OFF BEAT

OFFBEAT: Gov. Quinn boasting $92 million earned with Hollywood filming in Illinois

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2012-10-08T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Gov. Quinn boasting $92 million earned with Hollywood filming in IllinoisPhilip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced this month the state's film industry produced a record number of television series this year, saying "Illinois is positioned as an attractive alternative to Hollywood and spurring economic job growth in the state."

Most recognizable of all the shows filmed locally in and around the Windy City is probably the Starz cable network series "Boss" starring actor Kelsey Grammer.

"Boss" is an American political drama series created by Farhad Safinia. Grammer plays the show's title character, Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia from a degenerative neurological disorder.

The series premiered a year ago, on Oct. 21, 2011. And after decent ratings, Starz announced "Boss" was renewed for a second season of 10 episodes, which premiered on Aug. 17, 2012.

(If you've caught any of the promotional advertisements for this new season of the show, be it magazine ads or banners on bus stops or billboards, it's a grisly symbolic depiction of Grammer as Mayor Kane standing in a meat locker cooler, with all of the surrounding supporting characters hanging from meat hooks...Brrrrrr...cold!)

According the press statement from Quinn, "a record four TV drama series" were filmed in Illinois in 2012. In addition to "Boss," NBC's "Chicago Fire," Fox's "Mob Doctor" and MTV's "Underemployed" were all filmed in the Land of Lincoln.

Besides contributing to what Quinn says adds up to "an expected $92 million in local spending," he also said the projects create more than 1,200 full-time equivalent Illinois jobs in 2012. He said there is also a comedy pilot called "Sirens" by USA Network and comedian Denis Leary to begin shooting this month.

"Our talented crews, iconic shooting locations and world class sound stages have helped make 2012 a banner year for the Illinois television industry," Quinn said in his remarks.

"We are committed to helping the film and television industry grow in Illinois by attracting more productions that create good jobs."

Back in December 2011, Quinn said he met with NBC executives and encouraged them to bring the entire production of "Chicago Fire" to Illinois, since the series profiles the lives of Chicago firefighters. The show premieres on NBC 9 p.m. Wednesday and the cast includes Chicago actor Christian Stolte and other locals from around Naperville and Chicagoland including David Eigenberg, Jesse Spencer, Taylor Kinney, Eamonn Walker and Lauren German.

Most of these TV series are filmed at the Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, 2621 West 15th Place, in the West Loop area of downtown. The soundstage opened in May 2011 and was built with $5 million in capital funding from the state through the Illinois Jobs Now! program, plus what Quinn says was "tens of millions of dollars in private investment." He says once it is "fully built out at 1.2 million feet" it will rank as "the largest soundstage outside of Hollywood in the U.S."

Betsy Steinberg, managing director of the Illinois Film Office, says it's the state's tax credit for film production that ranks as an incentive to film companies, since the state offers a 30 percent tax credit.

In 2011, she said the Illinois film industry generated $154 million in spending and created 2,060 full-time equivalent jobs because of projects like the Superman feature film "Man of Steel" and the NBC series "Playboy Club."

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at philip.potempa@nwi.com or (219) 852-4327.

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