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'Transformers' blows up on LaSalle Street

By Luis Gomez

5:28 PM EDT, September 8, 2013

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Some people will do just about anything to get a photo of "Transformers: Age of Extinction" filming, as proven by one double-decker tour bus driver Saturday in front of the Chicago Board of Trade building. The driver pulled out her camera phone while slowly passing the set on South LaSalle Street in the Loop and held up traffic as she tried to snap a photo.

A select few — such as Cincinnati Bengals players, in town for their Sunday matchup with the Bears at Soldier Field — used their clout to get on the set and snap photos. Former Pro Bowler Terence Newman posted photos of himself with director Michael Bay and actor Mark Wahlberg on Twitter Saturday and tweeted that he played catch on the set with Wahlberg.

"Transformers 4 being shot outside our hotel in Chicago," Newman tweeted. "The cars out there are insane!!"

Most spectators, however, had to settle for listening to much of the action rather than watching it due to the barricades set up to keep people blocks away. Explosions could be heard echoing through LaSalle, but it's unclear what exactly was exploding. One production assistant claimed a Bud Light delivery truck was blown up during one scene, sending beer flying out onto the streets, but the Chicago Film Office was unable to confirm it.

Those more interested in the cars than the explosions had better luck. Several vehicles — including the semi known as Optimus Prime, a blue Bugatti and green Corvette — raced down LaSalle at high speeds for one scene Saturday. During another scene that day, the yellow Camaro known as Bumblebee sped off as terrified extras ran for their lives. The extras continued to get a workout during Sunday's filming, which featured pyrotechnics.

Chicago was well represented on the set Saturday: Abandoned Chicago taxis and Chicago police cars were on hand, as was a CTA bus featuring a very visible Blue Cross Blue Shield ad (Transformers filmed at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower in the Near East Side neighborhood the previous two weekends). Also on the set was a crushed vehicle that was trapped under a robotic-looking hunk of metal.

When he wasn't filming Transformers, Bay was spotted hanging out Friday and Saturday at the Underground and Aug. 31 at the newly-opened Parliament. Wahlberg had lunch Wednesday at Michael Jordan's Steak House in the Intercontinental Hotel.

About this week: Singer Marc Anthony will host his Maestro Cares fundraiser Monday at Y Bar. Former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is scheduled to attend.

Sightings: Singer Miranda Lambert had lunch Saturday at Bub City before her show at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park. … Rapper Lupe Fiasco closed out his DJ set Saturday at Green Tie Ball at A. Finkl and Sons Co., which benefited Chicago Gateway Green, with a confetti-laden performance of his single, "The Show Goes On." … The Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade and Nelsan Ellis ("True Blood") hung out separately Thursday at the Underground. Wade, who was in town for his Wade's World Weekend fundraiser, dined with teammate Udonis Haslem Saturday at Siena Tavern. … Lucy Hale ("Pretty Little Liars") had lunch Thursday at Hub 51. … Giuliana Rancic ("E! News") had her hair done Tuesday at Blowtique. … The Bears' Lance Briggs dined Friday at Joe's Stone Crab before heading to the Underground. Rapper-turned-actor Romeo Miller partied Saturday at the Underground. … Retired baseball players Derrek Lee, Cliff Floyd and Gary Matthews Jr. had dinner Friday at Homestead and then hung out at the Berkshire Room in the Acme Hotel.

lgomez@tribune.com