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On Location: Where they shot

Friday, February 25, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

In reviewing "Wonder Boys" the Los Angeles Times credits cinematographer Dante Spinotti for making the "Pittsburgh settings gleam like an eccentric urban fantasyland. " To help keep your chatter during the movie to a socially acceptable minimum, we provide this handy locations guide. Now, you won't have to wonder aloud, "Gee, where do you think that house is?"

The following list was compiled with the help of James Mahathey, assistant location manager for the movie. Often, scouts must find Pittsburgh places that can double for New York or Washington, D.C., or some other far-flung city. Here, Pittsburgh plays Pittsburgh.

"It's just as challenging, but you got a lot more of what they're looking for. You're trying to find just the perfect house," says Mahathey. "We went through a few hundred houses to get the Gaskell house," inhabited in the film by Frances McDormand and Richard Thomas.

Some of the other locations, such as the Fort Pitt Tunnel, were naturals. Michael Douglas drives through it after picking up a pal at the airport.

You'll also want to keep an eye out for:

Grady Tripp's classroom -- A classroom in Baker Hall at Carnegie Mellon University. Other scenes were filmed around the CMU campus and nearby Forbes Avenue in Oakland, including a shot of the Cathedral of Learning

Pittsburgh International Airport -- Recognize the motorized walkway? But, if you watch closely, you'll notice the walkway was turned off for the scene where Grady meets his editor's plane.

Grady Tripp's house -- A restored Colonial Revival in the 300 block of South Atlantic Avenue, Friendship. If you took the Friendship House Tour in September, it should look familiar.

Chancellor's house -- The exterior and part of the interior were shot in a house called Eastover on the Shady Side Academy campus in Fox Chapel. Home to headmasters since completion in 1931, Eastover was vacant at the time of shooting although it's now occupied. The upstairs hallway, where Grady encounters a snarling dog, and a bedroom with a closet containing priceless baseball memorabilia were constructed at Pinnacle Studios in Trafford.

Sara Gaskell's greenhouse -- Constructed for the movie on the Shady Side campus (and built without a foundation), this structure was later removed.

Family home of transvestite Antonia Sloviak -- Dobson Street, Polish Hill.

WordFest -- The literary festival takes place in Kresge Theater in CMU's College of Fine Arts Building. The statue-strewn hallways are there, also.

Neighborhood grocery -- Schwartz Market at 1317 E. Carson St., South Side.

Hi-Hat Club -- Exteriors shot on Wylie Avenue in the Hill District, interiors at Modern Cafe at 862 Western Ave., North Side.

Howard Johnson's -- This restaurant was found at 4309 Route 51 North in Belle Vernon. It was about to be closed and torn down.

Sewickley Heights home -- A Woodland Road house on the campus of Chatham College served as the exterior, with the interior at Pinnacle. Home of Grady's in-laws -- Wayne Street, Beaver.

Dusk driving shots -- A montage of the Clairton Coke Works and chemical factories along Route 65 north provide the backdrop for the car ride of Grady and James Leer (Tobey Maguire).

Kravnik's Discount -- Beaver Valley Bowl, 25 New York Ave. in Rochester, also used for "Kingpin." The bridge overhead is the Monaca Bridge.

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