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SWAN Day Pittsburgh 2015

on Mon, 03/09/2015 - 08:42

It all started with a car ride and a stop for pizza. Chicago film critic Jan Lisa Huttner, who was instrumental in the 2004 formation of WITASWAN (Women in the Audience Supporting Women Artists Now), and Martha Richards, founder of the WomenArts Network, were returning to Chicago from the 2007 American Association of University Women conference in Bloomfield when they pulled over for a bite to eat. The ensuing discussion centered on additional ways to connect women artists with women audience members, and by the end of the trip across Illinois, SWAN Day had crystallized as an annual worldwide event held in celebration of women artists of all mediums and genres.

Initially launched in 2008, SWAN Day quickly grew in a only few short years, encompassing over 700 events by 2011, not only in the United States but practically every continent on the planet. Although the last Saturday of March—which is also Women’s History Month—is the official designation for International SWAN Day, a variety of activities are likewise held in cities across the globe throughout March and April as well. Thanks to Pittsburgh theater troupe No Name Players and their artistic directors Tressa Glover and Don DiGiulio, the Steel City is a regular participant in SWAN Day, and Pittsburgh was even named an official SWAN Day partner in 2012 alongside producers in Kenya, Bulgaria, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Florida. 2015 again brings SWAN Day to the region with a full evening of performances on Saturday, March 14th, at the Twentieth Century Club on Bigelow Boulevard in Oakland.

Road Trip of the Dead Indiegogo Campaign

on Tue, 04/29/2014 - 10:01

The films of George Romero are filled with many iconic locales, from the cemetery and farmhouse of the original Night of the Living Dead, to Monroeville Mall in Dawn of the Dead, to the Wampum Mines of Day of the Dead. Romero reinvented the zombie lore with those films, and inspired future generations of zombie lovers in the process. Pittsburgh is the true “birthplace of the modern zombie,” a mecca for fans of the genre, horror film historians and quite possibly the walking dead themselves. It is also the future setting for a new reality-based horror film called Road Trip of the Dead that is currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for its completion.

The premise of Road Trip of the Dead revolves around a group of friends who set out to film a documentary on the various locations around the Pittsburgh area that were used by George Romero during the production of his numerous zombie-themed movies. What they find is something entirely different than expected, however, as the faux documentary turns into a slasher-syle horror film for the unsuspecting Romero fans. While not a zombie movie per say, Road Trip of the Dead has an impressive list of actors who have worked on numerous zombie flicks already lined up nonetheless, including special effects guru Tom Savini and sound engineer Gary Streiner from the original 1968 Night of the Living Dead.

The Big Lebowksi and the 'Burgh

on Thu, 04/24/2014 - 22:31

By 1997, the Coen Brothers were on a roll. There latest film, Fargo, was a critical and financial success, earning seven Academy Award and four Golden Globe nominations. Expectations were high for their next major release in 1998, The Big Lebowski, but from both the critical and box office perspectives, those expectations were far from met. Instead of repeating the success of Fargo, The Big Lebowski flopped. “It’s hard to believe that this is the work of a team that won an Oscar last year for the original screenplay of Fargo,” Peter Howell wrote in the Toronto Star. “There’s a large amount of profanity in the movie, which seems a weak attempt to paper over dialogue gaps.”

For any other film at any other point in time, that would have been the end of the story. But this was the Age of the Internet, with message boards and fan-based websites that had the potential to keep something alive long after the expiration date. Critics may have been confused, and the masses failed to go to movie theaters in droves, but a cult following soon formed around The Big Lebowski nonetheless. Will Russell and Scott Shuffitt of Louisville, Kentucky, were two of its loosely connected members, and in 2002 they came up with the idea of hosting a party for fans of The Big Lebowski. Hoping for maybe dozen or so of their closest friends to attend, 150 people showed up at the Fellowship Lanes in October of that year for the first ever Lebowski Fest. Over a decade later, the Lebowski Fest has become an annual tradition, while other cities have likewise thrown their own Lebowski Celebrations under various names as well—including Pittsburgh on Sunday, April 27, 2014.

Hollywood Actors Share Their Love for Pittsburgh

on Mon, 03/31/2014 - 09:59

Apparently Aaron Paul, Amanda Seyfried and Justin Long are enjoying their stay in Pittsburgh while filming the big screen motion picture Fathers and Daughters, and Steel City residents are loving them right back. Both the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review have reported that the actors have taken to Twitter to post photos from the set and various local bars and taverns on the South Side, as well as pictures of the trio mingling with a large crowd of students at the Carnegie Library in Oakland. Pittsburghers have reciprocated with their own photos on Twitter spotlighting sightings of the stars in the region, and Aaron Paul—best known for his role in the AMC drama Breaking Bad—even sent out a Tweet on March 24, 2014, inviting everyone in the area to join him, Seyfried and Long at Jack’s Bar on the South Side.

Aaron Paul, Amanda Seyfried and Justin Long are not the first Hollywood actors who have interacted with the natives while working in Pittsburgh. “I infiltrated with the locals, which I think is really important to do whenever you’re on location,” Chloe Sevigny told Marie Claire while filming the television series Those Who Kill in 2013. “Whenever I go to a new city, I always navigate around by going to all the vintage stores. It’s a really good way to find the cool neighborhoods and to meet like-minded people.” Sevigny went on to name her favorite hotspots within the city, including Frick Park, the Arsenal Bowling Lanes and Round Corner Cantina in Lawrenceville, Gooski’s in Polish Hill and the Lava Lounge on the South Side.

Can Katie Correll Become King of the Nerds?

on Mon, 01/13/2014 - 10:47

The CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory has not only dominated the ratings of network television over the past few years but has found equal success in syndication on cable channel TBS. Intent on capitalizing on the Big Bang Theory juggernaut, as well as the growing interest in Geek Culture in general, TBS launched a new reality show in January 2013 in which self-proclaimed geeks compete in various challenges in order to achieve the title of “King of the Nerds.” Using a spin on the HBO drama Game of Thrones, the newly crowned victor takes their seat on the Throne of Games, while original nerds Robert Carradine and Curtis Armstrong from the 1980s film Revenge of the Nerds serve as hosts.

King of the Nerds is now ready to launch its second season on January 23, 2014, and amongst the eleven contestants is Katie Correll, a graduate student at the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center. In addition to her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and desire to pursue her doctorate in robotics upon completion of her current studies, the Bucks County native is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, allowing Correll to bring a solid STEM background to King of the Nerds. “Katie was really amazing because she is this person who had this science bent, as well as the entertainment bent, as well as just being a great personality,” co-host Curtis Armstrong told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “She comes off so well on the show for that reason. It’s a very unusual mix of talents that she has.”

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