New FOX TV series greenlit; Cinespace to add stages

foxFox Television announced that two of its four dramatic pilots that filmed in Chicago this winter were greenlit for series production.  While not officially stated, there’s strong reason to expect new series will return to Chicago.

“That would be extraordinarily good news,” notes Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal.  “This surge of activity points to the quality of our crews, talent and facilities and Chicago’s ability to be a major player in episodic television.”

One of the new shows is “The Exorcist,” starring Geena Davis, and costarring Alfonso Herrera and Ben Daniels.  It’s based on William Blatty’s 1971 book, which had previously been adapted into the hit movie by director William Friedkin, a Chicago native.  Writer is Jeremy Slater, director, Rupert Wyatt.

Chicago-set “A.P.B.,” whose pilot Fox said “exceeded expectations,” stars Justin Kirk as a tech billionaire who buys a Chicago police precinct that’s spiraling out of control and tries to fix the blue blooded veterans’ broken ways.  Inspired by a true story about New Orleans, it co-stars Natalie Martinez; Len Wiseman directs.

Pilots for both of the new shows were filmed at Cinespace, where the four NBC/Wolf “Chicago” shows occupy multiple stages.

Market expansion keeps pace with increased business

Cinespace continues to expand its stage capability.  It’s adding six new stages to its existing 24 stages.  Construction of the new stages in its South Building at 16th and Rockwell will start this summer.

“We are very excited by all this activity, which means many more new jobs and new revenue that directly benefits our local economy,” says Cinespace President Alex Pissios.

Fox’ two new series would create an estimated 500 to 600 new jobs for all union workers, says Local 467 Studio Mechanics’ business manager Mark Hogan.  Since the NBC/Dick Wolf shows settled into Cinespace in 2012, membership has risen to 1,350 – and is still climbing.

For Chicago’s acting community, episodic television has been a “great boost for our membership, giving them an even greater opportunity to be seen in regular roles and weekly appearances,” says SAG AFTRA Executive Director Eric Chaudron.

Currently, SAG AFTRA/Chicago has 4,500 paid members in good standing, a 10% increase since its 2012 merger, “a healthy growth for a union,” Chaudron notes.

Fox’ new shows would be added to the list that includes Fox’ “Empire; NBC/Universal Dick Wolf’s four “Chicago Fire, PD, Med and Justice” shows and Amazon’s “The Patriot.”  Make that nine shows if Dick Wolf’s hint about a fifth “Chicago” show becomes a reality.

The Wachowskis’ shoot part of their “Sense8” Netflix series at Cinespace and “Shameless” sends a second unit here quarterly.

 

Ruth L. Ratny - May 11, 2016

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