462">exploding as a destination for film and television production.</a></p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s local film scene is also heating up. Kartemquin <a href="http://kartemquin.com/news/the-interrupters-wins-an-emmy">just won an Emmy</a> for its already wildly acclaimed documentary The Interrupters. Newcity <a href="http://newcityfilm.com/2013/10/03/film-50-chicagos-screen-gems-2013/">has released a list</a> of 50 Chicago film and media movers and shakers. <a href="https://goodpitch.org/events/gpchi2013">Good Pitch</a> is coming to Chicago for the first time, with its &ldquo;speed dating&rdquo; approach to matching documentary filmmakers with potential funders. And now the<a href="http://newcityfilm.com/2013/10/03/film-50-chicagos-screen-gems-2013/#more-18891"> city of Chicago</a> is hosting its first ever <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/filmmediasummit.html">film and media summit.</a></p><p>The one-day event on Oct. 20 follows close on the heels and format of Chicago&rsquo;s first &nbsp;music summit. There&rsquo;ll be panels on expected topics: casting, funding distribution and new media platforms. Some screenings are planned.</p><p>The most interesting (and potentially most raucous) event is likely to &nbsp;involve local filmmaker John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Wild Things). He and others will conduct a &ldquo;case study&rdquo; of what it took to make his latest film The Harvest, which stars Michael Shannon and will debut at the Chicago International Film Festival Oct. 19, the night before the summit.</p><p>Rich Moskal directs the Chicago Film Office and organized the one-day summit.</p><blockquote><strong>Like what you&rsquo;re reading? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/donate" target="_blank">Help support WBEZ by making a donation today.</a></strong></blockquote><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s true that Chicago is getting a lot of talk these days as a destination for Hollywood,&rdquo; said Moskal. &ldquo;But this summit is about the local community, and how Chicago is the center of creativity for independent features, webisodes ... film and media created by Chicagoans.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4208413591_667b803ea6_z.jpg" style="height: 234px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="A crew filming in Chicago. (Flickr/FaceMePLS)" />The summit itself is a creation of Chicagoans. Moskal enlisted lots of local film organizations (<a href="http://cimmfest.org/">CIMMfest</a>, <a href="http://www.ifpchicago.org/">IFP Chicago</a>, <a href="http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com/">Chicago International Film Festival</a>) to program and help produce the event.</p><p>Still, there will be some Hollywood talent on hand. In addition to McNaughton and Shannon, attendees include producers George Tillman Jr. and Bob Teitel of <a href="http://www.statestreetpictures.com/home.html">State Street Films</a> (Soul Food, the Barbershop movies).</p><p>In an interview from his Los Angeles office, Teitel raved about Chicago&rsquo;s assets, from the great actors and <a href="http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com/">local facilities</a>&nbsp;to the attitude of crews.</p><p>&ldquo;&rdquo;When you shoot in California it seems like everybody thinks they should be a director, or that&rsquo;s always my experience!&rdquo; said Teitel with a laugh. &ldquo;In Chicago everybody always acts as a unit and a team. It&rsquo;s incredible.&rdquo;</p><p>Moskal agrees, but thinks the local scene could use a bit more attention in and beyond Chicago. He hopes the event is an opportunity for locals to network, cross paths or launch collaborations. And he thinks a summit could be a magnet to draw filmmakers, funders and distributors to the city.</p><p>&ldquo;I think there&rsquo;s something about people recognizing Chicago as a place that&rsquo;s not only known for its culinary scene and not only known for its theater but also known for its film and media,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But after organizing back-to-back summits, some think Moskal&rsquo;s long-term goal is to create a Chicago version of Austin&rsquo;s <a href="http://sxsw.com/">South by Southwest (SXSW)</a>. When I asked, Moskal didn&rsquo;t say yes. But he didn&rsquo;t say no either.</p><p>&ldquo;Ultimately it&rsquo;s about promoting the local community to Chicago and beyond,&rdquo; said Moskal. &ldquo;If South by Southwest is a good model for that, absolutely.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago Film Summit is Oct. 20 at the Chicago Cultural Center.</p><p><em><a href=" http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author"> Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href=" https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href=" http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram </a></em></p></p> Fri, 04 Oct 2013 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-10/chicago-hosts-first-film-and-media-summit-108853 The city that was: Short film shows 1970s Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-09/city-was-short-film-shows-1970s-chicago-108796 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lee_vid_cap.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/HKE9lONXy4s?list=UUU9YRLuykPOIHcMHwqKLs8A" width="560"></iframe></p><p>Here&#39;s a fun look at Chicago in the 1970s: a 16mm film depicting a day in the life of our fair city.</p><p><em>Chicago Breakdown</em> by Gary Brown looks as if it was made around 1976, judging by a glimpse of an Bicentennial license plate on one of the cars. You&#39;ll also see legendary radio jock Larry Lujack at WCFL-AM, where he was on air from 1972 to 1976.</p><p><em>Breakdown</em>&nbsp;begins a little slow with sunrise shots and a quiet country music score, but things pick up. I like when a worker, concluding a night shift, climbs into his Cadillac Coupe De Ville and shifts into gear as the Ohio Players&#39; Love Rollercoaster comes on the car radio.</p><p>The 14 minute film features good aerial footage of the John Hancock Building and Lake Point Tower. The sped-up point of view footage taken from inside an &#39;L&#39; car and along Lake Shore Drive and timed to match the musical &quot;breakdown&quot; hinted at in the title is also nice. We also see Wrigley Field fan yelling to get Cubs outfielder Jose Cardenal&#39;s autograph and darkened interior of the University of Chicago. A <em>Playboy</em> magazine shoot is briefly shown, so a word of caution there for sensitive readers.</p><p>The movie comes courtesy of the <a href="http://www.chicagofilmarchives.org/">Chicago Film Archives</a>,</p></p> Mon, 30 Sep 2013 01:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/lee-bey/2013-09/city-was-short-film-shows-1970s-chicago-108796 Celebrating Chicago's indie filmmakers http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/celebrating-chicagos-indie-filmmakers-108771 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Cyclicity%2C%20Jason%20Knade.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px; " title="Still from the 2011 short film &quot;Cyclicity,&quot; dir. Jason Knade. (Vimeo)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">As October approaches, so does the promise of more movies and film events in Chicago.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The 49th Annual <a href="http://www.chicagofilmfestival.com" target="_blank">Chicago International Film Festival</a> runs October 10-24, the Music Box Theatre&#39;s week of <a href="http://www.musicboxtheatre.com/collections/docs-at-the-box" target="_blank">Docs at the Box</a>&nbsp;is October 4-10, and the first crop of Hollywood&#39;s Oscar hopefuls (like the space thriller &quot;Gravity&quot; and the film festival <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/sep/15/12-years-a-slave-toronto-film-festival-people-s-choice-winner" target="_blank">stunner</a> &quot;12 Years a Slave&quot;) will hit Chicago theaters in early to mid-October as well.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>One of the films that will be screened for Docs at the Box is &quot;The Trials of Muhammad Ali,&quot; a documentary about the legendary boxer from Chicago&#39;s <a href="http://www.kartemquin.com/about" target="_blank">Kartemquin Films</a>.&nbsp;As a home for independent filmmakers, many of whom are based in the Chicago area, Kartemquin has fostered the talents of now well-known directors like Steve James (&quot;Hoop Dreams,&quot; &quot;The Interrupters&quot;) and continues to open the door for many others just getting their start.&nbsp;</p><p>The Second City is bursting with cinematic talent, particularly among the rising stars at Kartemquin and two of the <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130801/loop/chicago-film-schools-among-top-nation-says-hollywood-reporter" target="_blank">top-rated film schools</a> in the country, DePaul University and Columbia College Chicago. Many more filmmakers have fine-tuned their craft independently, garnering national and international acclaim.</p><p>Here are just a few of the soon-to-be-famous filmmakers with Chicago ties:</p><p><strong>Jason Knade</strong></p><p>Knade is multi-talented writer/director, producer and cinematographer. He has won a dozen film festival awards (Audience, Jury, Best Film, Screenwriting); had 50+ festival screenings in cities like Amsterdam, Torino, Mumbai, Milan, Dublin, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York; and provided videography for organizations ranging from The Joffrey Ballet to Lacuna Artist Lofts. Currently, Knade is in post-production on a feature film called &quot;Searching for Venice,&quot; and in pre-production for another film to shoot this fall.</p><p><strong>Fun fact: </strong>Wonjung Bae, a Columbia College graduate who won a Student Academy Award in 2011 for her film &quot;Vera Klement: Blunt Edge,&quot; was Knade&#39;s cinematographer on &quot;Searching for Venice.&quot; <a href="http://www.jasonknade.com" target="_blank">jasonknade.com</a></p><p><b>Stephanie Tisza</b></p><p>Tisza grew up in a working class neighborhood on the Southwest Side of Chicago, studied experimental filmmaking under James Benning at the California Institute of the Arts, and received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011. As a media artist and educator, Tisza&#39;s films are motivated by an interest in voyeurism, fantasy, and the intersection between reality and fiction. Her work been shown internationally at galleries and festivals including SKIN TIGHT at New Capital in Chicago,&nbsp;International House Philadelphia,&nbsp;P1xels at an Exhibition in Berlin,&nbsp;Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the Gene Siskel Film Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.</p><p><strong>Fun fact:</strong> Tisza&#39;s exhibit at the MCA earned her a write-up in VICE Magazine. <a href="http://www.stephanietisza.com" target="_blank">stephanietisza.com</a></p><p><b>Ted Tremper</b></p><p>Tremper is an improviser, filmmaker and writer hailing from Seattle and currently living in Chicago. His short film series, &quot;Break-Ups: The Series,&quot; won the inaugural Vimeo Award for &quot;Best Original Series&quot; in 2010, and went on to win numerous awards at film festivals across the globe. His latest web series, &quot;Shrink,&quot; follows the stories of a young psychiatrist performing his state-mandated 1750 hours of supervised clinical therapy.</p><p><strong>Fun fact:</strong> Complex Magazine listed Tremper as one of the &quot;25 Funny People Who Should Get Their Own TV Shows&quot; in 2013.&nbsp;<a href="http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2013/02/25-funny-people-who-should-get-their-own-tv-shows/ted-tremper" target="_blank">complex.com</a></p><p><strong>Fawzia Mirza</strong></p><p>Mirza is an accomplished actor, producer and writer/director. She has appeared in numerous films as an actor, including &quot;Silhouettes,&quot; &quot;Promise Land&quot; and the award-winning&nbsp;<a href="http://jamieandjessie.com" target="_blank">&quot;Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together,&quot;</a> directed by fellow Chicago indie dynamo Wendy Jo Carlton. In 2012, Mirza wrote, directed, and produced her own documentary short, &quot;The Queen of my Dreams.&quot; Currently, Mirza is the creator and star of the popular Chicago-based web series &quot;Kam Kardashian,&quot; which chronicles the day-to-day adventures of a fictional, long-lost lesbian sister of a very famous family.</p><p><strong>Fun fact:</strong> Prior to her career in show business, Mirza went to law school and worked as a litigator in Chicago. <a href="http://fawziamirza.com" target="_blank">fawziamirza.com</a></p><p><b>Brian Keller</b></p><p>Keller is a visual artist, cinematographer and producer who received his BFA from Columbia College in 2001. Since then, he has produced for the cable network G4, created the comic book review franchise &quot;Fresh Ink,&quot; and worked on the original team of the critically acclaimed daily live series, &quot;Attack of the Show.&quot; Now, Keller is back in Chicago, directing on-air spots for Vimby and creating a wide array of innovative projects under the brand Brain Killer.</p><p><strong>Fun fact:</strong> Keller was named &quot;Best Local Filmmaker&quot; by the Chicago Reader in their 2013 &quot;Best of Chicago&quot; issue. <a href="http://vimeo.com/briankellerreel" target="_blank">vimeo.com/brainkellerreel</a></p><p>Who are your favorite Chicago-based filmmakers?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett is a pop culture writer and co-host of WBEZ&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels,</a>&nbsp;a podcast about the future of television. Follow Leah on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a>&nbsp;and<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com/" target="_blank">&nbsp;Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Sep 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-09/celebrating-chicagos-indie-filmmakers-108771