Rather than take a look at what is going on this weekend like I normally do in this column, I thought I would preview some of the biggest, Chicago-related celebrity events taking place this year. I’m not talking about the events we see every year (Lollapalooza, Ravinia Festival and the Just For Laughs comedy festival — you know, before Just For Laughs decided to take this year off to rethink its business model), but the ones that are unique to 2014.
New on the scene
In the spring, reality TV stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic will open RPM Steak, their second restaurant with their RPM Italian partners Doug Psaltis and the Melman siblings in River North. Speaking of the Melman siblings (R.J., Jerrod and Molly), they plan on booking big-name acts more often at Paris Club’s upstairs club, Studio Paris, which last year hosted performances and DJ sets by Drake, Jason Derulo and Ellie Goulding. And because Billy Dec and his Rockit Ranch Productions partners don’t like sitting still for very long, they have come up with a new concept for the former Dragon Ranch Moonshine & BBQ. The Asian-themed BBQ restaurant that was shelved after an electrical fire last January will become Bottlefork, a “New-American” restaurant offering whole roasted chickens that, when it opens (tentatively scheduled next month), will likely draw celebs just like Dec’s other venues.
Coming to a theater near you
Three of the most highly-anticipated movies of the year filmed in our backyard last summer. See how many locations and extras you recognize when the post-apocalyptic “Divergent” hits theaters March 21, followed by robots-in-disguise sequel “Transformers: Age of Extinction” June 27 and the interplanetary “Jupiter Ascending” July 18. “Divergent” and “Jupiter Ascending” are both expected to be trilogies if all goes as planned at the box office.
We’re on TV!
There will be plenty of new Chicago-based shows on TV this year. And unlike CBS’ “The Good Wife,” most of them are filmed entirely in Chicago. NBC’s “Chicago Fire” spinoff, “Chicago PD,” kicks things off with its premiere Wednesday and will be joined by USA’s firefighter comedy “Sirens” March 6 and ABC’s workplace drama “Mind Games” March 11. NBC’s political thriller “Crisis” — which doesn’t have a premiere date yet — has been filming here but is set in Washington DC. And if reality TV is more your thing, Bravo's "100 Days of Summer" premiered Tuesday and the Chicago version of Oxygen’s controversial “Bad Girls Club” debuts in the spring.
The sequel to last year’s Superman reboot, “Man of Steel,” is scheduled to film just outside of Yorkville on Route 126 in February. Some of you might recall that’s the same field where Clark Kent’s Smallville farmhouse was filmed in the first movie. The set is currently up, so feel free to drive by and gawk from afar, if that’s your thing. It’ll likely get a lot harder to see it once cast and crew come to town.
One Direction, two shows
One Direction released its debut album two and a half years ago and already will be playing not one, but two, shows at Soldier Field — Aug. 29 and 30. You can expect teenage girls to stalk the boy band’s every move in Chicago the weekend it is here. And if you’re taking your kid to one of the shows, bring earplugs. It’s one thing to hear screaming on TV and another to experience 50,000-plus shrieking in person.
Happy birthday, Wrigley
The Cubs will get a little help from their famous friends to celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100-year anniversary this year. Cubs communications manager Kevin Saghy said celebrities who are part of the ballpark’s history will be invited to the birthday celebration taking place April 23 when the Cubs host the Arizona Diamondbacks. Some celebs who can’t be there in person will appear via the right field video board to wish Wrigley happy birthday. Saghy added that certain homestands throughout the year will have decade themes that could involve a few bold names. “We could host … an actor/actress who starred in a movie at Wrigley Field in the 1990s-themed decade,” Saghy hinted by email.
The stars of AMC’s immensely popular zombie drama “The Walking Dead” will hit the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont March 14-16 for Walker Stalker Con. On tap are appearances by Scott Wilson (who plays Hershel Greene), Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene) and IronE Singleton (T-Dog), among others. I’m sure many of you think you’re not the comic convention-going type, but you probably were just as apprehensive about a show about zombies before “The Walking Dead” premiered and, well, here we are.
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