[Chicago Slices raw: Ben Hollis at State of Illinois building]

Raw footage shot for the TV series Chicago Slices, which aired from 1994-95 on WPWR. TV host Ben Hollis visits the State of Illinois building (now known as the James R. Thompson Center) and interviews passersby.

00:00Copy video clip URL Ben Hollis interviews a random passerby named Jim in front of the CTA entrance at the State of Illinois building, downtown Chicago. Hollis asks, “What brings you here today?” Jim says he has a doctors appointment for a bad back from years of lifting heavy things. He’s a machinist by trade and he says he was recently laid off.

01:08Copy video clip URL “How has that been for you?” “It’s rough.” Jim notes you can’t be selective these days, you have to take what comes along. Jim comments that he worked at a machine shop in Northwest Chicago. He says he was laid off once before, but, being part of the union, was able to bump someone else so that he didn’t lose his job. “I bumped someone… which isn’t nice, but that’s a prerogative you can do when you’re in a union.” The second time, Jim says, the company just came up to him and said he was laid off. “You get tired of fighting them, you know.”

02:18Copy video clip URL “Do you have family you have to take care of?” Jim says he has family but no one he has to take care of. No wife, no kids. He says he lives in the Northwest side, at Montrose and Kimball. “It’s not a nice neighborhood, but it’s not the worst.”

02:50Copy video clip URL “How do you like this interview?” “It’s different. Something you don’t do every day.” When Hollis asks Jim if there’s anything he’d like to say, Jim says, “I’m looking for a job.”

03:54Copy video clip URL The interview ends and the two joke around. Jim asks if he was moving his hands too much.

04:26Copy video clip URL Two kids sit in white plastic chairs at the interview site. The videographer is off-camera asking questions. One introduces himself as Anthony and notes that he and his friend are downtown to see a movie called Jason Goes to Hell.

05:00Copy video clip URL Is there no school today? “We’re out of school.”  It is suggested that the school day has ended for them. The other boy introduces himself as Dante and reiterates that he and his friend are going downtown to see a movie.

05:31Copy video clip URL “What’s your favorite thing to do in the city?” Anthony says it’s going to the top of the Sears Tower, because it has the “sky dive.”

05:42Copy video clip URL “Why are you guys friends?” “‘Cause we live close to each other.” They say they live on the south side.

05:53Copy video clip URL “How about those Sox? You follow baseball?” “Yeah.” “Who do you think is going to win the World Series?” “I don’t know. I have no idea.”

06:06Copy video clip URL The videographer asks Hollis to come inside and continue asking questions. Hollis enters and sits in one of the chairs to interview Dante.

06:48Copy video clip URL Hollis asks Dante why he is downtown today. “We’re going to the movies.” “What are you going to see?” “Jason Goes to Hell.” “What kind of movie is that?” Dante gives a synopsis of the plot. Hollis says that it sounds like a scary movie and asks if Dante will be scared when he sees it. Dante says no. “What’s the scariest thing you’ve seen?” “I’m not scared of anything.” “How old are you?” Thirteen.

08:15Copy video clip URL The interview ends.

08:28Copy video clip URL A woman enters and sits down. They chit chat. She says her name is Diane Washington. Hollis asks, “What brings you down here [to the State of Illinois Building] today?” “I work in the building at the liquor commission.” She notes that she works in the investigations department. She explains that if there’s an issue with a bar’s alcohol purchase, like bugs in the alcohol, she handles the file of complaint. She adds this includes complaints from people who have problems being admitted into a bar. The issue could be racism.

09:58Copy video clip URL Washington notes that she is an Office Specialist. Investigation agents call into her and report. She also takes complaints from the general public. She notes that some don’t have legitimate complaints, they just want to talk. By way of example, she says she tells of an elderly woman who called complaining about not be admitted into a bar. At the time of the call, Washington notes, the woman was drunk.

11:05Copy video clip URL Hollis interrupts and says: “You looked at your watch. Are you running late?” Washington says she is and note that her boss is a really nice person to work with and that he treats her more as a co-worker. She adds that the rest of her day will be spent with paper work, filing and a lot of phone calls.

11:57Copy video clip URL Interview with Javier. He says he is downtown for work at the American National Bank. He says he is a clerk, a teller, who deals with checks only. No cash. He notes that his day starts around three o’clock and that he does not interact with the public. He processes corporate checks. “It’s a very decent job. The pay is good. The opportunities are good.”

13:19Copy video clip URL Javier says he comes from Mexico and came here when he was eleven. Hollis asks if there’s an romantic story of how he came to the US, perhaps hiding in a truck. Javier says no, his grandmother was a citizen and they flew to Chicago.

14:11Copy video clip URL Javier notes that he is single and lives with his family, parents and a brother. He feels comfortable with this arrangement, but soon he plans to move out. He is twenty-seven years-old now. His plans for the future are to get married and have a family. He is open to being in a relationship but does not currently have a girlfriend.

15:22Copy video clip URL “What do you look for in a relationship?” Javier says someone who is trustworthy. Money is not important to him.

15:58Copy video clip URL “How large are the checks you process at work?” Javier notes that the checks are large, $50,000 to one million dollars. “Have you seen a million dollar check?” “Yeah, once.” He comments that his job is to sort the checks and get them to where they need to go.

16:44Copy video clip URL Hollis asks, “Is there anything you want to ask me?” Javier answers, “What is this all about?” “It’s for a TV show called Chicago Slices on channel 50. I’m looking for slices of life. People and their stories.” Hollis goes on to say, “I think the average person doesn’t get asked about their life very often.” Javier’s response: “I think more people like you should be around. People feel important once they’ve been asked about their life.

18:15Copy video clip URL The interview with Javier ends.

18:21Copy video clip URL Interview with a woman called Diana. She is holding a paper coffee cup. Hollis asks what brings her down here today. Diana says she works at the 203 North LaSalle building but they have good coffee in the State of Illinois Building. She notes she works for Chicago Title & Trust on the 14th floor of the North LaSalle Building.

19:09Copy video clip URL “Can you speak specifically about your job, what you do?” I work with computer software in marketing, sales and support. We take products to customer sites and give demonstrations. She notes the job is great and that she enjoys the work which she has been doing for three years. Before that she worked at a search firm doing training. She mentions that the company helped tech companies search for a certain set of experienced employees.

20:36Copy video clip URL “Where do you live?” Diana says she lives in the western suburbs in the town of Roselle. Hollis asks Diana what’s going on in her life right now. “I have an eleven year old daughter. So we’re going through all the trauma of new schools, new friends, remembering locker combinations, boys.” She stresses that she and her daughter are going through it together. She is involved as a parent. “As a single parent it can be frustrating.”

21:56Copy video clip URL “What fears do you have?” Diana notes that every parent fears for their child’s safety. “You hear frightful items on the news. You see children being gunned down in schools. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the best job I can as a parent.”

22:25Copy video clip URL “What support are you getting? Are there other people helping you as a parent?” “There are people there to talk to. I have a good group of friends for that. And there’s always my parents. They live in Ohio.” “Whereabouts in Ohio are you from” “A little town called Brunswick, Ohio, about 30-miles south of Cleveland.”

23:15Copy video clip URL Of the interview, Hollis asks Diana: “How’s this going for you?” “It’s kind of strange. I can’t imagine what type of interest this would have for a viewer. Why would someone sit down in front of a television and watch me talk about this stuff?” Hollis offers that the show itself is about the people of Chicago. It’s an everyman show. “My interest is in people, regular everyday people.” Diana challenges what is it about the show that would compel her to watch after a long day? The videographer chimes in to say that part of the show’s premise is that they are producing segments not normally seen on a TV show. And that uniqueness is part of the appeal. Hollis asks if Diana feels uncomfortable? Slightly. Hollis explains his interest is in trying to bring something genuine into a situation that is artificial, like a television interview.

25:42Copy video clip URL When asked if she would like to say anything to the audience, Diana says hello to her daughter: “Hi, Marie. I love you. Thanks for being my kid.” The interview ends.

26:16Copy video clip URL Hollis interviews a man in a shirt and tie holding a coffee cup. He asks the man, “Is that what brought you down here, the coffee?” The man explains that he is here to see the Attorney General in his efforts to collect lost wages from a previous employer. It’s been going on for three years now. “I have some time to kill so I got coffee.” “How much do they owe you?” “About three thousand dollars. I’ve  spent more time trying to chase them down then actually working for them.”

28:02Copy video clip URL “What was the job you used to do?” The man notes he was a construction superintendent for a small construction company. “I gave my two weeks notice that I was going to quit and didn’t get paid for my last month.” He says the experience has been frustrating. He feels powerless. He sees the person who owes him money at various places through mutual connections, and that is frustrating. He also acknowledges that after three years if he gets the money now it’s kind of a bonus. When asked how far is he prepared to go with this case, the man says that there’s not that much more left to do. It’s in the Attorney General’s hands.

29:41Copy video clip URL Hollis asks what went through the man’s mind when the production assistant approached him and asked if he wanted to be interviewed. “When I first saw her I thought it was someone taking a survey.” “Have you ever been interviewed like this before?” “No, not for TV.” “How’s the experience so far?” “Fine.”

30:31Copy video clip URL The videographer stops and re-starts shooting. The man is in the middle of a story about his father trying to videotape his wedding reception. The camera battery died, but he didn’t realize it until the end of the night and missed capturing the event.

30:53Copy video clip URL When asked where he works now, the man responds that he works at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a clerk. He stands at the edge of the pit and relays hand signals to communication action in one part of the pit to another part of the pit.

31:30Copy video clip URL The man gives a quick demonstration of the hand signals. Hand towards you if you are buying, hand away from you if you are selling.

32:55Copy video clip URL How long have you been married? Five years. “It’s been positive but a lot of hard work. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.” He says his wife’s name is Virginia, and that he recognizes Hollis from Channel 11’s Wild Chicago.

34:19Copy video clip URL Interview with a nicely dressed woman. Hollis asks what the sequence of events were that led the woman to being interviewed. She said she was waiting for a friend, reading material for a planned getaway to Michigan and the production assistant, Elizabeth, shared some ideas for locations. She notes she always wanted to drive around the midwest in autumn to see the changing colors. Elizabeth walked up to her and ask if she wanted to sit in and be interviewed for Chicago Slices.

35:44Copy video clip URL The woman says that she came downtown today to meet with a friend, but she was not able to show up and she was just getting a message from her. When asked what they were going to meet about, the lady offers that they were going to go over some forms for her business. “I am just helping her out. She has a problem and she needed someone to go over some forms with her and I have a little knowledge that will get her started before she goes for help.”

36:36Copy video clip URL Hollis pushes for more information, but the woman does not give details. She says, “I work for the U of I and took a late lunch to come here.” She handles finance for the Vice Chancellor of Research at U of I. When asked if she’s ever tempted to take some of the money for herself, the woman laughs and says it’s nothing like that. “I don’t actually handle transactions or cash.”

37:50Copy video clip URL She says she lives in Hyde Park by herself. She says she’s comfortable with it and has flexibility to come and go as she pleases. “I’m a single career woman.” Hollis asks what term means to her. “It means freedom and flexibility, time for my career. I like to travel as a hobby. I get a chance to do both.” She says she works 50-60 hours a week. There are times it can be higher. They talk about the unpleasantness of working long hours.

40:00Copy video clip URL “Are you dating anyone?” She notes she has a nice friend and tries to convince him to escape to Michigan with her. She and her boyfriend, Glen, have been seeing each other 5 or 6 years. No discussion about being married. He has kids from a previous relationship. Hollis notes he likes getting personal with people. The woman says she should have realized that when she agreed to be interviewed.

41:50Copy video clip URL Hollis asks what this experience has been like for her. She says it reinforces the fact that not a lot of people ask her about herself. “Therefore, I’m not open and real comfortable with that.” The woman says she’s from Chicago. Hollis says he came here at age eleven from the New York area.

43:00Copy video clip URL Hollis asks the woman if she wants to say anything. She asks what his goal with all this is. He says asking people about their lives is a way of honoring them. “Most people don’t get asked about their lives and I think everyone has an interesting story to tell.” He wants to see TV used more for connecting people, not separating them.

44:26Copy video clip URL Hollis goes on to say that most people are open though, they all have boundaries. “I am encouraged by their responsiveness.” During his answer a cleaning crew member walks past cleaning a glass window.

45:29Copy video clip URL Hollis interviews himself in an amusing exchange.

47:32Copy video clip URL Hollis interviews Elizabeth Waller, his co-worker, who was bringing people over to be interviewed. She talks about how it’s been for her. “I love it.” She says she has no problem approaching strangers and asking them if they want to be on TV.

48:23Copy video clip URL Waller’s interview is interrupted by b-roll of the interior of the State of Illinois Building and b-roll of the exterior of the State of Illinois Building.

49:11Copy video clip URL Back to the Waller interview in the middle of conversation. She asks Hollis how he feels the day has been going. He chats without direction and the videographer stops shooting.

49:55Copy video clip URL END



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