A gravel alley on the West Side may not seem like the ideal spot to shoot a pop music video, but Brian K. Murphy isn't your typical pop star.
In fact, he's not a pop star at all. The CollegeHumor star and his wife Emily Axford are set to play a variety of characters -- including dueling pop stars -- on "Hot Date," the new sketch comedy they are shooting in Chicago. Seemingly a "Portlandia" for the millennial set, the relationship dilemma series is co-executive produced by Will Arnett and slated to premiere in the fall on the Pop network.
Though Axford and Murphy have split time between New York and Los Angeles, Chicago was chosen as the main filming location because it is a "place that has a lot of different looks and can give us a lot of different feels," showrunner Luke Kelly-Clyne said.
Production on the 10 half-hour episodes, inspired by CollegeHumor's online series of the same name, began in Chicago in late June and is scheduled to wrap up here mid-August. Filming has been concentrated in Wicker Park, Logan Square and downtown.
"We're not going to be filming at, like, the Bean, but I would say that Chicagoans who know the Wicker Park and Logan Square areas very well may recognize some of their favorite bars and restaurants on the show for sure," Kelly-Clyne said.
The show's production offices are located in an industrial building steps from the CTA Western Pink Line station and blocks from the Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. The area outside the production offices is where Axford and Murphy shot music videos Friday for their pop stars sketch.
The duo said they haven't gotten to see much of Chicago because they are still fine-tuning the episode scripts and they typically shoot their scenes at night. Each episode will generally have three sketch storylines, Kelly-Clyne said.
"It is delicious, though, to be in a different environment in writing. So we're staying in the Loop, and I go for walks across the pedestrian bridges and I just found out... For the longest time I kept saying to Murph, 'It smells like chocolate. It smells like brownies, I'm so confused.' There's a (Blommer) chocolate factory! I thought I was a crazy woman. I was like, 'I'm just like high on life here, what is going on?' But nope, there's a chocolate factory, so I certainly plan some more chocolate-scented walks," Axford said.
Axford and Murphy said when their schedule eases they also hope to visit Wrigley Field, kayak on the Chicago River and dine at steakhouses.
After wrapping in Chicago, production heads to the Los Angeles area, where Arnett will film his scenes. "House of Lies" star Ben Schwartz was in Chicago last week to film a guest star role, but production was mum on other guest stars and story lines you'll likely see this season.
"We've been really happy with what Chicago's given us. I think that if we're lucky enough to get renewed, it's going to depend upon what the creative is that season and whether Murph and Emily will be exploring these same environments or not. My gut is to say that we will probably be returning to Chicago in some capacity if again, we're lucky enough to have a second season," Kelly-Clyne said.