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George Romero's Scripts, Photos & Zombie Heads Find A New Home At Pitt

On today's program: The University of Pittsburgh just got a treasure trove from the estate of horror great George Romero; a queer youth theater program is debuting a new multimedia production; City Council District 9 candidates are readying for Tuesday's primary election; CEOs take a stand against the stigma around mental illness; and the state's top court hears from both sides of the UPMC / Highmark split. 

Credit Courtesy of The University of Pittsburgh
Courtesy of The University of Pittsburgh
A foam latex zombie head, typical of what was used in Romero films.

Pitt builds a horror archive
(00:00 - 12:27)

From script notes to screenplays and even a few props, the University of Pittsburgh announced this week that it will receive the archives of the late filmmaking pioneer George Romero. The Pittsburgh-born horror legend known for iconic zombie movies like "Night of the Living Dead" and "Dawn of the Dead" left a trove of belongings previously split into three separate archives. His widow Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, daughter Tina Romero and business partner and friend Peter Grunwald decided to combine their collections into a new archive owned by the university. Pitt film studies professor Adam Lowenstein breaks down some of the highlights and initial plans for the collection. 

Dreams of Hope present: Chasing Elevation
(13:47 - 17:48) 

The city's only queer youth theater troupe is premiering its latest multimedia production this weekend. While “Chasing Elevation” navigates complicated issues like climate change and economic politics, it does so through a queer lens. 90.5 WESA's Katie Blackley reports that characters identify across the LGBTQ spectrum, talking onstage about their preferred pronouns, addressing gender identity and tackling homophobia and transphobia.

City Council seat up for grabs
(17:49 - 21:27)

The race to represent Pittsburgh's 9th District is a crowded one. 90.5 WESA's Ariel Worthy reports that five residents are running, including incumbent Ricky Burgess. Most candidates are focusing on affordable housing issues and transparency in the office. District 9 includes Homewood, Larimer, Garfield, North Point Breeze and part of East Liberty.

Addressing (and acknowledging) mental health challenges in the workplace
(21:30 - 33:37) 

Depression costs the U.S. economy $210 billion a year in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical costs. Advocacy nonprofit NAMI Keystone PA recently launched CEOs Against Stigma, a program developed in Massachusetts, to help employers make improvements in the workplace to support employees living with mental illness. 90.5 WESA's Maria Scapellato talks with NAMI CEO Christine Michaels and Joni Schwager, executive director of the Staunton Farm Foundation, about the steps they're taking and why it felt so important to get involved.

State Supreme Court takes on UPMC, Highmark split
(33:41 - 39:01)

Justices at the Pennsylvania Supreme Court weighed the future of western Pennsylvania’s health care market Thursday. A consent decree mandates that UPMC accept patients with Highmark insurance, but that decree is set to end June 30. 90.5 WESA's Sarah Boden reports from Harrisburg that the court must decide if that date can be modified or if this expiration is too fundamental to alter.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich and Julia Maruca contributed to this program.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Kiley covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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