'Chicago Fire' creator talks about renewal, spinoff possibilities

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Derek Haas and Lauren German

"Chicago Fire" co-creator Derek Haas with actor Lauren German, who plays EMT Leslie Shay on the NBC drama. (May 2, 2013)

Q: You're also a novelist. (His most recent, a spy thriller called "The Right Hand," was published in the fall.) Do you still have time to write books?

A: This one that came out in November may be the last one for the next couple years. The TV show took up more time than I thought, but it's been so creatively fun and vigorous and satisfying. I think in our minds we thought, "Well, we'll just write the pilot and go back to doing movies." And then we had so much fun doing the pilot that we were like, "We'll do the first season and see how it goes." And we've had such a great time and been viewed as partners by everybody involved. So we're in the for long haul. We told Dick, we're doing television until they pull us from it!

I did sell the rights to "The Right Hand" to Universal, and thankfully we have such a good relationship with them, we've done two movies with them, that they haven't been like, "Where is that draft?" So during our hiatus, I'll have about four weeks off and I'll try to get something on paper.

"Chicago Fire" airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays on NBC.

Girl cult

Freelance writer Lauren Whalen will analyze the dark 1999 comedy "Drop Dead Gorgeous," which takes aim at teen beauty pageants, small-town Minnesota and dysfunctional families. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Allison Janney and Kirstie Alley, it screens midnight Saturday as part of Facets' weekly Night School series. If you're curious to look up the film on Netflix, don't bother; a different movie from 2010 with the same title (a numbingly bad comedy about the world of modeling) is the only one available. And if you thought you'd just buy the DVD on Amazon, you'll have to fork over $50. "That price is insane, and the movie is just really hard to find, so I'm hoping this will get people to come," Whalen told me. "It's funny, it's quotable, it's dark and kind of weird. I really wanted to do something female-driven because cult films can sometimes be a boys club." Go to facets.org.

Women behind the camera

Chicago-based sketch comedy actor and fledgling filmmaker Aemilia Scott's comedic short "Best If Used By" will have its local premiere Tuesday at the Midwest Independent Film Festival's Female Filmmakers Night. Scott (who made the dark comedy for just $5,000) stars as a grocery store clerk stunned by the sudden death of her boyfriend. She steals his corpse and transports him to walk-in freezer at work, where everyone comes to pay their respects. "Chicago Fire's" Christian Stolte plays her boss. Scott will be at Tuesday's screening along with other Midwestern directors including Fawzia Mirza (featured in this column last week for her "Kam Kardashian" web series) and Janina Gavankar (better known as Luna on HBO's "True Blood"). Go to midwestfilm.com.

Unexpected filmmakers

The Danish director Nagieb Khaja gave cellphone cameras to men and women living in rural Afghanistan and asked them to film their daily lives. The results are edited together in the documentary "My Afghanistan: Life in the Forbidden Zone," which screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Siskel Film Center with producer Lise Lense-Moller present for a post-show discussion. Go to siskelfilmcenter.org.

nmetz@tribune.com | @NinaMetzNews


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