Hollywood in Lyons
Mario Van Peebles directs scenes for new TV series
By Steve Metsch
A bit of Hollywood visited Lyons.
Film crews were in the village shooting scenes for “Proven Innocent,” a new FOX-TV series starring Kelsey Grammer.
They shot scenes at Stella’s Batting Cages, at a makeshift campground set up near the Des Plaines River, and outside the historic Hoffman Tower.
Filming was done on Oct. 24 and 25 for an episode directed by Mario Van Peebles.
The actor/director was pleased with the setting in the village, calling it ideal for what they needed.
Actor/director Mario Van Peebles directed scenes in Lyons for an episde of a new TV series called “Proven Innocent.” Photo by Steve Metsch.
“So far it’s been lovely,” he said in the late afternoon sun of Oct. 24.
“It’s been film-friendly. It’s quaint. It seems to have some good history. We were able to shoot at the batting cage, we created a campground, and we’re filming a rally here, tonight” he said nodding toward Hoffman Tower.
The TV series, set to debut in January, is “about attorneys who do pro-bono work,” Van Peebles, 61, said.
“The episodes have something to say. In this particular episode, they have to defend a guy who is innocent of one crime, but he is a white supremacist. And they decide to defend him anyway,” Van Peebles said.
Grammer, who plays the state’s attorney, did not film scenes in Lyons.
Another scene was shot earlier Oct. 24 at the Steak ‘n’ Egger restaurant, 5647 W. Ogden Ave., Cicero, Location Manager Adam Boor said.
“We all knew it. The script called for a dive diner, so we said, ‘Let’s check out one of the most notorious ones’,” Boor said.
Boor is familiar with the Lyons area. He knew of Stella’s.
“It was scripted as a suburban batting cage. We all grew up around here and used this batting cage as kids. That’s how we thought about it right away,” he said.
“We took photos of a few others, but they didn’t have the cinematic qualities this one does,” Boor said of Stella’s.
“We fell in love with it, as did the director. Then we tied in the other pieces near Stella’s. It kind of just worked out to have the forest preserve and tower next door,” Boor said.
The film crew used P.J. Klem’s, a Lyons restaurant next door to the iconic Hoffman Tower, as its headquarters.
Van Peebles can currently be seen in the movie “Armed.” He wrote, directed and stars in the action thriller.
“I’m on the no-fly list and I’m heavily armed. It’s got some gun-consciousness in it,” he said of his character, a former U.S. Marshall struggling to put his life back together after a case gone wrong.
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