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 YOHANA DESTA Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director behind classics like The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, died Wednesday […]POSTED ON: April 26, 2017
Oscar-Winning Director Jonathan Demme Dies at 73
Jonathan Demme, the Oscar-winning director behind classics like The Silence of the Lambs and Philadelphia, died Wednesday morning in New York. He was 73 years old.
The cause was esophageal cancer and complications from heart disease, according to Indiewire, which first reported the news. Demme was first treated for heart disease in 2010.
Demme made a name for himself as a filmmaker who voraciously tackled a variety of genres, easily switching from horror to drama to documentary. The Silence of the Lambs, released in 1991, is arguably his most famous work, a breakthrough horror hit that swept the Academy Awards the following year. It was awarded five Oscars, including a best director statuette for Demme and one for best picture.
The director soon followed that success with Philadelphia, a drama about a lawyer with HIV starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Hanks picked up a best actor statuette for his role as well.
Demme also directed a number of beloved smaller films, including the sublime Rachel Getting Married (2008), starring Anne Hathaway as a high-strung, drug-addicted drama queen.
Outside of fiction, the director famously handled a number of high-profile concert films, among them the 1984 Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense and several Neil Young projects, most recently 2011’s Neil Young Journeys.
The director was working well up until his death. He recently directed an episode of the Fox drama Shots Fired, and directed two films in the last two years: the dramedy Ricki and the Flash, starring Meryl Streep as a rocker estranged from her family, and the documentary Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids.
He is survived by his wife, Joanne Howard, and three children.
Pittsburgh native Jeff Goldblum is returning to the world of dinosaurs for the next installment of “Jurassic World,” according to […]POSTED ON: April 26, 2017
Pittsburgh’s Jeff Goldblum returning for ‘Jurassic World’ sequel
Pittsburgh native Jeff Goldblum is returning to the world of dinosaurs for the next installment of “Jurassic World,” according to Entertainment Weekly.
Goldblum starred as cocky mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm in the original Jurassic Park (1993) and its 1997 sequel “The Lost World.”
The sequel to the 2015 reboot of the film franchise is due out next year. It will once again star Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard and be directed by J.A. Bayona (“A Monster Calls”). It reportedly will be “darker” and “scarier” than “Jurassic World.”
Goldblum has stayed busy in his more than 40 years as an actor. He reprised his role from 1996’s “Independence Day” in last year’s sequel, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” and he plays the manipulative Grandmaster in this fall’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” He also plays the character in an uncredited cameo in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which comes out May 5.
By Patricia Sheridan / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Kris Bennett was looking for something to do after his 12-year career as a […]POSTED ON: April 26, 2017
Pittsburgh couple are stars of HGTV’s “Steel City Rehab”
Kris Bennett was looking for something to do after his 12-year career as a professional BMX rider came to an end.
“I really didn’t know what was next,” he confessed, noting that he had no college degree or work experience.
A friend suggested he try flipping houses. So he and his wife, Tara, decided to give it a go.
“The market had just crashed and it was a really good time to get into it,” he said.
Now they will do it on TV. The Bennetts are the stars of “Steel City Rehab,” whose pilot episode will air at noon Sunday on HGTV.
“We got our first house in 2009 in Penn Hills,” recalled Mrs. Bennett, a University of Pittsburgh graduate.
Though he had no construction experience, Mr. Bennett did most of the work himself. “I’ve always been one to kind of dive in and figure things out on the fly.”
“It was crazy and very long hours,” said his wife, laughing.
It didn’t go exactly as planned, and several sales fell through, but they eventually made a small profit.
“I feel like we learned so much we had to do it again,” she said.
Their partnership became the K Bennett Development Group. She is the design guru and he manages the construction side. They currently have 14 rehab projects underway.
A production company found the couple on social media while looking for the right team in the right location to pitch to HGTV.
“They actually found us on Instagram,” he said. “I think they were excited about finding something in Pittsburgh because it is such a popular market and a popular city right now.”
The process started in 2015. “We did a lot of Skyping,” Mr. Bennett said.
He and his wife are originally from Titusville, Crawford County. His sister, who attended Pitt with Tara, introduced them. They live in Fox Chapel and are the parents of three children: daughter Sydney, 10, and sons Jack, 7, and Luke, 3.
If the show takes off, are they concerned about the effect of TV exposure on their marriage?
“Any time you put yourself out there, I am sure there are stresses that come with that,” he said.
“We’ve been married 11 years and have three kids, so I kind of feel like we’ve gotten this far,” she said. “I have confidence in us.”
HGTV will decide whether to extend the show for an entire season based on Sunday’s ratings. The Bennetts realize their fame might be fleeting — or not.
“We have had long discussions about how this might affect us, our family and our businesses,” he said.
“This business is stressful, so we are used to dealing with stuff,” she added.
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.”
WPXI | Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 6:48 a.m. Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, stars of NBC’s “This is Us,” will be […]POSTED ON: April 25, 2017
‘This is Us’ stars Moore, Ventimiglia to announce Steelers’ draft pick in Pittsburgh
WPXI | Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 6:48 a.m.
Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia, stars of NBC’s “This is Us,” will be in Pittsburgh Saturday to announce the Steelers’ fourth-round NFL Draft pick.
Moore and Ventimiglia will make the announcement at Heinz Field, an NBC spokesperson said Monday.
“This is Us” is set in Pittsburgh, and Moore and Ventimiglia will shoot promos for the Steelers’ in-stadium screen while they’re in town.
The Steelers will be celebrating the 2017 Steelers Fan Blitz with events on Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. Among the planned events is a Q&A session with Moore and Ventimiglia at the FedEx Great Hall stage.
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.
By T.L. Stanley Martin, the soulful-looking mutt that stars in the upcoming ABC show Downward Dog, is a navel gazer […]POSTED ON: April 24, 2017
Downward Dog Is a New Breed of Talking-Animal Show, and a Marketing Challenge for ABC
Martin, the soulful-looking mutt that stars in the upcoming ABC show Downward Dog, is a navel gazer with an attitude. That much is obvious from his soliloquies about his place in the household hierarchy and his thorny relationship with the cat.
See, Martin is a talking dog who’s as prone to existential crises as he is to oversharing. He speaks directly to the camera and narrates the half-hour series about his life with his owner Nan, played by Fargo breakout actress (and Emmy nominee) Allison Tolman.
The fact that Downward Dog is a different breed of talking-animal show—not a broad, slapstick comedy—poses a unique marketing challenge for its network and producers.
On top of that, there’s the scrutiny from animal activists that comes whenever a real dog lands a major role in a piece of entertainment. The trend, especially in film, has been shifting to computer-generated animals instead of live performances to avoid criticism and potential animal welfare issues, as was the case with A Dog’s Purpose, which spurred a boycott of the film.
In truth, nearly everything about Downward Dog is unconventional, from its origins as a Pittsburgh ad agency’s passion project to its well-received launch at the Sundance Film Festival, the first broadcast comedy to score that coveted platform.
Any confusion about the eight-episode series, premiering May 17, could work in its favor, said Michael Killen, co-founder of Animal, the production, advertising and visual effects company that debuted Downward Dog a few years ago as one-minute webisodes before helping turn it into a prime-time TV property.
“In an era of way too much TV, we hope this will be able to cut through,” said Killen, an executive producer on the ABC series, “even if people have the wrong idea about it.”
Taking a cue from promotions for shows like FX’s Atlanta and TBS’ Search Party, ABC is positioning Downward Dog as a dramedy, stamped with the Sundance laurels in print ads for indie credibility. On-air and digital promos are more cinema verité than setup-punch line, using snippets of Martin’s sometimes dark and cynical musings. “Life isn’t always a walk in the park,” says one tagline. Translation: this is not Dog With a Blog.
Downward Dog looks at the world from Martin’s perspective, while “projecting human emotions onto him,” said Samm Hodges, a director at Animal and executive producer of the ABC show who provides the dog’s voice. “The humor is in how angsty he is. He suffers from modern ennui.”
That keeps the show far from the typical talking animal trope, he said, even though execs at Animal cut their teeth, so to speak, on such commercial fare as Taco Bell’s Chihuahua and the Real California Cheese campaign (chatty cows and sheep).
That history grounded them in the rigors and standards of working with real animals, which centers on “giving absolute control to the trainers,” Hodges said.
Martin, who in real life is a rescued shelter pup named Ned, got to be himself on the Pittsburgh set, Hodges said, “doing only the things a dog would really do. There are no daring rescue scenarios. Sometimes we would shoot whatever he was doing and write around it,” making use of Ned’s limited work schedule.
Animal welfare advocates have focused their efforts in recent years on wild animals in entertainment, pushing for an all-CGI future. For domesticated pets like cats and dogs, “we don’t have any philosophical objection to their being included as long as there’s no harm or stress,” said Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the U.S. “It’s important from a cultural perspective to have entertainment imitate life, and animals are central to that.”
In Downward Dog, Nan rescues Martin from a shelter, an example of “just the kind of message we want to convey,” Pacelle said. “Anything that may help the larger societal problem of homeless animals and needless euthanasia is positive.”
There may be tie-ins with animal rescue groups to go along with the show’s run, and producers created a behind-the-scenes video of Ned’s journey from traumatized shelter dog to small screen star.
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.