For filming, Downtown to change from Golden to Gotham

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Holy detours! A diabolical plot to shut down the Steel City?

Nope.

Just another movie being filmed here in Hollywood on the Mon.

But this might be the city's biggest and most visible shoot ever, as Batman and his villainous rivals turn the Golden Triangle into their battleground next month.

From Aug. 10 to 21, streets will close, parking will be restricted and sidewalks will be blocked at various places throughout the Golden Triangle. Explosions and gunfire will erupt. High-speed chases will occur.

It will snow.

"It's going to be really cool," said Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office.

A letter went out to Downtown property owners, residents and merchants this month foretelling some of the mayhem.

"Our scenes include daytime exterior dialogue with precision driving and special effects. Our special effects include but are not limited to gunfire, sparks, squib hits, smoke, debris, air mortars and controlled pyrotechnic blasts," the movie's location managers wrote, in five pages of details about various street closures and other restrictions.

When the filming begins on Aug. 10 on Oliver Avenue, there won't be any pyrotechnics, they said, but "we will be covering Oliver Ave. and Smithfield St. with snow."

The set moves to Cherry Way on Aug. 12; Smithfield Street on Aug. 13 and 14; Smithfield, Third Avenue, Wood Street and Fourth Avenue on Aug. 17 and 18; and Strawberry Way, Seventh Avenue and William Penn Place on Aug. 20. The last traffic restriction is scheduled to be lifted at 10 p.m. Aug. 21.

All of it will be hard to miss, and getting around will be a chore unless you have access to the Batcopter.

Parts of Forbes, Oliver, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh avenues, Smithfield and Wood streets, William Penn Place and Cherry and Strawberry ways will be closed at various times. On-street parking will be restricted, as will access to some garages. Police will have to stop traffic for brief periods.

Bus stops will be relocated, and the movie producers will provide guides, dressed in yellow shirts, to help pedestrians get around.

Pittsburgh police and fire personnel will monitor the pyrotechnics and assist with traffic and crowd control.

Details of the scheduled closures are posted on the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's website, www.downtownpittsburgh.com.

Daily updates of the various closures and restrictions will be provided at www.pghfilm.org, Ms. Keezer said.

"This is a large project. We're thrilled they're here. They're going to try to keep the impact to a minimum," she said.

She did not have an estimate of the economic boost the filming will provide but said the producers are hiring lots of local vendors.

"It's going to be worth it," she said.

Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said he believes the benefits of the filming and the excitement surrounding it will outweigh any inconvenience.

"There's certainly going to be disruption that will affect day-to-day activities," he said. "I think it's a great opportunity to be part of a major production. The building you work in every day is something that's going to be seen by millions of people all over the world. All in all, people will look back on this as an experience you don't get every day."

Ms. Keezer said this likely will be the "largest, most high-profile" movie shoot for the city, which has dozens and dozens of filmings on its resume.

The Batman flick, with the working title "Magnus Rex" and also known as "The Dark Knight Rises," has already energized the fair residents of Pittsburgh, with 9,000 showing up for a casting call for extras last month. "We've never had a casting call get that kind of turnout," Ms. Keezer said.

More extras are being recruited for filming that is scheduled at Heinz Field on Aug. 6. Ms. Keezer said aspirants can sign up at www.beinamovie.com.


Jon Schmitz: jschmitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1868. Visit the PG's transportation blog, The Roundabout, at www.post-gazette.com/roundabout . Twitter: @pgtraffic.


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