by Lucy Leitner
As the And the Winner Is… event approaches, we realize that we have lost many strong screenplays along the way. The latest casualties of the Steeltown Film Factory contest are such strong entires as Last Will and Laundromat, Duplex, and Beginning Chemistry. We will not eulogize them because we think that they will appear again, not as ghosts but as fully realized visions with casts and crews and lights and music. The semi-finalists at last month’s Producer’s Pitch presented thoroughly researched plans and budgets to adapt their scripts to film. So we will not mourn them, for they will be back.
Instead, we will discuss the three survivors—Christopher Preksta’s Echo Torch, Yulin Kuang’s Perils of Being Flat Chested, and Scott Peters’ and Tony Poremski’s Escape from St. Quentin’s—that will face the panel of judges at Carnegie Mellon’s Rauh Theater Saturday morning. One of the three aforementioned screenwriters will receive the Eileen Weiss Kander award of $30,000 that, based on what we’ve learned from the story of Scream Park , is sufficient to make a feature-length star-powered horror film.
Steeltown co-founder and award-winning comedienne Maxine Lapiduss (also of Ellen and Roseanne) will present the award, so expect jokes probably made at Steeltown head Carl Kurlander’s expense. None of this weekend’s panelists are associated with Hollywood Shuffle (as was a popular topic at the previous two events), which is strange because the two additional judges would seem to increase the odds. This Saturday’s panelists include David Conrad, the native Pittsburgh actor who starred in Ghost Whisperer and appeared in such movies as Wedding Crashers. Steve Cuden currently teaches at Point Park, but is credited with over eighty teleplays and co-created Jekyll and Hyde, the Musical, meaning that his lyrics were sung by Sebastian Bach, and slightly less gloriously by David Hasselhoff. A member of an indigenous tribe of Pittsburgh film producers, MTV’s Total Request Live and Made creator Bob Kusbit will also serve on the panel, as will Sesame Street director and puppeteer Jim Martin, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi producer Tom Pellegrini who got his start as Steeltown’s first intern.
And the Winner Is starts at 11 am, Saturday, May 12. More information is available at the Steeltown Film Factory site.