by Lucy Leitner
Proving that Pittsburgh doesn’t stay down for long, the Steel City has replaced its loss of werewolves with ninjas. The Post-Gazette reported yesterday that the second season of the Nickelodeon show Supah Ninjas will film in Pittsburgh. The sets from the Paramount lot in Hollywood where the first season filmed were shipped across country where production will begin at the 31st Street Studios on June 18.
Though the show takes place in a fictional town with a comic book vibe, Supah Ninjas has the Hollywood obligatory Pittsburgh connection in show co-creator Eric Garcia, an Upper St. Clair High School graduate whose parents still live in the area. Quotes from Garcia show that he is predictably thrilled to be filming in his hometown.
“Our show takes place in a Gotham City-like world called Empire City, and Pittsburgh, among other benefits, can lend itself to that kind of vibe for any outdoor scenes, things we don’t really have access to in L.A. like the old brick buildings and bridges, the rivers,” Garcia said.
He also cited cultural amenities, like the Civic Light Opera, that he says will be of interest to series star and Twitter favorite George Takei. As basically the Betty White of gay Japanese, the erstwhile Mr. Sulu has seen a late-in-life career resurgence by being damn funny in 140 characters or less, and his presence in Pittsburgh may even trump recent sightings of a bicycling Woody Harrelson.
Like Tupac, Takei appears as a hologram in the show. His character is the deceased grandfather of teenager Mike (Ryan Potter) who discovers that he comes from a long line of ninjas. Takei serves as a virtual sensei to Mike and his friends Owen (Carlos Knight) and Amanda (Gracie Dzienny) while they fight crime in Empire City.
The show was conceived as action-filled, male-oriented programming for the network that is rather lacking in that genre. For Pittsburgh, Supah Ninjas fills the void left by Hemlock Grove as the much-desired television series that should serve as ongoing employment in the region. Nancy Mosser casting is currently seeking teenagers with acting experience for extras and speaking roles, along with adults and teens with gymnastics or martial arts experience for stunt doubles.
Though I never watched Nickelodeon even in its slime-filled heyday of my youth, this show appears to be a worthy replacement for werewolves. And, if that whole pirates vs. ninjas meme was still popular today, I’d bet on the Nick teenagers and Takei over dem Buccos.