WICKER PARK — Along with the warmer weather, spring signifies a return to television pilot season, and the hopeful hip-hop hit "Empire" is filming Wednesday in Wicker Park.
A notice alerted neighbors and businesses that filming for the 20th Century Fox TV pilot, starring Terrence Howard and directed by Lee Daniels, will interrupt parking in an alley behind basement speakeasy Double Door and Lubinski Furniture.
According to the notice, which was posted along the 1500 block of North Damen Avenue, some parking will be restricted in the alley between Damen Avenue and Honore Street from about 8 a.m. Tuesday until noon Thursday. A crew member said cars need to be cleared because they're going for the look of an empty alley.
From 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday, parking will also be affected on the east side of Damen from Schiller to Le Moyne streets; the east side of Damen from Schiller to the "L" tracks; the south side of Pierce Street from Damen to the alley; the south side of Wicker Park Avenue from Honore to Damen; and the south side of Milwaukee Avenue from Damen to Honore.
The filming will likely be "low-key," Chicago Film Office Director Rich Moskal said, and won't resemble the simulated fires and car chases some residents have seen during the filming of shows like "Chicago Fire" and its spinoff "Chicago P.D."
The show, which also reportedly features Oscar-nominated actresses Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidibe, could be doing some indoor filming for a one-day shoot Wednesday, Moskal said.
Henson will play the the ex-wife of Howard's character, who is the head of a record label, while Sidibe is set to play an assistant at the label, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The shoot for "Empire" started on March 19 and is likely to film for about two weeks, Moskal said.
But residents shouldn't expect to see very many familiar landmarks if "Empire" gets a full season.
"The show is set in New York, so it’s not as if they’re depicting it as Wicker Park, and [viewers are] not going to be seeing things that are very specific."
Fox, which has filmed "Prison Break" along with the short-lived series "The Chicago Code" in the city, chose Chicago over New York mainly to save some cash, Moskal said.
"They like the production value here, they like the affordability here," Moskal said.
"Empire" is co-produced by Ron Howard's and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment and written by Danny Strong, who also wrote "Lee Daniels' The Butler."