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Tuned In: 'Guardian' crew here to update city shots

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Finally, that same old shot of the City-County Building will be retired from the arsenal of stock footage seen on CBS's Pittsburgh-set legal drama "The Guardian."

Co-executive producer Vahan Moosekian and a crew of about 30 -- five from Los Angeles -- are in town through tomorrow, shooting exterior establishing shots for the show's second season.

"We're doing mostly the long beauty shots, going to Mount Washington and shooting the city, going to the North Side...," Moosekian said. "These are shots used at the beginning of a scene to show the time or weather."

None of the show's cast is in town for this shoot, but theater actor Warren Blosjo was hired to double as series star Simon Baker in some long shots.

"We've been shooting at the Smithfield Street Bridge this morning," Moosekian said yesterday. "We've been shooting Simon's car driving back and forth and his photo double walking on the bridge. We found somebody who's a good match for Simon from a distance."

Besides filming the silver BMW driven by Nick Fallin (Baker), Moosekian and his crew hope to capture shots of Pittsburgh at day and night, under sun and clouds.

"We don't want everything sunny," he said. "[Series creator and Pittsburgh native] David [Hollander] warned us the weather changes about 23 times a day here and that's actually quite good. If it's all summer weather, we have to go back when it's winter."

In addition to shooting buildings Downtown, Moosekian said filming will take place in neighborhoods, including Shadyside, where Nick Fallin lives. The crew also may do some filming in the Strip. There are plans to shoot several buildings so that if, for instance, a script calls for a hospital scene, they'll have footage of Allegheny General and Mercy hospitals available.

"We don't know yet exactly what the story lines will be, so we're just trying to shoot as much as possible," Moosekian said.

That includes the building at the corner of Fort Duquesne Boulevard and 7th Street, which is used as the exterior of Legal Services, where Nick works off his community service sentence by helping children and adults in need.

"It's an old building framed by a modern skyscraper," Moosekian said, referring to USX Tower, which can be seen in the background. "Old and new, rich and poor, South Side and Uptown, that's the theme we're trying to capture. It's another reason we're shooting our own stock shots. We wanted to personalize it.

"I think the audience appreciates it and not just Pittsburghers. The audience knows when you're really in a place and in the architecture and ambience. It makes the show more real."

Hollander has said previously that budget constraints kept "The Guardian" from filming in Pittsburgh last season, but Moosekian said it's also a matter of scheduling. Because it's a single-lead show and not an ensemble, when Baker leaves Los Angeles to film in Pittsburgh, there's little to no shooting that can go on there without him.

With that in mind, Moosekian said, producers have made a schedule for the second season that allows the production to shut down in Los Angeles and switch to Pittsburgh for a few days in October and again later in the 2002-03 season.

"When we come back with the cast, we may shoot in neighborhoods," Moosekian said. "Then we'll have various story lines, and when we come back with the actors we'll be shooting specific scenes."

More local production

"The Guardian" isn't the only TV show shooting in Pittsburgh this month. A crew from BBC Scotland was in town last week filming portions of a one-hour documentary on Andrew Carnegie. Shooting locations included the Carnegie Library and museum complex in Oakland and the Homewood Library.

In addition to outsiders coming in to film, a local producer has announced plans to tape a weekly dance club show called "Baile!" It will feature Latin dance and will be taped Tuesday nights, beginning today, at The Rhythm House Cafe in Bridgeville.

"Baile!" producer John Sarkis has bought air time for the program on low-power station WNEU, where it's tentatively scheduled to air at 7 p.m. June 28.

AT&T cable changes

Customers of AT&T Broadband will get additional cable channels beginning July 1.

After many requests, CMT, Country Music Television, will be added to the expanded basic tier on Channel 64 in most localities. In the city of Pittsburgh, CMT will be on Channel 71 in rebuilt areas but will not be available in non-rebuilt areas. Those areas are not expected to be rebuilt until September 2003.

As part of the additions, AT&T will reorient its digital packages. Customers will soon get a letter detailing how the changes will affect their service.

On most area AT&T systems, subscribers to digital basic will get G4, a channel devoted to video gaming, on Channel 136, home shopping network Shop NBC on Channel 164 and new-age network Wisdom on Channel 138.

New digital variety channels, included in silver, gold and platinum packages, are country music video channel Great American Country (Channel 484); minority-owned family channel MBC, Major Broadcasting Company (Channel 482); Nickelodeon spin-off cartoon channel NickToons (Channel 126); BET competitor NUE, New Urban Entertainment (Channel 483); and urban ministries and gospel music channel The Word Network (Channel 486).

Fox Digital Sports Atlantic (Channel 413), Fox Digital Sports Central (Channel 414) and Fox Digital Sports Pacific (Channel 415) will be added to a new digital specialty lineup that also includes Speed Channel, Sundance, FXM, Trio, Much Music and others. They are now part of a "premiere pack" that costs $4.99 (it's included in the platinum package). Subscribers who currently get some of these channels will need to purchase this tier if they want to get these channels after July 1.

The only price increase will affect platinum package subscribers ($79.99 previously, soon to be $82.99).

In addition, more premium channels will be added for customers who purchase HBO (Comedy, Zone), Showtime (Next, Family, Women), Encore (True Stories, Action, WAM!) and Starz (Family, Cinema) at no additional cost.

To get a complete channel lineup for your home, visit http://www.attbroadband.com and enter your address under Channel Lineups.

Tacky TV

A lost episode of "Married... With Children," deemed too racy when it was produced a decade ago, will premiere tonight at 9:30 on FX, preceding the one-hour season premiere of "Son of the Beach."

Channel surfing

The syndicated Pamela Anderson series "V.I.P." has been canceled. ... CBS is seeking contestants for the sixth edition of "Survivor" at its Web site, http://www.cbs.com. ... Conservative Pat Buchanan and liberal Bill Press will host a two-hour afternoon talk show on MSNBC at 2 p.m. beginning July 15. They'll be preceded at noon by another new show hosted by New York talk radio duo Curtis Sliwa and Ron Kuby, which begins June 17. ... Once again Fox has delayed a series it announced in May. This year's casualty is "Oliver Beene," which won't debut until midseason. In the past, Fox has announced series ("Rewind," "Hollyweird"), then delayed them and then never aired them.

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