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Entertainment News: Playboy Founder Hugh Hefner Dies at 91

LOS ANGELES – Hugh Hefner was the man who turned the key to the sexual revolution when he founded Playboy Magazine in 1953. What started in an apartment in Chicago became a worldwide empire as the Playboy brand and image was embedded into American consciousness. Hefner died on Sept. 27, 2017. He was 91.

Interview, Audio: Cindy Caponera, TV Writer for ‘I’m Dying Up Here’

CHICAGO – One of the great new premium channel TV series, which piggybacked on the “Twin Peaks” return on the Showtime Network, is “I’m Dying Up Here.” Set in the 1970s, it tells the stories of fictional stand up comedians in Los Angeles, and one of the Consulting Producers and series writers is Cindy Caponera.

Interview, Audio: Haroula Rose, Creator of ‘Tribeca: TV’ Finalist ‘Lost & Found’

Haroula Rose

CHICAGO – The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival was not all about film. Besides showcasing Immersive and Virtual Reality programming, this edition of the festival opened up submissions from independent television pilot creators for the first time. One of the four finalists that were accepted to the “Tribeca: TV” portion of the festival was “Lost & Found,” created and directed by Haroula Rose, who is from the nearby Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood, Ill.

Interview, Audio: Comedian Demetri Martin on His Film ‘Dean’

CHICAGO – The dry, hangdog demeanor of comedian Demetri Martin is familiar to fans who have watched his Comedy Central show, “Important Things,” experienced his notable stand up routines and read his best-selling books. It seemed a natural to leap into film, so Martin has written, directed and portrays the title character in the new release, “Dean.”

Film Review: Rotating Perspectives Converge in ‘Train Station’

Train Station

CHICAGO – Taking on the variance of choice in a very unique and compelling way, “Train Station” was interpreted through 40 filmmakers in 25 countries, following a character – The Person in Brown – in a singular story that flexes and changes as the role is exposed. Chicago was one of those filming locations, and “Train Station” will screen here at the Music Box Theatre on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

Interview: Oriana Oppice of Women in Film Chicago & Their Open House on Jan. 26, 2017

WIFC logo, 2016

CHICAGO – Women in Film Chicago (WIFC) continues its role as one of the best resource and advocacy groups for women filmmakers and their supporters. The organization has roots to the 1970s, when the first WIFC group was formed in Los Angeles, and the Chicago chapter has experienced strong growth, both in numbers and what it offers to its membership. The WIFC will be celebrating all of this with their Open House, January 26th, 2017, at Columbia College in Chicago (details below).

Interview: Damien Chazelle & Rosemarie DeWitt of ‘La La Land’

CHICAGO – Bringing the musical movie genre back requires a bit of nostalgia, a nod to modernity and always old fashioned star power. Writer/director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) combined all three to produce “La La Land,” with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as star-crossed lovers. Rosemarie DeWitt also has a featured role.

Interview: Jonathan Gold, Iconic Food Writer in ‘City of Gold’

CHICAGO – Although Jonathan Gold is not a household name, his food writing and criticisms have influenced Los Angeles palates for a generation. He is the only food critic to have ever received the Pulitzer Prize, and he is profiled in a new documentary by director Laura Gabbert entitled “City of Gold.”

Film Review: Alternate American Dream Played Out in ‘Dope’

CHICAGO – If you’re lucky enough, you’ll never know what it’s like to grow up in a poor American neighborhood. But what if the notions of such societies are flipped on its ear, and what if the message draws attention to our current perceptions of race? This is what the new film “Dope” conveys.

Film Review: Pre-Apocalyptic Darkness Found in ‘Maps to the Stars’

CHICAGO – There is a moral darkness in director David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” that is hard to shake. It is filled with circumstance and souls right at the edge of insanity, polluted by an atmosphere that doesn’t give them much of a chance. The apocalypse is now, and living in Los Angeles.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

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