Plus, a Q-and-A with the sibling duo behind the latest Pittsburgh feature film.
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💉 Meet Pittsburgh's TikTok Doc

Plus, a Q-and-A with the sibling duo behind the latest Pittsburgh feature film.

By Francesca Dabecco

Welcome to Tuesday, Pittsburgh.

We've got lots to cover in today’s newsletter. Scroll on for updates on last week’s headlines with DA Zappala, a new Latin American Cultural Center, a local TikTok doc, and a look back on some Pittsburgh Penguins history.

Plus, we’ve got a Q-and-A with two locals to know, Bailey and Molly Donovan, the sibling duo behind the newly released film, "Back for Good."

Let's go to press.

What Pittsburgh is talking about

Steel City lookin’ pretty. | Tag #theinclinepgh to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: @nihad_hebib)

3 things to know today

📣 Nearly a dozen elected officials have condemned Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala for sending an email to his deputy prosecutors forbidding them to offer plea deals to clients of attorney Milton Raiford. Five days before the controversial message was sent, the defense attorney criticized Zappala’s office for being “systematically racist.” On Sunday, Zappala sent a memo to prosecutors rescinding the policy and said that his office will instead formally investigate and respond to any claims of discrimination. In response, Raiford called Zappala’s memo “garbage,” saying “I think it’s stonewalling the fact he violated my Constitutional rights and the rights of my clients." (Pittsburgh City Paper / TribLIVE / TribLIVE)

  • Legal ethics expert and law professor at Pitt, Jessie Allen, said that Zappala’s actions “could provide the basis for sanctions imposed by a state disciplinary board,” according to the article. (90.5 WESA)
  • Quotable: “We employ [Zappala] to seek justice on our behalf and to prosecute with a great deal of discretion based on the facts of what defendants did, their background, and other relevant matters. And when he gets mad about something somebody said about him and his office, and makes a radical shift in his entire approach to [an entire group of cases] based on his personal pique about what was said — whether what was said was true or not, by the way — that's not acting in a competent way as my attorney. That's not zealously representing my interest. That's acting in his own interest, and that's a violation of the most basic ethical duty to his client.” - Jessie Allen

🌇 Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Open Air Series is carrying on their pandemic plans thanks to funding through the Allegheny Regional Asset District. The series was a response to events moving outdoors last summer, and now PBT will continue the series with two installments per year until 2023. (NEXTPittsburgh)

📜 The Latin American Studies Association finally found a home in Pittsburgh — the old Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania building in Oakland. This building will house the organization (which includes 14,000 professional scholars who study Latin America) and will also host exhibitions that explore the art, material culture, geography, and history of Latin America and the Caribbean. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

3 things to make you smile

💉 Meet Pittsburgh’s TikTok Doc. Greenfield-based physician Todd Wolynn of Kids Plus Pediatrics was featured in People magazine for helping to combat vaccine hesitancy and disinformation by singing and dancing on TikTok. (NEXTPittsburgh / People)

🌼 Take a gander at these green spaces with the Symphony Splendor Garden Tour in Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, benefitting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. (TribLIVE)

🐧 37 years ago this week, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed then-18-year-old Mario Lemieux as its number one draft pick. “In a career that included two back surgeries, a battle with cancer and a three-year pause for his first retirement, Lemieux managed to win the NHL scoring title six times, the Most Valuable Player award three times, Rookie of the Year, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner twice and most importantly, the Stanley Cup Championship twice,” the article said. (Pittsburgh Magazine)

5 Questions with "Back for Good" film duo Bailey and Molly Donovan

Photo courtesy of Bailey and Molly Donovan (📸: @backforgoodfilm)

"Back for Good" is an independent comedy drama that follows the story of Max Kelly, “an aspiring actor who confronts her quarter-life crisis by breaking up with New York City and returning home to reclaim the love she left behind,” according to a release.

The movie proudly uses Pittsburgh as the backdrop, and the cast and crew are mostly homegrown too. Many of Bailey’s classmates from Point Park University were a part of the production, and Chris Fafalios, the bass player for Pittsburgh-based band Punchine, made his acting debut as Max’s love interest.

In addition to the steel city talent, the siblings’ family were sewn into the fabric of the film. Brother Joel Micah Donovan was the lead executive producer, sister Hannah Donovan headed the make-up department, mother Bobbie Donovan took over production design, and father Peter Donovan got to play alongside Molly as Max’s father in the film.

The production was supported by Point Park University, where Bailey studied cinema and digital arts, and Nonprofit Steeltown Entertainment.

And good news — you can now stream the feature film on Apple TV and Google Play, and it will be available on Amazon Prime later this week.

We watched the film and caught up with Bailey and Molly before the release. Below is our Q-and-A, edited for clarity and length.

You were working with a pretty low budget with this film and shot it in just 21 days back in 2014. Where in the city did you film?

Bailey: We filmed in Brentwood at both of our parents’ houses and a neighbor's house. We also filmed on Mt. Washington, an exterior of a bar on the South Side, the interior of a bar in the South Hills, and at Twin Highways Drive-In. (Editor’s note: The drive-in has since been torn down and converted to Sheetz.)

This film was truly a Pittsburgh-powered project. How did your Pittsburgh team come together?

Bailey: It mostly came through contacts at Point Park. Many of my friends were looking for an ambitious project for the first step of our careers before we went separate ways. I knew they had great work ethics and we had great chemistry. 

Molly: We got a lot of work done by people putting in a lot of care. We were really going out on a limb with our first feature. It was a lot of people's first feature. It’s amazing how many people stepped up. When we had to roll with unexpected things, when we thought things weren’t fixable, there was always somebody there who was like, “we can make this work.” That’s just the kind of people in Pittsburgh, and it just affirmed so many nice things about Pittsburgh and who the people are here.

What did it mean to you to do a feature film in Pittsburgh with a largely all-local crew?

Molly: It meant so much to be able to film in Pittsburgh alongside Pittsburgh natives. I’ll never forget the day all the department heads gathered together for the first time. It was so moving to look around the group and know that all these young, super talented people were ready to dive into this ambitious project with us. While we were filming in New York, we had background actors tell us that we were more organized and professional than some of the big sets they’ve worked on. Just more proof that Pittsburgh-grown talent is really something special. 

Bailey: I think Pittsburgh is lucky to have so many big TV and movie productions come here to film — I know lots of local filmmakers who do awesome work on those projects. But often those productions bring a lot of their own cast and department heads from out of town, and they try to shoot Pittsburgh as New York or some other city. So I’m really grateful we had an opportunity to center our local talent in leading positions, and to portray Pittsburgh in a way that only locals really understand.

Do you have a favorite scene (without spoilers!)?

Molly: I don’t really have a favorite scene, but getting to film on Mount Washington was really a dream come true. 

Bailey: No spoilers, but the last fifteen minutes of the movie get me every time — and mind you, I’ve seen this thing quite literally thousands of times. I think it’s just the height of the chemistry between Molly and the other leads — Julia, Peter, Ian. Their performances are so warm and so genuine. Every time I see them it feels like a new experience. Actors are amazing.

What do you hope people take away from the film?

Bailey: I hope people can take away this sort of self confidence and self love. People deserve the chance to reexamine their life, and when you move really quickly, it’s hard to do that. Some people settle because they think they deserve it. I hope this movie reminds people to create the life they want.

Molly: We are so humbled with the idea of success as an artist. Being in it can feel like the wrong thing, and if you’re not kind to yourself, you can get pulled away from reality...  and sometimes it’s true that you just need to check in with the people that care about you. It’s good to check in with yourself. It’s about reevaluating, and it’s not a bad thing to do that.

I never did move back to Pittsburgh (editor’s note: like the character, Max). It was just a “what if'' scenario. It was written when I was not super sure of exactly what I was and what I was doing. The film explores something that rattles around in a lot of people's minds when they are in that transition.

To learn more about "Back for Good," what’s next for the Donovan siblings, and what they love to do/see/eat in the ‘Burgh, you can read our full Q-and-A here.

Promotion from Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School

👩‍🎓 📜Congratulations to PA Cyber’s Class of 2021!

More than 1,000 seniors will turn their tassels this month and join PA Cyber’s legacy of nearly 19,000 alumni. They have held steadfast throughout the pandemic, logging onto virtual classes just like any other day. May they enjoy continued success in the years ahead!

PA Cyber is one of the largest, most experienced, and most innovative online public schools in the nation. Students become active participants in their own learning and equipped with skills for the future. Any school-age child in Pennsylvania can attend at no cost.

PA Cyber: Where the learning never stops.


🎷 Listen to the renowned River City Brass Quintet perform at Signaling City of Asylum’s Brasstacular kickoff concert (North Side)


🍹 Test your mixology skills at the Double Bubbles Cocktail Class at the Pennsylvania Market (Strip District)


🏗️ Learn about the 1941 corporate-forced urban renewal diaspora of Homestead’s immigrant neighbors from social historian Tammy Hepps in the Battle of Homestead Foundation’s Destruction of the Ward - 80 Years Later (Online)

📖 Connect with other Pittsburghers through listening to their stories and experiences at City of Asylum’s The North Side Story(burgh) Connecting Communities Through Storytelling (North Side)

🖼️Discover the city’s new outdoor public art while meeting the artists Thad Mosley and Jayla Patton at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s Public Art Tour (Downtown)

🎶 Enjoy the sounds of folk music at Live Lunchtime Music hosted by Calliope(Oakland)


🌱Enjoy a plant walk through the cityscape at Allegheny Commons Park West every Friday through September with Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (North Side)

🌎Explore Pittsburgh’s international and immigrant communities with artisans, vendors, food purveyors, live music, dance, and entertainment through Sunday at Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s World Square in Market Square (Downtown)

🎭 Attend Tlaloc Rivas’s workshop of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, a novel by Sonia Manzano, through New Hazlett Theater’s online presentations Friday and Saturday (Online)

🌈Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with art, food, and shopping at Persad Center’s PRIDE Weekend at Steel City Craft Emporium (Strip District)

🎭 Laugh with the Arcade Comedy Theater at the online event, Nebby Neighbors, a social media inspired comedy show (Online)

One more thing …

We're so thrilled to be a part of the Pittsburgh Media Partnership and have the opportunity to host a summer intern. We can't wait to introduce you to her! Stay tuned for a little meet-and-greet tomorrow.

Until then,

— Francesca at The Incline

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