http://www.wtae.com/article/pittsburgh-film-office-remembers-silence-of-the-lambs-director-jonathan-demme/9566922 NEW YORK —Film director Jonathan Demme, who filmed “The Silence of the Lambs” in Pittsburgh, passed away in New […]POSTED ON: April 26, 2017
Pittsburgh Film Office remembers ‘Silence of the Lambs’ director Jonathan Demme
NEW YORK —Film director Jonathan Demme, who filmed “The Silence of the Lambs” in Pittsburgh, passed away in New York at age 73 on Wednesday. “I’ve kept in touch with him over the years and when he got back to New York and everything,” said Rick McMaster, who serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Film Office.
McMaster fondly remembers meeting Demme as he was choosing where to shoot “Silence of the Lambs.”
“I was proprietor of the Grand Concourse for 17 years and we kind of had an unwritten agreement that if a scout team came to look at Pittsburgh for possible filming here, I would host the scout team,” said McMaster, who was tipped off that Demme was an oyster fan. “I had the chef order 13 different kinds of oysters, so he came in for lunch with the scout and I had a platter that filled the table of just oysters. So that kind of started the relationship.”
Their relationship lasted until Demme passed away from esophageal cancer.
“He was so down-to-earth. It’s amazing what he accomplished and yet how he treated the average person,” said McMaster.
McMaster still has personal notes from Demme and Jody Foster, as well as pictures to remember the times he was able to go on set and watch terrifying scenes play out in places all over the Pittsburgh area.
Demme actually stopped filming during a scene at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland when he saw McMasters and his wife on set.
“He sees me come around the corner and he grabs my wife by the hand and sits her in his director’s chair. He says ‘now you watch what happens,’ and she got to see the body fall out and all that and I mean he never met her before. He didn’t have to do that. That shows you what kind of person he was. Just an amazing human being and so down-to-earth,” said McMaster.
Point Park University film history professor Chris Sepesy met Demme during filming of “Silence of the Lambs.” He also built a lasting relationship with him.
“He was here for the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival two years ago and he couldn’t wait to talk to the students, because he wanted to talk to young people to give back and share his war stories,” said Sepesy.
“He was a great guy who loved Pittsburgh, and that makes him a winner in my book,” said McMaster.
By Maria Sciullo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Even before shooting what would become one of the most decorated films in Oscars […]POSTED ON: April 26, 2017
‘Silence of the Lambs’ director Demme had warm feelings for Pittsburgh
Even before shooting what would become one of the most decorated films in Oscars history, Jonathan Demme had his eye on Pittsburgh.
“One of his best films is the  documentary ‘Stop Making Sense,’” said Chris Sepesy, a professor of film history in the Cinema Arts program at Point Park University. “And of course, one of the members of the Talking Heads [which was featured in the film) was from Fox Chapel,” drummer Chris Franz.
“He knew of the city long before he ever starting making ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ here. He would come back later, openly telling people how much he loved the city, could not say enough about the work force of this town.”
Mr. Demme died Wednesday morning in New York City. He was 73.
Mr. Sepesy was a Shadyside resident when some of the film crew set up living quarters at the Shadyside Inn.
“They were just around the corner, and we just struck up a conversation,” he said of his first encounter with Mr. Demme. Although he was working as an aid for Senator John Heinz, Mr. Sepesy was a huge fan of cinema. They all began hanging out at The Artery, a bar on Ellsworth Avenue.
Although he never asked for a cameo in “The Silence of the Lambs,” which won five Academy Awards (including best director for Mr. Demme an best picture), Mr. Sepesy said he has a very, very brief part in the film anyway.
“If you watch, you can see the top of my head” in the scene outside of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Oakland. “I tell people that was my big part.”
The two kept in touch over the years, and Mr. Sepesy said Mr. Demme “howled” when he learned he’d gotten a job teaching classes in film history. When Mr. Demme returned for a March 2015 appearance at the Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival, he spoke to both CMU and Mr. Sepesy’s Point Park students.
“Jonathan came out of that 1960s idealist period, and it just stuck with him for the rest of his life. He had one of the most innate senses of justice of anyone I’ve ever known, and that shows in his films. It’s almost etched into his DNA,” Mr. Sepesy said.
Beyond the filmmaker’s obvious talent, Mr. Demme was also remembered as a great guy.
Actor Chuck Aber, who was a longtime staple on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” remembers his so-called audition for “Silence.”
“When I was called in, it wasn’t really an audition,” he said, laughing. “He just wanted to talk about Fred Rogers. They were similar kinds of people, just the nicest you’d ever meet.”
One day when Mr. Aber showed up for work, Mr. Demme drew him aside to make sure he’d had breakfast. “I thought, ‘Wow, here’s this big director worrying about me.”
So it was that “Neighbor Aber” on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” paid what might have been the ultimate yinzer compliment: “I remember saying to him, ‘You could be a Pittsburgher.’ He was that nice.”
JIM SPEZIALETTI | Monday, April 24, 2017, 11:00 p.m. When Hollywood comes to town and needs behind-the-scenes help, students in the […]POSTED ON: April 25, 2017
CCAC program stirs film passions into professions
JIM SPEZIALETTI | Monday, April 24, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
When Hollywood comes to town and needs behind-the-scenes help, students in the film technician certificate program at Community College of Allegheny County South Campus can step in without missing a beat.
Without having a formal program in past years, George Jaber, CCAC theater professor and department head, has been able to place students in the film and television industry. With the addition of the film technician certificate program, CCAC students will get jobs with a family-sustaining income, he said.
“If you take one class here, you can get a job. If you take the full program, you can have a career,” said P.J. Gaynard, assistant professor of the film technician program.
CCAC has invested more than $200,000 in cameras, lenses and other equipment needed to make movies and commercials. But learning how to operate the camera is a small part of the course.
The program has five Apple computers with an eight-terabyte hard drives and 27-inch monitors with 5K resolution. The computers are loaded with the full Adobe Suite and Final Draft, the premier script writing program. The computers are used for the production management course.
CCAC has an agreement with Entertainment Partners to use Movie Magic Scheduling. Entertainment Partners donated 15 licenses to the school. Each license costs $500. Movie Magic Scheduling enables students to learn budgeting and scheduling.
“If you know this program, you can get a job in the film industry,” Gaynard said.
Jaber, who is a member of the Motion Picture Studio Mechanics Local 489, recalls returning theater props to Carnegie Mellon University in 1989. CMU prop master Norman Beck told Jaber that there was work as a film carpenter for George Romero’s “The Dark Half.”
The work would be Jaber’s first as a film carpenter for a movie and the first show that he salvaged the scenery to benefit the CCAC theater department. Jaber dubs himself “The Sultan of Salvage Scenery.”
More importantly, Jaber saw the industry’s need for non-union help. In 2007 with the Pennsylvania film tax credit, Jaber said membership in Local 489 exploded. He said 10 percent of the membership growth came from CCAC students, many of whom are still working in the industry.
“We’re trying to make film technicians. The goal here is to have technically minded people who are capable of walking onto a film set and just being amazing,” Gaynard said.
Beyond the camera work, Gaynard said the program will teach students about the construction angle of film and how to build walls and sets. Positions such as grip electric and construction are in great need, Gaynard said.
The film technician certificate program has 23 courses. Jaber and Gaynard said the course allows students to experience all aspects of the film and television industry.
“They know how to do film work even if they are just carpenters,” Jaber said. “The key is we are training workers.”
Student Kate Traugott, 25, of Moon became interested in film after watching “The Fall” directed by Tarsem Singh. Traugott was looking for a different career and learned about the film program at CCAC South.
“I wanted to test the waters. They have a bunch of classes. I took two classes that were completely opposite,” Traugott said.
She studied film production and special effect makeup. Traugott discovered her passion with film production.
“I want to be a director and writer. I enjoy it,” she said.
Traugott also likes how Gaynard challenges the students by having them take ownership of their work.
Traugott’s final project is a 68-minute short film. She had two shoot days that lasted 12 hours both times. Two more shoot days were needed to complete the project. Instead of a final exam, each student will present their film in front of peers and professors.
The film technician program is held in the area that was once the day care center. The goal is to have a larger facility to encompass all aspects of the industry, such as construction, gear prep, sound stage, computer classroom and screening room.
“This is just the beginning, and that’s why I am excited about it,” Gaynard said.
Casting directors for a new television series that will soon begin production in Pittsburgh are looking for paid extras. An […]POSTED ON: April 17, 2017
Extras needed for new TV series set to film in Pittsburgh
Casting directors for a new television series that will soon begin production in Pittsburgh are looking for paid extras.
An open casting call for the NBC Universal International Studios series “Gone” will be held on April 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Filming will take place from early May through early September.
Casting directors are looking for children, teens, adults and seniors. No experience is necessary.
“Gone” is based on Chelsea Cain’s novel “One Kick.” It tells the story of Kit “Kick” Lanagan, a survivor of a child abduction case who teams up years later with the FBI agent who rescued her.
The series stars Leven Rambin, Danny Pino and Chris Noth.
Joe Otterson TV [email protected] “Outsiders” has been canceled after two seasons at WGN America, Variety has learned. The drama series follows […]POSTED ON: April 14, 2017
‘Outsiders’ Canceled After Two Seasons on WGN America
TV Reporter @JoeOtterson
“Outsiders” has been canceled after two seasons at WGN America, Variety has learned.
The drama series follows the exploits of the Farrell clan, a Kentucky family that has lived atop Shay Mountain for over 200 years. But their off-the-grid way of life is threatened when a coal company decides to strip mine the mountain, leading to serious confrontations between the Farrells and the world below.
Peter Kern, interim president and CEO of Tribune Media issued the following statement on the series:
“After three years of investing in marquee, brand-defining dramas, WGN America has successfully expanded its audience, its reach, and its presence in the minds of viewers. In our next phase, we intend to expand our original and unique content to continue growing our relevance and appeal to the widest possible audience. To achieve this, we will be reallocating our resources to a more diverse programming strategy and to new structures, enabling us to expand both the quantity and breadth of content aired by WGN America. This move is designed to deliver even more value to our advertising and distribution partners. To free up the resources to reach this goal, we will unfortunately not be renewing ‘Outsiders.’ We are grateful to our production partners at Sony Pictures Television and the terrifically talented people who made the show possible.”
The series stars David Morse, Ryan Hurst, Gillian Alexy, Kyle Gallner, Christina Jackson, and Thomas M. Wright. Peter Mattei created the series and executive produces along with Peter Tolan, Paul Giamatti, Dan Carey and Michael Wimer. Sony Pictures Television, Tribune Studios, Fedora Entertainment, and Touchy Feely Films produce. The Season 2 finale will air on April 25.
The show was WGN America’s third original series after “Salem” and “Manhattan,” which both ended after their third and second seasons respectively. It is currently WGN’s top-rated original, averaging 2 million viewers across four airings on Tuesday night. The Underground Railroad drama “Underground,” also currently in its second season, is now the sole original series on the network. However, the network is currently in production on a pilot for “Scalped,” a drama set on a Native American reservation based on the DC graphic novel series of the same name.
The cancellation comes a month after Kern took over Tribune Media following the exit of CEO Peter Liguori, who announced his resignation in January. Ligouri came onboard in 2013 and invested heavily in developing original programming for the network, though the shows developed under his tenure have failed to achieve ratings on par with their cost.
Earlier this week, Tribune Media also abruptly shut down a national digital news service — which would have included content aggregated from its 42 local TV stations — less than two weeks before it was slated to launch as part of a broad restructuring of its digital operations.
By Rob Owen / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ABC’s filmed-in-Pittsburgh comedy “Downward Dog” finally has an air date. The show will sneak […]POSTED ON: March 16, 2017
Pittsburgh-filmed ‘Downward Dog’ gets its premiere date
ABC’s filmed-in-Pittsburgh comedy “Downward Dog” finally has an air date.
The show will sneak preview at 9:30 p.m. May 17 after the season finale of “Modern Family” and move into its regular time slot, 8 p.m. Tuesday, on May 23, the day before the end of the 2016-17 TV season.
At one point ABC executives had thought of pairing “Downward Dog” with “Bachelorette” and airing episodes back-to-back. That’s no longer the plan, which bodes better for the show’s odds of success, although a summer run is still not ideal for any show.
“Downward Dog” stars Allison Tolman (“Fargo”) as Nan, a single Pittsburgh woman with a dog, Martin (Ned), whose narcissistic thoughts are heard by viewers (but not by Nan). That high concept for the show — a talking dog!?! — makes it a comedy outlier.
Created by Pittsburghers Michael Killen and Samm Hodges, who also voices Martin, “Downward Dog” filmed its pilot in Pittsburgh in December 2015 and returned to shoot the balance of its episodes in fall 2016.
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August Wilson’s Hill District is near at hand for Pittsburghers, but the movie adaptation […]POSTED ON: March 12, 2017
Mykelti Williamson reflects on Pittsburgh filming as ‘Fences’ arrives on Blu-ray, DVD
August Wilson’s Hill District is near at hand for Pittsburghers, but the movie adaptation of “Fences” brought just a taste of life on the Hill in the 1950s to millions of moviegoers.
Now anyone can bring “Fences” into his or her home.
The movie directed by and starring Denzel Washington and co-starring Viola Davis has been available in Digital HD since Feb. 24 and now arrives in Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand Tuesday from Paramount Home Media Distribution.
A bonus featurette on the Blu-ray disc is “August Wilson’s Hill District,” and another visits Ms. Davis on set, where she discusses her preparation to portray Rose Maxson — a role that has brought her a Tony Award as best actress in a play and an Oscar as best supporting actress.
The late Pittsburgh playwright Mr. Wilson received an Academy Award nomination for best adapted screenplay in transferring his Pulitzer Prize-winning play for the big screen. The bulk of “Fences” was filmed last spring in and around an Anaheim Street house on the Hill.
“Fences,” set in the 1950s, tells the story of former Negro League ballplayer Troy Maxson (Oscar nominee Mr. Washington), whose dashed dreams have a chilling effect on those around him. Mykelti Williamson was among the cast members who made the leap with Mr. Washington and Ms. Davis from stage to screen. He played Gabriel, Troy’s brother who was wounded in World War II and has a metal plate in his head.
The film shoot was Mr. Williamson’s first extended stay in Pittsburgh, and he made the most of it. “It was a great time of year to be there, the people were amazing, the food was good — Pittsburgh exceeded my expectations. I expected to have a good time, but nothing like I actually did. It was great,” he said.
The actor who played Bubba in the Oscar-winning film “Forrest Gump” was speaking by phone recently when he discussed his experience filming in Pittsburgh.
Q: What was it like filming in the Hill District and having people in the homes all around you?
A: We were welcomed with open arms. One of the most intelligent things that Denzel did was to insist upon this being shot in Pittsburgh, in the Hill District. No one can authenticate the spirit of the people in the Hill District, the way they keep their yards — I don’t care who the landscapers are. Just the character and the personality with the way people decorate their front porches, it’s all right there. So why try to fake that? You go to the community and it’s there.
The beauty of being in the community was coming home from work, you could smell the food cooking, and in the morning you could smell them cooking breakfast and brewing coffee — you could smell the neighborhood and hear people moving around in their houses and it was just great. That actually elevated our experience and made it extremely authentic. That goes to the intelligence of Denzel Washington.
Q: What is Denzel Washington like as a director?
A: The way that Denzel inspired and led us as a director is by his intelligence, and he’s amazing himself. There’s no actor in the world better than Denzel. So he inspires you because he’s so good at what he does, you want to bring your best work no matter what the challenge is. And Mr. Wilson’s language is challenging, because you can do so many things with it.
Q: When did you know you would be playing Gabriel again, this time on screen?
A: When we were on Broadway, there were plans to flush the material out to see how we could take it to the screen. We knew August had a screenplay, and we knew Denzel was interested in a cinematic application of “Fences.” One day at Denzel’s house, after we had finished the play, he said he had not seen one script that was on par, certainly not better, than “Fences.” So we knew at that time, sitting at Denzel’s house, that it was something that he intended to pursue, no matter what it took.
Q: Is there a kind of “Fences” family now, including Stephen McKinley Henderson and Russell Hornsby, who went from Broadway to filming together?
A: Bonding on stage brought us together in a way that no one can ever separate us. Seeing an actor work super hard, struggle with the material to try to flush it out — everybody does the same thing. When you are working in the woodshop like that with your peers really close to each other, and then to have another opportunity to so-called bring the band back together again, it’s amazing.
Q: What do you think of the film now being on DVD and Blu-ray, so it can be seen in homes and in schools?
A: We are privileged to be the first ones to take August Wilson in a visual form, in a motion picture, to the world. We are so privileged to be in this position. Knowing people will have the DVD or the Blu-ray in their homes, in their own libraries, is just amazing. And in schools, where kids are studying August Wilson, they can put it on and let August Wilson do the talking.
The “Fences” Blu-ray Combo Pack ($39.99) includes more than 30 minutes of bonus content, including interviews with Mr. Washington and Ms. Davis and other members of the cast and crew, and a feature about bringing “Fences” from stage to screen and another titled “August Wilson’s Hill District.” The combo pack includes access to a Digital HD copy of the film. The single-disc DVD ($29.99) includes the film in standard definition.
Sharon Eberson: [email protected] Twitter: @SEberson_pg.
Here’s a first-look teaser of Netflix’s Mindhunter, the crime series that’s executive produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron. Jonathan […]POSTED ON: March 1, 2017
‘Mindhunter’ Teaser: First Look At Netflix’s David Fincher-Charlize Theron Crime Series
Here’s a first-look teaser of Netflix’s Mindhunter, the crime series that’s executive produced by David Fincher and Charlize Theron. Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv and Hannah Gross star in the blood-splotched period drama. There’s an impressive roster of directors here that includes Fincher, Asif Kapadia, Tobias Lindholm and Andrew Douglas. A global debut is set for October.
Mindhunter is based on the 1996 book Mind Hunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, by former special agent John Douglas and Mark Olshaker.
Set in 1979, the series centers on the inquisitive and skilled FBI Agent Bill Tench (McCallany). Along with fellow serial killer investigator in the behavioral science unit, FBI agent Holden Ford (Groff), Tench interviews serial killers to help them solve current murders.
Mindhunter marks a reteam for Fincher and Netflix after House Of Cards helped launch the streaming service’s original scripted series. Joshua Donen and Cean Chaffin are also exec producers.
KATE BENZ | Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, 10:06 a.m. “This is last year’s red carpet,” joked Danny Shaffalo of his red […]POSTED ON: February 27, 2017
Fanfare: Pittsburgh Film Office draws 700 for 17th Annual Oscar Party
KATE BENZ | Monday, Feb. 27, 2017, 10:06 a.m.
“This is last year’s red carpet,” joked Danny Shaffalo of his red tuxedo during the Pittsburgh Film Office’s Lights! Glamour! Action! Oscar party. “There was just enough to cut off and make into a jacket.”
All 515 feet of red carpet — 15 feet longer than the one being used in L.A. — was graced by 700 guests who arrived at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for the annual nod to the Academy Awards on Feb. 26.
“We had four carpenters working on it for five hours and it was laid three days in advance,” said Theresa Kaufman, who teamed up with Shari Zatman to produce the event.
Early on, more than one guest was quick to admit that their interest in the Oscars had more to do with fashion than film.
“I’m a girl so of course I care about the red carpet more,” said Emily Wilson.
As was expected, the people watching took the win for most of the evening until the Oscars telecast began, although Bubbles the champagne goddess (aka Jordan Streussnig) turned out to be a close second.
“We had to get a ladder to get her in and out of there,” laughed Donita Cornacchione (with Emilio). “That champagne glass is eight feet tall.”
On the list were PFO director Dawn Keezer, board chair Russ Streiner, co-chairs Lori and Pete Schoonmaker, Kim Moses, Larry Rapaport, Tom Savini, emcees Sally Wiggin and Michelle Wright of WTAE, Frank Murgia, Luis and Jenny Fábregas, Rich and Cindy Engler, Gisele Fetterman, Lucas and Renee Piatt, Ronda Zegarelli, Bonnie and Jay Mangold, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack.
By Natalie Bencivenga / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette When and where: Sunday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. #LetsGoToTheMovies: […]POSTED ON: February 27, 2017
Pittsburgh Film Office’s ‘Lights! Glamour! Action!’ event rolls out red carpet at Convention Center
When and where: Sunday night at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.
#LetsGoToTheMovies: The Pittsburgh Film Office’s party just keeps getting better! Here were some highlights from this one enchanted evening:
Red Carpet Magic: This year’s red carpet clocked in at 515 feet — longer than the one in Hollywood! Lining the red carpet were glamorous drag queens like Bebe Beretta, Tootsie Snyder, Bambi Deerest and others channeling the movie stars from yesteryear. Izzazu’s Glam Cam caught all the action with Bubba from 100.7 and Emilio Cornachione interviewing guests as they strutted their stuff for the camera.
Bubbles, anyone? The drinks were flowing and at the center of it all was an 8-foot-high champagne glass complete with Bubbles the Champagne Goddess lounging for all to see (and admire).
#RatedPGH: Once the doors to the ballroom opened, the party kicked off with an original opening number by the Craig Zinger singers as guests enjoyed signature drinks in honor of “Outsiders,” filmed in Pittsburgh. Ever tasted a Li’l Foster, a cranberry moonshine cosmo? “It’s sentimental to have all of these Pittsburgh big-screen moments here with us tonight,” said PFO director Dawn Keezer, who was dripping in diamonds (naturally!) from Brilliant Nuevo Diamonds. “We are so thrilled to have such support here to keep producing films and television shows in our city.”
#LetsParty: Guests noshed on a Dunkin’ Donuts doughnut wall, Millies Ice Cream, dessert-themed waffles from Waffleonia and savory treats from Levy Restaurants before dancing to the Totally 80s band and playing retro games like Atari. It was a night to remember!
#SEEN: Co-emcees Sally Wiggin and Michelle Wright, Gino Chiodo, honorary co-chairs Pete and Lori Schoonmaker, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Lt. Governor Mike Stack, Jay and Bonnie Mangold, Ed Amori with daughter Brittany, Alan and Diane Perer, Jon and Casey Pratkanis, Lucas and Renee Piatt, Rich and Cindy Engler, Gisele Fetterman, Adnan Pehlivan, Louis LaRose, Navin Bhambhwani and mom Neeta, Lisa Freeman, Anne Stone and the ladies behind the magic, Theresa Kaufman and Shari Zatman.