Penn Hills woman has role on TV series

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When Cindy Jackson sits down Monday at 10 p.m. to watch the first episode of the A&E series “Those Who Kill,” which is set in Pittsburgh, she will have a distinct advantage over most viewers.

She knows many of the cast and crew, the various twists and turns in the plot, and how the story will turn out, but she’s still going to enjoy watching all 10 episodes.

Ms. Jackson, who lives in Penn Hills, landed a recurring role on the series as a lawyer and worked on the set from August, when production began in Western Pennsylvania, until it wrapped in December.

In 2012, she appeared in the pilot for the series as a detective.

“Those Who Kill” is the first major cable TV series to be filmed entirely in Western Pennsylvania, and the hope of the cast and crew is that the series will be renewed for another season and come back to Western Pennsylvania to film again this year.

“Generally, a couple of hundred people worked on the production, and 99 percent of the background actors were cast locally,” she said.

She said the production also was a big boost to the Pittsburgh Public Safety Department. Many of the background roles were filled by public safety personnel.

“I’m a big believer in cops playing cops and paramedics playing paramedics. It lends authenticity to the production,” she said.

There were plenty of opportunities to fill those types of roles on the set of “Those Who Kill.”

The series stars Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Chloe Sevigny as Catherine Jensen, a Pittsburgh police detective who is tracking serial killers with the help of forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer, played by James D’Arcy.

One of the suspected killers she is investigating is a Pittsburgh judge played by Bruce Davidson, who is also her stepfather, and who she believes has murdered her missing brother.

“Those Who Kill” is based on a story by novelist Elsebeth Egholm that was adapted into a series for Danish television.

Shot in Copenhagen, Denmark, the series followed the work of a unit within the Copenhagen police that was investigating serial murders.

Glen Morgan wrote the pilot episode for the American version filmed in Pittsburgh in December 2012, after the A&E television network bought the U.S. rights to the story.

“Hopefully, it will be picked up for a second season,” said Ms. Jackson, who was impressed with the writing, acting and production values of the series.

“It’s great for the movie industry here, and gives more chances for the work of local actors to be seen,” she said.

Among the locations featured were the old Carnegie Library at Allegheny Center, Brownsville Hospital, Western Penitentiary and the old Carrie Furnace site in Rankin.

Ms. Jackson, who grew up in Elkins, W.Va., started on the road to a career in film and theater at age 9 with her first stage role as Winthrop Paroo in “The Music Man.”

“I was one of those kids who liked to show off,” she said.

At Elkins High School she wrote and staged a series of variety shows featuring comedy and music as fundraisers for the high school marching band. She is an accomplished trumpet player who has performed with the world champion Star of Indiana Drum & Bugle Corps.

Ms. Jackson studied drama at West Virginia University and after graduation moved to Pittsburgh, where she earned certifications as an emergency medical technician and paramedic at Community College of Allegheny County.

She worked in the medical field for a number of years, but in 2008 after taking an acting class with Jill Wadsworth, she decided to go back to working in theater and film.

Soon she started picking up small acting roles on feature films that were shot in Pittsburgh and also picked up work as a production assistant on others.

Her background as a paramedic has at times proved useful. She served as the key set medic on the film “Gearheads.”

Her credits include working on “Jack Reacher,” the 2012 movie starring Tom Cruise, and “The Dark Knight Rises,” also released in 2012.

A highlight of her film work was landing a job as a production assistant on “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“It was movie-making on a grand scale,” she said.

She worked on scenes shot at Heinz Field that brought together 11,000 extras, Pittsburgh Steelers football player Hines Ward and a lot of pyrotechnics to simulate the football field exploding behind Mr. Ward.

“I love the whole process of filmmaking. How films are put together is fascinating to me. I never get bored with it,” she said.

Some of what she has learned over the years she hopes to share with students in an acting class she will teach at the Third Street Gallery in Carnegie starting on March 9. A portion of the proceeds from the class will benefit the Carnegie Arts Initiative.


Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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