My Chicago, a new half-hour show featuring personalized tours of the city from "famous, notable or simply interesting Chicagoans or Chicagophiles," will premiere on WTTW in April, the public broadcasting station announced today. The six-part series, from the producers of the popular restaurant review show Check, Please!, will be helmed by writer and The Interview Show host Mark Bazer and WBEZ North Side bureau reporter Odette Yousef. Episodes will feature three segments, each with a guest playing docent to his or her favorite spots in the city and places with personal significance, like a former residence or place of employment. Guests will include prominent names in business, culture and politics, but also everyday Chicagoans with distinctive city stories to share. Execute producer David Manilow put Kanye West on a list of 250 possibilities for guests. In the show's "mobile set," a vehicle rigged with three cameras, host and guest ride around town and converse. Think of it at as Wild Chicago meets Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The station is currently soliciting guests. Shooting begins in March.
Today, Bazer and Yousef named the spots they would hit on their own My Chicago tours.
Hideout "It was my favorite bar in Chicago before I started doing a show there, and now I feel lucky to have a bar that—cliché alert—feels like a home away from home, but without beds."
Sultan's Market "I used to live across the street; it was my introduction to falafel, and I still haven't found a better one. But my favorite thing has been watching the place expand and transform from a small convenience store that had some Middle Eastern food to just a Middle Eastern restaurant to a larger Middle Eastern restaurant to an even larger one. Someday, I swear, it will take up all of North Avenue."
Winnemac Park "Everybody has his/her favorite Chicago park. This is mine. Beautiful, expansive, always full of activity, above-average slides."
The Book Table and The Book Cellar "Books are good. These both have good ones and good people."
The Heart of Italy neighborhood "What I believe was Little Italy before Taylor Street—on Oakley around 24th Street. Feels like a place out of time, but if you listen closely, you can hear the sweet sounds of Western Ave. I like to eat at Bruna's."
Stella's "OK, we probably wouldn't have time to drive there [on the show]. But the year-round batting cages place, Stella's, in Lyons (not that far!) has saved me from bashing my bat against my own head this winter."
Manny's Coffee Shop & Deli "Probably on a lot of people's list. Took my son there not too long ago and we sat next to Dick Durbin. If one of my sons someday opens a Jewish deli, I will have succeeded."
Ping Tom Park "First of all, I love Chicago’s Chinatown, and I think the park is a total gem, unknown to most people who don’t live there. It offers some of the most incredible views of the Chicago skyline to the north, but it’s surrounded by industrial buildings and rail tracks. It's a quiet oasis in the middle of a city where big things are happening."
Lawrence Ave corridor in Albany Park "Every time I drive down Lawrence Avenue, I remind myself that at some point soon I will have to do a baklava-sampling marathon. This is the first city I’ve lived in that has Middle Eastern groceries and restaurants so easily accessible, and Albany Park makes that even more fascinating because it’s also home to so many Mexican and Korean businesses. There’s a grittiness and spirit to the neighborhood that is unique."