Wild Chicago on DVD | Up next
Original host Ben Hollis tries to resurrect the Wild Chicago archives.
From 1989 to 2003, the beloved WTTW show Wild Chicago clued in public-television viewers on everything from the Ancient Astronaut Society to Zoe the Barbie-doll collector. It told of the Dream Hotline at the School of Metaphysics and the Chicago Sun Club’s nude recreation spots—“not places you’d take your grandmother on her birthday,” as the station put it early in the show’s run.
Now Ben Hollis, the man who donned the pith helmet and khaki safari outfit as Wild Chicago’s cocreator and original host, is trying to bring classic episodes to DVD and on-demand. WTTW let Hollis crack open the show’s archives, and he’s planning to release the best of the first two seasons as The Golden Age of Wild Chicago, Volume 1.
“Rat Lady, Punk Rock Park and Tiger Moves Man are all coming your way, friend!” Hollis writes on the fund-raising site Indiegogo of Wild Chicago favorites. He’s hoping to pull in $15,600 to hire an editor and a graphic designer, pay composer Roger Adler for music rights, cover duplication fees and have a little left over for marketing.
“The market research has been the 15 years of hearing people say how much they love the show and want to see it again,” Hollis says over the phone from his home in Ravenswood. When the 58-year-old isn’t doing wedding videography, he produces and stars in “W.I.L.D. [What I Love Doin’] Business Videos,” which municipalities and chambers of commerce use as promo tools; soon, he’ll follow up W.I.L.D. Berwyn with similar spots on Wheeling and Lakeview.
Hollis says WTTW was “very up-front about not putting any cash into the project. So it fell to me to find the money. The deal is so ridiculously good for them because they say yes and I do the rest of the work.”
Contribute to The Golden Age of Wild Chicago, Volume 1 through October 4 at bit.ly/PXL1yu.