The director of "Saturday Night Live," a writer on "Orange is the New Black" and comedian Louie Anderson, whose animated series Life With Louie earned Emmys in the 1990s, all have Pittsburgh connections, but more importantly they are coming to the city to speak as part of the new Steeltown Spotlight Series.
Steeltown Entertainment Project
is all about connecting Pittsburgh to the entertainment industry, says President and CEO Carl Kurlander: "How many projects, how many people, can we bring back here and connect with people here and build an industry?"
Spotlight will feature the stories of people who made it from here to there – to Hollywood, of course. And the two towns now have something more in common, Kurlander says: "Imagine a town that for 100 years made the same product. Then, overnight, technology changed the product. Am I talking about Pittsburgh and the steel industry in 1980 or am I talking about Hollywood today?" The Netflix model of series distribution – all at once, for watching at any pace – "has changed everything" in Hollywood, he says.
Pittsburgh native Lauren Morelli, who writes for the Netflix series "Orange Is The New Black," opens the Spotlight program on Oct. 15 at the University of Pittsburgh’s Frick Fine Arts Building. She started her career as a dancer, then began reviewing dance performances, branching into writing short stories before joining the writer's room at "Orange."
Kurlander points to Morelli as one of the new breed of television creators. Today, she helps run "Orange" episodes filmed in New York and is part of a mostly female writing team.
Louie Anderson will appear on Oct. 22 for an event co-sponsored by the Toonseum, including a chance for audience members to have episodes from their lives turned into cartoon storyboards. Anderson will be joined by his series co-creator Matthew O’Callaghan and Joe Wos, head of the Toonseum.
Animation, says Kurlander, is not only a popular entertainment format, "but it produces a lot of jobs."
Pitcairn-raised Don Roy King, director of SNL for the past eight years, will speak this spring – on a date to be determined. "SNL, everyone knows, nurtures talent – and they go on to be legends," Kurlander notes. "Pittsburgh's starting to have a scene here … and Don is going to talk about not only directing live television but incubating talent."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Carl Kurlander, Steeltown Entertainment Project