Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Laura Lodewyck, NBC5 Street Team

The Chicago Horror Film Festival runs this weekend (9/25-9/27), prepping you for all the gory, slutty fun of the Halloween season with such features as a horror fashion show, “I Want to Hear You Scream” and “Zombie Pinup” contests, and of course, some deliciously disgusting horror films. Hosted by Mr. Willy and his beautiful minions, the festival promises to make good on its promise for “babes…blood…booze”.


But wait, you say, it’s not even October yet! St. Alphonsus’ famed Oktoberfest has got that covered. Their traditional celebration continues the heritage of the original German immigrants who founded St. Alphonus in 1882, updated with top local bands, activities for kids, and beer, beer, beer.

If that sounds a little too traditional for you, there’s always the No Pants Party at Crobar on Saturday… which is exactly what it sounds like. No pants (or skirts!) allowed. Attending in your  undies gets you in for free, no cover all night long.


Email me at llodewyck@nudehippo.com with your favorite under-discovered events, and check out my reports with Nude Hippo  at NudeHippo.com and NBCChicago.com

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stephanie_small1Stephanie S. Green, NBC Chicago Street Team


This Labor Day Weekend, the African Festival of the Arts celebrates its 20th Anniversary at Washington Park!  It is always a favorite and highly-anticipated way to end the summer and this year will be no exception!  Enjoy vendors with a variety of fabulous merchandise:  art, photography, clothing, accessories, body products, jewelry and so much more; delicious food; and, fantastic musical acts, including The Ohio Players, Booker T. Jones, Ahmad Jamal, George Clinton and many more national and local artists, fashion shows and dance.  Bring a lawn chair or a blanket and spend the whole day with plenty to keep you occupied and plenty of room to spread out, relax and regroup, and then continue to check out the vendors in the African Marketplace! 

Theres Something for All Ages!

There's Something for All Ages!

And don’t forget about the Pavilions where you will find activities to suit every taste!  At the Children’s Pavilion youth of all ages can learn and enjoy games, music, dance, storytelling, theater, arts and crafts all day long! Contributors include: Hyde Park Arts Center, the Field Museum and other family-focused institutions that offer fun, educational and interactive programs. Many social service agencies will be represented in the pavilion to provide answers to family, parental and children’s questions.

The ICE Theaters Film Pavilion presents daily screenings of short and full-length films that interpret the culture and experiences of peoples living in all parts of the African Diaspora.  They’ll also feature a showcase of films produced mainly by black filmmakers from around the world, including a section of works produced for and/or by black youth. Enjoy free popcorn, get free movie posters and learn more about Black World Cinema, an independent film series available only at your neighborhood ICE Theaters.

Ohio Players & George Clinton, too!

Ohio Players & George Clinton, too!

The Festival is world renowned for its assembly of artists from around the Diaspora featuring original paintings, sculptures limited editions, prints, photographs, and ceramics. This year, the Fine Arts Pavilion will include artists such as Stacey Brown (festival artist of the year), Emerson Williams, Uwa Hunwick, Bayo Iribhogbe, Frank Frasier, Melvin King, Rondell, Nii-Oti, Akosuah Bandele, Marvin Sims, Ousmane Gueye, Dana Easter, Dimali, Isodor Howard, Samuel Akainyah, and Dayo Layoe.

Visit the AFA Pavilion Page for more on the Chrysler Financial Pavilion, Author and Book Pavilion, Meet the Artists Media Tent, The Drum Village, Spirituality Pavilion, Health and Wellness Village, Cyberspace Pavilion, Quilting Pavilion and the HipHop Stage and Pavilion!  Visit the Festival Schedule Page for the full entertainment schedule, created by Soleil’s To-Dos and featuring the wonderful, interactive calendar features that you’ve grown to rely on!

Just Chillin

Just Chillin'

But wait – there’s more To-Do!!!  That’s right – be sure to visit the “All Chill Zone” at the Soleil’s To-Dos booth.  (You’ll find the booth number and location at www.so-LAZE.com, on the Facebook Page, through our Twitter Feed or by calling (773) 268 To-Do (8636).)  We’ll be stone cold chillin’ and giving you the perfect spot to catch up with friends, sit and eat, slap a few cards, wax poetic and groove to the beats – including live music!  Yes, thanks to Sam Martin, the Idea Doctor, you can expect some special guests to stop through and grace us with some mini-performances.  BYOChair, or cop a squat in one of ours, if available, and chill for a while!  We’ll also be doing some special giveaways including theater; concert tickets; dinners; and, for one lucky woman, a one-hour photo shoot with Lee Bey Photography!

So, whatever your plans this weekend, be sure to make a visit to the African Festival of the Arts!  The Festival runs from Friday through Monday, from 10am-10pm.  General Daily Admission, $10 in advance; $15 at the gate; Seniors and Children (Under 12 – over 65), $5; Daily Family Pass (2 adults and 4 children under 12), $30; Adult (4-day) Weekend Pass, $30.

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by April Lawson


It’s official. Hollywood has gone completely south… in the windy city, that is. They’re rolling out the red carpet on 87th street this Thursday with the premiere of the movie DEAD TONE.  In the tradition of Scream and When a Stranger Calls, Dead Tone is a horror slasher about a group of college coeds making a game out of murderous crank calls. Stars Rutger Hauer, (Blade Runner) Jud Tyler (Charlie Wilson’s War, That 70’s Show) and Antwon Tanner (One Tree Hill). The star studded affair starts with a red carpet at 6:30pm, and the show begins at 7:30pm at the ICE Chatham 14 Theater on 210 W. 87th Street. So, grab some popcorn and a friend to scream with.

Dead Tone

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)

I recently got to talk to Vanessa Simmons ( of MTV’s “Run’s House”, “Daddy’s Girls”), Wesley Jonathan (“What I Like About You”, “Roll Bounce”) and producers La Monde Byrd and native Chicagoan, Mekita Faiye (who also plays one of the lead characters) about their hilarious new comedy “Speed-Dating: The Movie” which will be released in the coming months. Check out what they had to say…

DL: Tell us about the “SPEED-DATING” movie and the great ensemble cast you’ve put together…

MEKITA: Oh wow, “SPEED-DATING” will be the must-see movie of 2010! It’s about these three guys who come up with this scheme that involves speed dating to raise money for their club and to meet women. It’s kind of like “Wedding Crashers” and it takes you on a wonderful journey with a lot of laughs along the way. The cast includes Wesley Jonathan, Chico Benymon who many know from the show “Half & Half”, Leonard Robinson of MTV’s “Wild’n’Out”…we have Vanessa Simmons, of course, from “Run’s House”, Emmy award winner ChriPoster #4 of 9s ElliottHolly Robinson-Peete, Clint Howard (brother of Ron Howard) who was recently in “Night At The Museum 2”, rapper Chingy, Kelly Perrine…the list goes on and on.

DL: Where did you come up with the concept for the film?

LA MONDE: The writer and director Joseph Elmore originally came up with the idea and from there we took it, shaped it, developed it a bit and then the actors breathed life into it.

DL: Wesley, you play the lead character “TOO COOL” in this film and your career spans decades in film and television, what attracted you to this project?

WESLEY: I just read the script and it was funny to me. I originally wasn’t the first choice to play “Too Cool”, but time had passed and the project sort of came back around to me and I also found out that Chico and some my partners from the business were in it so that was an added plus because I like working with my friends.

DL: Vanessa, we got to see on the “Daddy’s Girls” show that you prepared for your role by going on an actual speed dating event. What was that experience like?

VANESSA: Oh man, I had a lot of fun! I like a lot of hands on experience to prepare for roles that I’m doing, so the fact that I got to go on an actual speed dating event for the first time was actually kind of fun, but weird at the same time because the guys thought they were going to go on a real date afterwards.

DL: The “TOO COOL” character was a bit of a ladies man/womanizer…were there any real life “players” you drew from to develop this character?

"Too Cool" (Wesley Jonathan) meets "Kiki" (Camille Mana) in "Speed-Dating"

"Too Cool" (Wesley Jonathan) meets "Kiki" (Camille Mana) in "Speed-Dating"

WESLEY: Nah, not really. I was able to play this guy pretty straightforward because he was just being cool. In films like “Roll Bounce” and other projects I’ve worked on, I’ve definitely borrowed from other characters. I did get to adlib and improv and be silly during the filming of some of the speed dating scenes.

DL: Vanessa, ironically your character ELIZABETH is the “church-going” girl who gets involved with the DOG character played by Chico Benymon. Everyone knows your real-life Dad is the legendary Rev. Run of Run D.M.C. , so do guys get intimidated by you having the “preacher’s kid” stigma?

VANESSA: Unfortunately, yes! I’m like, listen guys, if I love you and I like you and I’m bringing you home, my Dad’s gonna give you that benefit, I think, until I turn my back…so I’ve heard. I just usually have to prepare guys when they meet him, but he’s a Dad like any other Dad. As far as Elizabeth, I like the character a lot and can relate to her in a lot of ways because she’s the good girl and she’s not doing the crazy things the rest of the girls are doing.

DL: Mekita, you did double duty in this movie as Wesley’s love interest and producer for the movie. Were you nervous going into your first starring role and wearing hat as producer?

MEKITA: It’s funny you ask that. It was definitely a challenge and I look back on it amazed at how I got through it, but I owe that part to God.

DL: What’s next for everybody?

WESLEY: I’m in a new movie coming soon called “The Obama Effect” directed by Charles Dutton and another called “B-Girl” and I’m currently working on a new project “Four to the Floor” with Evan Ross.

Vanessa Simmons

Vanessa Simmons

VANESSA: As you know my sister [Angela] and I have the Pastry clothing line which is doing very well and we’re expanding right now and couldn’t be happier. “Daddy’s Girls” is in its second season and Vanessa’s making her way around Hollywood and has some upcoming projects on the horizon.

LA MONDE: Stay tuned for “SPEED-DATING” to be released soon. This film is testing well with men AND women in the preliminary screenings and I think we have an incredible project on our hands. I’ve got to give a quick thanks to Blacksingles.com and HurryDate.com as well!

To check out the trailer and find out more regarding “Speed-Dating: The Movie” you can go to www.speed-datingmovie.com

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Desiree, NBC Chicago Street Team
Have you ever been so excited about a movie? I mean really excited? Having read The Time Traveler’s Wife cover to cover a few years ago, I have been anxiously awaiting the premier of the film version for months. This time travel romance is essentially my summer’s Harry Potter or G.I. Joe.

The film tells the story of Clare (Rachel McAdams) and Henry (Eric Bana) as they attempt to overcome the challenges brought on by Henry’s genetic disposition, which sends him through time, sometimes for months, even years.

While McAdams and Bana are cast as the leads, the real star of The Time Traveler’s Wife is Chicago itself. Locals watching can appreciate how lucky the characters are to live in such a magnificent and versatile city, while doomed to endure its unforgiving weather. At one point, the fierce freezing temperatures prove to be a detriment to even Henry’s time travel, as he winds up in the hospital. That’s timeless Chicago: cold.

Familiar Windy City sights featured in the film include the Lakeshore, Newberry Library, the El, Lincoln Park Zoo and one of those charming “vintage” one bedrooms we’ve all experienced at least once while living in the city. Additionally, you can also visit Clare and Henry’s movie home yourself in Lincoln Square.

The film is based on the novel written by Audrey Niffenegger, a Chicago native and professor in the MFA program at Columbia College. The novel is a page-turner, and it’s disappointing to watch the on-screen adaptation with omitted scenes and characters (as well as complex character struggles), which might have strengthened the story’s climax. On The Today Show, Rachel McAdams concluded that as it’s a long book, the movie is “definitely distilled down,” but that the core of the on-screen relationship is true to the original story. If you’re a fan like me, the thought will likely cross your mind that “the book was better than the movie.”

But who doesn’t love Rachel McAdams? Her smile and acting talent is worth paying to see, as is Eric Bana’s performance in a serious, sentimental and romantic role. It only took one glance at Clare’s childhood home and the famous meadow, for me to think, “That’s just how I pictured it while reading the book!”

But it’s Chicago that steals the show. The seasons of the city alone make The Time Traveler’s Wife a timeless film. It’s a delight to see Chicago’s fall and winter, with such a short glimpse of warm weather, and wonder — as in real life — whether the city’s spring or summer actually exists.

Check out the trailer below or watch Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana featured on The Today Show.

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adrienenAdrienne Irmer, NBC Chicago Street Team

Thursday, July 23rd, Sharon King, Chicago Casting Director extraordinaire, hosted the first in her Focus on Filmmakers Series at Columbia College’s Film Row Cinema. Emceed by Johnny “Koolout” Starks from WVON radio, four Chicago film directors showcased their short films and participated in a Q & A afterwards. This go-round featured Morocco Omari’s (Mis)Leading Man, J. David Shanks’ Trespass, Aaron Wallace’s The Fall and Barbara Allen’s Morning Due. Some heavy-duty material was covered in these films, but I won’t give any of it away, you can check these out on your own. I will, however, recommend coming to the next installation when it comes around sometime next month (date TBD).

Chicago is one of the largest cities in the nation, and events like this are meant to highlight local filmmakers of both the short and feature length and showcase the art emerging out of Chicago. Sharon also aims to help guide up-coming industry-related individuals with their art and then provide networking opportunities with established like-minded creators in their own city. Her next co-sponsored event is with the multi-Emmy winning Craig J. Harris: Breaking into the Entertainment Industry Seminar, Saturday, September 12th, 11:00 AM at Encore Talent Agency, 2635 W Grand, Chicago. If you didn’t know, now you do, because this is sure to be a worth-while investment for any aspiring artisits out of our fair city!

For more information about this event and to register, check out: http://www.craigharris.com

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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

Christmas is coming this weekend to Chicago’s Union Station as Disney’s A Christmas Carol Train Tour arrives.

July 24 – 26, get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the all-new motion picture, Disney’s A Christmamas Carol, starring Jim Carrey and directed by Robert Zemeckis.ACCTT Logo lo-Res

The best part, it’s all FREE!

A five-car train will be on Track One and will feature an entirely interactive experience. Visitors will enter through the first car, and proceed through the length of the train where they will enjoy many exhibits.

Those exhibits include a digital portrait gallery, a model shop featuring actual models used in the filming of the movie, the Tunnel of Technology where people will learn about the motion-capture techniques used in theChristmasCarol1 film, an HP TouchSmart PC Face-Morph station where kids & and adults can age themselves and alter their photos (like Jim Carrey does to create the seven characters he plays in the film) and more.

The world’s largest inflatable state-of-the art 3-D theatre will be located in the Great Hall, and will feature exclusive clips from the film.

Throughout Union Station, the halls will be decked, snow will be on the ground (yes, snow in Chicago in July) and carolers will sing Christmas favorites.

Website: www.ChristmasCarolTrainTour.com
Tour Dates: Friday, July 24 – Sunday, July 26, 2009
Opens 9 am Daily
Chicago’s Union Station
225 Canal Street
Free Admission

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Shlomi Rabi, NBC Chicago Street Team

The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, could be quite simply classified as your typical romantic comedy, only with one major twist: it has none. Nope. Not a single one. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know everything that you will need to know about the movie. Only, well, not really.

Okay, so the ingredients are pretty typical: man and woman meet, fall in hate (deep, deep hate), make each other miserable, go through a series of oh-no-you-didn’t moments in which they engage in circus-silly acts that will surely generate laughs from anyone who’s in a relatively calm state of mind and would not mind sinking into the fluffy plotline. Then—crisis! And wouldn’t you know it—they end up falling in love after all.


(Anyone who’s seen the trailer who would still dare to accuse me of ruining the movie for them has either admitted to being a recent Amish dropout or having the world’s least complicated brain.)

So is the movie worth watching? For sure. The movie does not purport to change lives or revolutionize a concept that has been explored under every possible lens. However, what the movie does (and quite well) is bring out what we love the most about romantic comedies: believable chemistry and quirky sidekicks (a special shout-out to Oscar Nuñez.)

Bullock, despite her resistance, shines best in this genre. She is enjoyable to watch and her timing is perfect. Reynolds is as much fun to watch (all of him, ahem), and pleasantly surprises with his comedic skills, and his abs.

The Proposal might be a tad too sugary sweet sometimes, and you might even walk away with a minor toothache. But just like any other wedding cake, this one—whether you admit it or not—ultimately hits the spot, just as you’d expected.

The Proposal comes out Friday, June 19th.

To find out what else Shlomi has said “yes” to, click here.


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rebecca_1Rebecca Taras, NBC Chicago Street Team
Even if you’re not getting married, chances are you know someone in your circle of friends that is. If you are the lucky bride-to-be, then an event at the historic Drake Hotel this Thursday should be on your radar.

Read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Janelle Rominski, NBC Chicago Street Team

The 6th Annual Lake County Film Festival (LCFF) begins tomorrow (Wednesday, March 4th) and runs through Tuesday, March 10th.  It will be hosted by the College of Lake County and will feature over 100 works including documentaries, narratives and short programs.

Enjoy a relaxed evening as the LCFF kicks-off at Mickey Finn’s Brewery in downtown Libertyville on March 4th. Doors open at 6 pm and short films will be previewed at 7:30 pm. This event is free to attend.

lcffMonday and Thursday films at the LCFF are free.  The educational documentary, The Providence Effect, is free to anyone working in education. Plus, all day on Saturday and Sunday there will be filmmaking panels and a free film room.

One Featured Documentary: The late musician and Chicago native, Wesley Willis, is shown in Wesley Willis’s Joyrides (by Chris Bagley & Kim Shively) that chronicles his life and rise to fame in the underground music world through his friends and family.

One Featured Narrative: Desperate Housewives actress, Dana Delany stars in Route 30 (by John Putch) playing the role of Amish Martha.  The film is about three interconnecting stories set along the Lincoln Highway in South Central Pennsylvania.

One Featured Short Program:  Chicago=Awesome (by Dan Lamoureux). It’s about why Chicago should host the 2016 Olympics.

March 8th the awards ceremony will take place at Gurneez Diner at 9 pm. Once again, this event is free to attend.

Ticket Prices
Individual Ticket – $7.00
Full Day Pass – $15.00
Full Festival Pass – $35.00

For full festival information visit www.LakeCountyFilmFest.com

Want more Rominski reads? Read more right HERE!

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Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
Yesterday I took an impromptu trip to the movies to see the advanced screening of “Not Easily Broken” at the AMC River East Theater (located at 322 E. Illinois St.). Initially the movie wasn’t on my “must-see” list for 2009, but my expectations were pleasantly surpassed in this light-hearted family drama.

“Not Easily Broken” is an adaptation of the book by the same name written by renowned pastor and author Bishop T.D. Jakes who also served as one of the producers of the film along with it’s star, Morris Chestnut (“Boyz N The Hood”, “The Best Man”). The film centers around a couple in the prime of their marriage, Dave (played by Chestnut), a former baseball player turned modest construction foreman who’s athletic professional dreams were short lived by a career-ending injury and Clarice, played by Taraji Henson (“Baby Boy”, “Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), a successnot_easily_broken_113ful real estate mogul who is into her career and lifestyle more than her husband. This creates conflict in the relationship when Dave begins to lose interest as a result of Clarice’s neglect and puts his focus into a local baseball group he coaches in the inner-city of Los Angeles. Things are further complicated when the two are involved in a serious car accident that nearly cripples Clarice, and forces Dave to be her caretaker while having to deal with the increasing household bills and his meddling mother-in-law convincingly portrayed by Hollywood staple, Jenifer Lewis (“Madea’s Family Reunion”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”).

This film takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the eyes of Dave, as a man who is made to feel like his manhood is being stripped away at every turn, but he is “not easily broken” and fights to save his marriage, the kids in the community he cares for and his sanity. His desire to have a family of his own is also a driving force of his character. Chestnut eloquently portrays this conflicted man amongst a great supporting cast that includes Wood Harris (“The Wire”, “Remember The Titans”), Kevin Hart (“Soul Plane”, “Scary Movie 4”), Niecy Nash (TV’s “Reno 911!”), Eddie Cibrian (“The Cave”, TV’s “Third Watch”) and Maeve Quinlan (“South of Nowhere”).

This definitely a film geared towards married couples, but I would recommend it for families as well due to the fact that it’s short on profanity and big on heart. There are of course moments midway through the film that will tug at the heartstrings which I won’t give away here. TD Jakes first foray into film, 2004’s “Woman Thou Art Loosed” which starred Kimberly Elise was also a welcomed surprise when I saw it and this one follows suit. For those of you who may shy away from religious-themed films, Jakes and the director (the great Bill Duke in this case; “Hoodlum”, “Cover”, “Rage In Harlem”) do a good job of conveying Christian family morals that make the viewer relate, while not being “preachy” and still keeping the film contemporary and also not limiting it to being a film catered to predominantly African-American audiences I might add. If you’re not too busy watching Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway battle it out in Vera Wang or being terrorized by torchered souls and exorcisms this weekend, I would add “Not Easily Broken” to your “must see” movies this weekend.

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Maureen Vana, NBC5 Street Team
Clog stomping, frost zombies, disappearing birthday cake, and a pair of Underoos had Chicago in stitches last Friday night.  The comedy troupe, Stella, are no novices to the instigation of laughter.  Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, and David Wain have a lengthy history together of TV shows, appearances, tours, and movies to pad their reference material.

The sold out show at The Vic Theatre last weekend was a visual extravaganza of silliness.  Stella came equipped with an informative slide show on Christmas trees, a group effort at caroling, and a game of Zots and Crambles complete with crowd participation.  Of course, all the attempted projects of the night took off on a road of tangents ending in anything from dancing to doodie.

The evening came to a close with a special video skit of  Showalter’s birthday and an encore song comprised mostly of gibberish.  The video clearly highlighted what the trio does best and the performance was concluded with a roaring approval by the audience.

Season 1 of Stella is available on DVD and “Role Models”, co-written by David Wain, is in theaters now.  For more information on Stella visit: http://www.stellacomedy.com/

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Cara Carriveau, NBC Chicago Street Team

Twilight is such a highly anticipated movie that literally mobs of excited fans are attending all the promotional stops prior to the movie (especially when the incredibly handsome Robert Pattinson is involved). I’m halfway through the book by Stephenie Meyer right now and definitely understand what draws the fans. Her story is very intriguing. I am absolutely glued to the book. And from what I’m hearing from those who attended the preview earlier this week, the movie is very true to the book. And the ladies all agree that Robert Pattinson is yummy.  The movie officially opens here this weekend.

I spoke to actor Peter Facinelli this week. He plays the very handsome Dr. Carlisle Cullen, one of thepeterfacinelli vampires in Twilight. He was incredibly modest not only about his good looks (c’mon!) but also about assuming that the movie would be hugely successful garnering a guaranteed sequel. He spilled to me that he was a vegetarian until he filmed this movie. Apparently, playing a vampire made him crave red meat!

You can listen to our conversation by clicking HERE.

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Itika Oldwine, NBC Chicago Street Team

An interesting thing happened the other day.  A locally based multi-media website dedicated to the Hip-Hop lifestyle called 247hh.com launched an Election ’08 PSA that was meaningful, insightful and even tear jerking at times.  And to garner more exposure for the video, as well as bring local Chicagoans from the world of hip-hop together, they hosted a screening of the film at a lounge in the West Loop’s meat packing district.  

Now, of course, the purpose of the screening was to get exposure for their video and motivate people to vote on 11/4 but I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge the amazing venue where the event was held.  The 247hh Cooler makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the artsier side of the meat packing district.  The walls are covered with paintings by local artist Chad “Wick” Christian, there are two projectors that bounce images off of the exposed brick walls and the hand painted floors in the bathroom, yes I said it… the bathroom, are truly beautiful.

But I digress, because hands down, the show stealer that evening was the remarkable video featuring popular artists from the world of hip-hop such as rappers, The Game, Young Jeezy and Chicago’s own Common, as well as folks from the world of hip hop that are not as recognizable but still have something powerful to say about politics in America.   

These types of screening events are something that will be on-going for 247hh.com.  Their goal is to regularly and frequently launch and screen videos with purpose and relevancy to give folks from the world of Hip Hop a platform and invite people from Chicago and beyond to come and view their vids in a group setting.

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Glenn Murray, NBC5 Street Team

Normally when asked to attend the dreaded “R” Movie, I’m kicking and screaming. Not “R” as in R rating but “R” as in “relationship” movie.

Normally relationship movies are cutely-named, formula-driven wastes of two hours of my life (boy meets girl, screws up relationship and then they get together and marry in the end –because we all know that’s what happens in real life, right?). So to keep my “man points” high, I manage to avoid as many of those movies as possible. But I have found a few exceptions, and after attending a screening of “All About The Ring,” the new film written  directed and starring Chicagoan Elliott V. Porter, I must admit I found an above average-exception that was entertaining, well-acted, and thought provoking .

All About the Ring is a romantic comedy that poses the age old question — love or money?. The main character, Charles (Clinton Lewis). with the help of his womanizing friend, Stewart, decides to test his unsuspecting girlfriend, Latice (Pam Jones). During a party with family and friends, Charles proposes marriage and offers her an engagement ring sans the diamond! The ensuing conversation will have you laughing –- and questioning that significant other. Filled with tons of jokes and ridiculous situations, this is a really good independent film that’s worth your time to go see. (Disclaimer: Director Porter is not responsible for any man who, after seeing this movie decides to propose to his girlfriend using a ring without a diamond. I personally wouldn’t advise it either unless you are wearing a helmet to prevent the blunt trauma to the head you may incur).

Two Screenings of the film will be held Sunday at the Illinois Institute of Technology, 3241 S Federal Street at 5PM and 7PM. The 7PM screening will include prize giveaways including a walk on role in Porter’s next film. For ticket information visit: http://allaboutthering.net/

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Katrell Mendenhall, NBC5 Street Team

Bernard McCullough, a.k.a Bernie Mac, would have been honored and proud of the enormous outcome of fans and celebs at his funeral on the South Side of Chicago. Mac was famous for the coined phrase “Who U Wit” from the Emmy-winning “The Bernie Mac Show”.

In a very supernatural way he’s still here, as the movie premiere for “Soul Man” featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Issac Hayes will be released in November.  The movie is about a rhythm and blues band who reunite after 20 years of an acrimonious breakup following the death of the band’s lead singer. Jackson and Bernie play the group’s two main members, while Isaac Hayes portrays himself.  And eerily enough, the movie’s plot is about death.

Many can be replaced but duplicating will never happen. You are forever missed Bernie!

I spoke with some of his closest friends and here is what they had to say:

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Watch the weekly “Word On The Street” segment on 24/7 Chicago: Secrets of the City,” at 12:05 a.m., immediately following Saturday Night Live on NBC5.

This week we taped our Word On The Street segment at the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival. This is turning into one of my favorite summer in Chicago pastimes — although I was never a big fan of the Blues Brothers movie (I know that’s sacrilegious in Chicago parts), and watching it on the big screen didn’t help it out much. Also a word for the people who bring chairs to the park — nobody can see behind you! Not cool. Anyway, click here for more information. Movie start times are at dusk, which I can’t help noticing is getting earlier and earlier.

The Chicago Park District has a number of events throughout the summer designed to help kids get in touch with nature. In this week’s segment, I specifically mentioned Toddlers, Tunes and Turtles at Piotrowski Park, but click here for even more family-friendly Park District events.

Speaking of family friendly, don’t forget about the Bud Billiken Parade next weekend. If you’ve never witnessed this, check it out this year. It’s one of the funnest parades I’ve ever witnessed. Sure endless school marching and drill teams can get kind of redundant, but every now and then they throw something else in the mix, like a group of jammin’ Hari Krishnas, or a Caribbean band and dancers. Fun times. It always falls on the second Saturday of August, so check it out next week.

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Kim Katz, NBC5 Street Team 

I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago covering the CineVegas Film Festival, just chillin’ by the Luxor  pool  and chewing my nails over which celebrity I could get to appear on my new BuzzNews.TV show, when I got the call from my editor that an email had arrived for me in our general mailbox from Kevin Costner . Kevin actually remembered a positive review that I had given him and his band last year, and was inviting me to attend his upcoming concert in Chicago. Kevin and his band, Modern West, are a top notch group of musicians who play a pleasing blend of original  country/rock with a little bluegrass feel to it, and they totally rocked the House of Blues last week. 

"The Greenroom with Kim Katz" and guest Kevin Costner.

"The Greenroom with Kim Katz" and guest Kevin Costner.

It was kind of surreal when I  walked into the soundcheck with Kevin Costner onstage singing. I tried to keep cool as he came down and introduced me to his friends as a person whose writing he admired. Hey, my  best buddy and editor, Ken Payne, was there and was blown away too, so it’s not just a girl thing.

Kevin then gave my show “The Greenroom with Kim Katz” a really thoughtful exclusive interview about his music and band which you can watch below.

If you are a big Costner fan and  you want to see the whole interview complete with hugs and kisses (MEOW!) and read what I wrote about his concert in detail and his new political comedy “Swing Vote”  which opens August 1,  check out my regular column “The Katz Meow” in Buzz Magazine at www.BuzzNews.Net and the full length video on www.BuzzNews.TV.

The  House of Blues concert was really energetic and fun, with the entire audience standing , dancing and cheering pretty much the entire time. I brought my mom along  and to have a super nice superstar like Kevin Costner give her a hug at the after-party  was absolutely a dream come true. I tell you this to give you an idea of how gentlemanly Kevin is for real, and ladies, if you are wondering how he looks in person — he is tanned, TALL  and hot, hot, hot. 

I’m  proud to be an NBC5 Street Team member so honk if you were at the concert -and be sure to leave me some feedback here, I’d love to purr about the night with some  rockin’ loyal Costner fans! 

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Megan Bowers, NBC5 Street Team

Tonight is the official kick-off to the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival. They place a big screen in Grant Park and showcase different classic movies every Tuesday night through August 26th. It’s like going to the drive-in without the exhaust fumes and privacy to snuggle up on your date.

However, NOT watching the movie should not be your intention this week because they are showcasing, All About Eve. This 1951 film is an all-time classic and is #16 on AFI’s 100 Best Movies in 100 Years. I’m not sure if you know this or not — but that’s a big deal, a very big deal.

I’m sure you may be asking, “Megan, what is this movie about?” Or even, “Megan, this film was made 36 years before you were born, shouldn’t your classics be considered Austin Powers or Independence Day?”

Well I will answer both of those questions:

1. This drama stars Bette Davis, as Broadway legend Margo Channing. Miss Channing has everything: a successful career, close friends and a man who loves her. She also has a ‘fan’ named Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter). Eve is an up and coming actress who manages to worm her way into Margo’s life, in order to “study her like a blueprint”. Eve’s sweet facade is soon seen through by a number of people, but ultimately achieving her goal of Broadway stardom, leaving a trail of unhappiness, and contentment, behind her.

The film won 6 Oscars, including ‘Best Picture,’ so it’s certainly worth your time. Plus, this is one of Bette Davis’ best performances.

2. I love old films and I don’t think they make them like they used to. I’m talking back in the days of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, when actors had to act and actually (GASP!) be good at it! These days, anyone with a pretty face that looks good half naked can make a movie, and in my opinion, they’re just not worth my $8.25 in the theatres on a Friday night.

It’s over at Grant Park between Lake Shore Drive and Monroe Street and it starts at 8:57 p.m. Get there early to confirm a spot near the front and bring some snacks! You should definitely bring a blanket, but I suggest taking a chair because the film is a little over two hours. For more information on the event, including the movie itinerary, check out cityofchicago.com.

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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Watch the weekly “Word On The Street” segment on 24/7 Chicago: Secrets of the City,” at 12:05 a.m., immediately following Saturday Night Live on NBC5.

Bastille Day

We taped this week’s segment at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower, a beautiful, swanky hotel in the heart of the — well, Viagra Triangle, but don’t hold that against it. Everything about this spot is French-themed, which presented some challenges for our report. Needless to say, my French needs some touching up, despite the fact that my passport says I’m still Canadian. Time to turn in my card.

Anyway, this week the Sofitel has been celebrating Bastille Day, the uprising during the French Revolution that led to the creation of modern-day France. Their restaurant, Cafe des Architectes, is offering a traditional French-themed lunch and dinner fixed priced dinner. Make sure you also check out Le Bar for some lighter bites and jazz after 6:30 p.m. on some nights.

Chicago Outdoor Film Festival

You know it’s summer when the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival kicks off.
Starting this week, every Tuesday night until August 26th, the movies kick off at dusk rain or shine. They’re held in Grant Park at the corner of Lake Shore Drive and Monroe Street.

Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party

Oprah has called this one of the best places to hook up … or meet your mate … or something like that. Anyway, I haven’t been to this party yet, but I’m told it’s a whole lot of drunken fun. We’re talking about thousands of people, music, food and raffles.
Grab your tickets now because this puppy has been known to sell out.

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Reggie Brown, NBC5 Street Team

The second annual Gen Art Film Festival kicked off on Monday at The Music Box Theatre in Wrigleyville. The week long showcase of independent films highlights some of todays hottest actors and directors showing two films a night — a short film to start, followed by a feature  film.

The first full feature to be shown at this year’s festival was “Bart Got A Room,” a autobiographical comedy starring William H. Macy, Cheryl Hines, Steven Kaplan and Alia Shawkat. Written and directed by Brian Hecker, the story follows Danny (Kaplan) on his desperate journey to find a suitable date to his senior prom and his pursuit to ‘Get a room’.

I caught up with co-stars Alia Shawkat (Maeby from Arrested Development) and Steven Kaplan on the red carpet, and they gave me some insight into their roles in the film (see video below).

The festival continues through Friday at AMC Piper’s Alley with amazing after parties sponsored by Stella Artois and Reyka Vodka to follow each film.  Only $15 for members and $20 for non-members gets you a ticket each night and exclusive access to the after party. I’ll be back out on Thursday to check out Dark Streets. The after party is at Rockit Bar and Grill, so come on out and party with me!

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Tom Kolovos, NBC5 Street Team

Given the national reaction to my last blog, I’ve decided that, if you care to indulge me this summer, I’ll be posting more of my running musings on substance, style and popular culture.

Music videos are by definition a triumph of style over substance. You literally have only 4 minutes to savor the hope of attaining your 15 minutes of fame.

There are no more videogenic singers on the planet right now than Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Rihanna, he the Magnum XL cum laude graduate of the Bryan Ferry dripping-with-detachment-school-of-personal-style, she the Barbados born beauty of the legs that start somewhere around her earlobes and end at the floor.

Both are perfectly matched in their vocal inability to (thankfully) make it past the top 12 on “American Idol.”

While they have each made compelling visual statements in their own videos, who knew that they would be so perfectly matched in the most palpably erotically charged and relevant music video of 2008 for the single “If I never see your face again?”

It’s a refreshing alternative to the insufferably pretentious Madonna and Justin Timberlake collaboration “4 minutes to save the world,” which wears its misguided attempt at substance right in it’s title.

“4 minutes” tries to sell us on the (yesterday’s news cliche) Madonna-as-cougar-Justin-as-boy-toy but the sexual tension comes off as pathetically Oedipal.  Justin is no more than the wind machine to her current Stevie Nicks-like inability to move coherently or gracefully. “Stand back, stand back” I keep thinking to myself.

(Note to Mad: You’ve really lost your touch and missed the cultural vibe entirely, just like the other gal who was recently peddling her experience in an effort to save the world .) 

“If I never” on the other hand, has it’s visual finger right on the jugular of the cultural moment. (To anachronistically combine Bill Clinton and Barak Obama’s political playbooks, “It’s about change stupid.”)

Unlike the pedantic “4 minutes,” “If I never” brilliantly oozes studied nonchalance both lyrically and, most importantly, visually. The on screen pairing of Adam and Rihanna is frought with at least as much transgression as that of the anscestoral Adam and Eve.

There’s no apple or serpent here, just a microphone which is audaciously wielded about like a shared sex toy and (given the political moment) as a middle finger to the historical interracial intolerance of the miscegenation laws.

Lyrically, the song reminds me of the best line of dialogue  ever from an American movie. In “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” a film which oddly enough is famous for a scene involving a piano and a microphone, Michelle Pfeiffer confronts Jeff Bridges about their “relationship.” Bemused, he asks her: “Relationship? What relationship? All I did was [expletive] you twice!” 

I assume that’s the exact same response we would get from our current president, as the next election looms, if we were to confront him as an electorate about our collective 8 year relationship.

And if he were ever to find it within himself to say sorry for the economic and military  reality he created and is leaving behind, I can hear Rihanna singing her current solo single “Take a Bow” in its entirety, sort of an “Exhale to the Chief: “Don’t tell me you’re sorry cause you’re not. You’re only sorry you got caught.”

Click here to see the video of “If I never see your face again.”


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Marcus Riley, NBC5 Street Team (video)

Watch the weekly “Word On The Street” segment on 24/7 Chicago: Secrets of the City,” at 12:05 a.m., immediately following Saturday Night Live on NBC5.

Dana Spa and Hotel

This week’s Word On The Street segment took us to the brand new Dana Spa and Hotel, a Chicago owned and operated facility located at 660 N. State St. The word “Dana” translates in Sanskrit to “the pleasure of giving,” which is what the operators of this swanky new establishment try to deliver.

The hotel is set up to be a refuge from all the hustle and bustle from the busy downtown streets surrounding it. Along with the plush rooms, the spa offers a full range of treatments. The hotel restaurant, Ajasteak, is looking to put its stamp on the city’s culinary map. Think of it as a traditional steakhouse with an Asian twist. Make sure you check out their signature floating sushi bar, located on the first and second floors.

Gen Art Chicago Film Festival

Five movies, five nights, five after-parties. It can only mean the second annual Gen Art Chicago Film Festival. The festival kicks off Monday, with the opening night event being held at The Music Box, 3733 N Southport.

Two of the stars of the opening night movie, Bart Got A Room, will be at the Opening Night event — Alisa Shawkat (star of the upcoming Arrested Development movie), and Steve Kaplan.

A $75 pass gets you into all five nights of activities, including the after-parties.

Check out an interview about the festival with one of the organizers.


Taste Of Chicago

What more can you say about the Taste of Chicago? It’s one of Chicago’s most famous events, even though many locals turn up their nose at the over-the-top sweat-fest.

But pick your spots and Taste can be a great time (like playing hooky from work and going during the day when it’s less-crowded).

The music lineup is pretty stellar this year, with Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, Joss Stone, Bonnie Raitt and more taking to the stage.

Load up the kids — Taste kicks off on Friday.

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