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TV Note: Scenes in series pilot may be filmed here

Saturday, February 24, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

It's pilot season, the time of year when networks order the first episode of proposed new series for fall. One of CBS's drama pilots, "The Guardian," may be coming to film in Pittsburgh, the hometown of its writer.

Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh film office, said a portion of the "Guardian" pilot presentation will be filmed here in late March. If the show gets a green light for CBS's fall schedule, the cast and crew may come to Pittsburgh to shoot scenes several times a year, just as "ER" visits Chicago for filming on occasion.

"If this gets picked up, the Pittsburgh area would expect to see three to four days of shooting every quarter," Keezer said yesterday after returning from brokering a deal in Los Angeles. "That gets our teeny, tiny toe in the door of regular series production. The door is going to open. We're going to get there."

A spokeswoman for Columbia TriStar Television, which is producing "The Guardian," said "at this time the location for the shooting has not been determined."

The show's executive producer, David Hollander, is a native of Mt. Lebanon. Hollander wrote last year's Showtime film "Rated X" and "The Guardian" pilot. He's running the show with executive producer Mark Johnson, who also guided "L.A. Doctors" and "Falcone" to CBS.

Set in Pittsburgh, "The Guardian" stars thirtysomething Australian actor Simon Baker ("Red Planet," "L.A. Confidential") as a high-price lawyer who gets caught with drugs. To keep himself from being disbarred, he agrees to work for a child advocacy office.

Hollander's brother, Scott Hollander, is executive director of Legal Aid for Children in Pittsburgh. "The Guardian" is inspired by Scott's experiences, but the lead character is not based on him nor is the plot based on any real-life case. Scott will serve as technical consultant on the pilot.

WPGH GETS NEWS DIRECTOR: A little more than a month after Tom Burke was fired as news director at Fox affiliate WPGH, assistant news director John Poister has been promoted to the top news executive post.

"He was up against some heady competition," said WPGH regional manager Dick Singer. Poister was chosen because "he's been here, he knows the market better than any news person in the market, and he's done a good job of managing as both assistant news director and while he was the interim."

Poister has worked at WPGH since before it launched its 10 p.m. newscast in January 1997. Prior to that he worked at WTAE as assignment manager and later assistant news director at the TV station and then news director at WTAE's then sister radio station.

"I was relieved more than anything else," Poister said of the promotion. "I was waiting and kind of auditioning over the last six or seven weeks."

Poister said he doesn't plan any noticeable changes right away.

"We have the luxury here of having to worry about only one newscast a day," he said. "One reason I got the job is that I know the show backwards and forwards and know what we need to do and how we need to go about doing it."

Singer said he doesn't yet know if an assistant news director will be hired.

"We're looking at restructuring in news, and we're not absolutely sure we need an assistant news director," Singer said.

"BATTLESTAR" RETURNS: After many years of trying by various interested parties, the 1970s sci-fi series "Battlestar Galactica" will be revived by Bryan Singer, director of "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects," according to Daily Variety.

Singer made the deal with Studios USA, which acquired the rights to the series when Studios USA bought Universal Television.

He told Variety he was a fan of the show during its initial run and said he has "a healthy respect for the fan base of sci-fi fantasy franchises, and I'm confident that the 'Galactica' brand is a sleeping giant."

USA's president of production said the series will be shopped to various TV networks with the hope of working a deal that allows episodes to also air on USA-owned Sci-Fi Channel.

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