TV show pilot to be shot in Peoria by local producer

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Want to be a TV star? Soon your dreams could be right on your doorstep.

Local filmmaker Michael McGruder wants to make a Peoria-centric TV pilot. Filmed in the city.

The title would be, of course, Peoria.

The goal is to show all the different aspects of living in Peoria and showing the world what the city has to offer.

McGruder grew up in Peoria, you might know him from a play he directed last year titled “Once in a While.” The play ran for three days at the Apollo Theater last spring.

With the TV show pilot, McGruder hopes to send it out and have it air on Netflix or Hulu.

He says he’s looking for local talent, whether it be on-camera acting, or joining the production team behind the scenes.

“We’re taking applications for our crew. We’re looking for people, particularly in the sound department. We need a production designer,” McGruder said.

McGruder wants most, if not all, actors to be from central Illinois.

“We’re gonna stay here, stay grounded, stay local, but we are going to try and distribute it so the world can see what we’re all about. How talented and how awesome it is to be in Peoria,” McGruder said.

Michael says Peoria is a great place for filmmakers to thrive. Offering many different avenues to create films, shows, and plays.

“There’s a lot of untapped potential here. We have an emerging film community, there’s a lot of talented people here,” McGruder said.

“It’s a narrative show, in other words, we touch on a lot of characters and their relationships. But we do it through the unique perspective of Peoria itself. There’s some things that only happen here, so we like to touch on the local side of it while being universal.”

McGruder hopes to touch on various topics in the community. Whether it be the medical system, politics, journalism, and more.

McGruder says the schedule for shooting the pilot is April 27 through May 1.

If you wanted to get involved in the series, like the show’s Facebook page “Peoria TV Show” and email

“Peoria” is a comedy/drama about the interesting quirks of a mid-western town and the unique personalities that reside there as told through the perspective of a group of friends who represent different walks of life. I’m currently getting submissions from all over the Midwest but due to the local nature of the show, I would like to get the word out and reach as many Peoria area actors as possible. Actors should submit their headshot/resume by the February 18 deadline to All roles are paid,” McGruder said.

If you miss the deadline, McGruder says to still reach out and see if any roles are still available.

Below are all the roles McGruder is looking to fill.

Character breakdowns: [TOM] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] Raised both in the city and on a farm, Tom splits his time between both even now. Tom got his strong moral character and mid-western values from his parents who were modest and didn’t have a lot of money growing up. He’s very honest and earnest while also being mild mannered and reserved in contrast to his outgoing younger sister Susan. He’s also a former football star who decided to give it all up and pursue truth and justice by getting a job as a reporter for the local paper, where he can help people on a larger scale and eventually meets his reporting partner Erica, who doesn’t realize he’s in love with her and already has a boyfriend. Series regular.

[DANNY] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] He’s an easygoing slacker who smokes more than a little pot and while he’s not particularly ambitious or motivated and tends to wander around aimlessly, he’s a super fun guy who likes to throw parties and is always up for the next good time. Alex, his close friend and co-worker at the store they work at is in love with him but Danny, being the ladies man that he is, doesn’t realize it yet. Series regular.

[BEN] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] Ben came of age in a typical middle-class home and is a hopeless romantic who’s very sensitive to people’s needs which often contrasts with his neurotic personality and willingness to go over the top to make a point. Inspired by his long-time mentor, he becomes a teacher himself and is very popular with his students due to his ability to level with them and take them seriously. He meets one of the parents named Karen Johnson and immediately falls for her and already feels like she’s the love of his life. Series regular.

[SUSAN] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] Always the working-class girl from the southside at heart, Susan is constantly fighting the good fight for the common man. Much like her big brother Tom she’s always had an interest in helping people, along with organizing and motivating people toward a common cause. Now a community organizer, she’s very idealistic and is willing to work hard and dedicate herself completely to making the city a better place, often to the detriment of her love life. Her work eventually leads her to getting involved with a community organizer named Greg and they ultimately learn a lot from each other. Series regular.

[KAREN] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] Growing up poor and basically raising her siblings, Karen often tried to escape the responsibility put on her at too early an age by partying heavily. This changes after she gets pregnant and splits up with the baby’s father soon after her son is born, which causes her to become more introverted and reserved along with losing what little confidence she had, leading her to not feeling she can ever become anything more than she already is. She’s working as a waitress to make ends meet and support her son Ross when she meets Ben, who helps her realize how much potential she has and that it’s not too late for her to find her happy ending. Series regular.

[EMILY] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] A peaceful soul who’s very environmentally conscious, Emily is very friendly, positive and always looks at the bright side of things. She’s very trusting and always tries to give people the benefit of the doubt. Feeling that her best chance to save the world is to change things from the inside, she works for a local manufacturing plant and tries to push environmental and safety standards over cost-cutting measures, which often leaves her at odds with the administrative staff. Series regular.

[ALEX] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] She’s a store clerk in an in-between period where she’s very ambitious but is still trying to figure it all out. She likes to hang out and do nothing with her good friend Danny but also wants to do something with her life despite not knowing what that is yet. She’s generally a sarcastic smart-aleck and is always quick with a witty quip or snarky comeback, except for when it comes to telling Danny how she feels, that’s where her confidence breaks down and she’s not quite sure what to do about it. Recurring.

[ERICA] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 25-35] She’s an intrepid reporter who’s energetic, forward-moving and always willing to do what it takes to get the scoop. She does have a soft side but tries not to let people see it too often. Romantically she settles too often even though Tom, the perfect guy for her, is right there. Recurring.

[ETHEL] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 60s] She volunteers for Susan’s group as a way to stay busy and help make a difference. Co-star.

[WILLIAM] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 60s] Ethel’s husband who generally has a penchant for saying exactly what you shouldn’t say when talking to people. Co-star.

[DR. BROWN] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 50s] He’s super-rich and condescending with a false charm that tends to fool most people. Guest star.

[TERESA] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 40s-50s] A hardworking and loyal nurse. Co-star.

[JEREMIAH] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 40s] Tom and Erica’s hard-nosed and direct newspaper chief. Guest star.

[JEFF] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 35-45] Danny and Alex’s neurotic store manager. Guest star.

[SHAWN] [GENDER: MALE] [AGE RANGE: 18-21] Webmaster and photographer for Tom and Erica’s local paper. Guest star.

[JANIE] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 18-21] A college freshman, Susan helped her get her scholarship, which she greatly appreciates. Costar.

[NEIGHBORHOOD TEENS] [GENDER: MALE AND FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 14-17] A group of teenagers who like to play basketball. Co-stars.

[BEN’S STUDENTS] [GENDER: MALE AND FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 10-13] A colorful group of kids who keep Ben on his toes. Co-stars.

[NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS] [GENDER: MALE AND FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 5-9] A group of kids who like to play baseball. Co-stars.

[EMMA] [GENDER: FEMALE] [AGE RANGE: 3-5] A toddler who is recovering from a major health scare. Doesn’t have any speaking lines in the pilot but some degree of adlibbing may make it into the pilot. Co-star.

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