Steppenwolf Branches into Film and Television; Anthology Series Planned

News   Steppenwolf Branches into Film and Television; Anthology Series Planned A few years back, New York City's Drama Dept. theatre company hit upon the idea of partnering with film and television outfits in hopes of expanded the stage troupe's reach into other media. The notion seems to have caught on. Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced a deal with the L.A.-based management and production company, Pure Arts, to develop big-screen and small-screen projects.

A few years back, New York City's Drama Dept. theatre company hit upon the idea of partnering with film and television outfits in hopes of expanded the stage troupe's reach into other media. The notion seems to have caught on. Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company has announced a deal with the L.A.-based management and production company, Pure Arts, to develop big-screen and small-screen projects.

Steppenwolf is about to embark on its 25th anniversary season. The premiere regional group has produced such actors as John Mahoney, John Malkovich, Terry Kinney, Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf and Tim Hopper, and includes among its ranks the directors Frank Galati (Ragtime), Tina Landau (Floyd Collins) and Eric Simonson (Work Song, a co commission by Steppenwolf currently at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre). [Full disclosure: Eric is this reporter's brother.]

The theatre won a special Tony Award for excellence, as well as a Best Play Tony for its 1990 production of The Grapes of Wrath.

"Up to this point most of our camera work has been done individually," said founding member Jeff Perry. "The time feels ripe to see what we can accomplish together."

Steppenwolf and Pure Arts have two ventures immediately in mind. One is an anthology television series, called "Steppenwolf Presents." The second is titled "Benton Evening News," a series drawn from the Benton, IL, childhood of Malkovich, whose father was a minor newspaper magnate. The idea for the program came from Malkovich's sister, Mandy. --By Robert Simonson