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Warner Brothers officials say ‘That’s all, folks’ to ‘Polar Express’ scofflaws

  • Written by Kelly White

  For years, communities in the south suburbs have been using “Polar Express” to mark a train ride to visit Santa Claus.

  But 2013 may mark the last year the coined name of the Polar Express can be used.
  Warner Bros. is having some issues with towns using that name.
  The Polar Express events, based on the Christmas book by Chris Van Allsburg, may be changing their name in the coming winter seasons, according to Mike Leonard, Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Palos Heights.
  “Each agency that holds such an event (Polar Express event) received an email from the Warner Bros Anti-Piracy Department back in October concerning the name of the ‘Polar Express,’ ” Leonard said.
  Warner Bros. is the owner of copyright, distribution and certain other intellectual property rights in and to the motion picture “The Polar Express” and related elements, and is the exclusive licensee of the underlying book property in relation to themed events based on it.
  Because of these rights, no one is authorized to utilize Warner Bros.’ Intellectual Property without their express written permission.
  Susan K. Proctor, Director of Anti-Piracy sent letters on behalf of Warner Bros. saying: “It has come to our attention that the several park districts are offering a ‘Polar Express’ themed train ride excursion using the title ‘Polar Express,’ and/or recitations of the book and/or other elements thereof.
  “It is our belief that your train ride event will erroneously lead consumers to believe that these park districts are licensed by, sponsored by or authorized by, Warner Bros., when in fact that is not the case. In addition, your use of Warner Bros.’ Intellectual Property dilutes the distinctiveness of The Polar Express Property by trading upon the goodwill and reputation which the public associates with the Property. Warner Bros. considers such conduct to be a serious violation of its rights and to be damaging to its business and reputation.’’
  The Polar Express Train is advertised that it brings the classic children’s story to life with a real train ride that departs from the Palos Heights Metra Station, 11451 South Hwy. The trip continues on to the North Pole (otherwise known as Union Station in Chicago) to pick up Jolly Old St. Nick, who takes the train ride back home as a passenger.
  Riding along the train in pajamas, families are able to enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while singing Christmas carols and taking turns telling Santa what they want most for Christmas. There are also readings from the “Polar Express” book. And, just like the book, Santa gives each child the gift of a bell from Santa’s sleigh.
  Communities participating in the holiday train ride experience were given the option by Warner Bros. to license the rights to the Polar Express to keep the name, for future events, or to change the name entirely.
  “The event is expected to continue on in the future, but under a different name, because the company that owns the rights to the name has forbidden communities that sponsor this event from using it,” Alderman Martin Kleefisch (1st Ward) stated on behalf of the Palos Hills City Council.
  In November, ABC7 News did a story on how Clarendon Hills Park District changed the name to “Santa Train.” They quoted a man who plays Santa on the train, John Sullivan, as saying that the ride won’t be the same without the “Polar Express” name.
  “This is Scrooge in action not letting the kids have the ‘Polar Express’ trip,” he said.
  Changes to the name of the event have not yet been discussed by Palos Hills. While past Polar Express events have been very successful with the limited space filling up quickly, cities plan on carrying on the tradition. Mary Jo Vincent, Commissioner at Palos Hills Resource and Recreation Department, has confirmed the event will still take place next Christmas season.

TC owner is ‘totally embarrassed’ by incidents at his Oak Lawn pub

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  The owner of an Oak Lawn bar said he’sp1-1col-color “totally embarrassed” by a Dec. 13 incident at his establishment that involved drugs and a violation of his liquor license.

  Robert Olson, owner of TC Pub, 9700 S. Cicero Ave., said he does not know who’s responsible for the incident, which occurred at 3:38 a.m.
  Olson appeared Monday morning before the Oak Lawn Liquor Commission, but the hearing was continued until Jan. 6 at 11 a.m.
  Police entered TC Pub after spotting a fight and hearing loud conversation, according to reports. The bar has a 2 a.m. liquor license, but at least one person in the bar was drinking when police arrived. A bar patron was intoxicated and uncooperative with police, they said. Police also found a bag of cocaine in the office, according to reports.
  Olson said after the hearing that he had hired Dan Brueck of Oak Lawn to promote the bar and attract clientele. Olson took over control of the bar from his father, who owned it for many years. He is working to open another bar on Southwest Highway in Oak Lawn.
  “Dan had permission to say he was an owner,” said Olson, who severed his relationship with Brucek after the incident.
  Olson said he has “put together a plan” to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. He said he would share that plan with village officials before the January hearing, which is scheduled for 11 a.m.
  He said the bar’s alarm system, which includes motion sensors, will notify him and police if it is triggered after 3 a.m., one hour after the tavern closes. Employees should have cleaned up and closed the facility by that time, he said.
  Olson was one of two bar owners scheduled to appear at Monday’s liquor commission hearing, chaired by Mayor Sandra Bury. The hearing was the first one held in several years, she said.
  John Cerniuk, owner of George’s Lounge, 5407 W. 95th St., did not appear at a 10 a.m. hearing concerning underage drinking that occurred at his bar on Nov. 9.
  “Not showing up is not good,” Bury said.
  Additionally, George’s did not have a valid liquor license posted when police arrived and began checking IDs. An expired liquor license was posted in the tavern, said police, who could not find a valid license in the state’s database.
  The ID check revealed four underage patrons, one who had a fake ID, police said. The four were charged with underage drinking.
  Cerniuk denied that the four individuals were drinking at his bar, according to police reports.
  The mayor said she will issue a ruling on the George’s complaint within five days. She can levy fines up to $1,000 per offense and suspend a liquor license up to 30 days. She also can revoke a liquor license.
  Bar owners can appeal her decisions within 20 days to the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

This guy is kind of sketchy

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Worth’s Toolis, 71, to perform at huge comedy sketch fest

 When most people retire, they consider things like travel, front-color-3-col-funnyman-3volunteering or perhaps tinkering around the house on an overdue home improvement project.
  But, if you’re 71-year-old Ed Toolis, you write your own script to the next scene of life’s story. This lifelong resident of Worth will perform at 4 p.m. Jan. 19 at Stage 773’s 13th Annual Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, located at 1225 W. Belmont. The fest runs from Jan. 9 to Jan. 19.
  Toolis is the oldest Sketchfest participant this year.
  He had a couple of warm-ups at Riddles Comedy Club but this will be Toolis’ debut in sketch work.
  “Performing at Sketchfest is a milestone for any comedian’s career,” he said.
  He was selected from a record-breaking number of applicants. Comedians perfecting their craft are invited to perform in an atmosphere of celebration, collaboration and community. Sketchfest attracts an audience of 10,000 patrons from every continent around the globe. It has been said to be the largest sketch comedy festival ever seen in America.
  Toolis said, “It took me 20 years to get comfortable with this. Comedic writing isn’t easy. I work at it every day.”
  Legendary performers such as Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart are two of the comedic entertainers that Toolis says shaped his craft.
  Prior to pursuing storytelling standup, Toolis spent a quarter-century building a business. He’s the former owner of Regional Truck Equipment of Alsip. His partners bought him out when he retired 10 years ago. He remarked, “Many people don’t have the means to pursue their dreams. Building a business afforded me that. But it takes more than money, it takes courage.”
  For Toolis, this is largely because a great deal of his material is autobiographical.
  “I’m a comedy writer who loves candlelight dinners, moonlit walks and all that jazz,” he said. “I only recently figured out why my career hasn’t taken off in 40 years. I never got married! If I had, I would have had an endless supply of comic material.”
  He spoke freely about his failures at love saying, “I’m nuts about women,’’ he said. “I’ve been tragically in love with a few of them but I just can’t get it right. When I get a Ph.D in relationships I’ll get married but that course isn’t offered and I’m terrible at studying.”
  Since 1975, Saturday Night Live has masterfully gotten people to shed light on their flaws through skits. Likewise, Toolis will bring a mixture of truth and fiction of his life during his act at Sketchfest.
  It’s about three male casualties, in a battle of the sexes, who tell their stories: The ultimate target of a woman scorn, a public relations man who has problems pitching the male brand to today’s women, and a teacher at a junior college who has problems with his students in a romance writing class.
  For tickets visit, www.Stage773.com.
  Performing humor, sketch and comedy are important to Toolis but more than anything, he wants to be taken seriously as a writer. He’s enrolled in the writing program at The Second City in Chicago. His current writing project is called “There’s an App for That.” It’s a book scheduled to come out soon. To stay informed of its release or to connect to Toolis, visit his Humor, Sketch & Comedy Writing” blog - http://edtoolisblog.tumblr.com.

Retro Reporter 12-19-13

  • Written by Compiled by Jeff Vorva

Retro Reporter ArtScience shows smoking ‘cuts the wind’
50 years ago
From the Dec. 19, 1963 edition
  The story: Oak Lawn Village President Fred Dumke pleaded with citizens about safe driving after finding out that 81.6 percent of accidents in Illinois came in urban areas.
  The quote: “Now science can prove that smoking really does ‘cut the wind’ — that is, it causes a marked decrease in breathing capacity…there is no longer any room for doubt that athletes should not smoke.’’ — an unbylined perspective on smoking nestled in the sports section.
  Fun fact: Subscriptions to the Reporter were $4 per year — a savings of 80 cents per year!

Chop Chop — former Hickory employee charged
25 years ago
From the Dec. 22, 1988 edition
  The story: Hickory Hills police filed charges against former city employee Chester Osipavicius, 27, for allegedly chopping down a blue spruce evergreen tree at the house of another resident.
  The quote: “We ask people to tie ribbons in the handles of the car door or antenna to remind people not to drink and drive.” Linda Phelps, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving on a statewide police “Tie One On” promotion.
  Fun fact: Rene Osborne, who was living at the Hickory Hills Nursing Pavilion, celebrated her 100th birthday and received a birthday card signed by President Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy.

Cha Ching: Stealing cash registers for money
10 years ago
From the Dec. 18, 2003 edition
  The story: Frank and Jennifer Johnson of Alsip were arrested in Chicago by Oak Park police and charged with stealing cash registers in various communities including Chicago Ridge and Worth. Police said Frank admitted he was unemployed and a heroin addict and needed the money.
  The quote: “I’m ashamed of my behavior to get kicked out. I guess I let my team down.” Richards coach John Chappetto, who was whistled for two technical fouls and thrown out of a basketball game against Stagg. When he was ejected, his Bulldogs were down 14. While he was cooling off, they rallied to win, 51-47.
  Fun fact: Oak Lawn High School students had a goal of collecting 2,500 canned goods for the poor during its Holiday Food Drive and received close to 3,000.

Jeff Vorva's Editor's Notebook: Pregnant pause — nearby suburb wants no part of MTV reality show

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeff Vorva

 

jeff column  Many years ago, in the 1980s, I made a bold proclamation.
  There was a show that appeared in the afternoon called “Love Connection” in which couples went on a blind date and then came on TV to tell the world and smarmy Chuck Woolery all about it.
  It was then that I declared, “TV could not get any worse than this.”
  Boy was I wrong.
  Shows kept getting worse and then reality TV not only lowered the bar, it buried it 10 feet under.
  So I no longer say, “TV could not get any worse than this” even though some shows put that to the test.
  One such show is “16 and Pregnant’’ in which MTV follows a pregnant teenage girl around and the trials and tribulations of being a teen mom. Not to judge, but usually the girls they pick aren’t the brightest in the world and their boyfriends tend to have the IQ of plywood.
  Since people love bad TV, this show, of course, is a hit.
  I would love to have been in the MTV board room hearing the pitch for this dreck and listening to the other executives fall all over each other to agree how great it is.
  The show started in 2009 and it’s still going strong.
  And now a few suburbs south of us, it’s creating a stir.
  MTV is following a Tinley Park teen around and Mayor Ed Zabrocki and Andrew High School Principal Bob Nolting are not keen on letting the network film in the community or the school.
  “The initial concept of the show probably made some sense,” Zabrocki told WGN-TV News. “But over the years with reality TV…I think it glamorizes unwed mothers. This is a quick and easy way for some young ladies 14, 15 or 16 to have in their mind that this is a way to get on TV and have 10 minutes of fame.
  “I think that sends the wrong message, and I feel very strongly about that.”
 The story has gone national, thanks in part to a feature on “Good Morning America” on Tuesday.
  Zabrocki was a longtime counselor at Brother Rice High School and is no dummy when it comes to seeing the real-life effects that pregnancies cause for both male and female students.
  But his take and my take on the show are vastly different.
  Any girl that would purposefully get pregnant just to get on TV probably would do just about anything if “16 and Pregnant” didn’t exist, so I am not buying that argument.
  While it’s true that some of the millions of viewers think that having a baby at that young age is pretty glamorous, there has to be some out there that think the opposite. There have to be kids out there watching saying “I’m glad that’s not me.”
  Therein is the show’s value. I still dislike the show. But there is a tiny bit of value.
  Parents can preach about the evils of having sex at an early age. Teachers can talk all they want about proper protection. At private schools, priests and nuns can try to put the fear of God into kids about abstinence before marriage.
  But I think the best way for kids who are straddling the fence on this issue to get the message is to see for themselves the life-changing consequences, responsibilities and hardships that having a baby can cause. That could be as frightening as those old “Scared Straight” show in which hard core prisoners verbally terrorize young troublemakers in a prison setting.
  The show doesn’t have too much socially redeeming value but it does serve as a trashy public service reminder.

Sick of my viruses
  They say a good journalist doesn’t blame his tools.
  I’m blaming my tools.
  To all the fine folks who might have sent some information my way and it did not make it to the paper, I am throwing technology under the bus. The e-mail has been acting up and there have been chunks of time when the e-mail just doesn’t come in.
  After our computer guru, Pat Engle, ran some tests he was happy to announce that I set the Regional Publishing record with having the most viruses ever — more than 1,200.
  It was something I didn’t celebrate.
  Hopefully all is well now, but use Christmas forgiveness if something you were hoping to make the paper failed to make it.