Shortly after 8 a.m. the news team at Chicago’s WGN Channel 9 went into breaking-news mode, sending out a helicopter and breathlessly reporting that a a plane had crashed into Martin Luther King Drive on the South Side.
The only problem was that what they were reporting on wasn’t a real plane crash, but a scene staged for the filming of a television show.
‘We are just getting word that this is being shot as part of a TV show,’ anchor Larry Potash told viewers after three minutes of speculating on the terror drivers must’ve felt when the plane hit the road.
‘Are you kidding me?’ said anchor Robin Baumgarten. ‘They might want to tell the news folks that they’re doing this and shutting down King Drive. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? 29th and King Drive, it’s OK. It’s all for a TV show, even though you see that plane in the road.’
Rival news stations had already called police and fire officials about what looked to be a real crash, but Channel 9 was the only one to take the story to the air live.
At ABC-Channel 7, the station’s news desk heard about the ‘crash’ between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and had a helicopter at the scene in minutes, but dropped the story before it was broadcast.
‘Within five minutes of getting our helicopter there, we confirmed with the fire department that it wasn’t a real crash scene,’ Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director for the station, told the Chicago Tribune.
The ‘crash’ was actually the set of NBC show Chicago Fire, a drama about the lives of firemen in the Windy City.
The Fire Department tweeted an alert as soon as the Channel 9 story aired warning: ‘Chicago TV News is reporting a plane down at. Drive this is a filming for the NBC show Chicago Fire and is a simulation disregard.’
As they their embarrassment registered, Baumgarten blamed the television show for not alerting them while her co-anchor resorted to taking a shot at the rival network.
‘It’s for a show that nobody watches on NBC,’ Potash said.
Even though Channel 9 was the only one to air the story, they weren’t the only ones confused.
‘It looks like it didn’t get filtered down to everybody,’ said Larry Langford, a spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department, who noted that even some patrol officers got on their scanners to ask supervisors about the ‘crash.’
Langford said the department would try and improve communication in the future.
The Chicago Film Office generally sends out notifications about large scale productions.
‘To be honest, ‘Chicago Fire’ is out on the street filming nearly every day and we didn’t see this any differently than the standard filming,’ said Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office . ‘The local community was notified so there weren’t any surprises there. We notify residents by knocking on doors, leaflets, talking to people directly in the community who live within the close proximity to the filming area.’
James Gilbert | Elite.