Promotional photo from "Chicago Justice" showing a courtroom scene

Monday, March 6, 2017

Northeastern Illinois University has been discovered.

Since 2013, the Main Campus and El Centro locations have been used as film sets for a number of television productions. Now Northeastern will appear in an episode of mega-producer Dick Wolf’s new NBC series, “Chicago Justice,” which premiered March 5.

The new addition to the Chicago-oriented franchise, which includes the hit series “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.” and “Chicago Med,” finds the state’s attorney’s team of investigators and prosecutors in pursuit of justice in the face of media-fueled public opinion, power struggles and city politics. A mid-week episode of “Chicago Justice” titled “See Something” was filmed in part at Northeastern and will air Tuesday, March 7, at 9 p.m. CST.

Tania Gorgius, a senior studying Communication, Media and Theatre, was chosen to be an extra during a recent “Chicago Justice” shoot. She played the role of a student, walking through the hallways and sitting in the library studying.

“Being a CMT student, I immediately hopped on the opportunity as soon as I saw the flier posted in Village Square. I submitted a photo of myself and received a response within minutes,” Gorgius said. “I was so excited! The best part about being an extra was that it took place on my campus and it was pretty awesome to stand a couple of feet from actor Jon Seda.”

While the “Chicago Justice” pilot is Northeastern’s highest-profile role on TV, it’s far from the first.

“It was TLC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ that put us on the map as far as locations go,” said Student Union, Event and Conference Services Director Kyle Burke, who coordinates University-led and private rental events and manages Student Union operations. “They use local location scouts because the show travels by nature, going to locations around the world to film.”

“Who Do You Think You Are?” is a show that gives viewers a look at the family histories of well-known celebrities. Northeastern’s Ronald Williams Library houses the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD), a resource that provides selected government records, such as birth, death and marriage records, for Chicago and Cook County. The IRAD was used to find ancestral information for actors Bryan Cranston and Chris Noth, both of whom trace family roots to Illinois.

Other NBC projects also have filmed at Northeastern locations in recent years, including “Crisis,” the web series “Bobby & Iza,” and “Chicago P.D.,” which used the University’s El Centro location’s unique building in a November 2015 episode.

Chicago has long been a favorite locale for national and international television productions, movies, advertising and other projects. According to the Chicago Film Office, more than 1,100 feature films and television shows have been shot in Chicago since 1980, providing jobs and contributing $2 billion in revenue.

The new sources of revenue have been welcome during uncertain budgetary times for the University. The money generated by renting Northeastern’s spaces to production companies has been used to enhance Main Campus facilities and operations.

“We introduced the first television monitor project outside the Auditorium and Recital Hall that lets us broadcast into those respective spaces and the lobby area when we have overflow crowds at events,” Burke said. “We’ve also renovated a couple of smaller spaces, such as the dressing rooms, and purchased chairs for Alumni Hall.”

A film-friendly location, Northeastern accommodates production crews but with some limits.

“We do hold them to certain times and locations that they can be here so it’s the least disruptive,” Burke said. “We will not disrupt classes in any way, shape or form, so we usually go with Fridays, which has the lowest on-campus population. Our students sometimes get to be a part of it the filming and they enjoy it.”


Photo courtesy of NBCUniversal