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Jul. 22 2010 — 11:01 pm | 59 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

So long, and keep the beat

This, friends, is my final blog post for True/Slant. I feel a bit bittersweet writing that. It’s a bit of a bummer to let Chicago Beat go, but at the same time I’m happy with what I was able to accomplish over the last 10 months, and thrilled to have been able to write about all the world premiere plays and Chicago-made movies and local Chicago comedians and rising Windy City bands and all the talent that this fantastic city has to offer.

So while True/Slant’s new owner Forbes intends to take the site in a new direction, I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity I was given to write for the site. All in all, it really was an exceptional experience.

And I really want to thank all the people who helped out with my stories, be it by giving their time to sit down for interviews, or granting me access to review their films, plays and shows. And I especially want to thank anyone who gave any of my blog posts a look over. It goes without saying that there is so much content out there, and a ton of content covering what to do in Chicago, and I encourage you to keep reading The A.V. Club, Time Out Chicago, the Chicago Reader, Chicago magazine, the Sun-Times and the Trib, among other great sites/pubs, to keep your finger on the pulse. But despite this, it means a lot that people actually did read my stuff, and hopefully they learned something new, and they were exposed to something or someone that they went on to love. Or maybe they glanced at it and went on. Whatever the case may be, thank you all very much for at least paying my blog a visit and giving it a bit of your very precious time.

I’ll be keeping plenty busy with my other gigs, including my day job for Marketing News magazine, the Marketing News Exclusives e-newsletter and Marketing News-sponsored podcasts. I’m doing tons of freelance work still for AOL’s TV Squad site and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and I’ve got my weekly Store Brand Scorecard blog for Walletpop. But I still plan on writing about Chicago talent. If there’s a band I should hear, a play I should know about, a comedian I should see or a local film I should watch, please let me know, and I’ll see if I can pitch a story somewhere. I’m at Levypeter@aol.com, Twitter.com/PietLevy and on Facebook.

So rock on everybody! Thanks again, and enjoy life!

Jul. 22 2010 — 11:00 pm | 357 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Sad to see the balcony close: Mourning the loss of ‘At The Movies’

Chances are you’re out doing stuff on a Saturday night, and if so, good for you. But one of my favorite late night activities isn’t hitting up the bars or the clubs, but unwinding on the couch, with the latest episode of “At The Movies,” a.k.a. that movie review show once hosted by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, still filmed in Chicago — but not for much longer.

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Jul. 20 2010 — 11:41 pm | 59 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Theater Review: ‘Guide for the Perplexed’ confusing blend of comedy and drama

Bubba Weiler (left) plays the anguished, closeted teenage nephew of Doug (Kevin Anderson), who's fresh out of prison, in Joel Drake Johnson's world premiere play 'A Guide for the Perplexed,' running through August 15th at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. Photo provided.

“A Guide for the Perplexed” playwright Joel Drake Johnson could have used a guide for the confused. His latest work, beginning its world premiere run at Victory Gardens Theater, is sharply realized at times, and it does a nice job in particular landing a subtle, satisfying final moment. But overall “Perplexed” is a peculiar and ultimately unsuccessful blend of awkward comedy and bleak melodrama. In the hands of director Sandy Shinner, and particularly ace actors Kevin Anderson and Francis Guinan, the comedy comes naturally. But the heightened drama, which Johnson clearly intends to serve as the emotional center of the story, seems forced and unnatural. Anderson’s pacing isn’t good enough, and the dialogue not nuanced enough, to lend the necessary tension, pathos and realism, and Shinner and the cast struggle with the play’s radical mood swings.

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Jul. 15 2010 — 11:37 pm | 306 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Chi-Town Countdown: 16 things to do in Chicago, July 16-31, 2010

A Vince Vaughn show, free concerts, record release gigs and one of the biggest music festivals of the year are all on tap for the rest of the month. Chicago Beat’s 16 picks for things to do are:

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Jul. 14 2010 — 10:04 pm | 149 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Comedian Pat McGann talks his new TV show, ‘The Chicago Stand-up Project’

So a former White Sox player, an Olympic speed skater, a meteorologist and a magazine editor walk into a comedy club. That’s no joke—that’s exactly what Ron Kittle, Shani Davis, Amy Freeze and Susanna Negovan did, as the first subjects of the new TV show “The Chicago Stand-up Project.” Created by local comic Pat McGann, the 30-minute show places well-known Chicago personalities in front of an audience at Zanies to deliver a stand-up set for the first time. Ana Belaval from WGN hosts and McGann serves as a comic coach for the newbies.

Two episodes of the program are in the can, the first of which premieres this Friday on WTTW after “Check Please,” with the hope that enough people will tune in to justify “Chicago Stand-up” becoming a regular series. Patrick McGann pleaded his case and the show’s concept to Chicago Beat.

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    About Me

    I came to Chicago for college because I liked the look of fire escapes snaking down alleyways, because I wanted to see what this Second City comedy thing was all about, because "The Blues Brothers" and "The Untouchables" made it look like the coolest city ever. And while I've never been chased down by hundreds of cop cars or involved in a slow motion shootout on the steps at Union Station, I still find Chicago to be the greatest city in the world. Architecture, food, Midwestern values and people aside, it's the arts scene that really makes Chicago come alive, be it the witty and wonderful wordplay over at The Second City and Steppenwolf, or the stirring sounds of the city's orchestra or rock bands at Schubas and Metro, or the mind-blowing flicks I've caught at the Music Box (including David Cronenberg's classic "Scanners," in which a mind does literally blow).

    I've lived in Chicago on and off since 2001, and having done the entertainment reporting thing ever since, it's my honor to report on the city's movie, music and performance scenes for True/Slant. I consider it a mission from God.

    Follow me at Twitter: @pietlevy. And email your story suggestions and comments at Levypeter@aol.com

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    Followers: 21
    Contributor Since: September 2009