University of Pittsburgh
February 15, 2011

Pitt to Host Steeltown Film Factory 2011 Screenplay Competition Quarterfinalists, Who Will Pitch Their Scripts to Hollywood Panel Feb. 19

“Pitching in Hollywood” panel to include James Widdoes, Lauren Elmer, Asher Garfinkel, and Bob Kusbit, who will talk about the art of pitching and selling projects
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Pitt will host the quarterfinalists of The Second Annual Steeltown Film Factory—a screenwriting competition featuring Pittsburgh-inspired screenplays—who will pitch their scripts to a Hollywood panel with Pittsburgh roots at 11 a.m. Feb. 19 in the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Dr., Oakland. The 10 quarterfinalists’ scripts were selected from more than 125 submissions.

Panelists include CBS Television’s Two and a Half Men director and Pittsburgh native James Widdoes, who played fraternity chapter president Robert Hoover in Animal House (1978); MTV’s MADE producer Bob Kusbit, who has been an executive at MTV and Country Music Television; Pitt alumna and Sony Pictures Classics Acquisitions Department executive Lauren Elmer (A&S ’03); Readers Unlimited president Asher Garfinkel, author of Screenplay Story Analysis; and panel moderator Carl Kurlander, Pitt senior lecturer in film. Kurlander is a Hollywood screenwriter (St. Elmo’s Fire, 1985), television writer-producer (Saved by the Bell), and native Pittsburgher whose documentary about Pittsburgh, My Tale of Two Cities, has been shown in cities across the country. His latest documentary, The Shot Felt ’Round The World, about the development of the Salk polio vaccine by a Pitt research team, was shown at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle to an audience that included Bill Gates Sr. and the foundation’s polio team.

This year’s scripts were read in blind competition by more than 60 judges from New York, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh and included such top filmmaking professionals as 300 (2006) producer Bernie Goldmann; Ice Age (2002) screenwriter Peter Ackerman; and Pitt alumnus and Lionsgate producer John Dellaverson (A&S ’68), who produced Tyler Perry's Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005).

Pitching their script ideas to the panel will be Pitt 1988 School of Law graduate Philip Beard (Savesies), Christopher Dimond (Flour Baby), Lix Ellison (Parked), Pitt 1987 Bachelor of Science degree recipient Bruce Johnson (The Rest of Our Lives), Yulin Kuang (First Kiss), Pitt alumnus Christy Leonardo (A&S ’02, CGS ’06) and Stephen Knezovich (The Blonski: Or to Wake the Sleeping Giant), Christian Lockerman (The Last Samaritan), Jamie McGovern (Swan Song), Peter McKay (Long Lunch), and Beth Rohach (Snowbound).

The quarterfinalists will have one week to address the suggestions given by the judges and rewrite their scripts. The group then will be narrowed to five, who will appear at the Film Factory producer’s panel event on March 26.

Tickets for the Pitt event are $10 for adults and $5 for students and can be purchased at or, if tickets remain, at the door.

The 2011 Steeltown Film Factory’s producer is Lisa Smith, who has returned to Pittsburgh after a successful Hollywood career, most recently as coexecutive producer of the History Channel’s The People Speak with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. For more information on the Film Factory, visit or call 412-622-1325.