Pittsburghers Know ‘This Is Us’

Beth Wooke, set decorator for the first season of the NBC hit, turned to childhood memories (and Pittsburgh Magazine) to give the show realism.




PHOTO COURTESY NBC TELEVISION 

 

Beth Wooke, set decorator for the first season of the hit NBC drama “This Is Us,” had a leg up on some of her behind-the-scenes colleagues: Wooke spent much of her childhood near Highland Park before moving to Arizona at age 10.

As local viewers are well aware, the show is partially set in Pittsburgh. When it was time to populate the home of the show’s Pearson family with 1980s and 1990s-era, true-to-Pittsburgh-life items, Wooke thought back on what was in the homes of her family members during those decades.

“My parents went back there in the mid-’80s,” Wooke says, “and when I went to visit them, my mom had Pittsburgh Magazine displayed on her coffee table. We’d use it to look for things to do.”
 


 

For “This Is Us,” which returns for its second season at 9 p.m. Sept. 26, Wooke asked her art department coordinator to request copies of the magazine for use on the show’s set, procuring issues from the 1980s and 1990s so they could potentially be used in two of the show’s time periods.

One of the issues Wooke received — the March 1992 edition of PM — featured “thirtysomething” actress Patricia Wettig, who grew up in Grove City, on the cover. Wettig is married to her “thirtysomething” co-star, actor/producer Ken Olin — who is an executive producer and a director on “This Is Us.”

“I laughed and brought it to show Ken — and he was laughing, but we did not use that issue on the set,” Wooke says. “We just went with magazine covers with more scenic Downtown Pittsburgh photos rather than images of people.”

Olin got a kick out of that cover turning up again.

“Seeing the cover of the magazine brought back some very fond memories, not only of ‘thirtysomething,’ but of how cool Patti and I thought it was that she was on the cover of her hometown magazine,” he says. “There was no need to bring it home; we have a framed copy of it hanging on our wall along with some other mementos from those days.”

Wooke also called on some of her relatives still living in Pittsburgh — including her stepfather, Les Ainsman, and her aunt and uncle, Meryl and David Ainsman — for period photos to help inspire her work on “This Is Us.”

“I mined all my own family photographs and experiences, and mimicked a lot of what I had lived with growing up there,” she says.

After the inaugural season of “This Is Us,” Wooke next worked on the third season of Netflix’s “Love.” She found a Pittsburgh connection on that show, as well: star Gillian Jacobs, who grew up in Mt. Lebanon.

“We talked about how shows set in Pittsburgh never get the accent right,” Wooke says. “She was running through a whole list of slang from Pittsburgh.”
 


Related: “This is Us” Captures Spirit of Pittsburgh


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Hyperloop One Could Change How You Spend Your Weekends

Hyperloop One Could Change How You Spend Your Weekends

Hyperloop One plans to use high-speed pods that travel in low-pressure tubes to whisk people and freight at 700 miles an hour, cutting the travel time from Pittsburgh to Chicago to less than an hour.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Meet the Federal Galley Chefs

Meet the Federal Galley Chefs

We have the lowdown on who is cooking what in the new North Side food hall from the operators of Smallman Galley.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Best Places for Kids on Rainy Days in Pittsburgh

Read on for some under-the-radar ideas on how you and the kids can survive a rainy day this summer.

Comments


King Arthur's Sword Turns a Spot in Baldwin Into an Entertainment Destination

King Arthur's Sword Turns a Spot in Baldwin Into an Entertainment Destination

IQ Escape's new South Hills escape rooms elevate Crafthouse Stage & Grill and Legacy Lanes.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Encouraging Start Only a Start for The Steelers

Encouraging Start Only a Start for The Steelers

The season's first two victories were notched against mediocre competition. Eventually, the degree of difficulty is going to ratchet up considerably.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Kingsman Sequel Leans Into the Crazy (And Turns Out Fun)

Kingsman Sequel Leans Into the Crazy (And Turns Out Fun)

Reviews of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Friend Request" and "Brad's Status," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Furs We Favor for a Pittsburgh Winter Wedding

Furs We Favor for a Pittsburgh Winter Wedding

Tying the knot when it will be cold outside? These Pittsburgh brides combined warmth and elegance by choosing fur.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Explore New and Historic Homes at Doors Open Pittsburgh

Explore New and Historic Homes at Doors Open Pittsburgh

The public “behind-the-scenes” event gives participants access to some of the city’s more iconic buildings — and some of Pittsburgh’s most interesting residences.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module