Ben Hollis here, the original host of “Wild Chicago” on WTTW, circa 1989-1992.
Are you ready to bring back, via DVD and digital download, one of the greatest TV shows that ever lived? Are you ready to cast your vote for something real, something true, something dad-gummed FUNNY, unlike anything else that’s ever been on TV before?
Because Rat Lady, Punk Rock Park and Tiger Moves Man are all coming your way, friend! Not to mention all those Wild Neighbors, Dumb Questions and oddball motels at the end of every show!
Yup. It's The Golden Age of Wild Chicago, Volume 1.
The best of the first two seasons of Wild Chicago, hosted by Ben Hollis.
HERE'S THE SKINNY
I have secured the rights from Channel 11 to the classic “Wild Chicago” footage to produce and market a DVD and digital download. Brilliant.
Now all I need is the cash to get it done.
JOIN ME NOW
...in this heroic effort to reawaken our memory of a time when Chicago was a mysterious playground of sights, sounds and citizens doing their thing, being free, reveling in their magnetic eccentricity, reeling us in.
"Wild Chicago" was the show that brought this energy into your living room every week. Some were afraid of it. Many more happily went along for the ride.
Wouldn't you like to see some of that action again?
YOUR PARTICIPATION IS CRITICAL
You’ll be bringing inestimable joy to “Wild Chicago” fans around the world who’ve been yearning to see this crazy show again, dying to relive those insane moments of spontaneous and inspired madness that made life worth living on those Sunday nights in 1989 through the ‘90s.
And wouldn’t you love to get behind all the pleasure sure to come from NEW FOLKS DISCOVERING “WILD CHICAGO” for the FIRST TIME?! Parents, teach your children well.
NO MONEY? NO PROBLEM!
I know some of you may not be able to contribute monetarily. No problem. I ask you to take that Wild Chicago vibe running through your veins and just spread the word like crazy that this campaign is going on. Post and re-post our notices on Facebook. Use the Indiegogo Share Tools. Withhold sex. There are many things you can do to influence people to visit this site and GIVE.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?
Killer perks. Advance DVDs and downloads. Rare autographed printouts. Authentic Wild Chicago pith helmets.
How about a Wild Chicago tour led by yours truly, based on your desires. Where would you like me to take you and your pals? (I hereby declare The Admiral Theater on Lawrence out of bounds.)
How about your very own Wild Chicago video produced by me about anything you want? Your business? A Caribbean vacation? Let’s talk!
My favorite perk? The historically significant 1987 demo John Davies and I made with John’s VHS-C camcorder. This was the key element in our pitch to WTTW and it resulted in Channel 11 giving us a shot. Said then VP of Production Patterson Denny after watching the piece: “There’s magic on this tape.” He was right. With your contribution you can see this crazy gem and find out for yourself.
WHERE’S THE DOUGH GOING?
Music fees $1000
Audio, commentary track $600
Those of you in the know realize this budget is seriously bare bones. But I’m willing to put in a lot of sweat equity to see this through.
If we hit our goal early and go over, I’d love to produce a late night TV commercial and buy time to reach more people. Radio too.
Our greatest challenge is finding our WILD CHICAGO fan base 20 years after I hosted the show. We can spend a lot more money in marketing and advertising to reach those good folks who may have no idea this is going on.
IMPORTANT NOTE: WTTW/Channel 11 is not putting up any cash for this effort. Your contributions go to me and my team.
DON’T KNOW ABOUT WILD CHICAGO?
I’m betting many of you already know about this trailblazing series that debuted on a cold Friday night at 10:30, January 6, 1989, WTTW, Channel 11. I hope you’ll write about the show’s impact on you in the comments below.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Wild Chicago,” was a half-hour journey into the “urban jungle, “ away from Michigan Avenue, away from Lincoln Park, away from the Gold Coast…and into the natural habitat of this city’s vibrant, sometimes dicey neighborhoods, where I showed you surprising people, places and things you might want to check out for yourself. (If you were brave enough, in some cases!)
“Wild Chicago” celebrated a city that was authentic, funny and utterly real. We loved giving TV time to people who otherwise would never have appeared on the air. We took you to their quirky basement museums and crazy, chaotic stores. We let them demonstrate their unique exercise regimens in their shag-carpeted living rooms. We toured their used auto part junkyards. We let them express their mad passion for what they did – and you loved it!
“Wild Chicago” won dozens of Emmys. Critics raved. Ratings grew week by week. It touched a nerve (funny bone?) and fans told us the show captured for them something raw, something true about the city unlike anything else they’d seen on TV. And it made them laugh their asses off.
So it’s high time you get to enjoy this amazing world again – or for the very first time.
HOW THIS CAMPAIGN HAPPENED
For years, many of you asked, “When is ‘Wild Chicago’ coming out on DVD? Where can I download it?”
I didn’t have an answer. I figured Channel 11 would get around to it some day. But they didn’t. And the years kept slipping by.
That’s when I realized if “Wild Chicago” was ever going to see the light of day again, it was going to be up to me.
Well, it took a couple of years and lots of patience and persistence. And now I have a deal.
But here’s the thing: I need funds to put the actual product together. WTTW has given me rights to pull whatever I want from the archives. But the production of the program, the duplication, the packaging, the sales and distribution, that’s all on me.
Will you be a part of bringing the gift of “Wild Chicago” back to the people? It’s part of Chicago history. There’s been nothing like it since it went off the air. It’s influenced many other shows.
And it’s still funny and a blast to watch today.
WHAT'S GOING TO BE ON THE DVD/DOWNLOAD?
Not everything is going to be in this DVD. There’s just too much. My hope is that we’ll see a Volume 2 and a Volume 3. But for this one, I chose the best of the first two seasons and I stayed away from pieces that used popular music in the background (too expensive and time-consuming to get the rights.)
The original quirky brilliant music of Roger Adler is what you’ll be hearing – which contributed to “Wild Chicago’s” unique feel as much as anything. Roger also wrote our magnificent theme song. Can you hear it in your head?
Some favorites you're going to help the world see again:
Maxworks hippie commune
Moo and Oink Meats
River Slim Live Fish
Lyn Duenow, the Skull Man of the North Shore
Sgt. Joe Kosala's Neighborhood
The old Greyhound Bus Station
The Ancient Astronaut Society
Al-Mansoor Video Store on Devon Avenue
and many more.