The viewing party for Sunday’s episode of “Undercover Boss” erupted in laughter when Mayor Bill Peduto appeared in disguise as “Ed,” a Kentucky native allegedly trying on jobs for a reality show.
Donning a long gray wig, matching beard and aviator glasses, Peduto appeared in the CBS show to try to get a workers’-eye view of his administration.
“In the past 10 months, we changed a lot of things,” Peduto said at the show’s beginning. “I want to go undercover to see how those changes are working.”
Peduto hefted garbage cans with refuse worker James Amend, and struggled with table saws and tape measures with carpenter Lawrence Smith of the Housing Authority.
He visited homes and counseled job-seekers in the Hill District with Self-Sufficiency Coordinator Kelly Allen. And he got called out for his lack of chainsaw skills and for cutting the “Redd Up” program by forestry laborer Marty Nasiadka, who quickly saw through the disguise.
“It’s nice to see him taking steps to be an active mayor, to see what the people working for the city, what their lives are like — not just the upper echelons,” said James Craig, 26, of Shadyside, a former campaign volunteer for Peduto at the viewing party.
City employees were told the cameras were there to film a documentary when the employees were signing release forms, said Guy Costa, Peduto’s chief operations officer, who said he was nervous before the showing because he didn’t know how his employees would come across on TV.
The show typically includes the boss helping out his employees in need when he reveals himself or herself, though Peduto noted he didn’t have the personal resources of a corporate CEO.
Instead, money to help the four came from donations by private companies and individuals, said city spokesman Tim McNulty.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority was authorized to handle and disburse up to $155,000 for the employees. Peduto, using donors’ money, pledged to help Nasiadka go back to school and make up for his lost overtime; get Allen a promotion, a scholarship for her son and money for law school and a house; help with Amend’s animal shelter, caring for his mother and his mortgage; and provide money so Smith could start his dream of becoming a minister, along with help for his foster kids and a program in which he would teach young Housing Authority residents carpentry.
“We said from the beginning, we wouldn’t spend one dollar of city money,” Peduto said after entering Cappy’s to cheers and applause.
“I couldn’t have been prouder of the way they showed off the city,” he said.