Published on Monday, 03 September 2012 15:28
Ben Hollis, the original host, as well as co-creator/co-producer of WTTW-TV's near-legendary around-town program "Wild Chicago," is doing his best to bring the classic television show back, via DVD & digital download. He has started a new campaign to raise the needed funds to achieve this goal by the end of this year.
"Wild Chicago" was a magazine-style show done with a great sense of humor and fun. It took a look at little-known & unusual attractions and people around Chicagoland -- the weirder, the better. From January 1989 until its final episode in 2003, "Wild Chicago" aired on WTTW-TV. Chicago native Ben Hollis was the pith-helmeted, khaki-clad host of the show for its first three seasons.
After leaving his own "Wild Chicago" show, Hollis created and hosted "Ben Loves Chicago" for WPWR-TV for three years, contributed to WLS-TV's "190 North," created and hosted "Ben Around Town" for three years on WTTW-TV, and most recently did a multi-part spin-off from "Wild Chicago" on WTTW-TV called "Wild Chicago's Illinois Road Trip." Along the way, Hollis picked up eight Emmy Awards for television excellence and a Studs Terkel Award from the Community Media Workshop.
Ben Hollis is also an acclaimed local videographer and producer, working with everything from corporate videos to wedding movies. He is a corporate, collegiate, and self-help speaker. A very creative mind, Hollis has been an improvisational comedian and a singer/songwriter, too. However, with all that he has done over the years, he is always best remembered as that smiling guy wearing the old jungle gear, while running around the streets with a "Wild Chicago" microphone in hand, seen on TV each Sunday late night on Channel 11 from 1989-1992.
Now, Ben Hollis is attempting to bring those fun days back. After a couple of years of negotiations, Ben Hollis has secured the rights to the first two seasons on WTTW-TV's "Wild Chicago," where he was the show's host and driving force (1989 & 1990). He is trying to package the best bits from those two seasons on to a DVD collection called "The Golden Age of Wild Chicago." Much of these quirky video segments have been unseen by the public for over 20 years.
Hollis' hope is to have "Volume 1" of the DVD set completed and ready for sale by December of this year. He needs some help to make that a reality, though.
WTTW-TV is not contributing anything to the project, other than allowing Hollis access to their archives. Ben Hollis estimates that at a bare minimum, he will need $15,600 to produce the first DVD. The money is needed for production costs such as music fees, artwork, promotion, audio production, editing, duplication, etc. To achieve this, Hollis has started a grassroots crowdfunding campaign through Indiegogo -- an online fundraising platform similar to Kickstarter. He has until 11:59pm on October 4th to raise the money via Indiegogo.
To help raise funds, Ben Hollis has added a few perks to sweeten the deal. Depending on the amount donated to the project, donors can have their name mentioned in a "Thank You" section of the DVD credits, receive an advanced download of the finished film, receive and autographed advanced DVD of the film, an autographed copy of Eleven Magazine from July 1990 featuring Hollis, a copy of the original demo tape used to pitch the series to WTTW-TV, an outgoing message recording for your phone, an autographed pith helmet, and a personal tour of Chicago's "wild" side by Ben Hollis in his car. Details on how to help contribute to this project can be found on the new "Wild Chicago" Indiegogo page, located at this link HERE