About the Actor
His slightly wacky documentaries celebrate various aspects of modern American life and the unexpected charms of Pittsburgh. Audiences have learned to recognize his friendly narrative style and the unusual topics that he obviously loves.
He's done an hour about hot dogs and hot dog shops across the United States. Another hour on flea markets. Ninety minutes about Pittsburgh's great commercial neighborhood called the Strip. You can catch can his "Sandwiches That You Will Like" on public television or on DVD. He's put together programs about pre-Disney amusement parks, really good ice cream places, "Stuff That's Gone" in western Pennsylvania, and, in a special called "Shore Things," he documented some of the non-environmental reasons why people like to go to the beach.
Rick's programs may make you want to travel. The New York Daily News has said, "Rick Sebak is not a filmmaker. He's a brainwasher. He's a brainwasher because you can't watch one of his effervescent films without having a very strong urge to follow in his footsteps and experience firsthand the places he presents so compellingly."
He has put together many individual special programs that make up what is called the Pittsburgh History Series, including "North Side Story,""Kennywood Memories", A To Z," and "Things That Aren't There Anymore."
After his statewide special on "Pennsylvania Diners And Other Roadside Restaurants" aired on PBS stations across the country in 1994, earning good ratings without any significant promotional campaign, Rick began making national documentaries including "An Ice Cream Show," "Great Old Amusement Parks," and "A Flea Market Documentary."
He has a way of quickly capturing the essence of a place and its people. His documentary, Sandwiches That You Will Like, delighted viewers, tempted their taste buds and, in the process, convinced them to contribute to public television.
PBS stations around the country often rebroadcast Rick's programs because audiences respond so favorably to the quirky blend of Americana, places and personalities.
In 1990, Rick converted one of his local specials into a national program for PBS: "Our Neighbor Fred Rogers." In 2003, after the death of Mister Rogers, Rick rewrote the documentary which was reedited with new narration by Michael Keaton, and the resulting program titled "Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor" has aired on PBS stations nationwide.
Before coming to WQED in Pittsburgh, Rick worked for 11 years at the South Carolina Educational Television Network in Columbia, South Carolina. His work there included the award-winning documentaries "Shag," about the official state dance of South Carolina, and "The Slightly Wacky Aussie Doco," a travelogue about Australia.