Charleroi resident John Tiech pens 'Pittsburgh Film History'
August 3, 2012 8:00 AM
By Barbara Vancheri Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When John Tiech mentioned the book he was writing on his Facebook page, he often heard the same thing: "A book like this is long overdue."
In "Pittsburgh Film History," subtitled "On Set in the Steel City," he chronicles the scores of movies for TV and the big screen made here. Many are recent notables, as with "The Dark Knight Rises," but he also mentions TV titles such as "Silent Witness" with Valerie Bertinelli, "Criminal Justice" starring Forest Whitaker and "Bump in the Night" featuring Christopher Reeve.
The seed was planted when Mr. Tiech, now a Charleroi resident and English instructor at Westmoreland County Community College, was a student researching "The Silence of the Lambs" and the 1990 remake of "Night of the Living Dead."
"I started just by interviewing people. I interviewed Tom Savini, I interviewed the lady who owned the farmhouse in 'Night of the Living Dead,' " he said Thursday. He estimates he talked with 100-plus people (not all of whom are quoted) and combed newspapers, including the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as part of his research.
Mr. Tiech periodically worked on the book for a decade. He discovered some little-known nuggets -- "Route 66" filmed a couple of episodes in Pittsburgh -- and watched all of George Romero's movies along with many others, to look for locations and local actors.
He finished the book in March 2011 but, when he couldn't find a publisher, decided to add a chapter about the Christopher Nolan Batman finale along with "Won't Back Down" and ABC Family's "Elixir" (now "Love Struck").
A publisher who passed suggested he contact The History Press based in Charleston, S.C. "The lady I was trying to reach was in a meeting. I left her a voicemail and I got a call about eight minutes later saying, 'We're doing this. I'm excited, this will be the first book we ever did that is like this.' "
The oversize paperback is 160 pages and priced at $19.99. The author will sign copies from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, Settlers Ridge. On Sept. 22 from 1 to 3 p.m., he will be at the chain's store in Cranberry.