Tag Archives: save the portage theater

Mediatrocities #10– Free Media: The Manifesto of The Underground Multiplex


Legendary Lew

by Legendary Lew

Joseph R. Lewis and I were very proud to give a presentation titled “Free Media: Mending Arts When All is Broke” Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at Chicago Filmmakers.

Around 90 people attended to listen to Joe and I discuss the history of how The Underground Multiplex got started and some of the basic ideas that keep this


Joseph R. Lewis

organization going. This is an age where there’s very little money going around for the arts, so it’s imperative that artists learn a new paradigm by which they can have works created, published and distributed. It may seem daunting to be responsible for all these aspects but it can be done and we’ll tell you how to approach it.

Give a listen:

Mediatrocities #7: Legendary Lew Interviews Chris Hefner on His Upcoming New Feature “The Poisoner”

poisonerChicago filmmaker Chris Hefner recently sat down with me and talked about his new movie The Poisoner, which will debut soon at The Portage Theater (you can help him screen the film sooner by visiting his website and buying a deluxe screening ticket).

Chris is a wonderfully talented director, whose first feature The Pink Hotel had a successful debut at The Music Box Theatre. Our talk discussed everything from his filmmaking approach and his start behind the camera to current methods of radically independent film production and distribution. If you have any interest at all in making films on the cheap but have them not looking that way, you really should give a listen.

This episode hosted by Legendary Lew. Produced and directed by Lew Ojeda. The closing theme is “Ghostsong” by Daniel Knox.


Mediatrocities Podcast #6.1: Remembering Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert 1942-2013

Roger Ebert 1942-2013

Lew Ojeda and Tyler Pistorius remember the influence Roger Ebert had on their lives and discuss the future of film after his passing. Included are a few choice clips of classic Ebert from his long-running classic TV series.

Local Filmmakers to Look For: Mike Gibisser


From “The Motive Power Series” by Mike Gibisser

On Saturday, January 5, director Mike Gibisser will be in person presenting his latest film work, The Motive Power Series. It’s the latest in a decade-long career that’s taken his work to international film festivals. Chicago Filmmakers hosts the screening as part of their local filmmaker series.

The Motive Power Series by Mike Gibisser
Saturday January 5, 2013 at 7:30pm
Chicago Filmmakers
5243 N. Clark, Chicago IL
Suggested donation: $8

Here is Mike Gibisser’s feature film, Finally, Lillian and Dan presented in its entirety via Vimeo:

The Portage Theater is Saved!

Alderman John Arena just posted the following on Facebook:

I was just informed that Chicago Tabernacle has withdrawn its application to the ZBA. I want to thank everyone who supported the Portage Theater throughout this process. Specifically but not limited to the Six Corners Assoc., PPNA, OIPA and JPNA. There are far too many individuals to list but Denis and Linda and his business partners should be thanks everyday for investing in the Portage Theater over 6 years ago. Join me tomorrow night at the Portage at 5 pm to celebrate these visionaries and the gem they polished and maintain in our community.

John Arena, Save the Portage Theater, PPNA, Six Corners, Old Irving Park and all those Chicagoans who spoke out, wrote and attended meetings and events to support the Portage are to be commended.

Indie entertainment lives! Chicago proves it’s a great town for the arts!


Chicago ZBA Set to Rule on the Future of The Portage Theater on Friday

Friday is the all-important date that determines the future of The Portage Theater. Chicago Tabernacle asked for and got an extension before a ruling by the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. That extension expires on Friday and hopefully we can convince the Board that enough is enough.

This (hopefully final) meeting will be July 20 at 2pm at the Zoning Board of Appeals:

Zoning Board of Appeals
121 N LaSalle
Chicago, IL

This is a church that turned down other available abandoned properties in favor of taking over a functioning one.  If the Tabernacle takes over The Portage, numerous businesses set to open around the historic site will have to move elsewhere or not open at all.

The only assurances made public that I’ve ever read by the church that the sale would be beneficial were that churchgoers are local consumers, too (if that’s the case, I’ll be glad to go on a shopping spree with any of them in Fantasy Costumes before Halloween) and that they have a choir that provides entertainment.

Sorry, but these reasons don’t cut it.

The Portage Theater brings delight to the many thousands of people who’ve attended entertainment shows there. It’s one of the few remaining truly independent venues available for promoters, producers and artists. It’s a rental space open to a wide variety of interests, which brings up this point: Couldn’t Chicago Tabernacle just rent the space for a choir concert when needed?

Support this vibrant theater by joining the Facebook page, Save the Portage Theater. Go to The Portage and support them. Support the surrounding businesses and tell them you like The Portage as it is.

Come to the meeting and support this great theater! Sign this petition and share it with others. Thanks and see you there!

Zoning Board of Appeals Decision on The Portage: The Bad and the Good

More than 50 people showed up to support the Portage

The day finally came when the Chicago Zoning  Board of Appeals made a decision on the future of The Portage Theater.

More than 50 people showed up in support of The Portage Theater, a pretty good turnout for a weekday at 9am.

The ZBA took the Portage property case first, with the legal counsel of Chicago Tabernacle seeking an extension regarding the decision of the board. Citing “hardship”, the church claimed they weren’t given enough time to sort out all the particulars, especially with parts of The Portage now up for landmark designation.

A Six Corners Association rep and Alderman John Arena argued strictly along economic lines. Allowing the church to buy The Portage would stifle economic growth for Six Corners and the surrounding neighborhoods. Leases for businesses waiting to open near The Portage would be in jeopardy if the church was allowed purchase or with further delays.

The Board took note for the record that there were quite a number of people showing up opposed to the church purchase (over 50).

The bad news: ZBA decided to delay a decision on the sale of the property for 30 days (until July 20th).

The good news: This time period was half of what church counsel requested. In fact, when asked how long a delay was necessary to basically get its act together, counsel responded “oh, about a couple of months,” eliciting derisive laughter from some in the audience.

I think the ZBA was trying its best to be fair under the circumstances, but I definitely got a read that the chairman was frustrated with church counsel.  It doesn’t look good when you don’t have all “your ducks in a row” as the chairman implied and you get a significant number of people siding against you showing up.

The next ZBA hearing will be July 20th at 2pm. Mark your calendars NOW.

The chairman could not affirm that 7/20/2012 will be the absolute final date of the decision, but it seems clear he doesn’t want this dragging on indefinitely, which is what Chicago Tabernacle seems intent on doing.

This Week is Do or Die for Chicago’s Portage Theater to Be Saved From a Church Takeover –Your Help is Crucial

The final Zoning Board meeting determining the future of The Portage Theater will be held on Friday, June 15, 2012. This could determine if The Portage Theater can be saved from being purchased by a megachurch for their own use and alterations.

The Zoning Board meeting will be held:
Friday, June 15, 2012
9am at 121 N LaSalle Rm 200
Chicago, IL

If you plan to go, be sure to be ready to attend the entire day. Take the day off work if need be.  In addition, you can write to the Zoning Board using this letter and email it Alderman John Arena.

Phillip Schwartz, President of Portage Park Neighborhood Association, is trying to organize a busload of 50 people or more to attend the meeting. However, he needs to know by Monday, June 11 if he will have enough people to make this happen. Contact the PPNA at ppnainfo@gmail.com, contact them here or join the PPNA on Facebook and tell them you’d like to get on the bus.

Then, on Saturday, you can wear your sunglasses at night and help Portage Park break a world record! Bring your sunglasses for the free event at The Portage Theater, featuring singer/songwriter Corey Hart as he performs the hit tune. They’re shooting for 1300 or more fans. Yeah, it can happen.

Will the City of Chicago Buy The Portage Theater?

The latest chapter of the efforts to save The Portage Theater from being sold to Chicago Tabernacle takes an interesting turn.

Alderman John Arena announced he brought forth an ordinance allowing the City of Chicago to purchase The Portage to then be hopefully sold to buyers who would preserve the building and maintain its previous use. From the Alderman:

Recently, I filed an ordinance authorizing the City to exercise its powers of eminent domain to buy the building. This is not a step that I take lightly. I have consulted with the Mayor’s administration, and we remain hopeful that we can preserve this critical economic engine without implementing this solution.

The reasons for this action are two-fold:  (1) to avoid the sale to the church or any other non-profit that would eliminate a tax base needed for the area,  and (2) to speed up the process of having new businesses requiring liquor and amusement licenses open near the theater.

Several restaurants and potential cultural attractions are waiting for the resolution of this issue before they come to our community. The church’s proposed use for the Portage would make it impossible for anyone to get a liquor license within 100 feet of the building. It would make it impossible for anyone to get a public place of amusement license (needed for music venues and most theaters) within 250 feet without the church’s permission. Because the Portage Theater building is so large, these zones would extend to the south side of Irving Park Road, in addition to Milwaukee Avenue near the theater.

Simply put, the proposed use would gouge a huge hole in Six Corners where there would be no new restaurants, and where any proposed theater or entertainment venue would require the church’s permission. It would stifle development at a time when Six Corners is ready to take off. This community has worked too hard for too long for me not to use every option available to preserve and enhance this economic and cultural engine.

I continue to remain ready to help Chicago Tabernacle with alternative sites. Thank you for your continued support of this community treasure.

Let’s hope the City is okay with this and that Chicago Tabernacle will finally agree to an alternative building.

Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing for The Portage Theater on Friday

Friday is the date when the fate of The Portage Theater may be sealed.

Go to this link and find out what you can do to help. The link will have the address of the Zoning Board of Appeals. The hearing begins at 9am, but please expect to be there all day. Take the day off, if you can, to help support them.

Join “Save the Portage Theater” on Facebook. Tweet your support with #saveportage. Tell your friends and family.

And go to their movies!