Be lucky to hail the “Cash Cab” and fare well

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THE POPULAR “CASH CAB” SHOW is prowling the streets of Chicago, ready to pick up unsuspecting contestants and ask them questions en route to their destinations. The show is here as the result of Discovery Channel answering the pleas of more than 13,000 fans on a Facebook page called “Bring Cash Cab to Chicago.”

How to spot the cab? Look for a minivan with a city skyline “ad” on the roof. It has three small camera lenses at the top and sides for exterior shots. The taxi license number is 4472 TX. And the driver is blond-haired, blue-eyed Second City e.t.c. cast member Beth Melewski.

Those in the Loop, Near North and Lakeview have the best chance of being taken for a ride, with the off chance that the driver could pay you for the ride.

EXCEPTING “CASH CAB,” there are NO Hollywood projects or commercials on the books for Chicago-area production. The last two 2010 Hollywood features -? the Fox TV series “The Chicago Code” and the big Steven Soderbergh feature “Contagion” — wrapped production here Friday.

IN ANOTHER DDB SHAKEUP in the upper ranks, president/CEO Rick Carpenter, a 22-year DDB veteran, resigned, effective Dec. 31. Mark O’Brien, DDB’s newly named North American president, will hold that interim office until Carpenter’s replacement is named.

Carpenter joined the Chicago office in 2007, after 18 years as CCO and then president of DDB, Los Angeles. O’Brien told Ad Ad Age that Carpenter’s decision to leave came “at a time when we have to make a great deal of change at the agency.”

In all likelihood, Carpenter said, he will remain in the agency business, “but I could just as easily apply my experience and skills to any number of companies that place a high value on creativity to build brand and build business.”

“MONEY, MONEY, MONEY,” Daily Planet’s 1:50-minute music video has been included in “Stash 75,” the DVD magazine of animation, VFX and motion graphics for advertising and broadcast. “There’s so much outstanding work and talented people in every issue that it’s a true honor to be recognized,” reports the Planet’s Sonia Blum.

“The idea was to make a tongue-in-cheek ?nerdcore’ rap about the motion graphics world. We did everything from conception, production and graphics to post,” Blum says. Since “Money” went viral three months ago on Motionographer, it’s had almost 200,000 hits. See http://vimeo.com/15192184

OVER AT FOUNDATION CONTENT, two assistant editors were upped to editor: Suzie Moore, who’s been with Foundation for two years, after getting her start at now-defunct Avenue Edit, and Drew Hall, a native Brit who relocated from L.A. to Chicago and was Foundation owner/editor James Lipetzky’s assistant.

TRIVIA: “Rabbit Hole,” starring Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest, opening Dec. 25, was produced by Chicago’s Gigi Pritzker’s Odd Lot Entertainment. (See, you wanted to know that, right?)

“CHICAGO AT SUNDANCE PARTY” is going strong for the 5th year and Chicagoans headed for the Jan. 20-30 film festival are invited to attend. The Jan. 22 party, presented by the Peninsula Hotel, Chicago and hosted by Denis John Healy and Brenda Sexton, will be held be at the exclusive Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley, Utah.

Steve James, whose doc “The Interrupters” will screen at the festival, is one of the special guests, along with Dr. Warrick Carter of Columbia College, restaurateur Billy Dec, Chaz Ebert, casting director Sharon King, Christie Hefner and Billy Marovitz and broadcasters Sylvia Perez and Linda Yu. Space is limited, so if you’d like to attend the party, RSVP now to Brenda@chicagolinkproductions.com.

Sexton tipped to a group of filmdom’s powerhouse women over lunch that the ever-expanding Windy City West party traditionally held in October will shift over to a February date in 2012. In all likelihood, the Melman brothers’ Le Grande Orange restaurant in Santa Monica will continue to be the party place.

AN EARLY CHRISTMAS GIFT for the Los Angeles film industry came with passing an AICP-sponsored initiative that reduces taxes for hundreds of production companies doing business in L.A.

The tax reduction measure, expected to start in 30 days, proposes adjusting the minimum tax threshold from the current $2.5 million to a new minimum of $5 million for all production companies.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all our readers in cyberspace. We’re taking a Christmas break next week — but not really as we’ll be prepping for the upcoming transition to the expanded Reel. Although we officially won’t publish, we will post news as it breaks, so check us out throughout next week.

Our mission is to chronicle news of this big, important visual media market. We can only continue doing so with your input about what’s going on in your sphere. Your stories, notes, suggestions, BackTalk and screening events are always welcome!

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