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Talkin' Bout Practice: August 4

Written by Sam Werner on .

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Football is back.

Well, football practice at least. Pitt opened its 2014 training camp Monday with a 2 1/2-hour session in only helmets. In case you missed it this weekend, here's a link to my five questions the Panthers face heading into the 2014 season. For now, let's jump right into some observations from the first practice session, with the caveat that it's tough to tell too much from a helmets-only practice.

- Suspended cornerback Titus Howard was present at Pitt's practice, wearing his new No. 21. As part of his year-long suspension, Howard is allowed to practice with the team and defensive backs coach Troy Douglas referred to it as essentially a "redshirt" year for him. Howard's friend and former Clairton teammate Tyler Boyd also assured that he would stay in Howard's ear and make sure he does what he has to do to get back on the field.

- Incoming freshman linebacker Jamal Davis, on the other hand, was not at practice Monday. Chryst said his eligibility is currently going through the NCAA Clearinghouse, but he expects Davis to join the team "sooner than later." Receiver Jaquaun Davidson, another late enrollee, was at practice Monday.

- A lot of the talk this offseason has centered around just how much James Conner will play defense this year, and it seems like the answer is a fairly significant amount. Conner was working with defensive ends coach John Palermo when I arrived at practice this morning, and Palermo said afterwards that he expects Conner to be a key part in third-down and pass-rushing situations. Palermo added that Ejuan Price's season-ending injury has increased the chances Conner will see significant reps on defense.
"I would tell you that we will miss Ejuan a lot," Palermo said. "Somebody else is going to have to step up to the plate in his position and, basically on third downs, we're going to have to get that help out of James, I believe."

- Sticking with the defensive ends for a second, Palermo said that he has "never seen a bigger hodgepodge of guys before in my life" with regards to size at the position. One projected starter, Shakir Soto, is listed at 6-foot-3, 270 lbs and the other, David Durham, is 6-foot-2, 240 pounds. Add in guys like Nicholas Grigsby (6-1, 220) and freshman Rori Blair (6-4, 230 lbs) and you do have a pretty wide range of sizes to choose from. The answer will likely be specialization, in that each guy will have a pretty clearly defined role, rather than all of them being interchangeable parts.
I mentioned Blair above because Palermo said he would "definitely" have to play for Pitt this season, despite being a true freshman. He did have the benefit of enrolling early and taking part in spring drills, but that does speak to the lack of depth Pitt has at defensive end.
"I'm hoping that Rori can fill that void that Ejuan left us with, but again, he's a young kid," Palermo said. "I don't want to pressure him so much that as a young kid he loses confidence right now."

- Running back Chris James and wide receiver Adonis Jennings saw plenty of action with the second team today. I'd be very surprised if both of them don't play this season.

- Running back Isaac Bennett was technically "limited" in today's practice as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, but should be back to full strength within a few weeks.

- Defensive back Ryan Lewis has moved from safety to cornerback to help offset the loss of Howard. Reggie Mitchell, meanwhile, will stay at safety in addition to being the nickelback when Pitt puts an extra defensive back on the field. Douglas did note that Mitchell could play corner in an emergency situation, but also pointed out that it would make the Panthers pretty thin at safety.

- The highlight of today's practice was probably an interception by freshman cornerback Avonte Maddox off Trey Anderson during a team passing drill. Maddox made a nice jump on the ball and took it back for what would have been a touchdown. When Douglas was asked about the chances of either Maddox or fellow freshman Phillipie Motley would see the field this year, Douglas said he hoped so and noted that "we didn't recruit anyone to be backups."

- No real surprises when it comes to depth chart movement. Starting offensive line was Bisnowaty-Johnson-Rowell-Rotheram-Clemmings, as expected. The second team offensive line was JonesSmith-Roberts-Officer-Baker-Reese.

- Chad Voytik got virtually all the reps with the first team at quarterback. Paul Chryst didn't provide a specific timeline for naming a starter, but it seems like a mere formality that Voytik will get the job.

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Jennifer Connelly coming to Pittsburgh for "American Pastoral"

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

jconnelly481975317BD00099 UK PremierJennifer Connelly has joined “American Pastoral,” expected to shoot here with actor Ewan McGregor in March.
 
That’s the word from Variety which reports Connelly will play the wife of McGregor, cast as Seymour “Swede” Levov, a legendary high school athlete, devoted family man and hard worker who inherits his father’s Newark glove factory. He is brought to life in Philip Roth’s 1997 “American Pastoral” novel.
 
In late June, Lakeshore Entertainment confirmed that it would return to the Pittsburgh area for a third time after filming “The Mothman Prophecies” starring Richard Gere here in 2001 and “One for the Money” with Katherine Heigl in 2010. 
 
Footage shot here in fall 2012 will be used to help the movie, which takes place from the late 1940s to late ’70s, establish different seasons. “American Pastoral” is expected to film here for 40 days. 
 
Phillip Noyce, who directed Angelina Jolie in “Salt,” Michael Caine in “The Quiet American” and Kenneth Branagh in “Rabbit-Proof Fence” among other projects, will direct the movie.
 
John Romano, who wrote the screenplay for “The Lincoln Lawyer” based on Michael Connelly’s successful courtroom thriller about an attorney operating out of the back of his Lincoln sedan, is adapting Roth’s book for the big screen. Lakeshore executives Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi will produce “American Pastoral.”  
 
The book, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1998, is about Swede Levov, a legendary athlete at his Newark high school (class of 1950) who grows up in the postwar boom, marries a former beauty queen and inherits his father’s factory. 
 
But in 1968, the couple’s teenage daughter plants a homemade bomb in the village post office, a misguided and deadly attack on a symbol of the government during the Vietnam War. She disappears into something similar to the Weather Underground, and lives and dreams turn to ashes
 
(Photo shows Jennifer Connelly at the United Kingdom premiere of "Noah." Photo by Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International.) 

 

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The perfect garden gift

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog glass art tightNikolaj Christensen created this beautiful piece of art out of glass for last year's Summer Flower Show at Phipps. Photos by Doug Oster

blog garden art1I met Jordyn Melino at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens many years ago as the two of us worked on promoting Red, Ripe and Roasted. It's a tomato and garlic festival I helped start in conjunction with the conservatory 10 years ago.

Since then, Jordyn has become exhibit coordinator at Phipps and she's often my source when I film segments about the seasonal shows she oversees there.

Last year, the Summer Flower Show combined glass art with the plants. In the fern room were glass sculptures by Nikolaj Christensen of Philadelphia. The glass pieces resembled obsidian rock and were covered with colorful snails. The artist even was able to duplicate the slime trail which is left behind when the snails crawl over an object.

I fell in love with the pieces and spent quite a bit of time in the room with Jordyn during one of our filmings.

A couple of weeks ago I was at Phipps teaching a photo class for interns there and Jordyn had a gift for me. It was one of the beautiful works of art created by Nikolaj.

I had forgotten all about those shiny, black glass sculptures, but Jordyn remembered. That's why it's the perfect gift. It's something I love, would never buy for myself and will enjoy for a lifetime in the garden.

I still haven't found the perfect place for the art. I've moved it around the garden several times, but eventually the planets will align and the location will be found.

Just like we remember the people who give us certain plants, I'll think of Jordyn every time I look at this work of art.

blog garden art slime trailI have no idea how the artist duplicated the slime trail on this artwork, it's really cool.

 

 

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PSO looking for student singers

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

The Pittsburgh Symphony is seeking young singers for its Student Chorale. More from the PSO:

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Chorale Director Christine Hestwood are looking for high school- and college-age singers to join the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Student Chorale. The Chorale will perform during the PNC Pops performance of "Heroes and Villains" on October 17-19.

Created by the late Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh Music Director Emeritus Robert Page, the Student Chorale provides student performers the unique opportunity to perform on the Heinz Hall stage with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. "Heroes and Villains," conducted by Lucas Richman, features music from a variety of movie scores.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Student Chorale is open to high school students in grades 10 to 12, as well as college singers. The chorale will total 60 members and all rehearsals will take place in October. Choral directors can nominate quartets of students by filling out the nomination form found at pittsburghsymphony.org/heroes. Nominations are due by September 5. For more information about the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Student Chorale, please contact Hestwood at 412-977-2047 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Fault in Our Stars DVD and Blu-ray Sept. 16, with deleted scenes

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

 

the-fault-in-our-stars-blu-ray-dvd-FIOS-271-06853c rgb
tfioscoverthumbnailCatching up with some news about the DVD release of “The Fault in Our Stars" starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort.
 
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release it on Sept. 16 on Blu-ray and DVD with an extended version of the movie — although no specifics on how much additional footage there is. But writer John Green, along with Ben Avon resident Sophie Guest, should appear in one of the deleted scenes.
 
Here are the details:
 
“The Fault in Our Stars” Little Infinities Extended Edition Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack Special features 
— Extended version
— Extended cut audio commentary by director Josh Boone and Green
— 6 deleted scenes (including commentary)
— The Stars Align: Book to Screen 
— Plus all of the features on the DVD
 
The Fault in Our Stars Blu-ray and DVD Combo Pack Special features 
 — Audio commentary by Josh Boone and John Green
— 6 deleted scenes (including commentary)
— The Stars Align: Book to Screen
— Plus all of the features on the DVD
 
“The Fault in Our Stars” DVD Special features 
— Theatrical cut audio commentary by Josh Boone and John Green
— Promotional featurettes: The cast, The making of “The Fault in Our Stars,” The transformation, Literature to Life, Our Little Infinity, The Music Behind Our Stars
 

 

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