Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pittsburgh:The Comeback City, Once Again, The City Of Champions.

When we started My Tale of Two Cities: A Comeback Story, Pittsburgh was financially distressed, the Steelers were losing, rumors were thinking of leaving, and the city's days of most livable were long behind her. Well, congratulations world champion Penguins! And in case you didn't notice, the economist just elected Pittsburgh America's Most Livable City.

Pittsburgh named Number 1 City in US by The Economist

It is amazing on how a ping pong ball can change everything. For that is how Sidney Crosby came to Pittsburgh in a draft, and have the once bankrupt Penguins new hope. But the Penguins won like Pittsburgh so often seems to win-- not just by one man, but by everyone pulling together-- so often a group of hardworking, unpretentious underdogs who others have written off-- a group of "lovable losers" as one of my Hollywood's friends, who find a way to win. (The fact that Sidney Crosby lives to this day in Mario Lemieux's guest house is... well, only in Pittsburgh.)

That's why Pittsburgh so often is talked about not just as a city, but as a character-- as a punch line-- see the remarks after the G-20 summit was announced-- that to those who know it-- see David McCullough who gave a lecture "Pittsburgh As A Lens To View All of US History" and also went to my high school, Shady Side Academy-- to those who know it-- Pittsburgh represents the best of America. And these days, perhaps its most inspirational model of hope.

For as we joked on The Pittsburgh Comeback Tour when we showed the movie on the road in NYC and D.C., it may have taken
bankrupting the rest of the country to make Pittsburgh look good to some people, but it is seeming a place of opportunity these days-- where there are jobs-- see and the real estate market is up.

It's not like Pittsburgh doesn't have a lot of work to do. But that's what Pittsburgh is best at.

I think the hardest thing these days though is going to be a new moniker-- for Pittsburgh, no longer the Steel City, still looks best when seen as an underdog-- with unexpected beauty, with people who are so unhip, they are hip (Rick Sebak once said), and with a tenacity and work ethic, that... well, these folks hung on even as their major industry left-- (acknowledging that half did have to leave-- see Steeler Nation), and on the field (or ice) and off, have increasingly found a way to win-- even when everyone else has written them off.

So we would modestly propose Pittsburgh: The Comeback City."

Of course, as one young woman wrote us after seeing My Tale of Two Cities, the comeback isn't complete until we have a lot of those folks who left come on back to the city. And of course, young people coming and staying because Pittsburgh is where the opportunity is.

We may not be there yet, but basically, as I said to someone at the Hooters in Hollywood across from Grauman's Chinese Theater where I snuck in to watch the Penguins game (its a Steelers bar, okay), you just couldn't write a story like this.


  1. I propose waiting until the insolvency issue is resolved before declaring a comeback. A bankruptcy can be such a buzzkill during a victory lap.

  2. I'm in total agreement-- but I think you need a new industry-- to do that-- which is why we are working hard on the entertainment industry. ( The trick is to translate these good feelings into action.

    Notice with sports team, they recruit great talent-- young people even-- by offering them a great opportunity at great wages. Can Pittsburgh translate that to fields beyond medicine and sports? That will take care of the bankrupcy issues.