Monday, September 28, 2009

Uptown Theatre On WTTW Tonight

Tonight, Monday, Sept. 28, 2009, WTTW Channel 11 will look back at the heyday of Chicago's "movie palaces." This "Hidden Chicago" segment hosted by Geoffrey Baer will air on the nightly, public television news program Chicago Tonight, which begins at 7 p.m.

Dramatic footage provided by filmmakers John Pappas and Mike Bisberg will take viewers into Chicago's shuttered UPTOWN. You may recall their work from the "Portrait of a Palace" documentary dvd.

With an eye to the large venues built for silent films, the program will also look into the PORTAGE THEATRE, home to the Silent Film Society of Chicago. The PORTAGE sat dark for years but has been lucky to be undivided and renovated for film and special event use.

Also, Theatre Historical Society Executive Richard Sklenar will appear in the feature. Mr. Sklenar was interviewed at the CHICAGO. Also filmed were the CHICAGO's WurliTzer theatre organ (with organista Lee Maloney playing) and the whimsical interior of the ORIENTAL. Theatre Historical Society's archive photos of the UPTOWN and other Chicago theatres are used in the feature to illustrate Chicago's history of creative theatre design.

"Hidden Chicago" is produced locally by WTTW's Dan Protess, who is known for his work on local documentaries and travelogues.


  1. I saw the documentary on the Uptown at the Portage Theater about three years ago.

    The Portage is huge by contemporary standards. Not even in the same league as the Uptown, yet at least it is operating.

    Hopefully, one day the Uptown will reopen.

  2. Hopefully, one day the Uptown will reopen.

    Maybe they can fill it up with water and put a fish farm in there?

  3. Maybe they can fill it up with water and put a fish farm in there?
    At least then it would be used.

  4. Then, stay tuned for Ken Burns' excellent documentary on the history of America's national parks. In the Burns tradition, superior nature photography is interspersed with fascinating stories about not-well-known parts of American history. In this case, it's about how our National Parks came to be, and the people who envisioned and fought for the system.

    Dan Burnham was not the only one who made no small plans. John Muir and the geniuses behind Yosemite and Yellowstone were in his league.

  5. I would like to see the Uptown Theater restored but I don't think it ever will and the longer it sits the more $$$ it costs to restore.

  6. Sorry this is off topic but I just had to share how Uptown is shining far and wide lately.

    *The Colbert Report showed a "still" of the Green Mill facade Thursday night.

    *Superior Donuts is getting good early reviews on Broadway. There is a review in the Tribune and NPR (not just WBEZ) did a long segment on the play with playwright Tracy Letts.

    *Second City's current show is called "Studs Terkel's Not Working."