Investigate a holiday weekend in the Windy City with the beloved star of NYPD Blue.


Dennis Franz has played 28 different policemen in his long and distinguished acting career, but his current role as soulful detective Andy Sipowicz on the ABC hit NYPD Blue sets a standard hard to beat. An eight-time Emmy nominee and a four-time winner, Franz fell in love with acting in high school and went on to attend drama school in Chicago. Fittingly, one of his first plays was titled "Cops." After a brief tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned home to the theater and, eventually, his forte - the role of a cop - in projects such as Die Hard 2 and Hill Street Blues. When he's away from the precinct, the 57-year-old Franz lives with his wife, Joanie, near Los Angeles. They get back to Chicago regularly to visit Franz's two sisters and his nieces and nephews. Here's a holiday weekend in the city that informed the cop side of Dennis Franz.

FRIDAY


Lodging
"The Four Seasons downtown is across from the Water Tower Place shopping area on Michigan Avenue. The rooms have beautiful views of the city. There's a lot to do in the hotel. I also like The Drake, one of the older hotels in Chicago. I love its location and the history of the building. It's been there for so long and it's had a facelift, but it still has the Old World charm, as does The Palmer House, which is a smaller hotel in the State Street area. Then there's the Ambassador East and West, two grand old hotels right across the street from each other. Big, comfortable rooms, high ceilings; just old grandeur from the past."

Dining
"I like Ditka's, especially during the holidays. You know Mike Ditka, former coach of the Chicago Bears? He's got a restaurant that's full of sports memorabilia from his football days and other sports figures who come in and donate things. It's got a real lively atmosphere, and you'll often find Mike there, roaming around shaking hands. He's just a bigger-than-life figure. I have a friend who owns The Grill on the Alley. They serve hearty meals. They love for you to be full when you walk out. You don't have to wear a suit and tie. I'm not big on getting dressed up for dinner or anything. The Grill's decor reminds you of being back in the '20s or '30s. It has ceiling fans and large rooms with cozy booths. It almost has an art deco feel."

Theater
"Every year around the holidays, the Goodman Theatre puts on a production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The famous Joffrey Ballet's production of The Nutcracker Suite is not to be missed either. The theater scene in Chicago is great. Second City, the famous comedy theater where people like Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner began, is an evening in itself. You'll spend hours just laughing. Second City, the Goodman Theatre, and the Steppenwolf Theatre are probably the three most well-known theaters in the Chicago area, not forgetting the Organic Theater which is where Joey Mantegna and I came from. It's still there, but it's no longer a theater. They do plays in the [new] Organic Theater [space in Evanston]."