WBEZ | Chicago Fire http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-fire Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en U.S. Soccer fans look toward the future of the sport http://www.wbez.org/news/us-soccer-fans-look-toward-future-sport-110351 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/USA1_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood, a group of twenty-somethings is playing soccer on artificial turf made slippery by a gentle falling rain. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s just after 9 p.m. as the group takes a break and talks about the U.S. team. The conversation isn&rsquo;t about who&rsquo;s in the starting lineup. It&rsquo;s more about who&rsquo;s not on this year&rsquo;s U.S. World Cup team: star forward Landon Donovan.</p><p>The future of U.S. soccer is a popular talking point. Nine of the roster&rsquo;s 23 players are 25 or younger. Everyone&rsquo;s eyes are on the team&rsquo;s coach, former German striker Jurgen Klinsmann. Depending on how the U.S. performs, he&rsquo;ll either be criticized for cutting the most popular U.S. soccer star or hailed for a genius move.</p><p>At Small Bar on Division, U.S. fans gathered to watch their team play Azerbaijan in a friendly pre World Cup game. Here&rsquo;s where you&rsquo;ll find the Chicago chapter of the American Outlaws. It&rsquo;s</p><p>the biggest booster club for the U.S team, boasting 18,000 members around the country. Super fan Kevin Harris is disappointed Donovan won&rsquo;t be on the team, but says that move won&rsquo;t be a big part of the Klinsmann&rsquo;s legacy.</p><p>&ldquo;He was brought in to help with the youth program, academies, things like that,&rdquo; says Harris. &ldquo;So we have this funnel of young players that are coming in that can then take over and join a squad.&rdquo;</p><p>Major League Baseball has the minors to get new talent. The NFL and NBA get young prospects from colleges. That kind of set up doesn&rsquo;t exist for soccer. Klinsmann wants to develop a system to build &nbsp;stronger learning centers, so-called academies, to improve soccer training.</p><p>Ultimately, Klinsmann wants to create an academy system to create the next team for the World Cup.</p><p>A few would-be soccer stars gather under the hot sun at Toyota Park to watch the Chicago Fire practice. The group of 10 and 11 year olds traveled from New Orleans. They&rsquo;re part of the Fire&rsquo;s youth development league. The Fire has 10 clubs in 7 states. This team, the Louisiana Fire, is not only watching how the MLS players do their thing. The kids are getting a workout of their own, getting drilled by academy coaches. After a sweaty scrimmage, the boy surround Fire players like Victor Pineda.</p><p>&ldquo;I can relate. I still have signed balls and shirts at home,&rdquo; says Pineda as he signs autographs for kids who turn quiet and shy around the Fire player. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s awesome. Something you&rsquo;ll remember forever.&rdquo;</p><p>Pineda is from Chicago and he&rsquo;s one of the Fire&rsquo;s homegrown academy players. &nbsp;He&rsquo;s a 21 year old midfielder with the Fire, but he hasn&rsquo;t seen much playing time yet. Years ago, he tried out for the under 17 World Cup but was cut from the final squad.</p><p>&ldquo;When you don&#39;t&rsquo; make a team like that I think it makes you work harder and want it even more,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>With players his age in the World Cup, reaching the pinnacle of the sport, Pineda says being with the Fire is great because he gets to live out the same dreams kids from Louisiana, Chicago &nbsp;and around the globe hope to experience one day.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been playing since I was five. So I don&rsquo;t have a reason to give up now. So I think I just want to keep working.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Host/Producer Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a><u>&nbsp;and</u>&nbsp;<a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p><p style="margin-left:.5in;">&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 11:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-soccer-fans-look-toward-future-sport-110351 Chicago's flammable 'fire escapes' http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20TOPPER.jpg" title="One version of Chicago's ubiquitous wooden back porch. (Flickr/corydalus)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/122003293" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast episode above is one of two audio stories related to this topic. A shorter, excerpted version is paired with our <a href="http://wbez.is/VFsYaf" target="_blank">story on the history of a structure that frequently has wooden porches: the Chicago two-flat</a>. &nbsp;</em></p><p>If the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 taught the city one thing, it&rsquo;s that wood does not stand up to flames. This fact did not escape notice of Manhattanite-turned-Chicagoan Lee Kuhn, who moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood to attend the University of Chicago. He settled into a three-flat building which &mdash; like untold numbers of similar buildings across the city &mdash; had a wooden back porch.</p><p>At first glance, Lee said, the wooden structure&rsquo;s use as a fire escape seemed illogical: &ldquo;If this is a fire escape and it&rsquo;s made out of wood &mdash; what&rsquo;s going on here?&rdquo;</p><p>So Lee turned to Curious City with this question:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What is the origin of Chicago&#39;s distinctive wooden fire escapes? Are they actually effective during fires?</em><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCHES GROUP SHOT.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 260px; float: right;" title="The University of Chicago group who helped research this story. From left to right: Jonathan Katz, Lee Kuhn, Maura Connors, and Hannah Loftus. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" /></p><p>As part of a special collaboration with a University of Chicago course called &ldquo;Buildings as Evidence,&rdquo; Lee and fellow classmates Jonathan Katz, Maura Connors, and Hannah Loftus helped Curious City find answers. Along the way, we learned how economics sometimes overrules logic, and there&rsquo;s a bit of irony here, too: While not technically &quot;fire escapes,&quot; these wooden porches are meant to keep residents safer from fire.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>More than one way out</strong></div><p>For more than a century, Chicago&rsquo;s building code has demanded two means of egress (i.e., multiple exits) on typical two- and three-flat buildings, a fact that City of Chicago regulation and code reviewer Bob Fahlstrom confirmed after looking through the city&rsquo;s code library. He said as early as 1906 (the farthest back he could view), the building code stated that every two or three-flat apartment (also called &ldquo;tenements&rdquo; at that time) required either a fire escape or two separate stairs: one staircase located at the front of the building and another at the back.</p><p>Building code regulations were still new in the early 1900s, but Chicago did have the <a href="http://www.greatchicagofire.org/" target="_blank">Great Chicago Fire</a> under its belt as well as the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/chi-chicagodays-iroquoisfire-story,0,6395565.story" target="_blank">Iroquois Theater fire</a>. And as the now ubiquitous short apartment buildings and homes that carpet most Chicago neighborhoods were being built in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, the two-exit requirement seemed a regulation born out of hard experience.</p><p>Fahlstrom said the rationale was common sense. &ldquo;In a fire situation,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;if you&rsquo;ve got one exit and the fire gets between you and that exit, you&rsquo;re in real danger.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BACK%20PORCH%20view%20Flickr%20meconnors.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="The zig-zag of wooden porches, both enclosed and exposed, are a common sight from many of Chicago's back alleys. (Filckr/Maura Connors) " /></p><p>While technically not a fire escape, back porches did satisfy building code requirements and make for another option if a front exit was unpassable, and vice versa.</p><p><strong>Party in the front, business in the back</strong></p><p>If you walk from front to back on any Chicago two-flat, you&rsquo;re likely to notice one side is more comely. The fronts of buildings sport decorative flourishes such as limestone window sills, stained glass or arches. Likewise, the front interior staircases are often made of nicer-grade wood, sometimes with classy bannisters or carpets. The front is where you let your guests in and make an impression.</p><p>However, it&rsquo;s a different situation at the back of the building, where you hang laundry to dry and haul out garbage. Originally, these back areas were used to receive milk, ice and other deliveries, even when residents weren&rsquo;t home. Physical markers of those uses persist today; some buildings still have a small door in their back walls that once allowed icemen to place ice directly into kitchen iceboxes (fun fact: that&rsquo;s why kitchens in these buildings are next to the back porch). And a few porches still have wooden outdoor &ldquo;refrigerators.&rdquo;<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/figure%201%20crop%20for%20thumb%20sc.jpeg" style="height: 378px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="An illustration by Herman Rosse from the 1922 book: 1001 Afternoons in Chicago by Ben Hecht. Scan provided by Tim Samuelson." /></p><p>According to City of Chicago historian Tim Samuelson, these back porches came about partially as an outgrowth of Chicago&rsquo;s characteristic back alleys. He said the extra room reserved for alleys also allowed extra space for large wooden structures such as porches. This is not the case in cities without alleys, such as New York City. Instead, those cities rely on the characteristic slim metal fire escapes, oftentimes <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/44613506@N07/5436965455" target="_blank">on the front of buildings</a>.</p><p>Samuelson also noted that back porches provided refuge from oppressive indoor heat in the days before air conditioning. Enclosed &ldquo;sleeping porches&rdquo; also used to exist in Chicago. And, in some cases, porches served as informal &ldquo;<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/95360819@N04/8938609009/" target="_blank">sanatoriums</a>&rdquo; for sick patients.</p><p><strong>But why wood?</strong></p><p>That answer comes down to basic economics. Since Chicago was a center for the lumber industry, and wood has historically been a cheaper choice than metal or concrete, wood won out as the logical material of choice for two- and three-flats&rsquo; porches. In recent years, though, metal has been gaining traction.</p><p>Bob Fahlstrom also said attaching the required rear exit to the exterior of apartment buildings and homes allowed builders to maximize indoor space and value for renters. So from the beginning of these buildings&rsquo; construction, wood as the porch-building material of choice came down to money and ease.</p><p><strong>Porch as fire escape: Does it work?</strong></p><p>While wood structures seem an illogical choice for a means to escape fire, they are indeed effective &mdash; at least if you consider the distinction between making residents safe from fire and making living spaces fireproof. In fact, the revised City of Chicago building codes directly address the use and effectiveness of these wooden back porches.</p><p>Let&rsquo;s start with the code. The city of Chicago has <a href="https://law.resource.org/pub/us/code/city/il/Chicago/archive.2012_12/Building/division07.pdf" target="_blank">rules and regulations</a> that allow wooden porches &ndash; especially those on three-flat apartment buildings &ndash; to act as emergency egress.</p><p><strong>Regulations include:</strong></p><ul><li>the porch must be behind a &ldquo;fire-rated wall,&rdquo; one made of fire-resistant brick or other material that burns at a slower rate compared to other materials</li><li>porches may not be wider than ten feet, in order to prevent unwieldiness and collapse</li><li>door frames leading to escapes must also be fire-rated to certain capacities.</li></ul><p>Porches built from sturdy, pressure-treated wood themselves do not burn particularly quickly; it takes a fire about 10-15 minutes to burn through a wood door of thinner width than an average porch, which might take somewhat longer to burn.</p><p>Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said when it comes to fire safety, wooden porches work well enough, adding that the department has a typical response time of about 3 minutes and 40 seconds.</p><p>&ldquo;The department is generally going to get there fast enough to make a good rescue if they get called in time on a fire,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Yet Chicago&rsquo;s fire escapes are far from perfect; they are, after all, still flammable &ndash; and they&rsquo;re often the site of the fire itself.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20CLUTTER.jpg" style="height: 213px; width: 320px; float: left;" title="Porches can catch fire from common porch activities, like smoking or grilling. A cluttered porch can add fuel to flames and make escape more hazardous. (Flickr/Maura Connors)" /></div><p>Langford said in the summertime, the city gets a few calls related to porch fires each week. The causes range from improperly disposed cigarettes that ignite trash or furniture, to Fourth of July fireworks that land on wooden slats. Of course, barbeques &mdash; both gas and charcoal &mdash; are culprits as well.</p><p>While winter porch fires are less frequent, Langford cautioned they often have malicious origins. He said arsonists are well aware of porches&rsquo; flammability, and they&rsquo;ll use them as a sort of fuse to set an entire apartment building ablaze.</p><p>Langford also stressed the importance of smoke detectors as a way to increase the likelihood the fire department will be able to minimize property damage and insure safety.</p><p><strong>Helpful in a fire, but ...</strong></p><p>Unfortunately, the physical history of Chicago&rsquo;s wooden back porches is rapidly being lost. In 2003<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-23/news/ct-met-porch-collapse-anniversary-20130624-6_1_porch-complaints-porch-contractor-713-w" target="_blank"> a porch collapsed in Chicago&rsquo;s Lincoln Park neighborhood and killed 13 people</a>. After that tragedy, City Council toughened porch regulations, so building owners and contractors have been busy replacing porches, rather than just repairing them as they used to. These code revisions led to a veritable re-building boom; approximately ten new porch companies joined the existing five in the years following the collapse.</p><p>In almost all cases, the pre-2003 porches are original to their buildings, often dating back to Chicago&rsquo;s construction boom in the early 20th century. Victor Gonzon, a Chicago porch-builder (working at 1-773-Porches), said that hundred-year-old porches are not uncommon, and that he&rsquo;s aware of Chicago porches that may even be 120 years old.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/PORCH%20BEING%20BUILT.jpg" style="height: 442px; width: 330px; float: right;" title="After the tragic porch collapse in 2003 and the city strengthened the building code, most porches in Chicago needed improvements or total rebuilds to get up to code. (WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)" />Gonzon observed that, over time, porches took on a social role in addition to their functional ones. For example, realtors prominently advertise back porches as an amenity, especially as porch parties became more common. Gonzon has even seen porch owners repurpose their icebox features as modern day beer coolers.</p><p>Adam Lesniakowski, who&rsquo;s been building porches in Chicago for four seasons with his aptly-named company <a href="http://www.porch-builders.com/porch-builders-chicago.php" target="_blank">Porch Builders</a>, said he still spots lots of old and new porches around town that violate increasingly stringent city code &mdash; even though there&rsquo;s a fleet of inspectors on the lookout. But code changes are among the reasons his own porch business is doing well.</p><p>The revised code doesn&rsquo;t change the fact that the porches are flammable, even if they are safer for more occupants and used differently. When asked about any apparent irony in having flammable structures act as fire escapes, Lesniakowski thought about it for a minute.</p><p>&ldquo;But our houses are built by wood, mostly,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And you&rsquo;re cooking in the kitchen, you got candles. ... &nbsp;Everything is by the wood.&rdquo;</p><p>He&rsquo;s right. Chicago buildings may have gotten better when it comes to fire safety, but the city will never be fire proof. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Keep up with Curious City&rsquo;s latest via <a href="https://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject" target="_blank">Facebook </a>and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 25 Oct 2013 10:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicagos-flammable-fire-escapes-109009 Chicago's future innovators look to the past http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-future-innovators-look-past-108910 <p><p>To get a glimpse of the future of innovation in Chicago, you have to visit one of the oldest buildings in the city. Up on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart an unusually high level of entrepreneurial energy is coming from a 50,000 sq. foot workspace called <a href="http://www.1871.com/">1871</a>.</p><p>In a large communal space 20 &amp; 30-somethings are sprawled on couches, glued to laptops, and of course slurping coffee. These digital dreamers are all here for one reason. They want to be the next Groupon or Grubhub...or if they&rsquo;re lucky, Google. This is what a tech incubator looks like.</p><p>&ldquo;It means a place of risk and a place to collaborate, a place to challenge, a place to compete, a place to win, and a place to put Chicago on the map,&rdquo; says Frank Muscarello, one of the first entrepreneurs to work at 1871.</p><p>Muscarello is the founder of <a href="https://www.markitx.com/">MarkITx,</a> an online marketplace for used IT equipment. A year and-a-half ago it was just an idea. Now it&rsquo;s one of the most promising startups in town.</p><p>&ldquo;This whole thing, this whole ecosystem at 1871 is all about newness and creativity, innovation and disruption,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Economists say the biggest risk to the economy today might be companies not taking enough risks. Chicago already has a reputation for being more risk-averse than other parts of the country. But a new bunch of digital entrepreneurs at places like 1871 are starting to change that &mdash; with a conscious nod to the past.</p><p>The name 1871 refers to the year of the Great Fire. That disaster killed hundreds, left one-third of the city homeless and burned 18,000 businesses to the ground. Yet according to <a href="http://www.valpo.edu/history/faculty/carter.php" target="_blank">Heath Carter</a>, a history professor at Valparaiso University, it was also a turning point.</p><p>&ldquo;1871 brings catastrophe but it&rsquo;s also quickly seen by many in the city here as an opportunity,&rdquo; Carter said.</p><p>The city was already known for its boom and bust economy &mdash; so why not take a chance on rebuilding?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Frank%20Muscarello%20at%201871.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Entrepreneur Frank Muscarello at Chicago tech incubator 1871. (Photo courtesy GG Photo)" />&ldquo;Risk is at the heart in some ways of what drives capitalism, and I mean Chicago in the mid-to-late 19th century is just a center for that kind of activity,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And there&rsquo;s a reason why people are betting on this swampy marshy undesirable piece of land to become the next big thing. And in that sense Chicago is itself one huge gamble.&rdquo;</p><p>Long before the fire, a wild and woolly capitalism had already taken root in the city. Carter says to understand how that happened you have to start with the river. And so that&rsquo;s where I met up with him on a recent afternoon. As we walked along the river&rsquo;s edge near Wolf Point, Carter described what it would have looked like 170 years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re in the middle of what&rsquo;s going to become within a decade or two one of the biggest ports, most active ports in the whole country,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In 1850 you would&rsquo;ve had schooners and ships carrying their wares and cargo, taking lumber down to Pilsen, taking grain up to the elevators on the north branch.&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, the grain industry shows just how disruptive this new economy was. In a few short years, you went from sacks of wheat to giant grain elevators to an entirely new commodities exchange. Suddenly at the Chicago Board of Trade you could bet on the future price of grain and make a killing.</p><p>Taking a risk in those days was almost irresistible according to Rima Schultz, a Chicago historian who studied the mid-19th century version of startups.</p><p>&ldquo;So if you didn&rsquo;t take a risk, if you didn&#39;t borrow money. Stayed still, so to speak, didn&rsquo;t reach out to develop a new business...[you didn&rsquo;t really fit in],&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Schulz adds that there was also tremendous workforce mobility. Like today, hungry entrepreneurs jumped from one opportunity to the next.</p><p>&ldquo;I looked at maybe 400 businessmen that I traced through their credit reports. And 1/3 of them go bankrupt. I mean bankruptcy was relatively ordinary,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Chicago-fire1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="An artist's rendering of the Great Chicago Fire. The digital bootstrappers at tech startup hub 1871 say they're inspired by the risk-taking innovation that followed. (Wikipedia)" />Entrepreneurs would often lose everything. But then they&rsquo;d dust themselves off and build something new. So it&rsquo;s no wonder that the city did much the same after the Great Fire.</p><p>&ldquo;There were lots of ideas, some things worked, some didn&rsquo;t but Chicago was a laboratory for all sorts of experiments,&rdquo; Carter says.</p><p>Steel kyscrapers rose upward, refrigerated trains shipped meat cross country, and by the 1893 World&rsquo;s Fair, Chicago was again seen as a center for innovation.</p><p>Which brings us back to the digital bootstrappers of today like Frank Muscarello. Not long ago Muscarello suffered a major setback when a previous business of his went under.</p><p>&ldquo;I had to sell all the cars, sell the house,&rdquo; he remembers. &ldquo;And I mean literally you go from having a high-paying great job from a business that&rsquo;s like your child that you built. And then all of a sudden she grows up and marries someone that doesn&rsquo;t like you.&rdquo;</p><p>Muscarello says bankruptcy was a bruising experience, but nothing to be ashamed of at 1871.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not this negative connotation around failure. Because it happens, you know? Unfortunately 99 percent of these companies that are here are going to lose and that&rsquo;s a risk you understand going into it,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>It&rsquo;s hard to pin down exactly how many of these companies have failed or will fail. But in the last 5 years roughly 1300 tech start-ups have launched in Chicago. Of those, just 6.6% have been acquired or gone public according to Adam Calica, product manager at <a href="http://www.builtinchicago.org/">Built in Chicago</a>. In other words, a lot of risk-taking has yet to pay off.</p><p>And that&rsquo;s perfectly fine with <a href="http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/faculty/directory/darragh_linda.aspx" target="_blank">Linda Darragh</a>, head of the Entrepreneurship program at Northwestern&rsquo;s Kellogg business school.</p><p>&ldquo;It drives me crazy when I still hear people in Chicago say that Chicago&rsquo;s risk-averse. People don&rsquo;t understand that that&rsquo;s changed,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>But <a href="http://www.chicagobooth.edu/faculty/directory/w/ira-s-weiss" target="_blank">Ira Weiss</a> an angel investor who teaches at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Booth School of Business, thinks Chicago still has a ways to go. He points to the culture of rapid turnover at young tech startups.</p><p>&quot;In Silicon Valley it&rsquo;s very common to work at a company and then they hop around. So people will have a new job every couple of years, that&rsquo;s normal,&quot; Weiss said. &quot;But here [in Chicago] you&#39;d ask the question: &#39;Well, can that person hold down a job&#39;?&quot;</p><p>Darragh thinks as long as Chicago continues to encourage risk-taking that mindset will change. And she says the energy in the tech startup scene is no longer exclusively on the the coasts.</p><p>&ldquo;I was at 1871 just last week and I met a person who had been in Chicago and then went to the West Coast for funding, same thing as we always hear,&rdquo; Darragh said. &ldquo;Well, she was back in Chicago I was totally surprised to see her. And she said &#39;I&rsquo;m here because the best talent is in Chicago and I&rsquo;m hiring people here.&#39; And I said, &lsquo;why&rsquo;? And she said, &lsquo;basically the work ethic is very strong and they can build companies. They have all the skills, they&rsquo;ve got the network.&rsquo; It&rsquo;s here now.&rdquo;</p><p>Or maybe it&rsquo;s just come back.</p><p><em>Derek L. John is WBEZ&rsquo;s Community Bureaus Editor. Follow him at <a href="https://twitter.com/DerekLJohn">@DerekLJohn</a></em></p><p><em>&ldquo;At What Cost?&rdquo; is made possible in part by the John A. Wing Society, an initiative of the Illinois Humanities Council to improve dialogue about business and the common good.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Oct 2013 10:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicagos-future-innovators-look-past-108910 Morning Shift: Are private schools tipping the scales of educational equality? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-05/morning-shift-are-private-schools-tipping-scales <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Private School - Flickr - Chicago Architecture Today.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We discuss whether or not the private school system is impeding the progression of public schools by providing an alternative to fixing them. And we talk about the Chicago Fire and how their management, or lack thereof, may be sinking an already losing team.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-58/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-58.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-58" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Are private schools tipping the scales of educational equality?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Thu, 05 Sep 2013 08:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-05/morning-shift-are-private-schools-tipping-scales Five TV shows filming in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/five-tv-shows-filming-chicago-107917 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" games="" mind="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MindGames_0.jpg" title="Christian Slater and Steve Zahn star in the upcoming ABC drama series &quot;Mind Games.&quot; (Mind Games/ABC) " /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">Five big network TV shows are slated to shoot in Chicago over the summer; and according to the Illinois Film Office, this marks a&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagofree.info/2013/05/12/free-info-on-five-new-chicago-based-tv-shows/#axzz2T6MYPd00" target="_blank">record high</a> for the city.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Joining the returning cast and crew of the NBC series<em>&nbsp;Chicago Fire</em>, a quartet of new <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/05/12/five_new_tv_shows_to_be_filmed_in_c.php" target="_top">one-hour dramas </a>from NBC and ABC also will film in the city from mid-July through the fall: <em>Mind Games, Crisis, Betrayal</em>&nbsp;and the <em>Chicago Fire</em> spin-off,&nbsp;<em>Chicago PD</em>.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">For those wondering why a ratings-troubled series like<em> Chicago Fire </em>would get a spin-off before starting Season 2, co-creator Derek Haas [working with partner Michael Brandt and famed <em>Law &amp; Order </em>producer Dick Wolf] says, why not?</div><blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">&quot;Mike, Matt [Olmstead, executive producer]&nbsp;and I spent four days riding around with cops and detectives, and we got to see the inner workings of the police department, and it was like, why isn&#39;t <em>this </em>a show?&quot; Haas told the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-02/entertainment/ct-mov-0503-chicago-closeup-20130503_1_chicago-fire-derek-haas-dick-wolf/2" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune</a> in May, &quot;The same way that we did it with the fire department, there&#39;s a show in what it means to be a policeman in Chicago. So that&#39;s what we&#39;re going for.&quot;</div></blockquote><div class="image-insert-image ">Another NBC series shooting in the Windy City this summer is the political thriller&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.nbc.com/crisis/" target="_blank">Crisis</a>,&nbsp;</em>starring Dermot Mulroney and Gillian Anderson. The pilot was originally shot in Los Angeles, but the series will move to Chicago for production of the first season. Shooting will commence in July, with a mid-season premiere scheduled to air on NBC after the Winter Olympics.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">New shows from ABC,&nbsp;<em>Betrayal </em>and&nbsp;<em>Mind Games</em>, will also begin filming in Chicago in the months to come.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The legal drama <a href="http://www.hitfix.com/starr-raving/see-james-cromwell-and-stuart-townsend-in-the-first-trailer-for-betrayal" style="font-style: italic; " target="_blank">Betrayal</a>&nbsp;stars&nbsp;James Cromwell, Stuart Townsend and Hannah Ware of former Chicago-filmed series&nbsp;<em>Boss.&nbsp;</em>Ware plays an unhappily married woman who begins an affair with a lawyer, who just happens to be squaring off against her husband in court. The series is set to premiere on ABC this fall.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em><a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/05/mind-games-trailer-christian-slater-and-steve-zahn-use-jedi-mind-tricks-to-help-the-world.html" target="_blank">Mind Games</a>&nbsp;</em>is another high-stakes drama starring Christian Slater and Steve Zahn as brothers, one bipolar and one a con artist, who run an agengy using psychology to solve client&#39;s problems.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">These five shows, alongside three mega-budget features, could make 2013 the state&#39;s highest grossing year ever&mdash;an estimated <a href="http://reelchicago.com/article/chicago-poised-welcome-five-tv-shows-summer130514" target="_blank">$225 million</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">As for those epic films taking over our streets this summer, the Wachowski&#39;s <em>Jupiter Ascending</em> (starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum) will spend two months here, while <em>Transformers 4&nbsp;</em>(with Mark Wahlberg in the lead) is expected to shoot through October.&nbsp;A third sci-fi blockbuster, the Chicago-set dystopian thriller <em>Divergent</em>, wrapped up filming at Navy Pier <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-23/entertainment/ct-ent-0624-luis-20130623_1_divergent-veronica-roth-transformers" target="_blank">in June</a>.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Adding to the industry boom is an 8-part docuseries from Sundance Productions/CNN called <a href="http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/08/cnn-to-launch-new-original-series-chicagoland-with-executive-producer-robert-redford-in-2014/" target="_blank"><em>Chicagoland</em></a>. Produced by Robert Redford, the &quot;city-reality&quot; series is set to debut on CNN early next year.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Which shows are your most excited to see filming in Chicago?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Note: Although&nbsp;<em>Divergent&nbsp;</em>has finished scenes at Navy Pier, the film will continue to shoot in Chicago through July. Keep an eye out for stars Shailene Woodley, Kate Winslet and Zoe Kravitz this summer!</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or<a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank"> Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-07/five-tv-shows-filming-chicago-107917 TV and movie crews spending more time filming in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tv-and-movie-crews-spending-more-time-filming-chicago-106462 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/film.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The number of days movies and TV shows spent filming in Chicago is up 45 percent compared to 2011, according to the Chicago Film Office.</p><p>The office&rsquo;s director, Rich Moskal, said the city saw a record increase in the number of production days: 1,808 days in 2012 compared to 1,235 the year before.</p><p>Although the number of productions themselves held largely steady, Moskal said the production day figure gives a fuller picture of the amount of activity here. TV series could spend as many as 150 days filming, compared to the production of a commercial, which only has a presence for 2 to 3 days.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Each day a production is filming translates into days of employment for local crew, additional days of business with local vendors, hotel nights, etc,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;The more days a production is here, the more they spend locally.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2012, Film Office data shows, local film and TV industry spending hit a high of $170 million. That&rsquo;s up from $160 million in 2010 and $154 million in 2011.&nbsp;</p><p>Last year&rsquo;s increase is mainly due to four TV shows: Chicago Fire (NBC), Boss (Starz), Underemployed (MTV) and Mob Doctor (Fox), Moskal said, adding that 17 independent movies also were filmed in the city. So were several reality shows including Mob Wives Chicago, Chicagolicious and Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago looks great on film, it&rsquo;s a great place to tell a story creatively, but it also has great depth of talent and resources to outfit the productions when they are here,&rdquo; Moskal said.</p><p>He said a 30 percent tax credit also helped bring in the film business: &ldquo;The tax incentive has done a tremendous job in terms of attracting production and keeping (it) here in Chicago, not just for Hollywood productions, but locally produced productions as well.&rdquo;</p><p>Although two of last year&rsquo;s TV shows were cancelled, and the fate of a third looks uncertain, Moskal said that&rsquo;s just part of the gamble.</p><p>&ldquo;You never know if it&rsquo;s going to last or not,&rdquo; he said, adding that this year, the city will have four other pilots filming and three Hollywood films including Transformers Four.</p><p>Bruce Sheridan, who chairs the Film and Video Department at Columbia College Chicago, said he&rsquo;s already seeing an increase in the film industry this year.</p><p>&ldquo;We have six features that we are putting out students interns onto this coming summer, which is much higher than last year or the year before,&rdquo; Sheridan said. &ldquo;So, we think the trend is continuing.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 04 Apr 2013 08:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/tv-and-movie-crews-spending-more-time-filming-chicago-106462 How many vacant buildings are there in Chicago? http://www.wbez.org/news/how-many-vacant-buildings-are-there-chicago-105159 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_ropesack_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Earlier this week, there was as a massive fire at an abandoned warehouse at 3757 S. Ashland Ave. in Bridgeport.</p><p>It was <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-demolition-begins-on-bridgeport-warehouse-gutted-by-blaze-20130125,0,85993.story">five-alarm</a> (the worst in seven years), the building&#39;s now being demolished, even though it&#39;s <a href="https://twitter.com/LEEBEY/status/294926680353546241" target="_blank">still smoldering</a>, and still <a href="http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bridgeportfireice">looks like an ice palace</a>.</p><p>But it begs an even bigger question: how many abandoned industrial buildings are out there?</p><p>The short answer: no one knows. But it&#39;s not as simple as that.</p><p>The City of Chicago requires owners of buildings that are vacant more than 30 days to <a href="https://ipiweb.cityofchicago.org/VBR/">register</a> with the city. It&#39;s supposed to be updated every six months, and there are fines for not complying.</p><p>In the case of the Bridgeport warehouse, reports have now surfaced <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130124/bridgeport/inferno-warehouse-owned-by-jailed-developer">its owner is actually in jail</a> for attempting to bribe an alderman. There were also numerous violations, including a previous fire, at that location.</p><p>The city says it doesn&#39;t have a list or know precisely how many vacant commercial properties are out there, but there is at least one clue that we can get from parsing 311 complaints about vacant properties.</p><p>Between 2010 and this morning, there were more than 35,000 calls from people who specifically filed complaints about vacant properties.</p><p>Here&#39;s <a href="http://chicagobuildings.org/">a great map</a> that parses that data by neighborhood. Those calls translated to about 24,000 properties.</p><p>You can file your own complaint about vacant properties <a href="https://servicerequest.cityofchicago.org/web_intake_chic/Controller?op=locform&amp;invSRType=BBK&amp;invSRDesc=Vacant/Abandoned%20Building&amp;locreq=Y&amp;stnumreqd=Y">here</a>. You can look up individual properties, and see if they&#39;re registered and have had other complaints, <a href="https://ipiweb.cityofchicago.org/VBR/">here</a>.</p><p><em>Shawn Allee contributed to this report. </em></p><div><p style="margin-bottom:3px"><a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Buildings/3757-S-Ashland-Building-Violations/4jxf-mbv6" style="font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none;color:#333333;font-family:arial;" target="_blank">&nbsp;</a><a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Buildings/3757-S-Ashland-Building-Violations/4jxf-mbv6" style="font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none;color:#333333;font-family:arial;" target="_blank">Building </a><a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Buildings/3757-S-Ashland-Building-Violations/4jxf-mbv6" style="font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none;color:#333333;font-family:arial;" target="_blank">Violations at the site of the fire (</a><a href="https://data.cityofchicago.org/Buildings/3757-S-Ashland-Building-Violations/4jxf-mbv6" style="font-size:12px;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none;color:#333333;font-family:arial;" target="_blank">3757 S. Ashland</a>)</p><iframe frameborder="0" height="500px" scrolling="no" src="https://data.cityofchicago.org/w/4jxf-mbv6/3q3f-6823?cur=0YxMtyXGgDj&amp;from=root" title="3757 S. Ashland Building Violations" width="620px">&amp;amp;amp;lt;a data-cke-saved-href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;https://data.cityofchicago.org/Buildings/3757-S-Ashland-Building-Violations/4jxf-mbv6&amp;amp;amp;quot; href=&amp;amp;amp;quot;https://data.cityofchicago.org/Buildings/3757-S-Ashland-Building-Violations/4jxf-mbv6&amp;amp;amp;quot; title=&amp;amp;amp;quot;3757 S. Ashland Building Violations&amp;amp;amp;quot; target=&amp;amp;amp;quot;_blank&amp;amp;amp;quot;&amp;amp;amp;gt;3757 S. Ashland Building Violations&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;</iframe><p><a href="http://www.socrata.com/" target="_blank">Powered by Socrata</a></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 Jan 2013 16:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/how-many-vacant-buildings-are-there-chicago-105159 Big fire hits Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-01/big-fire-hits-chicago-105088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/8407734838_5012533d20_k.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><strong>CHICAGO&#39;S LOSS. </strong>The city&#39;s&nbsp;cleaning up after its&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/17745373-761/170-firefighters-battle-s-side-warehouse-fire-largest-in-many-years.html">biggest fire &quot;in many years,&quot;</a>&nbsp;in the historic Central Manufacturing District, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/lee-bey/architecture-chicagos-first-office-park">Chicago&#39;s first office park</a>.&nbsp;<em>[Correcting earlier post, which conflated two separate fires, one from 2006. Thanks, <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/personality/bernie-tafoya/">Bernie Tafoya</a>.]</em></p><p><strong><em><span style="color:#ff0000;">[UPDATE]</span> </em>PEARL JAM @ WRIGLEY FIELD.&nbsp;</strong>After a day of teasing on Twitter,&nbsp;<a href="https://mobile.twitter.com/PearlJam">Pearl Jam confirms</a> a July 19 show in Chicago.</p><p><strong>TWEETS FROM A SHOOTING SPREE.</strong>&nbsp;As <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/us/shooting-reported-at-college-in-houston.html?_r=0">a gunfight unfolded</a> on a Texas college campus,&nbsp;<a href="http://mashable.com/2013/01/22/tweets-school-shooting/">one student communicated with friends, family and reporters using Twitter</a>.<br />* Human rights organization developing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.niemanlab.org/2013/01/is-it-real-witness-builds-an-app-to-verify-user-submitted-content/">app to confirm authenticity of photos, audio and video</a>&nbsp;shared from mobile phones.</p><p><strong>SO: SHOULD TEXAS COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS ON CAMPUS?&nbsp;</strong>A state senator pushing the idea says <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/23/texas-shooting-puts-new-spotlight-on-issue-of-concealed-weapons-on-campus.html">he stands by his proposal</a> to give them just that.<br />* <a href="http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-pn-nra-obama-lapierre-20130122,0,3571191.story">NRA chief blasts Obama plan for gun control</a>, alluding again to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/01/23/nras-wayne-lapierre-says-obama-trying-to-take-away-basic-rights/">armed protection for Obama&#39;s kids</a>.<br />* Jon Stewart on display of weapons during Inaugural festivities: &quot;<a href="http://www.mediaite.com/tv/jon-stewarts-epic-take-down-of-msnbc-fox-news-and-cnns-inauguration-coverage/">Jesus, that&#39;s a lot of guns</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>AN OVERTIMELY REPORT.&nbsp;</strong>City of Chicago numbers show&nbsp;<a href="http://www.redeyechicago.com/news/redeye-city-worker-makes-91000-in-overtime-20130121,0,4725434.story">a police communications operator in the Office of Emergency Management made $91,116 in overtime</a>&nbsp;over 10 months last year, for total earnings of $169,000 -- about $1,000 more than the annual salary of her boss.<br />* White House announces &quot;<a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/22/national-day-of-civic-hacking/">National Day of Civic Hacking</a>,&quot; when cities -- including Chicago -- and federal agencies encourage computer programmers to gather in quest of ways to liberate government data and create useful apps. NASA&#39;s making its space stats available, too.<br />*&nbsp;<em>The Onion:</em>&nbsp;&quot;<a href="http://www.theonion.com/articles/nasa-continues-search-for-planet-capable-of-suppor,30989/">NASA Continues Search For Planet Capable Of Supporting NASA</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_graph" target="_blank"><img alt="The social graph" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/de/Social_graph.gif/320px-Social_graph.gif" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: right;" /></a>IF <a href="http://www.facebook.com/Meyerson">YOU&#39;RE MY FRIEND</a> AND YOU&#39;VE LIKED &#39;FREAKS AND GEEKS&#39; ON FACEBOOK, YOU ARE SO BUSTED.&nbsp;</strong>Facebook&#39;s rollout of its new &quot;Graph Search&quot; function now intersects the universe of WBEZ bloggers.<br />* Why is it called &quot;Graph Search&quot;? Because of <strong><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_graph">the social graph</a></strong>.<br />* Still, &quot;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericgoldman/2013/01/16/some-concerns-about-facebooks-graph-search/">the name &#39;Graph Search&#39; is horrendous</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>AN ICE START.</strong>&nbsp;After a win in their home opener, the&nbsp;Blackhawks are on pace to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/sports/17744957-419/blackhawks-stay-perfect-with-3-2-win-in-home-opener.html">a perfect season</a>.<br />* Their &quot;<a href="http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/8871610/with-chicago-blackhawks-fast-start-hardly-knew-were-gone">first 3-0 start in forever</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>AS FORETOLD HERE.</strong>&nbsp;A new study has found the first evidence of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sports/concussion-watch/new-study-finds-brain-damage-in-living-ex-nfl-players/">football-related brain damage in living NFL veterans</a>&nbsp;with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/22/health/cte-study/index.html">cognitive and emotional problems</a>.<br />* (What&#39;s left of) <a href="http://soundcloud.com/morningshiftwbez/daybook-teo-chicagos-frigid">The week ahead</a>.</p><hr /><p><em>ANNOUNCEMENTS.<br />* Soundtrack for preparation of this issue: Songs from &quot;<a href="http://rd.io/x/QWPzKjNxzg">Freaks and Geeks</a>.&quot;<br />* The countdown to this week&#39;s news quiz&nbsp;</em><em>is&nbsp;<strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">ON</span></strong></em><em>:</em><br /><em>&nbsp;</em><iframe frameborder="0" height="27" scrolling="no" src="http://free.timeanddate.com/countdown/i3gyz4um/n64/cf12/cm0/cu4/ct5/cs1/ca0/co0/cr0/ss0/cac000/cpcf00/pcfff/tcfff/fs100/szw256/szh108/iso2013-01-25T07:30:00" width="200"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-01/big-fire-hits-chicago-105088 Chicago television blues http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/chicago-television-blues-104732 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Boss.jpg" title="Kelsey Grammer in the recently cancelled 'Boss' (AP/Chuck Hodes)" /></p><p>Chicago may be called The Second City, but in terms of television success, a number farther down the list would be more accurate.</p><p>As 2012 drew to a close, two Chicago-based TV shows were cancelled by their respective networks. <em>The Mob Doctor</em>, FOX&rsquo;s low-rated (and hilariously awful) drama about a surgeon working for the mafia, was <a href="http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2012/11/the-mob-doctor-canceled-at-fox-but-will-air-all-13-episodes-touch-premiere-moves-again.html">whacked</a> after just 13 episodes. <em>Boss</em>, another low-rated (but surprisingly riveting) drama starring Kelsey Grammer as a corrupt Daley-esque Chicago mayor,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/kelsey-grammer-s-boss-cancelled-by-starz-after-two-seasons">got the axe</a> after struggling to connect with viewers on Starz for two seasons.</p><p>Grammer claims that audiences shunned <em>Boss</em>&nbsp;in response to his own&nbsp;<a href="http://www.examiner.com/article/kelsey-grammer-believes-his-politics-may-have-let-to-boss-cancellation">right-leaning political beliefs</a>&nbsp;(a Fox News-style conspiracy theory that I don&#39;t buy for a second)&nbsp;and one could argue that abysmal writing was solely to blame for <em>The Mob Doctor</em>&rsquo;s demise. Still, the truth is that most TV shows filmed in Chicago don&rsquo;t last long, regardless of script quality or star power.</p><p><em>The Chicago Code</em>, an intense crime drama on FOX starring Jennifer Beals, was <a href="http://huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/11/chicago-code-canceled-fox_n_860449.html">cancelled</a> after just one season in May 2011. That same year, NBC&rsquo;s <em>The Playboy Club,&nbsp;</em>which, granted, was much less promising than <em>The Chicago Code,&nbsp;</em>was also <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-10-04/entertainment/chi-playboy-club-cancelled-20111004_1_episode-indie-film-cinespace">shut down</a> after only three episodes on the air.</p><p>Currently, MTV&rsquo;s <em>Underemployed</em> and NBC&rsquo;s <em>Chicago Fire </em>are holding on to their local film crews, despite <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-10-16/entertainment/chi-underemployed-mtv-television-review-20121016_1_mtv-plans-craig-wright-characters">mixed reviews</a> from critics and <a href="http://tv.yahoo.com/news/ratings-arrow-chicago-fire-tie-lows-whitney-matches-172921950.html">worryingly low ratings</a>. But if these shows don&rsquo;t step up their game and attract more viewers soon, they too will descend into the same cancelled TV purgatory.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/bi3h9z1YUVc" width="601"></iframe></p><p>On paper, Chicago seems like the perfect place to film a hit TV show: highly cinematic atmosphere, hardworking crews and a plethora of talented local actors to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. So why are shows like CBS&rsquo;s <em>The Good Wife</em> set in Chicago, but filmed elsewhere?</p><p>Unfortunately, logistical factors make filming in the Windy City more of a hassle than an advantage. Most film crews would rather shoot in locations like Los Angeles, New Orleans or Vancouver, where the taxes are lower and the weather much more reliable.</p><p>Even colder and more expensive cities like New York are preferable, with a multitude of soundtages available despite high production costs. Chicago has one big film studio, the beautiful <a href="http://www.chicagofilmstudios.com">Cinespace</a>&nbsp;on the Near West Side, but more widespread studio space could also allow more productions to be filmed indoors during the freezing winter months.</p><p>Thankfully, Chicago seems to have better luck with films. <em>Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon</em>&nbsp;was a literal disaster movie shot downtown during the summer of 2010 that created thousands of jobs for local film crews. And who could forget director Christopher Nolan taking over Chicago in the summer of 2007 with <em>The Dark Knight,</em>&nbsp;catapulting Batman off rooftops, sending the Joker careening through the streets and modeling Gotham&rsquo;s skyline after ours?</p><p>While television shows have floundered in comparison to the great films that have been made here, Chicagoans shouldn&rsquo;t lose hope. The ShowTime drama&nbsp;<em>Shameless</em>, which has been&nbsp;<a href="http://chicagobusiness.com/article/20120817/NEWS02/120819832/boss-brings-work-to-chicago-film-industry-during-tough-year">filming exterior locations</a>&nbsp;in Chicago since 2010, still reigns on cable as a critical darling. And who knows? Maybe a <em>Dark Knight</em> television series is just around the corner&hellip;</p><p><em>Follow Leah on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a></em></p></p> Mon, 07 Jan 2013 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-01/chicago-television-blues-104732 'Chicago Fire' simmers, doesn't explode, with feeling for the city http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-10/chicago-fire-simmers-doesnt-explode-feeling-city-103022 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/shirtless_0.png" style="height: 350px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><p><a href="http://www.nbc.com/chicago-fire/">NBC&#39;s<em> Chicago Fire</em></a> starts off with some firefighters going to a fire in Chicago. So in case you thought that the title was referring to the soccer team, or was a period piece about the original Chicago fire, or was a metaphor or something, rest assured: you will see plenty of firemen fighting fires. All those worries that this show had picked a name far too obvious for its topic were certainly validated.</p><p>What&#39;s difficult is that, despite the credentials of creator Dick Wolf (<em>Law &amp; Order</em>), firefighting has been done thoroughly and well on television, in FOX&#39;s&nbsp;<em>Rescue Me</em>, a show that ended in 2011 for seven seasons. Though that show ebbed and flowed in believability, it took strong character tropes and turned them on their head. The pilot episode of&nbsp;<em>Chicago Fire</em> doesn&#39;t demonstate that this show plans to do the same, or heaven forbid, some even more interesting than that.</p><p>&quot;So that&rsquo;s it, yeah? 14 years at this station and it all fits in a box,&quot; says the wife of a fallen firefighter to his coworker.&nbsp;It seems that one fire (there are several biggies in the pilot alone) changed the course of history for this firehouse, as one of their own died. Two of the hunky male leads -- Jesse Spencer and Taylor Kinney playing Matthew Casey and Kelly Severide, respectively -- are now at odds over their role in their buddy losing his life; dedspite not being romantic, their relationship has the most heat in this show.</p><p><em>Rescue Me</em> started off with a death too, and used some of the same character types: the hot blonde lesbian, the rookie who&#39;s <em>so </em>green, the older worker gone to seed with a secret, the dueling brother-types, the wise black chief in charge. And it also worked hard to represent a working class New York. This Chicago aspect of this show is well-represented;&nbsp;Mayor Emanuel is coming by Saturday, it&#39;s often mentioned, and he makes his less-than-a-minute cameo (set to music, no words spoken), with some facial expressions that will appear familiar to Chicagoans:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rahm%20exits_0.png" style="height: 347px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rahm%20and%20chief_0.png" style="height: 302px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rahm%20face_0.png" style="height: 254px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div></div></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">The show doesn&#39;t worry about showing him too much respect though; &quot;I heard he stops to take a piss at every house in the city, as a sign of respect,&quot; says one fireman, when he&#39;s told to get excited the Mayor is coming for a visit.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>Wolf seems intent upon convincing you of his show&#39;s Chicagoness by shoving shot after shot of the Sears Tower in the frame; he&#39;s even chosen the location of the firehouse clearly for it&#39;s view of it. But it&#39;s the plotlines that will hopefully take us further around the different neighborhoods that do this better justice.&nbsp;The quickly cancelled<em> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/mob-doctor-mimics-chicagos-past-while-revolution-creates-new-future-102482">The Mob Doctor</a></em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-09/mob-doctor-mimics-chicagos-past-while-revolution-creates-new-future-102482">&nbsp;tried to create a Chicago feel </a>by revealing the secret world of mob life in the city, but the pilot of <em>Chicago Fire</em> does a better job showing the real gang violence in Chicago; a scene at a drug-related shooting in a South Side apartment complex rang very true. More beautiful, if less convincing, was the car accident on the Columbus Bridge, the river glittering in the background.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sears%20tower_0.png" style="height: 293px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div><p>If anything, it&#39;s well cast with faces you&#39;ve seen before in smaller but impressive roles. David Eisenberg, memorable as Steve on <em>Sex and the City</em>, is now struggling with a house in foreclosure, and Monica Raymund, who impressed in a recurring role on <em>The Good Wife,</em> deals with not being a &quot;real&quot; doctor, just an paramedic. Her partner sums up their dilemma best:&nbsp;&quot;You really are new, aren&rsquo;t you?&quot; she says to the rookie. &quot;Listen, we get them to the doctor best we can and then we move on. That&rsquo;s the only way to make it here.&quot;&nbsp;<br /><br />Despite all these smaller plotlines, the overall tension in the house seems to be some sort of class warefare within the firehouse: we learn that &quot;There are two types of firefighters: those who are on squad, and those who wish they were on squad.&quot; The difference here seems to be between whether the firefighter actually gets in the building and saves people or merely assists -- at least, that&#39;s what the distinction appeared to be. Whether this is an accurate tension that exists in houses or just a plot device remains to be seen, but it&#39;s interesting to see the larger societal class issues effect this group, as the create their own internal distinctions.</p><p>On that note, the episode ends with a Bruce Springsteen song, the perfect working class man&#39;s hero. Which seems topical except, don&#39;t forget: he&#39;s from New Jersey.&nbsp;</p><p><em>NBC&#39;s </em>Chicago Fire<em> premieres Wednesday night at 9 pm central. Oh, and he</em><em>re&#39;s a gratuitous shot of a girl bringing over Chicago Bagel Authority for breakfast. Good idea.</em></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CBA_0.png" style="height: 310px; width: 620px; " title="" /></div></p> Wed, 10 Oct 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-10/chicago-fire-simmers-doesnt-explode-feeling-city-103022