“Jubilee Showcase,” a gospel music TV show that entertained Chicago audiences for over 20 years, is being reincarnated as an HD documentary series by the son of the original producer.
Steve Ordower’s goal is to produce a 7-part, feature-length series for a national audience, derived from the collection his father, the late Sid Ordower, gave him 10 years ago.
He will present a new HD “Showcase” trailer and a spec episode to producers at the 2008 NATPE, which opens July 30 in L.A.
“Jubilee Showcase” and its producer/host, Sid Ordower, were staples of Chicago television, seen weekly on Ch. 7 from 1963 to 1984, a total of 100 half-hour episodes.
Those episodes comprise what is unquestionably the largest and most valuable historical archive of gospel music within the $3 billion gospel music industry.
The shows featured such gospel greats as Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples and Otis Clay and commentary by black religious and civic leaders. “Gospel spirit and sounds helped shape popular music and gave a voice to Chicago’s black Christian community,” Ordower says.
Ordower’s updated series will juxtapose the music and artist with wide-ranging topics, from civil rights and social change to the impact of gospel on the blues.
A deal five years ago with the Chicago Historical Museum for a gospel exhibit changed Ordower's vision and ambition for the future of the collection, when he realized gospel's widespread appeal.
"The Historical Museum had to extend the exhibit by maybe a year because people from all walks of life enjoyed it so much," Ordower says. "It was very, very appealing to everyone. Gospel has a lot of soul. It really hits people in a very genuine and unique way."
In 2001, Ordower began to update some of the topics by re-interviewing former Jubilee performers. His recent interview with singer Mavis Staples was bittersweet, in that he was unable to sit down with her father, Grammy Award winning musician Roebuck "Pops" Staples, prior to his death in December of 2000.
Ordower worked with Media Process Group's Keith Walker and Bob Hercules and Metro Space Media's Jerry Donahue to capture the interviews on HD.
Rhythm and Light, Ordower's full-service production company, will post the series, with editor Dan Chianelli, a former standout student of his from the Illinois Institute of Art, Schaumberg.
As Rhythm and Light finishes a DVD trailer and a spec episode to present to producers at the 2008 NATPE starting July 30 in L.A., Ordower seeks a minimum $1 million per episode to complete the project. Funding would be used to interview the remaining "Jubilee" regulars before they pass away.
The need to share the music and the message behind it is what drives the documentary filmmaker. "?Jubilee Showcase' was my father's legacy; this film series will be mine," he says.
Rhythm and Light is located at 1452 N. Artesian; phone 773/342-9939. See