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Film and Television

Thomas Edison may have invented the film camera in New Jersey, the first public exhibition of a motion picture may have occurred in New York City, and Hollywood may be the epicenter for both film and television, but Pittsburgh played a key role in the development of the industry and has risen to a level of significance in the Twenty First Century as well. The first theater designed exclusively for the showing of motion pictures, for instance, was the Nickelodeon on Smithfield Street, and many small-screen actors—including contemporary stars Zachary Quinto (Heroes), Gillian Jacobs (Community) and Julie Bentz (Dexter)—were born and raised in the Steel City. In 2002, meanwhile, the state of Pennsylvania enacted a tax credit that has slowly led to numerous motion pictures and television projects being filmed in the area, including The Dark Knight Rises, and enabled Pittsburgh to claim the title of “Hollywood of the East.”

 

The Film Industry and Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh and the Birth of the Film Industry Exploration of Pittsburgh’s role in the early days of motion pictures, as related in Nickelodeon City: Pittsburgh at the Movies by film historian Michael Aronson.

Allegheny City and the Silent Film Era The present-day North Side was the birthplace of two movie stars of the silent film era, actor Thomas Meighan and the first American-born female director, Lois Weber.

 

Pittsburgh Natives in Film and Television

Frank Gorshin Returns as The Riddler The Pittsburgh native appears in the DC Comics series Batman 66, based on the 1960s television show Batman, as the Prince of Puzzles supervillain he made famous.

Gillian Jacobs: A Key Part of NBC's Community The television sitcom has survived low ratings and internal controversy to last for five seasons and features the Pittsburgh native in the role of Britta Perry.

Iron Man 3 Director Hails From Pittsburgh Steel City native Shane Black, who first hit it big in the 1980s as the screenwriter of Lethal Weapon, took over the reins of the popular superhero saga in 2013.

Joe Letteri's Journey from Pittsburgh to Middle-Earth The Aliquippa native has not only brought the world of J.R.R. Tolkien to life with The Lord of the Rings but won Oscars for King Kong and Avatar as well.

Man of Steel and the Steel City North Side native Christina Wren portrays Air Force Captain Carrie Farris in the 2013 Superman film and still remains true to her Pittsburgh roots despite living in New York City.

Ming-Na Wen: Agent of the S.T.E.E.L. City The China-born actress who grew up in Pittsburgh stars as Melinda May on the Joss Whedon television series that is part of the Marvel Comics onscreen universe.

The Steel City Love Interests of Buffy and Angel Actors Julie Benz and Marc Blucas, who portrayed Darla and Riley Finn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, are both from the Pittsburgh region.

Zachary Quinto, Pittsburgh and Star Trek The Green Tree native portrays First Officer Spock in the Star Trek film series reboot but still remembers his Steel City roots and time at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

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