NATIONAL TELEVISION PRODUCTION COMING TO WQED THROUGH THE PITTSBURGH INNOVATIVE MEDIA INCUBATOR
Ground-breaking partnership with Steeltown Entertainment welcomes director of Two and a Half Men to the Fred Rogers Studio at WQED
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 22, 2011
NATIONAL TELEVISION PRODUCTION COMING TO WQED
THROUGH THE PITTSBURGH INNOVATIVE MEDIA INCUBATOR
Ground-breaking partnership with Steeltown Entertainment welcomes
director of Two and a Half Men to the Fred Rogers Studio at WQED
PITTSBURGH – WQED will be the home of a new television project to be produced in the legendary Fred Rogers Studio beginning this winter. Funded through a grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator is a co-venture between WQED and the Steeltown Entertainment Project. In its first project, the Incubator will provide funding for a production by Squirrel Hill native Jamie Widdoes, director of CBS’ number one-rated sitcom Two and a Half Men, who will return to his hometown to produce programming that builds on the legacy of WQED.
“This project is a game-changer for television production in Pittsburgh,” said Deborah L. Acklin, President and Chief Executive Officer of WQED. “Much like WQED’s history of innovation in creating the world’s first community-supported station, this new model once again breaks the mold to combine the state of the art facilities of WQED with world-class talent to produce national television right here in Pittsburgh. These successful entertainment expatriates want to work in their hometown and at WQED.”
“Beginning with the Steeltown Entertainment Summit held at WQED in 2003, Steeltown advisers like Jamie Widdoes saw Pittsburgh as “Hollywood’s Best Kept Secret” and praised the potential for this region to have a vibrant entertainment industry,” said Carl Kurlander, Executive Producer of the Steeltown Entertainment Project. “This Incubator model has the potential to be transformative in terms of bringing television production to the region. The Incubator will also give this region an equity stake in these productions by investing in some of the great talent this town has produced.”
Jamie Widdoes, who also directed and produced the award-winning show 8 Simple Rules…for Dating My Teenage Daughter, will produce an informative and entertaining talk show about female empowerment and girls’ self-esteem at WQED beginning in December 2011. As yet untitled, the show will be hosted by an expert on important issues facing today’s mothers and daughters.
“It’s been a dream of mine for many years to come home and produce in Pittsburgh,” Widdoes said. “I can’t think of a better place for a project like this. From the moment I was on the set of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I've wanted to do something in that studio. And the opportunity to do that is now. It is great to be here doing a show that builds on important lessons I learned from my mother (Babs Widdoes, one of the founders of the Three Rivers Arts Festival), which my wife and I try to pass on to our own daughter.”
Deborah Acklin and Carl Kurlander are also in discussions with Guardian producer David Hollander about a scripted musical children’s series that could shoot as soon as this Spring at the Fred Rogers Studios, and other top national and local talent on projects which might use this new Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator model to produce television shows here.
Note to media: Jamie Widdoes, Deborah L. Acklin and Carl Kurlander are available for interviews upon request. Contact George Hazimanolis at 412-622-1366 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
About the Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator
Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator, WQED Multimedia and Steeltown Entertainment Project are acting as catalysts in the development of the Pittsburgh region as a production and distribution hub. By utilizing the Fred Rogers Studio at WQED, a state-of-the-art digital high-definition production and broadcast facility, and Steeltown’s and WQED’s remarkable network of leading entertainment professionals, the Incubator will have national and international impact that will help to re-define the Pittsburgh region.
Through the Incubator, WQED will provide its expertise and facilities in-kind to production companies and individuals to develop and produce a wide-range of television and other media programming. WQED has some of the best facilities in the country: three high-definition (HD) studios, two state-of-the-art control rooms, superb editing facilities, and five radio studios. The station was designed to be a production center and was home to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for more than forty years.
Since its inception in 2003 under the leadership of founding Executive Director Ellen Weiss Kander and founding Board Chair Anne V. Lewis, Steeltown has connected some of the top entertainment professionals with Pittsburgh roots to the resources in the region. In addition to the Incubator, Steeltown’s nationally recognized Film Factory competition and Youth & Media programs have engaged over 60 industry advisers, including Jamie Widdoes, David Hollander, 300 producer Bernie Goldmann, Ellen DeGeneres manager Eric Gold, Lionsgate executive John Dellaverson, and MTV and CMT producer Bob Kusbit. These expatriates have come back and given back to the region through mentoring and projects, many of which can now be produced thanks to the Incubator.
WQED and Steeltown will manage the Pittsburgh Innovative Media Incubator with the long-term goal of creating a critical mass of television and media production in Pittsburgh for national and international distribution. Producers chosen to receive a grant will have total creative control of their projects, provided they adhere to the high standards of WQED and Steeltown and support their missions by helping to build a sustainable and responsible entertainment sector in the Pittsburgh region.
About WQED Pittsburgh
WQED Pittsburgh (www.wqed.org) has a proud history of honors, including 121 National and Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards, an Academy Award, and many, many others, including two Emmy® Awards for Station Excellence. WQED was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. The people of WQED create, produce and distribute quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within their community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive; and The WQED Education Department.
About the Steeltown Entertainment Project
The Steeltown Entertainment Project connects entertainment professionals, with Southwestern Pennsylvania ties, to projects, people and partnerships in order to support and invest in the socially and commercially significant film and media industry of the Pittsburgh region. Founded in 2003, Steeltown’s mission is to build a vibrant, responsible and sustainable film and digital media sector in this region through a variety of innovative programs and activities. In addition to the Incubator, Steeltown runs the nationally acclaimed filmmaking competition the Film Factory, which connects top entertainment professional to emerging talent in the region, and Youth & Media after school programs and viral video contests. Steeltown is also working to help launch an entertainment fund that would invest in film and digital media products that have the potential to create significant economic development in this region.
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