Robservations on the media beat:
Dean Richards, longtime entertainment reporter and critic for Tribune Broadcasting WGN-Channel 9 and WGN AM 720, will be honored next week at the 53rd Chicago International Television Festival. Richards will receive Cinema/Chicago’s prestigious Chicago Award for his career achievements. “Since the founding of the Chicago International Film Festival, we have always saluted the extraordinary talent of those producing content for television,” festival founder Michael Kutza said in a statement, calling Richards “a trusted resource for those seeking entertainment reviews and interviews that go beyond the superficial.” The award will be presented March 23 at AMC River East, 322 East Illinois Street. Also honored at the event will be famed commercial producer Joe Sedelmaier with the Chicago Legend Award, and Amazon Studios with the Commitment to Excellence in Television Production Award.
Ralph Otwell, who rose to editor and executive vice president of the Sun-Times over a 31-year career at the newspaper, will be remembered as a dignified presence in the newsroom. The Sun-Times won six Pulitzer Prizes during his combined 15 years as managing editor and editor. Otwell, who retired in 1984, died of heart failure last Wednesday at 90. The native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, and longtime resident of Evanston graduated first in his class at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1951. He also served as president of the Society of Professional Journalists. A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at Lutkin Hall, 700 University Place, Evanston.
Was it the greatest Game 7 in professional sports history? A new one-hour documentary from Comcast SportsNet Chicago will explore the historic victory of the Chicago Cubs on November 2. “Reign Men: The Story behind Game 7 of the 2016 World Series” will premiere at 9:30 p.m. March 27 on the regional sports network. Produced by Sarah Lauch and Ryan McGuffey, and narrated by country music star and Cubs fan Brett Eldredge, it includes stories about the game from players, coaches and front office execs along with game highlights and behind-scenes footage of the celebrations that followed.
“Urban Nature,” a short-form digital series exploring how unusual forms of wildlife are thriving in parts of Chicago, New York and San Francisco, will premiere next week on the Window to the World Communications website wttw.com. Debuting online Monday, the series includes scenes shot in the Loop, Austin, Lincoln Square, South Shore, Bronzeville, Rogers Park, Little Village, Oak Park and Hegewisch. Host of the 16-part series is evolutionary biologist Marcus Kronforst, assistant professor at the University of Chicago. Said producer Dan Protess: “I chased coyotes on a railroad embankment, walked into a cage with a 200-pound sea lion, canoed the Bronx River, and sat through hours of squirrel videos. This was such a fun, crazy project to work on.”
A memorial celebration next week will honor the life of Ruth Ratny, founding editor and publisher of ReelChicago.com and Screen magazine, and longtime champion of Chicago’s film and commercial production industry. Ratny, who was reported to be 89, died of heart failure February 21. The gathering will be from 5 to 8 p.m. March 21 at Untitled Supper Club, 111 West Kinzie Street.