It’s hard to predict what we can expect from Chicago’s celebrity scene in 2012. There could be another blockbuster movie coming our way (like “Man of Steel” in 2011) or one passing us over (“The Dark Knight Rises”). And there could be another celeb moving to the area (Rosie O’Donnell) or one leaving it (LeAnn Rimes, after husband Eddie Cibrian’s show “The Playboy Club” was canceled).
Rather than try to make a prediction, I’ll stick to what I know. Here is a look at some of the new celeb-related venues and projects in Chicago that have been confirmed for 2012:
RPM Italian: Giuliana and Bill Rancic — stars of the Style Network reality TV show “Giuliana and Bill” — teammed up with R.J., Jerrod and Molly Melman, the siblings behind Hub 51 and Paris Club, to create RPM Italian, a new restaurant in the old Ben Pao spot in the River North neighborhood. Not surprisingly, Style Network cameras have already begun rolling in the restaurant as the reality couple prepares for a late-January opening.
Billy Corgan’s unnamed tea shop: Smashing Pumpkins rocker Billy Corgan plans on opening a 1930s-style “Chinese-French” tea shop in Highland Park in the spring. Why Highland Park? Because he lives there. Why a tea shop? Because he enjoys tea. And, as he told Eater.com, he feels the North Shore suburb could use a little culture.
Alain’s: The Bears’ Israel Idonije is throwing his, um, helmet into the restaurant industry. The co-host of food show “Game Time Dine” (which aired for two seasons on Comcast SportsNet) is scheduled to open Alain’s in the South Loop at the end of January, according to a spokesperson for the restaurant.
Lisa Marie Varon’s unnamed comfort food restaurant: Pro wrestler Lisa Marie Varon knows a thing or two about owning a restaurant. Varon — currently known as Tara in TNA Wrestling (she was Victoria during her WWE days) — owned and then sold both a gyros stand in Lombard and a pizzeria in Louisville, Ken. Now Varon has her sights set on opening a comfort food restaurant in Chicago. “We have signed a letter of intent on a West Lincoln Park location,” Varon said by email. “We are looking at a spring 2012 opening.”
Rockit Ranch goes Hollywood: Rockit Ranch Productions — the team behind Sunda, The Underground and Rockit Bar & Grill — is looking to expand into the film industry this year. “Rockit Ranch is in the process of looking at scripts to produce a movie in Chicago,” said Rockit Ranch CEO Billy Dec by email. “It’s a dream of ours we are starting to pursue. We’ve been meeting with a lot of talent here.”
FX’s “Powers”: FX has yet to pick up the superhero pilot “Powers,” which stars Jason Patric and filmed in Chicago last year, but that doesn’t mean the network has given up on it. An FX spokesperson confirmed reports that “Powers” is being retooled but said no dates have been locked in for reshoots.
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