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Hundreds pack Altar Bar for 'Kill Point' premiere

| Monday, July 23, 2007

Anthony Mahramus leaned forward in his seat, staring intently at the big screen TVs in Altar Bar.

"Oh, this is the scene," said Mahramus, 24, of Canonsburg, as John Leguizamo demanded to speak to Donnie Wahlberg in the season premiere of "The Kill Point," which aired last night at 9 on Spike TV.

"When we were outside, they were saying this is the scene," said Mahramus' friend, Bryan Novak, 24, of Canonsburg. It also happened to be a scene in which Mahramus, Novak and their friend Justine Ezarik, 23, of Carnegie, all played extras.

"I've got heart palpitations," Mahramus said as the three watched Leguizamo stride toward the door -- and then cut to commercial. "Of course."

"The Kill Point" is the first TV series to be set and filmed entirely in Pittsburgh. Leguizamo plays Mr. Wolf, the leader of a group of bank robbers trying to hit the mythical Three Rivers Trust. Wahlberg plays Horst Cali, the lead hostage negotiator for the Pittsburgh Police Department.

The Pittsburgh Film Office threw a party for the local cast and crew at Altar Bar last night to watch the world premiere live.

"It's such a postcard for Pittsburgh," said Jessica Conner, assistant director of the Film Office. The opening shot showed the Duquesne Incline, followed by Leguizamo driving over the Ft. Pitt Bridge into Downtown. "You see Downtown, you see PPG, the convention center."

And now production companies know that an entire series can be filmed in Pittsburgh, Conner said. "I think we're going to get busier," she said.

"Pittsburgh has a lot of potential," said producer Bill Hill, of Lionsgate, which co-produced "The Kill Point" with Spike TV. "We have a lot of projects we want to bring here."

Last night's two-hour premiere episode was met with sporadic cheering and applause at Altar Bar as the 100-plus crowd spotted themselves in scenes. "That's me! Did you see my head?" Novak exclaimed as he appeared over Wahlberg's shoulder in Market Square, where the series filmed for two weeks.

Ezarik held her digital camera over her head, taking pictures of her mirror image on screen, as she played a photojournalist reporting on the bank heist. "Well, that was a few weeks of our lives," she said.

Like Ezarik, most of the extras worked 12-hour days, sometimes for several weeks, only to get a few glimpses of themselves in the background. But many consider it a fair trade for the behind-the-scenes action.

Dave Ogrocowski, 39, of McDonald, met his girlfriend while playing a TV news cameraman in the series.

"There was this girl I met on the set. I was kind of flirting with her, and she was playing a reporter," he said. When his scene called for him to drive a news van, skid to a stop in front of the bank and jump out, Ogrocowski made his move -- and convinced the crew to put his lady interest in the shot.

"We were paired up for the rest of the movie at that point, and now we're dating, pretty much exclusively," he said.

A few locals were cast in recurring roles throughout the series, including Brandi Engel, 20, of Mt. Lebanon. Engel plays a hostage, Cass, and is considered a "regular" in the series.

"For my character, something pretty intense happens as the show goes on," she said.

"The first three weeks of filming, I had so many bruises and cuts on my legs from dodging bullets," Engel said. "When you're filming, you have to do the takes over and over again, so you get a pretty good workout actually."


Catch it

If you missed last night's premiere of "The Kill Point," you can watch an encore presentation 10 p.m. Wednesday on Spike TV. Following episodes will be aired Sundays at 9 p.m.

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