Champaign native's documentary back on WILL; DVD next

Champaign native's documentary back on WILL; DVD next

URBANA – If you missed your chance to see Champaign native Chris Olsen's "The Artsiders," you will have another chance: WILL-TV Channel 12 will air the documentary at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Also, the Midwest Emmy-nominated documentary, featuring interviews with Illinois artists, writers and performers, among them University of Illinois Professor Tyehimba Jess, will be released on DVD on March 10, Olsen said.

The 79-minute-long DVD release contains both the original PBS broadcast version and a bonus extended director's cut version of the film and is available now at some retailers for $19.95. For information, visit online

In the documentary, Olsen, an alumnus of Champaign Central High School and the University of Illinois, has his subjects explain why creatives "do what they do" despite the difficulties that often accompany an artistic life. Besides Jess, a poet, other people interviewed are sculptors Christine Rojek, Thomas Scarff and Mike Helbing; vocal artist Greg Whalen; and Atalee Judy, artistic director of Breakbone Dance Company.

The program premiered on the Chicago Public Broadcasting System station WTTW-11 in August 2007 and was broadcast the following month by WILL-TV. It went on to win several awards. It is now being expanded into a series for 2009, Olsen said.