David Manilow bringing 'My Chicago' to WTTW

Show will likely have similar tone to 'Check, Please!' and feature prominent guests

Chicago television producer David Manilow will begin filming his newest public television series, "My Chicago," this week, with the first of six episodes set to air April 25.

Each half-hour episode will feature three people, often prominent, taking a camera crew and a co-host to area locations they consider meaningful.

Manilow and co-producer WTTW-Ch. 11 are dubbing it "a talk show on wheels" with alternating hosts Odette Yousef of WBEZ 91.5-FM and Mark Bazer, a writer who works at Leo Burnett and created "The Interview Show," a monthly live talk show at The Hideout.

The show's guests will hop in a camera-equipped car with one of the hosts and then guide the driver through neighborhoods, perhaps stopping to pick up a friend or relative, or get out of the car to point out a specific landmark.

"I'm a lifelong Chicagoan, and I love Chicago," said Manilow, 54. "I think there are fascinating people here and fascinating stories. And you don't get to hear a lot from people about who they are, where they're from, where they grew up, the places they love and the different neighborhoods. I really love exploring the city and getting to know people and places."

The show likely will have a similar tone to that of Manilow's "Check, Please!" in which three people discuss and debate their favorite restaurants. More than 36,000 people have signed up to be guests on that program, and the franchise has expanded to San Francisco, Miami, Kansas City, Mo., Phoenix and Seattle.

Manilow has similar ambitions for "My Chicago," hoping it will be a tryout for a "My America" series that would air nationwide on PBS stations.

"The goal would be to do this for as many years as I've done 'Check, Please!' and we're starting our 14th year," Manilow said.

Among those scheduled to appear on the show are Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke; Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; poet Malcolm London; Ald. Ameya Pawar of the 47th Ward; architect Juan Moreno; Elena Delle Donne of the WNBA's Chicago Sky; musician Jon Langford; author John Green, who lives in Indianapolis but previously lived in Chicago; Tribune columnist Mary Schmich; Museum of Contemporary Art curator Naomi Beckwith; and TV anchor and "Chicago Tonight" host Phil Ponce.

"With 'Check, Please!' I would bump into people all the time who would say, 'Let me tell you my 'Check, Please!' restaurant," Manilow said. "It made them think of what restaurant they would select, or where they would take people. It's an interesting question, because you're not just going to take them to a local coffee shop."

And that got me thinking. I told Manilow I'd take his film crew to Chicago Dramatists, where I take playwriting classes, and TimeLine Theatre Company in the Lakeview neighborhood, whose productions I admire; and my favorite restaurant, Riccardo Trattoria.

Manilow informed me that I would be labeled a "high-maintenance guest" for wanting to go to three locations. He said he would cut the restaurant because he already has a restaurant show, and then he would make me choose between Dramatists and TimeLine.

"And we'd need to work it out so we'd go during rehearsal, so we aren't walking into an empty theater," Manilow said. "Sometimes people forget it's a TV show. And if it's boring, people will change the channel."

People can nominate themselves or others to be on the show, at mychicago.wttw.com.

"I do TV shows that I like to watch; it's that plain and simple," said Manilow, whose father is arts patron and philanthropist Lewis Manilow. "I like things that are honest, that have some authenticity in them. Hopefully, people feel the standards are high and they gain something from it."

New role for Wright

Nancy Wright, formerly president of Blue Plate Catering, has been named the new chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, the nation's largest Girl Scouts Council. The appointment will be effective Monday.

She fills a vacancy left by Maria Wynne, who retired at the end of 2013.

Wright is a veteran of the hospitality industry, having previously run guest services at the Museum of Science and Industry.

Melissa Harris can be reached at mmharris@tribune.com or 312-222-4582. Newsletter tinyletter.com/MelissaHarris. Twitter @chiconfidential.

ct-confidential-my-chicago-0313-biz-20140313
Advertisement

PHOTO GALLERIES

TOP VIDEO

CONNECT WITH US


2013 YEAR IN REVIEW
Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Google Plus
  • RSS Feeds
  • Mobile Alerts and Apps