Updated: November 20, 2012 4:48PM
JOLIET — Downtown Joliet will be teeming with TV-related activity on Thursday as celebrity Food Network chef Paula Deen opens her new restaurant in Harrah’s Casino and filming takes place for the Starz series “Boss” at The Department restaurant.
“We’re definitely one hopping town,” City Manager Tom Thanas said.
Deen’s appearance at her Country Kitchen ribbon cutting from 10:30 to 11 a.m. has been scheduled for months.
Hallie Brenczewski, owner of The Department, said she found out only this week that a “Boss” film crew would rent out her restaurant for filming.
“Boss” stars Kelsey Grammer of “Cheers” and “Frasier” fame as fictional Chicago Mayor Tom Kane, who is suffering from a degenerative brain disease. Last year, the show filmed season one scenes at the nearby Joliet Restaurant on Clinton Street and The Department catered lunch for the crew.
This year, The Department has been rented out from 7 a.m. through lunch for filming, Brenczewski said. The restaurant will reopen at 5 p.m. for dinner.
The show will be filming a scene where the reporter is trying to get information out of another main character in the show named Kitty, Brenczewski said. Brenczewski said as far as she knows, Grammer will not be in Joliet on Thursday.
Scenes will be shot in the restaurant’s main dining area and the upstairs bar area.
“It is exciting to see the filming industry take notice of the beautiful, old buildings in downtown Joliet,” she said. “The Department building is over 100 years old and the feel of a building with this much history can’t be duplicated on set.”
Brenczewski said she is hoping more scenes are shot at the restaurant and in Joliet.
“Our downtown area has so much to offer and it is wonderful to see the filming industry is taking notice,” she said. “A smaller budget film shot a scene at The Department here last year and it was so exciting to see all of the set-up and time it takes to shoot a single scene.”
Season one scenes from “Boss” also were filmed in Chicago, Romeoville and Aurora.
Kendall Jackson, planning director for Joliet, said “Boss” scouts also were interested in possibly shooting scenes in the vacant restaurant/bar in Union Station. Jackson said he arranged to have the scouts visit the interior, but he didn’t hear back.
“They were looking at several different locations,” he said.
Jackson said it’s nice to have so much activity in the downtown.
“It’s just something that puts us on the map in a positive light, and it’s good to know we’re on the radar for all the movie and TV shows being shot in the Chicago area,” he said.
Thanas said “Boss” scouts must have been happy with last year’s filming at The Joliet Restaurant.
“I think they liked what they saw,” he said. “We’re thrilled to have them back and we’re hoping Joliet becomes the satellite branch for the filming of ‘Boss.’”