Film Notes: 'Mysteries of Pittsburgh' will film here next month

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Mitch Haaseth, NBC Entertainment
Jon Foster will star in "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh."

By Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," starring Jon Foster, Peter Sarsgaard, Sienna Miller and Mena Suvari, is scheduled to start filming here after Labor Day.

Foster, cast earlier this year as a violent teen in "Tenderness" opposite Russell Crowe, is stepping in the lead role once linked to Max Minghella. His other credits include the movies "Stay Alive" and "The Door in the Floor" and the TV series "Windfall" and "Life As We Know It."

Rawson Thurber is directing and writing the screenplay, based on Michael Chabon's novel. It's about a character named Art Bechstein, a University of Pittsburgh economics graduate spending the summer working in a bookstore.

Khristina Kravas, vice president of Groundswell Productions, and others have set up shop in Pittsburgh. She said the shoot will start just after Labor Day and stretch to mid- to late October. The book is set in the 1980s and the movie will be, too.

Asked what locations will factor into the $7 million film, she said, "It's a little bit premature to say that. We haven't locked in our location deals. We're really excited about some of our locations. Pittsburgh is beautiful."

Donna Belajac, whose Belajac Casting is handling local casting, is still looking for a very overweight actress, 20 to 25 years old, and a man in his 20s or 30s with a Mohawk haircut. These are speaking roles so experience is desired, Belajac says.

If you fit either part, go to www.donnabelajaccasting.com and e-mail her. Auditions will be Monday.

Mosser Casting is looking for 700 extras. For information: www.mossercasting.com or 412-434-1666.

Roping in Romero

The Hollywood Reporter says George Romero will write and direct a thriller called "Solitary Isle."

It's based on a short story by Koji Suzuki, who wrote the novels inspiring "The Ring" and "Dark Water." The story chronicles an expedition to a deserted island that turns deadly as the explorers face an unknown force, the trade publication reports.

Fest honors

Two made-in-Pittsburgh movies were honored at the Indie Gathering Film Festival this month in Cleveland.

"Dumpster," a Three Rivers Film Festival selection written by Jim Daniels, won first prize for drama/comedy while "Doing Therapy" was the top film in the comedy/romantic category.

"Dumpster" stars David Conrad as a long-in-the-tooth frat boy and Jeffrey Carpenter as a college maintenance worker. It was shot for roughly $10,000 in five days on Carnegie Mellon University's campus.

Joe Giacobello wrote and directed the lighthearted "Doing Therapy" and also appears in it alongside actress Barbara Winters. Set in present-day Pittsburgh, it tells the story of a Hollywood actress who develops a problem with panic attacks.

Counter culture

"Mysteries" may be coming to town but criticism of the Pittsburgh Film Office, its board and director hasn't gone away.

A newly chosen spokeswoman for a group trying to reinvent the office says plans are in the works for a rally before summer's end to draw attention to its campaign and to raise operating funds.

Adrienne Wehr, producer of "The Bread, My Sweet," has been picked as the chair and spokeswoman for a committee that emerged from a July 31 meeting at Pittsburgh Filmmakers that drew roughly 70 people.

A smaller group of 27 has been charged with hammering out details on how to expand, reshape and fund a film office that can lure the big projects from Hollywood and yet foster the smaller ones at home.

They insist a regional executive director must be based in Pittsburgh, and they also propose changes in who would sit on the office board and how the overseers would operate. In addition to crafting mission and position statements, the group is in the process of picking a name for itself.

Remembering 9/11

Robert Morris University will mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11 with a special DVD edition of its student-produced documentary, "America Talks." It will include interviews with RMU students who worked on the 45-minute video plus a behind-the-scenes look at its creation.

Originally intended as a student project for professor James Seguin's television production course, "America Talks" eventually represented the work of two dozen students. They spent 25 days filming and conducting interviews outside the White House gates, on the streets of New York and near the Shanksville crash site and elsewhere in Western Pennsylvania, and 40-plus days editing.

The documentary examines the sentiments of Americans in the weeks after the attacks. Seguin calls the documentary a life-altering experience for him and his students and a snapshot of America at the time.

To order, send a $12 check payable to Robert Morris University to: RMU, Center for Documentary Production and Study, 6001 University Blvd., Moon Township PA 15108. Allow two weeks for delivery.

Convenient donation

"An Inconvenient Truth" has grossed more than $20 million, which makes it the fourth highest documentary of all time. Paramount Classics promised it would donate 5 percent of box-office receipts to the Alliance for Climate Protection, so that has spelled a $1 million donation. Al Gore already had promised to turn over any proceeds he made from the movie and a companion book, "An Inconvenient Truth," published by Rodale and priced at $21.95 on its Web site.


Post-Gazette movie editor Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.


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