Sneed exclusive: ‘Chi-Raq’ local premiere set for Nov. 22

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Lee’s way . . .

Roll ’em!

Watch for the entire cast of the controversial Spike Lee film “Chi-Raq” to head to church en masse.

• Translation: Sneed is told the group, led by film director Spike Lee, is planning to hit the 11:15 a.m. service at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church, the South Side’s largest Catholic congregation, on Sunday, Nov. 22!

“Spike is also planning to say a few words,” said Rev. Michael Pfleger, St. Sabina’s legendary activist/anti-gun peace priest.

“Spike wants to thank the community and the church for opening their arms to him,” Father Pfleger told Sneed.

“And he wanted to do it just before the premiere of the movie at 7 p.m. that evening at the Chicago Theatre,” he added.

Lee, who has been in Chicago this week publicizing his film, has kept the premiere location hush hush.


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“Spike always sits in the third pew. That’s his seat. He wasn’t raised a Catholic, but he is always at church here on Sunday when he is in town.

“From the very beginning, he has talked about his one objective with this film. He wants to save lives. He hopes this movie puts the focus on black-on-black violence and everything that contributes to it. He hopes a discussion will flow from it.

“Just like some forms of music contributes to violence, Spike is hoping the art form of film helps address and stop the violence.”

Lee has described his film, which engendered criticism for its portrayal of violence in Chicago, as a modern twist on the Greek comedic tale of Lysistrata, in which women of ancient Greece withhold sex from their husbands and boyfriends as a strategy to end the Peloponnesian War.

Choosing Chicago as a location based on the city’s murder stats and history of dramatic gun violence has raised the ire of those who feel the city has been unfairly targeted.

“He lived in Chicago for a short time when he was young and he didn’t have a job one summer,” said Pfleger. “And he claims the advice given to him by an elderly woman to get a camera and take pictures changed his life. It developed his eventual interest in film.”

“Spike wants his films to make you wrestle with your conscience. You may laugh and cry when you see his films, but his films hopefully tell you what we gotta do.”


Top tip . . .

It’s a fact: Sneed has learned Juliana Stratton, a former top aide to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle — a.k.a. “Toni the Tiger,” has nominating petitions ready to circulate this weekend to run against State Rep. Ken Dunkin, the man branded a traitor by top Dems for siding with Gov. Bruce Rauner in the day care benefit brouhaha.

• Backshot: Stratton served as the executive director of the Cook County Justice Advisory Council.

Top tip II . . .  

Foxxy Loxy: Sneed hears Cook County state’s attorney hopeful Kim Foxx, the former chief of staff to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, has been told she has the endorsement of the 23,000 member Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union, who endorsed incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez in the past.


 The book beat . . .

• LaHood wink: Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who was the Republican member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, claims in new memoir: “Seeking Bipartisanship: My Life in Politics,” that Obama’s bipartisan DNA disappointingly disappeared. “He never seemed to reach out across the aisle shortly after he took office,” he told Sneed. “He became isolated. He listened to his inner circle; David Axelrod, Valerie . . . I communicated through Rahm Emanuel, my good friend. Not really directly. He seemed hamstrung. But he was sincere. It just didn’t seem to go beyond partisan.”

• The Burris beat: Former U.S. Sen. Roland Burris, who was the first African-American to be elected statewide in Illinois — and who became infamous when he was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to Barack Obama’s vacated seat in the U.S. Senate — has written a book titled “The Man Who Stood Up to be Seated.” He will be hosted at a book signing at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Chicago South Loop Hotel by his former top aide, Fred LeBed.

I spy . . .

Puck plate: Hawks Marian Hossa and Marko Dano spotted lunching at Rosebud on Rush on Wednesday . . . Country superstars Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Kip Moore, Eric Paslay, Charles Kelley and Gary Allen dined on shellfish bouquets at C Chicago’s Shark Bar on Wednesday evening before performing at a Veterans Day “Stars and Strings” benefit concert.

A sad note . . .

Tom King, the legendary head of the Chicago Merchandise Mart when the Kennedy family owned it, has died. It was King, whose marriage to Canadian ice skating Olympian Barbara Scott drew worldwide headlines, who selected me via Mayor Jane Byrne to help ramrod U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Illinois campaign bid for president, who was always the first to send me a Christmas card. He was a force of nature.

Sneedlings . . .

Today’s birthdays: Billy Siegel, 68; Whoopi Goldberg, 60, and Jimmy Kimmel, 48.

Follow Sneed on Twitter: @Sneedlings

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