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Interview: Producer & CEO Julie Smolyansky, 2017 Women in Film Chicago Focus Awards Honoree

2017 WIFC Focus Awards

CHICAGO – One of the signature events for Women in Film Chicago (WIFC) is their annual Focus Awards, which will take place on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 (for more details and ticket purchasing information, click here). The WIFC will honor four notable women who influence Chicago-area film production, including actress Julia Sweeney, producer/activist Mary Morten, director of photography Tari Segal and CEO (of Lifeway Foods, Inc.) and film producer Julie Smolyansky.

Film News: Gillian Jacobs at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre on Aug. 9, 2016 for ‘Don’t Think Twice’

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CHICAGO – The Most Valuable Player, in a film that is brimming with great performances, is Gillian Jacobs (“Community”) of “Don’t Think Twice.” The Mike Birblglia-directed film is in the midst of a run at Chicago’s historic Music Box Theatre, and Jacobs will make an appearance on behalf of the film starting at 7:30pm on Tuesday, August 9th, 2016. For more information, click here.

Film Review: Comedy is Humanity in Magnanimous ‘Don’t Think Twice’

Don't Think Twice Front

CHICAGO – Comedian/writer/director Mike Birbiglia is breaking out as a filmmaker, and he adds a deft and emotional touch to a story of an improvisation comedy troupe split apart by change they didn’t expect. That sounds a lot like life, and it’s best to “Don’t Think Twice.”

Interview: Philosopher King Mike Birbiglia of ‘Don’t Think Twice’

CHICAGO – When comedian/writer/director Mike Birbiglia is in his element, as during the interviews he conducted at The iO Theater in Chicago, he is relaxed and ardently philosophical. He has written and directed a new film, “Don’t Think Twice,” which is about a improvisation comedy troupe, but it’s also about life.

Interview: Douglas McGrath of ‘Beautiful: The Carole King Musical’

CHICAGO – While a musical stage play is known for its songs rather than dialogue or story, all has to be created. And the playwright for the opening-in-Chicago “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is veteran actor, director and scribe Douglas McGrath. ‘Beautiful’ opens December 1st, 2015, at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago.

Interview: Director Douglas Tirola on ‘Drunk Brilliant Stoned Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon’

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon

CHICAGO – Before the days of 24/7 internet access to every form of entertainment that exists, there were eras of radical performance expression that changed the landscape of attitudes toward everything – think of The Beatles evolving music and also changing social culture. The roots of another evolution, especially in comedy, began with a modest humor magazine that brought together the right mix of anarchists and misfits. What they did would influence comedy for years afterward, and their story is told in “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon,” directed by Douglas Tirola.

Film Review: SNL Rightly Touts Its Influence in ‘Live From New York!’

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CHICAGO – Love, hate or maintain indifference to it, the TV dinosaur “Saturday Night Live” has and will continue to influence American culture as long as it may reign. To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, filmmaker Bao Nguyen takes a fresh look at the iconic television show in “Live From New York!”

Interview: Co-Executive Producer Cindy Caponera of ‘Ground Floor’

CHICAGO – December 9th is the 2014 second season premiere of “Ground Floor,” the TBS workplace comedy featuring John C. McGinley (“Scrubs”), plus Skylar Astin and Briga Heelan (seen in the film “Pitch Perfect”). Chicago native Cindy Caponera is a writer and co-executive producer on the show.

Film Review: Parts Are Better Than the Whole in ‘The Skeleton Twins’

CHICAGO – Live from the movies, it’s Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig! The two “Saturday Night Live” veterans are “The Skeleton Twins,” and both have more to do than just be funny. There are moments that sink or swim, depending on the “Twins,” and those parts are greater than the narrative sum.

Interview: Jenny Slate, Director Gillian Robespierre of ‘Obvious Child’

CHICAGO – An authentic voice in the film category of “romantic comedy” has emerged, and it is represented by lead actress Jenny Slate (“Saturday Night Live”) and writer/director Gillian Robespierre. One night stands, its consequences and yes, love is explored in the excellent new rom-com “Obvious Child.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Asylum, The Logo

    CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

  • Baltimore Waltz, The

    CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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