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Local 600 and Local 476 Charity Basketball Game

What started as a challenge between the grip and camera departments of the hit television show “Empire” grew into a charity basketball game benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago.

On March 21st, 2015, more than 100 fans cheered on the Chicago studio mechanics, Local 476, and Chicago-based international cinematographers guild, Local 600, as they faced off at the James R. Jordan Boys & Girls Club and Chicago Bulls Family Life Center.

The charity basketball game raised $8,480 to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, with money coming from ticket sales and donations. Local 600 won the game 42-34.

“It turned into a solidarity event,” said Local 600 Chicago business representative Justin Conway. “Even camera houses, studios and other vendors that members worked with pitched in.”

The challenge started on the set of Fox’s massive hit “Empire,” when Camera Assistant Jason H. Bonner challenged Grip Mike Pennick to a game of basketball, explained Local 476 President Brad Matthys. The crew decided if they were going to play, they might as well see if they could raise money for a good cause.

As the friendly trash-talking grew, other Chicago-area IATSE members working on shows “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.” heard of the challenge and wanted in. Even “Empire” star Terrence Howard heard of the game – he ended up donning a Local 476 jersey to play on the grips’ team.

“I think labor doesn’t come together enough in circumstances that aren’t necessarily dispute-centric,” said Conway. “We want to try and create more of these events where people can get together in a friendly atmosphere and build community.”

Conway, Matthys, and the Chicago Local 600 and 476 members have plans to make the friendly competition a regular event.

Photos: Matt Dinerstein, Local 600, Still Photographer

In purple for Local 600 - Brian Romano / In black for Local 476 – Carlos Velasquez

Brian Romano, Local 600, Game MVP (holding the basketball)

Local 476, L-R: Brad Matthys (Local 476 President and Coach), John Hudecek (Assistant Coach), Marcus Davis, Max Gutfeld, Jereme Green, Omar Elliss, Ray Cruz, Mike Pennick, Carlos Velasquez, Blake Armstrong, Chad Burns, Terrence Howard (Empire)

Local 600, L-R: Gary Malouf, Joe Fitzgerald, Jamie Dawkins, Josh Ramos, Jody Williams, Jason H. Bonner, Lawrence Daufenbach, Mitch Koepp, Steve Wojcik (Assistant Coach), Chris Dame (Head Coach), Scott Thiele, Justin Conway (Local 600 Business Agent, Chicago)

Justin Conway (Local 600 Business Representative, Chicago), Steve Wojcik (Local 600, Assistant Coach), Don Reed (Area Club Director, Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago), Terrence Howard (Empire), Wanda Noyes (Program Director), James R. Jordan Club L476 , Mark Hogan (Local 476 Business Agent), Brad Matthys (Local 476 President, Coach), Chris Dame (Local 600 Head Coach)

Faires Anderson-Sekiya, Local 600, Empire A-Camera Operator and Terrence Howard, Empire