ROB OWEN | Thursday, April 13, 2023 7:36 a.m.
Production will wrap next week on season two of Amazon Freevee’s “American Rust,” which was filming Tuesday at S. Second Street and Grant Avenue in Duquesne.
The familiar sounds of Hollywood on the Mon echoed up the grassy slope of Grant Avenue Park: “Last looks,” “Rolling! Quiet please!,” “Cut!,” “Going again right away” and the occasional, “Bus coming through!” (Though S. Second Street was closed to cars, bus routes were not disrupted by the production.)
More than two dozen crew members, many clad in Iron City Grips T-shirts, worked on a scene filming on the second floor of an apartment building. Eventually a cherry picker-like lighting rig called The Condor was raised skyward. Then its light was aimed at the window where the scene was being filmed, presumably to create a sense of more sunlight outdoors.
The first season of “American Rust,” based on the 2009 novel by author Philipp Meyer, chronicled the exploits of Del Harris (Jeff Daniels), the Southwestern Pa. police chief who covers up a crime for the benefit of the woman he loves, Grace Poe (Maura Tierney). The first season premiered on premium cable channel Showtime in September 2021 and Showtime canceled the series in January 2022.
Amazon Freevee, which announced it picked up season two in June 2022 and will also stream the show’s first season, has not announced a premiere date for season two; my guess is it will be late summer or fall of this year.
In other news about local productions for streaming:
• Despite being set in Pittsburgh, the next filmed version of an August Wilson play, “The Piano Lesson” for Netflix, will shoot this spring in Atlanta, a nasty slap in the face to Wilson’s hometown. Alas, that’s showbiz. The first adaptation of “The Piano Lesson” was filmed in Pittsburgh starring Alfre Woodard and Charles Dutton and aired as a “Hallmark Hall of Fame” presentation in 1995. (The most recent Wilson adaptation, Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which did film in Pittsburgh, was a Wilson play set in Chicago.)
“We were disappointed to learn that ‘Piano Lesson’ went to Atlanta,” said Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer. “We had understood that all 10 of the plays in August Wilson’s cycle that [executive producer] Denzel Washington is turning into feature films would be filmed here in the Pittsburgh area.”
“The Pittsburgh film industry, much like the rest of the country, has not done a great job with diversifying our local crew base,” Keezer continued. “The Pittsburgh Film Office, in partnership with IATSE Local 489, has worked to address this issue and started a workforce training program with our program partner Reel Works, [a youth media and workforce readiness organization] based in New York.”
Keezer said the Pittsburgh Film Works program is unique as a partnership with the local union that’s focused on training people for jobs behind the scenes in film/TV/streaming production. A group that’s training in how to style hair among a diverse population of performers will graduate from the program in mid-May.
“Show business — it is a business,” Keezer said. “We’re going to continue to work towards increasing the diversity of our crew and increasing the film tax credit program so hopefully we can welcome them back once again in the near future.”
• Amazon Prime Video confirmed Wednesday what I’d previously reported – that filmed-in-Pittsburgh’s “A League of Their Own” will return for a four-episode, second and final season – although there’s still no definitive word about whether the production will be back in Pittsburgh. It would logical for the show to return since the production built a period ballpark at the CCAC Boyce Campus used in season one.
“We are hopeful for a return for season two,” Keezer said. “They had a great experience here with our amazing crew, diverse locations, wonderful local people and of course they participated in the PA Film Tax Credit program.”
• Still no word on Paramount+ renewing “Mayor of Kingstown” for a third season, but an official renewal seems likely as star Jeremy Renner continues his recovery from a January snowplow accident, walking the red carpet with a cane for his new Disney+ series “Rennervations” this week.
“The writers are at work coming up with scripts for a new season,” Keezer said. “All signs are pointing to the show coming back for a season three.”
“Kingstown” executive producer Hugh Dillon was back in Pittsburgh for Tuesday night’s Penguins game, which also suggests the show will resume filming in Pittsburgh later this year.
• Director Lee Daniels is back in Pittsburgh this month filming reshoots of scenes for his Netflix exorcism movie “The Deliverance” (formerly known as “Demon House”).
RIP Deb Docherty
Condolences to the family and friends of Pittsburgh casting director Deb Docherty of The Docherty Agency, who died this week at age 63 of ALS (AKA Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Docherty founded the talent agency – for models and actors – in 1987 and expanded into Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati in 2002. She stepped away from day-to-day operations a few years ago after her ALS diagnosis.