James Emswiller falls off building, dies while on Set

James Emswiller
James Emswiller
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A sound mixer has died after a fall on the set of the untitled film about Mister Rogers starring Tom Hanks.

James M. Emswiller, an Emmy winner who also worked on major films such as The Avengers during a three-decade career, fell two stories from a balcony while taking a break between scenes in Mount Lebanon, PA. He apparently suffered a medical emergency and fell over the brick wall of a balcony in an apartment building where the film was shooting.

The Pittsburgh office of the federal Ocuupational Safety and Health Administration confirmed that it is investigating the accident.


Sony Pictures, whose TriStar division is releasing the film, said in a statement: “This is a devastating tragedy and the studio is investigating the matter. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues.”

Reports of his age have varied, but Emswiller was in his 60s.

Pittsburgh TV station WPXI reported that filming on the drama officially known as the Untitled Mr. Rogers/Tom Hanks Project was halted for the night as authorities investigated. Sources familiar with the production say it is unclear how soon filming will resume, given the ongoing investigation. The film is slated for release in fall 2019.

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Children’s TV host Fred Rogers was from Latrobe, PA, and launched his iconic show on Pittsburgh television. The film details his connection toward the end of his life with journalist Tom Junod.


Emswiller’s mixing work on HBO’s Bessie earned him a Primetime Emmy Award. His recent credits also include films such as Foxcatcher, The Fault in Our Stars and Jack Reacher and TV’s Outsiders and Those Who Kill. Earlier in his career, he also worked on films including The Shawshank Redemption and Wonder Boys.

UPDATE: The film crew member has died from injuries suffered when he fell two stories from a balcony on the set of the film “You Are My Friend.”
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (@PittsburghPG) October 12, 2018

NEW: Mt. Lebanon police say they were filming scenes for Mr. Rodgers movie & they took a break. A crew member went out to smoke a cigarette on a 2nd store balcony & people heard a noise. They realized the man had fallen 2 stories. He was taken to Mercy in serious condition.
— Gabriella DeLuca (@GabriellaDeLuca) October 12, 2018

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