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TV Note: WQED spinoff

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

T.J. Lubinsky, who turned his love of doo-wop music into a lucrative franchise for PBS, will leave WQED Multimedia by year's end to launch his own company. He plans to make it a family affair, with his wife and recently relocated parents working with him.

The move won't mean an end to the music specials, taped at the Benedum Center, Heinz Hall and elsewhere here and airing on WQED and other PBS stations. "I'll still be making the same concerts. I'll still be in town. I will be working with WQED, instead of for WQED," Lubinsky said.

He described his impending split with WQED, where he serves as executive producer of national fund-raising programming, as amicable. "The QED people have been glorious to me," he said, singling out WQED president George Miles and Deborah Acklin, senior vice president of production and technology.

"I'll be in my office for another six months. Then after that, there will be a couple of joint productions, not with me as employee but in partnership. At the same time, I'll be out doing my own stuff with PBS, cable, even some religious broadcasting, too. It's a great opportunity to branch out, to do some things it's time to do."

Lubinsky, who will be 31 next week, said his parents, Ellen and Herman Lubinsky Jr., recently moved here from New Jersey and will be working with him at TJL Productions in Millvale. His wife, Wendy Lubinsky, a traffic director for Channels 53 and 22, will pitch in, too.

"He's the personification of one of WQED's missions: to discover new talent, attract them to Pittsburgh, nurture their growth and development and keep them in the community," Acklin said yesterday. "When I hired him, he was an unknown 24-year-old pledge producer from Florida. Now, he's one of Pittsburgh's best imports and exports."

With 30 shows in the pipeline over the next five to six years, Lubinsky has no shortage of projects. He will complete three shows for PBS airing by the end of the year, wants to develop and host a nationally syndicated radio series and will introduce a new show on WQED called "Pittsburgh Bandstand" at 6 p.m. April 5. It's for the over-50 crowd who love to dance to their favorites.

It will mix dancing recorded at Linden Grove in Castle Shannon with previously unaired promotional footage and clips from Lubinsky's "American Soundtrack" series, plus music especially popular in Pittsburgh. "I can't take credit for the concept. That goes to Clark Race, Bill Cardille and Chuck Brinkman, the guys that did the original teen dance shows here in town. ... The new spin -- it's that same crowd, just 40 years later, and they haven't forgotten how to dance."

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