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Highland Park's Bitter Jester Wins an Emmy

The local production company won an Emmy after earning three nominations from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, including two for Ravinia Festival commercials.

Update 11/18/12 10:15 p.m.: Highland Park's Bitter Jester Creative has won an Emmy.

At Sunday's awards ceremony, the local production company that was nominated for three awards took one home for the special event coverage category. They were nominated for their work at the 2011 Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition.

Earlier: While most people are getting excited for Thanksgiving weekend, Highland Park resident Nic DeGrazia is excited for the weekend before -- when he'll head to the Emmys.

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The Highland Park resident is one of several faces behind production company Bitter Jester Creative, which he runs with Daniel Kullman and Josh Tallo, and which has been nominated for three Emmys from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

"A nomination of that caliber… it's validation that we're doing good work," DeGrazia said on Wednesday.

Two of the nominations are in outstanding achievement for commercial production for single spots for two of the three Ravinia Festival commercials Bitter Jester has done.

"All four of us are emmy nominated producers for the rest of our lives," said Ravinia Director of Communications Nick Pulia.

Pulia first brought DeGrazia and Kullman into the Ravinia fold after he saw pro bono work they did for the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce's annual honor dinner for Highland Park High School seniors.

"I liked what I saw and hired them," Pulia said. 

DeGrazia and Kullman are fun to work with, according to Pulia, but that doesn't stop them from also being very detail-oriented and hard-working.

"You don't realize that behind all of that nice whipped cream is a very nice cappucino of hard work," Pulia said.

The day after receiving the nominations, DeGrazia and Kullman received an unexpected congratulatory gift from the Ravinia: a bottle of Don Perignon and a bottle of Cristal ("in case the guys were feeling more gangster that day," Pulia said). DeGrazia told Pulia he would frame the labels with the Emmy nominations.

The third nomination is in special event coverage for the 2011 Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition. It's Bitter Jester's first time submitting work to the Emmys.

"If we don't win we still get to walk away saying we're three time Emmy nominees and that's incredible," DeGrazia said. Big clients have begun taking the 12-year-old production company more seriously, and DeGrazia is planning a trip to California in December or January to pitch television shows to Lionsgate, Fox and Sony.

On top of that, DeGrazia's been experiencing success with his sketch comedy troupe The Comic Thread. The troupe recently won the Audience Choice award at the third annual Chicago Fringe Festival.

And on the Highland Park front, the Battle of the Bands that Bitter Jester puts on with the city's Late Nite HP will continue in 2013.

In short, DeGrazia is keeping busy.

"I'm living the dream," DeGrazia said with a laugh. "That's what I tell myself at 3 a.m. when I'm at my computer working. It's great."

The 54th Annual Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards will be held this Sunday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Alhambra Palace in Chicago. Click here to watch the live stream.

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Sue Tolpin November 19, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Congratulations, Nic and Dan! This is a very well deserved honor for both of you. Sue Tolpin
Steve Handwerker November 19, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Congrats and good luck on the Emmys!!!!!
Bitter Jester Creative, inc. November 20, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Thanks so much!!
Bitter Jester Creative, inc. November 20, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Thanks, Sue! Brett was there, lookin' sharp!
Bitter Jester Creative, inc. November 20, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Thanks, Steve! We took one home! : )

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