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TV Review: Long way to Z / Sebak works his way through the alphabet

Friday, October 26, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Rick Sebak's latest project, "Pittsburgh A to Z" was only "Pittsburgh A to G" when it arrived for perusal this week. So we can't call this a full-fledged review. Who knows how the completed 90-minute program will play?

 
    'PITTSBURGH
A TO Z'

WHEN: 8 p.m. tomorrow on WQED/WQEX

PRODUCER, WRITER, NARRATOR: Rick Sebak

 
 

The first 30 minutes -- all that was available as of yesterday morning -- are a mostly breezy trip through the first seven letters of the alphabet, starting with "A" for amateur archaeologists and ending with "G" for Grant Street.

Sebak begins the show with a warning that alliteration will play a key role in this entry in WQED's Pittsburgh History Series.

"Verbally vigilant viewers victimized by such potentially poetic devices may decide to dismiss this documentary," Sebak says. "Wise ones will watch and welcome the whimsical words."

It's classic Sebak.

As always, he seeks out colorful characters and preserves their most amusing comments and observations. He lets those he interviews make suggestions for what each letter should represent. One person suggests Fallingwater for "F," arguing, "Fallingwater is Pittsburgh, just a little detached."

Instead, Sebak opts for fish sandwiches, spending a little too much time on this well known regional delicacy.

Among the first seven segments, the best selections are the most unexpected: a history lesson on Gen. Edward Braddock for "B," daguerreotypes in Dormont for "D" and Evergreen Hamlet, the first American suburb, for "E." ("C" is a brief look at confluences of rivers and streams in Western Pennsylvania.)

In a seeming fit of dyslexia, the show jumps from "G" to "I" (for "islands"), then returns to "H" (for the History Center and historic spelling of Pittsburgh) before moving on through the alphabet.

The remaining subjects of the program are:

J: Jeeps in Butler

K: Kentuck Knob

L: Thomas Lipinski from Lawrenceville

N: "NightTalk" on PCNC

O: Opera (National Negro Opera)

P: Plethora of Possibilities

Q: Robert Qualters

R: Rail trails

S: Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall

T: Tailgating

U: Ushers (at PNC Park)

V: "Vinnie Pie" at Vincent's Pizza Park on Ardmore Boulevard

W: Westinghouse Museum in Wilmerding

X: XiTech (High tech firm with new office in Carnegie)

Y: "Yinz" and the Pittsburgh dialect

Z: Zambelli

You'll have to tune in yourself to see how these segments turn out.


You can reach Rob Owen at rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments to www.post-gazette.com/tv under TV Forum.

'PITTSBURGH A TO Z'

WHEN: 8 p.m. tomorrow on WQED/WQEX.

PRODUCER, WRITER, NARRATOR: Rick Sebak

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