See "The Chair" movies at Waterworks starting Friday

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

“Hollidaysburg” and “Not Cool,” two movies made in Pittsburgh as part of “The Chair” documentary series and competition, will open Friday at Waterworks Cinemas near Fox Chapel. 
Both are coming-of-age comedies about former high school classmates returning home from college for Thanksgiving. Anna Martemucci directed “Hollidaysburg” which will screen at 7:10 p.m. daily while Shane Dawson’s “Not Cool” will follow at 9:25 p.m.
Premium cable network Starz has been airing the 10-episode series chronicling the moviemaking process as Ms. Martemucci and Mr. Dawson make separate features from the same Dan Schoffer script and budget. The audience will vote on which director will win $250,000.
Among the behind-the-scenes (and sometimes, on camera) players are: “Project Greenlight” creator and “Promised Land” producer Chris Moore; Zachary Quinto, Corey Moosa and Neal Dodson from Before the Door Pictures; Point Park University, which provided production office space and counted 100-plus students as interns, employees and in other capacities; Steeltown Entertainment Project; and the Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator, a WQED-Steeltown venture. 
Photo of Anna Martemucci by Bob Donaldson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and photo of Shane Dawson by Camelia Montoy.

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Paul McGann, the 8th Doctor Who, and TARDIS touch down to charm fans at Pittsburgh Comicon

Written by Sharon Eberson on .


It was a Whovian day on Saturday, and not just because it was episode day on BBC America. At the Pittsburgh Comicon, the longest lines and most jubilant fans were for Doctor No. 8, Paul McGann, the movie doctor who has extended his run with continuing adventures on audio.

Cosplayers dressed as various versions of the Doctor (many believe fezzes are cool), young women in dresses and skirts with graphic TARDIS prints and fans of all sorts waited at Monroeville Convention Center to pay for an autograph or take pictures with TV Time Lord McGann and his TARDIS -- there was a smaller version of the time-traveling police box for the youngest fans, too.

McGann returned the adoration in kind, accommodating requests from hugs to poses with sonic screwdrivers representing the 13 Doctors -- although McGann kept his own nearby.

2014PaulMcGannPCI think of him as the bridge Doctor Who. The 1996 TV movie failed to catch on at the time, but it was the first "Doctor Who" sighting since the series had ended in the late '80s. And the Eighth Doctor didn't disappear just because he wasn't on our TV screens; audio plays fromBig Finish Productions and the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip helped keep Who-ville going until the writer-show runner Russell T Davies teamed with Christopher Eccleston to bring back the series in 2005.

Among his TV appearances as the Doctor since that 1996 movie, McGann's image appeared in episodes showing each incarnation of the Doctor and he reprised the role for the mini-episode "The Night of the Doctor" as a prelude to the show's 50th anniversary special.

Mr. McGann has stayed busy on BBC TV, including his role as Mark Roth on "Luther," and on stage and radio, but folks packed into the SRO room for his Saturday panel at Pittsburgh Comicon were there for talk of audio plays like "Blood of the Daleks" (which sold out at he "DW" booth minutes after the panel was over) and the 21st-century series.

2014GigiPC0927Stopped by to say hello to "Farscape's" Chiana, Gigi Edgley.The actor, who said he has been falling in love with America during his convention travels, was totally charming and convincingly charmed, even when a cheeky audience member asked if he would give her his everpresent sonic screwdriver. He asked if she would be there through the end of the weekend, and when she said she would not, he declined. "I need it this weekend," he said. "How else will I unlock every door in the universe?"

He did say yes to several other requests, including panel-ending video getting in on the act of audience members marching in place to "(I'm Gonna Be) 500 Miles," getting into the act started by David Tennant.

McGann revealed the joys of working in radio at a studio owned by a Cordon Bleu chef, his love for the book "The Great Gatsby" ("the greatest American novel") and when my companion for the day, 10-year-old "Doctor Who" fan extraordinaire Sawyer Mervis (pictured below), asked him if he had the chance, would he play the Doctor in a longer run, he said, "Absolutely. I would drop everything and do it in a heartbeat."

It hit him that Americans were catching up with UK fans in their love for the series last year, he said. at a convention for excited Chicago fans during last year's 50th anniversary celebration of the show. That's when he realized "the kids were listening to the audiotapes." The Big Finish series also ran on BBC7 Radio in short form back home, furthering his run as the Time Lord.

2014SawyerDoctorPC0927In England, many actors fill the gaps between stage and screen roles with radio roles. "It's a shame you don't do that here anymore, because Americans invented the radio drama."

During the Q&A, it was brought up that he hated the wig he wore as the Eight Doctor, and he was asked if he had any input into his costume. He did not, although he suggested that the Doctor be brought up to date with a fashionably shorter haircut and a leather jacket. That drew a laugh from the knowledgable crowd -- Ninth Doctor Eccleston arrive in 2005 with short hair and a leather jacket.

He's a fan of the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and he got to meet his acting idol and fellow Doctor, John Hurt, just weeks ago at a convention. Hurt and current show runner Steven Moffat were surprise guests, and they sat on a panel with him. As actors, he and Hurt could never reveal any details, so they got to sit back and let Moffat field questions.

"I don't like spoilers. They ruin it for everyone," he said, noting that a leak of five scripts from the current season had left everyone in the Who-verse wary.

It was the only time McGann did not seem to be forthcoming. He even got into the act of a Doctor reading speeches by another Doctor. Usually it's Matt Smith's Stonehenge speech but this time the fan asked McGann to read the speech from "The Rings of Arkhaten."'

It was a cold reading, McGann admitted, but he obliged, and it was radio ready.

Doctors who leave their fans smiling are cool.

Pittsburgh Comicon is at the Monroeville Convention Center through 5 p.m. Sept. 28.

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"The Equalizer" gives Denzel one of his best openings ever

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .



Pittsburgh-born director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington (above) delivered with “The Equalizer,” the No. 1 movie of the weekend.

It grossed an estimated $35 million in North America and was Washington’s third best opening behind “American Gangster” ($43.6 million) and “Safe House” ($40.2 million), according to Rentrak.

Washington, who made the rounds of the late-night talk shows, is a hit with men along with women who seemingly will follow him anywhere, even into violent, R-rated action territory.

The top 10 from box office tracker Rentrak:

“The Equalizer” -- $35,000,000.

“The Maze Runner” -- $17,500,000, bringing its total to $58,018,327.

“The Boxtrolls” -- $17,250,000.

“This Is Where I Leave You” -- $7,010,000, for $22,556,751 to date.

“Dolphin Tale 2” -- $4,835,000, or $33,665,037.

“No Good Deed” -- $4,600,000, bumping its total to $46,623,094.

“A Walk Among the Tombstones” – $4,233,840, or $20,871,345 since release.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” -- $3,789,000, for a year-high of $319,192,000.

“Let’s Be Cops” -- $1,515,000, or $79,627,863 so far.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” -- $1,450,000, for $187,182,132.

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Tallis Scholars returning to Pittsburgh

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

The terrific early music vocal ensemble the Tallis Scholars is returning to Pittsburgh for a performance with the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass. The group performed with the PSO last December, in what was just its second stint singing alongside an orchestra. More from the symphony:

PITTSBURGH – Take a trip back in time this holiday season with the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass and leading Renaissance vocal ensemble the Tallis Scholars on Wednesday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m. in Heinz Hall.

The Tallis Scholars recently completed a very successful world tour with 99 events in 80 different venues throughout 16 countries. In December, they return to Heinz Hall to fill it with a variety of inspiring music for the Christmas season, including another outstanding performance of Allegri's Miserere. This concert also brings a special present to audiences — for the first time ever, the Tallis Scholars will close the concert in a shared performance of a newly commissioned work with the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass, who also will perform selections from their Christmas albums with the virtuosic flare for which they are known.

For more about the Tallis Scholars, visit For more about the Pittsburgh Symphony Brass, visit

Tickets, ranging in price from $25 to $105, are on sale now and can be purchased through the Heinz Hall box office at 412-392-4900


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Dawn Keezer marks 20 years with Pittsburgh Film Office

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .


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It’s not a bad way to mark your 20th anniversary -- by knowing that “The Last Witch Hunter” starring Vin Diesel is shooting in Pittsburgh and a Will Smith drama (as timely as they come) is preparing to do the same. 
Today marks the 20th anniversary of Dawn Keezer as director of the Pittsburgh Film Office. She replaced Robert Curran, who resigned in April 1994 to take a job with MGM Television in Los Angeles. Curran had started as “The Silence of the Lambs” was completing production. 
When she was hired, Keezer was a 29-year-old from Santa Cruz, Calif., who was  director of public affairs/film commissioner of the Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council. Before that, she was the administrator and film commissioner for the Merced, Calif., Convention and Visitors Bureau. 
Christian-BaledkblogIn an interview with the Post-Gazette at the time, she called the crew base in Pittsburgh “large, diverse and very well qualified” and the area “film friendly.” That is more true today than at any time in the past couple of decades. 
Keezer had emerged from 156 candidates, recalled Russ Streiner, the office’s board chairman and one of the producers of "Night of the Living Dead." The original, of course.
“Dawn was the last person to interview and from the moment she left the room we knew she was the right person to lead the organization.”
Emma-Watson-4In a statement marking the milestone, Keezer said:  “I am honored to be a part of the Pittsburgh Film Office for 20 years. I have enjoyed working with the board of directors, staff, city, county and state officials to bring these vital film productions to the southwestern Pennsylvania region and creating thousands of local jobs.”
Keezer started as “Sudden Death” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme at the now-gone Civic Arena  was underway. She helped to bring the Sharon Stone film “Diabolique” to Pittsburgh, convincing the production that a school in the middle of Squirrel Hill could double for one in the French countryside.
foxcatcherdkblogbvShe is credited with bringing 94 film and television productions (including the series “Supah Ninjas” and “Those Who Kill”), for an economic return of $635 million, to the southwestern Pennsylvania region. The recent highlights include “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “The Fault in Our Stars” and (bound for some sort of Oscar glory), “Foxcatcher.” 
Craig Davis, president & CEO of VisitPITTSBURGH, was also part of the 1994 search committee. In a statement, he said, in part: “Dawn put Pittsburgh on the map as a destination for the film industry and we have all benefited from the positive national exposure that she helped garner for the city.”
Her vision for the future:  “Ongoing, sustainable funding for the PFO; a plan to put the local film and entertainment industry at the front of the overall industry; and incorporating all of our regional assets: education programs, technology and traditional filmmaking.”


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