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Actor Paul Walker dies in car crash, fans stunned, in mourning

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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Very sad news: Actor Paul Walker, 40, died in a car crash north of Los Angeles, the Associated Press and other news outlets report. He was a passenger in a friend’s car which crashed while he was attending a charity event on Saturday.

His Facebook page posted the news: It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend's car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. - #TeamPW

Walker is best known for the “Fast and Furious” franchise although he has a long list of other credits. I spoke to him in 2006 when he had a pair of very different movies in theaters and he was quite pleasant over the phone.

He was incredibly good looking but that will only get you so far in Hollywood where everyone is good looking; he was talented, too, able to tackle R-rated or family friendly material. He will be missed.

Here’s what I wrote in February 2006:

By Barbara Vancheri Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A word to the wise: Don't go to the box office and just ask for a ticket to the new Paul Walker movie.

You could get a seat to "Eight Below" when you want "Running Scared" or -- lordy -- you could end up in "Running Scared" when you want the Disney dog adventure.

"Running Scared" is what Walker acknowledges is a "hard R," in terms of its rating. Targeted largely at young men, it's filled with profanity. Walker had to work that out of his system before making the family film about the dogs fending for themselves in Antarctica.

"I was cleansed of my sins by doing 'Eight Below'; that's what it was about after doing this one, after seeing my mom cry," when she saw a "Running Scared" preview designed to help sell the movie. "She laid the heaviest guilt trip ever. I was baptized by 'Eight Below,' so I'm clean again."

In "Running Scared," directed and written by Wayne Kramer, Walker portrays a low-level employee of the Italian Perello mob in Grimley, N.J., which was created in Prague. Walker spent a week in the real Jersey for certain scenes that couldn't be faked.

Walker's surfer-boy good looks served him well in movies such as "Into the Blue" opposite Jessica Alba or "The Fast and the Furious" and its sequel, but they have worked against him, too.

"This isn't what people are offering me. I had to chase this one down," the 32-year-old native Californian said, during a Philadelphia publicity stop. "This is the kind of movie I like, this is what I like to see, this is a movie I've wanted to be part of for a long time but people see me as blond hair and blue eyes," and cast accordingly.

"Running Scared" proved to be challenging in every way, Walker says, with scenes shot in an ice rink requiring him to be face down, with a hidden tube spitting out a puddle of fake blood and a 350-pound man kneeing him in the back. A hockey puck fired at his face was computer-generated. Those sequences took seven days to film.

"We had more than an ambitious shot list every day, a ridiculous list. We had to get it. We knew there wasn't going to be someone to bail us out and give us more time at the end of it." It was challenging physically, mentally and emotionally, he says.

"I was ramped up. I was living on adrenaline almost this entire shoot. You can't fake that. You gotta match the moment, what's scripted. I went home exhausted. I had to show up at work with a full tank, and I was just barely making it home on the fumes. I'd get home and couldn't sleep because I was still trembling from the adrenaline."

Working with two young actors -- Alex Neuberger who plays his son, Nicky, and Cameron Bright as a neighbor boy -- helped keep things in perspective. "They just have a way of reminding you that, hey, look, if you can't have fun at the same time, there's no sense in really doing it."

He threw the football around with the pair, bought them guitars and jammed with them in the trailer and spent time playing Halo on Xbox, too. Walker probably did none of those things on "Flags of Our Fathers," Clint Eastwood's new Iwo Jima movie.

"I play Hank Hansen, a real guy," Walker says, and he had U.S. Navy and Marine Corps research to draw upon. "You'd be amazed at how much information they have on this guy: personality traits, nicknames, favorite color, you name it." Hansen was tall and lanky and had coloring similar to Walker's.

Eastwood is famous for doing just one or two shots, and Walker says, "I used to like take seven through eight. ... I've learned I come sharp, I come ready. You just got to know what you got to do. Basically on a Clint Eastwood movie, if you don't get it right, you're not going to be in the movie."

Walker will star opposite another Oscar winner -- Anthony Hopkins -- in a movie about Ernest Hemingway called "Papa" that starts shooting in the fall.

Walker's short publicity tour for "Running Scared" has taken him to New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia, and he says audiences react in identical fashion no matter the city. "It's the same beats every time," with applause for justice dispensed by Vera Farmiga, who plays his wife, and a cheer at the movie's final twist.

That is one thing both Walker films share.




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World Cafe to showcase Pittsburgh on Sense of Place

Written by Scott Mervis on .

donoraDonoraThe Philadelphia-based World Cafe radio show, which airs weekdays on WYEP-FM, will set its sights on Pittsburgh for the Dec. 11 episode of Sense of Place.

Previous editions have explored such scenes as Nashville, Brazil/Argentina, New Orleans, Dublin, Toronto and Portland, offering listeners a taste of the music, culture and personalities.

"I have always been a big fan of the city of bridges and tunnels so it was a joy to collaborate with WYEP on this quick visit to Pittsburgh. And the music! Listeners are going to love this show," World Cafe host David Dye said in a statement.

The Pittsburgh episode will feature:

• A live interview and performance session with Donora, recently recorded at WYEP.

• WYEP Morning Mix host Cindy Howes talking about Pittsburgh and playing her top five new local bands.

 

• An chat with Jerry Weber of the legendary Jerry's Records

• Renowned soul singer Billy Price selecting his top five classic Pittsburgh songs.

• An archived World Cafe performance by Rusted Root.

• And Pittsburgh music selections chosen by Dye.

World Cafe is nationally syndicated to more than 225 radio stations by NPR. It airs on WYEP at 6 p.m.

 

 

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Want to win a lot of CDs?

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Who doesn't, right? This could be the greatest way to re-gift ahead of the holidays. (Not that I endorse that sort of behavior.) Between now and Dec. 13, Classical WQED is holding a contest for its Must-Have Music Festival. Name your must-have CDs online or by phone, and you could win a whole bunch more. More details here: http://www.wqed.org/pressroom/releases/wqed-fm-s-must-have-music-festival/

So, what are your must-haves, Pittsburgh? 

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More Vinyl Heaven! Jerry's Records to open Bargain Basement

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

Jerry-Weber-and-his-son-WillieJerry Weber, right, and his son WillieAs if Jerry's Records wasn't already a slice of heaven, now the famous Squirrel Hill vinyl store is celebrating Black Friday and Record Store Day #2 with the opening of the new “Bargain Basement” in the cellar.

There you will find LPs, CDs, tapes, etc., for $1 or $2, and 45s for 50 cents.

"I had to rent the basement to get more space," Pittsburgh's favorite "hoarder" Jerry Weber explained.

"No more Vinyl-Paloozas," he added, referring to the summer sale at the Pittsburgh Irish Centre. "This is a 360-day-a-year Vinyl-palooza. No more Irish Centre and packing boxes and driving trucks around."

You'll get your fix of Kansas, Moody Blues, Journey, Billy Joel and Rod Stewart down there, and a whole lot else.

A few weeks ago, he says, "I got into a hoarder’s house in Ohio. The guy died and his wife called and said, 'Get this [s---] out of here. He had 5,500 jazz CDs, like 300 different Louis Armstrong CDs. I'm selling them for two bucks."

 

Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2136 Murray Ave., 2nd Floor. Call 412-421-4533.

 

 

 

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Bruce Springsteen has 'High Hopes' set for January

Written by Scott Mervis on .

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Bruce Springsteen fans!

A new album, "High Hopes," is coming on Jan. 14 and you can hear the single right now. Once again, the Boss puts a weighty message into an upbeat groove, this one a full-out funk workout with Rage guitarist Tom Morello and that blast horns we heard on his last tour.

His 18th album was recorded in New Jersey, LA, Atlanta, Australia and New York, and features the E Street Band, including contributions from the late Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. Springsteen calls "some of our best unreleased material from the past decade.” One track is the oft-heard Springsteen-Morello collaboration on "The Ghost of Tom Joad."

Producing once again is Ron Aniello (Lifehouse, Barenaked Ladies), who helmed "Wrecking Ball" and was a nice change from Brendan O'Brien.

High Hopes tracklisting:

1. High Hopes (Tim Scott McConnell) – featuring Tom Morello
2. Harry’s Place  – featuring Tom Morello
3. American Skin (41 Shots) – featuring Tom Morello
4. Just Like Fire Would (Chris J. Bailey) – featuring Tom Morello
5. Down In The Hole 
6. Heaven’s Wall  – featuring Tom Morello
7. Frankie Fell In Love
8. This Is Your Sword
9. Hunter Of Invisible Game  – featuring Tom Morello
10. The Ghost of Tom Joad – duet with Tom Morello
11. The Wall
12. Dream Baby Dream (Martin Rev and Alan Vega) – featuring Tom Morello

 

 

 

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