“Let’s sit down and chat.”. expertly weaves in precious archival clips, rare personal footage, and interviews with friends, family, and Fred Rogers himself, to paint an intimate portrait of a man beloved by millions, whose example of empathy, love, and patience is as necessary as ever. The Standard hotel in West Hollywood is shutting down. As Joanne entered the auditorium, the audience rose to its feet to give her a standing ovation. Is being kind difficult? Before we get into the man’s mythology, here are the true, verified facts of Mr. Rogers’ life. “But we go on road trips, and she’s great in a car — a lot of fun. Joanne and Fred Rogers at their “Crooked House” in Nantucket. The Lakers’ 2020 NBA championship rings may have cost more than $20,000 each and feature nods to Kobe Bryant and the unique challenges the season presented. They were married for over 50 years and raised two sons. But since his death, she’s felt an obligation to continue spreading his message because of how important she feels it is. Joanne Rogers attends the U.S. The life and legacy of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." In the 16 years since Fred’s 2003 death, they’re the only token of his that she’s kept for herself. For over thirty years, American children grew up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS. READ MORE. Since his death, she feels as if he’s been placed on an even higher pedestal. “Trump changed it,” she said. He would often say that if it wasn’t for Sara Joanne Byrd Rogers, the ‘Neighborhood’ probably would have never happened.”. She had a chair on the set but didn’t use it much because she found the endless takes “dullsville.” She was also one of five to vet the screenplay, though she said she didn’t make many changes. Sometimes, if we communicated via text message, she’d include her Memoji — a customizable avatar she’d created replete with her curly gray mop of hair, glasses and tooth gap. She usually went to her bedroom around midnight, she said, “where I put on sleeping gear and then read until I begin to yawn seriously.” She often dozed off around 2:30 a.m., she said, making sure her friends never phoned her before 10 a.m. “That is an almost 91-year-old’s kind of sleep schedule, I think,” she wrote last February, “though most of my peers seem to be morning people … hmmm.”, That winter, she wrote to me saying she hoped to meet me in L.A. — “your neighborhood,” as she called it — where she was planning to fly if “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” was nominated for an Academy Award. As millions pine for their COVID-19 vaccinations, a lucky few are getting bumped to the front of the line because of extra doses that must get used. For the recent movie, Joanne spent time with many in the production, even giving Hanks some of Fred’s old ties to wear. Read Full Synopsis Cast + Crew Previous Cast Members More Cast Members. A letter she lost almost immediately in a flurry of excitement as she rushed to a pay phone to give him her answer: “Yes, yes, yes!”, Both 24, she just 11 days his senior, they were friends but not yet lovers. The documentary tells the story of a soft-spoken minister, puppeteer, writer and producer whose show was beamed daily into homes across America for more than 30 years. Fred Rogers, popularly known as simply “Mister Rogers” (sometimes spelled Mr. Rogers) from his famed children’s show, died age the age of 74, just one month before his 75th birthday. Review: A Mexican mother’s haunted search drives bone-deep chills of ‘Identifying Features’. Something that didn’t make it into the film? Column One: ‘Justified’ or ‘despicable’? A statue of Fred Rogers on Pittsburgh’s North Side. She exercises regularly with a personal trainer and drives a Lexus around town. The short was produced in collaboration with Fred Rogers Productions, the Fred Rogers Center, and BixPix Entertainment. Neville has been nominated for four additional Grammys for his films: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied. Rogers was a one of a kind man. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this documentary is an emotional and moving film that takes you beyond zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius, who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination. With Fred Rogers, Joanne Rogers, John Rogers, Jim Rogers. How a 22-year-old L.A. native became Biden’s inauguration poet. Yet when the filmmakers behind “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” approached Joanne to get her blessing on the project, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, who wrote the film with Noah Harpster, said, “She really only had one request: that we not treat her husband as a saint.”. She never resented him for his fame, she said, focusing instead on her piano and staying out of his work at PBS. It was over email that I developed my own relationship with Joanne. She was keener on imparting to the writers just how funny Fred was. It’s the same apartment she moved into with Fred 38 years ago — after raising their kids in a nearby Squirrel Hill home — and she has lived there alone since he died. Her notes — always bookended with the “Sent from my iPhone” tag — were animated with red and pink heart emojis. I think we got a proper amount of props from the people of the city — as well as some expectations.”. “I’ve been looking forward to this so much!” she said, throwing her arms around me. For over thirty years, American children grew up watching. Help bring programs like Independent Lens to your PBS station... Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a wonderful documentary about children's performer Fred Rogers. The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. “When Fred died, she wasn’t going to step in to be Mister Rogers, but she was going to step in,” said Bill Isler, who served as the president and CEO of Fred’s company for nearly three decades and is so close to the family that he named his two springer spaniels “Fred” and “Joanne.” “I think she is incredibly comfortable with it. It seems Mr Rogers touched people just by walking into the room, he had some sort of quality that attracted the good in people. reflects on Fred Rogers’ legacy of kindness, and the profound and lasting effect his innovative approach to television had on millions of children. I’d done a brief phone interview with her, no more than 20 minutes. “Something about ‘Watch out, buster!’ And I’ve never in my life said ‘buster’ to anybody,” she said with a laugh. A new documentary released earlier this … Last year, the 50th anniversary of his seminal kids program, she participated in a PBS special about Fred, helped to promote a commemorative postage stamp with his face on it and was also part of Morgan Neville’s hit documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” She was also a key figure in the development of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” the Marielle Heller-directed film that was released over the weekend in which Tom Hanks plays Mister Rogers. When a new line of Mister Rogers sweaters came out, she told me she thought they sounded comfortable, but she didn’t want one: “I’m very warm-natured and sweaters make me too hot and itchy.”. The documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, is directed by Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Best of Enemies) and features footage of Rogers throughout his life as well as interviews with family, friends, and colleagues. is a wonderful documentary about children's performer Fred Rogers. Director Marielle Heller with Joanne Rogers at the Pittsburgh premiere of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”, Review: Tom Hanks becomes Mister Rogers in the stealthily moving ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’, What Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys learned from Mister Rogers for ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’, Review: ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’: The documentary that shows how Mister Rogers made goodness desirable, Marielle Heller’s Mister Rogers film ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ asks you to check your cynicism at the door, Arellano: A teen center turns into a food pantry to survive COVID-19. “It keeps me in touch,” she said. Michael Atkinson, the top internal watchdog for the U.S. intelligence community, played a key role in events leading to the impeachment of President Trump. The movie tells the story of Fred’s relationship with Tom Junod, a journalist who was assigned to profile the television host for Esquire magazine in 1998. READ MORE, Oscar and Emmy-winning director Morgan Neville talks about discovering the real Fred Rogers in making a film about him. Pam Surano, with CBS Pittsburgh’s KDKA News, started crying as Joanne walked away. A portrait of a man whom we all think we know, this documentary is an emotional and moving film that takes you beyond zip-up cardigans and the land of make-believe, and into the heart of a creative genius, who inspired generations of children with compassion and limitless imagination. Fred Rogers was the much-loved host of the public television show 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,' which ran on PBS from 1968 to 2001. The documentary is a great way to give back to a man who helped teach us about ourselves and the world around us. She gave me another hug and told me how much she loved hugging. John David Washington and Zendaya star in Sam Levinson’s self-defeating two-hander about a relationship on the rocks. I wrote back, and so our correspondence commenced. “I remember doing my live shot during the Tree of Life tragedy, and then someone pointed out that I was standing right in front of Fred’s old church,” a teary Surano told me, referring to the Sixth Presbyterian Church he attended a few blocks from the synagogue where 11 were killed during the deadliest mass shooting against Jews in the U.S. “There was something about that moment — needing him in that moment — that was so overwhelming and beautiful. He gave us the most precious gift of all: the courage to be kind. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, from filmmaker Morgan Neville (the Oscar-winning 20 Feet from Stardom) takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers. Those periods of isolation helped foster his young imagination; he created puppets for company. I have not noticed her slow down.”, Settling into the living room couch, I noticed Joanne’s gold jewelry — a chain bracelet that once belonged to her mother and two bands still tucked around her ring finger. Trying to create a social pod so her daughter could again play with her friends led this mom down a rabbit hole of awkwardness, rejection and frustration. Maryann Plunkett, left, on the set of “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” with Joanne Rogers, whom she plays in the film. Joanne Rogers plays the piano in her Pittsburgh apartment. Josh Selig, creator of Wonder Pets, credits Rogers with influencing his use of structure and predictability, and his use of music, opera, and originality. Joanne Rogers, wife of the late Fred Rogers, in her home in Pittsburgh in November. The entire town knew we were there filming a movie about Mister Rogers. I followed behind, not ready to say goodbye. One of the year's most acclaimed films, Won't You Be My Neighbor? “Bless your heart.”. And, true, he always wore a sweater on his show, fully covering his arms. But the sweater was part of the persona Rogers created for the program. “I love you,” she said, as we hugged again. The film looks at how a … Incredibly touching and powerful, Won't You Be My Neighbor? I’m convinced there are lots of Fred Rogerses out there.”, Amy Kaufman covers film, celebrity and pop culture at the Los Angeles Times. An obscure but telling detail, never mentioned in the doc: A few weeks before he died in 2003, Mr. Rogers celebrated New Years Day by serving as Grand Marshall of the Rose Bowl Parade. Fred told Joanne about his hopes for the future — about the kind of people he wanted the two of them to become. expertly weaves in precious archival clips, rare personal footage, and interviews with friends, family, and Fred Rogers himself, to paint an intimate portrait of a man beloved by millions, whose example of empathy, love, and patience is as necessary as ever. Dror Moreh’s documentary “The Human Factor” looks at Middle East peace efforts during the Clinton administration through the eyes of U.S. diplomats. The Standard hotel in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip is set to close Friday. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood first aired in 1968 at a time when many other shows sought laughs at some other character’s expense. Tom Hanks stars as Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”. LESS, Kindness makes us uniquely human, but why is it hard? The Science of Kindness: It’s Not Easy Being Nice, Five Questions About Fred Rogers with Morgan Neville. He was not a modest person.”. On Saturday, February 9 at 7:00 pm, we will broadcast the critically acclaimed documentary Won't You Be Neighbor? The short was produced in collaboration with Fred Rogers Productions, the Fred Rogers Center, and BixPix Entertainment. The fact that Fred reveled in her dirty jokes. In one scene — in which she is played by Maryann Plunkett — a line of dialogue initially had her calling someone “buster,” and she objected to that. For over 30 years, Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, writer and producer, was beamed daily into homes across America. Hanks, how is filming going? Joanne lives in an apartment building at the edge of the 456-acre Schenley Park, filled with a canopy of trees, an ice skating rink and botanical gardens. She’d tracked down my email address and sent a note to tell me that she’d enjoyed the story I had written. His acclaimed film 20 Feet from Stardom won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary as well as a Grammy Award for Best Music Film. Neville has been nominated for four additional Grammys for his films: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied and Johnny Cash’s America and last year’s The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. “I’m a hugger,” she explained. The trailer for the film debuted on what would have been Rogers's 90th birthday, March 20, 2018. He was kind, made friends with everyone and was generally cared about everyone. In the trailer, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood producer Margy Whitmer marvels, "If you take all the elements that make good … Read Full Synopsis Cast + Crew Previous Cast Members More Cast Members. How she can do anything she wants by just being crazy, funny-looking in outfits, you know? Reminders of Fred abounded: magazine covers bearing his image, framed and faded family photographs, and so many awards that she couldn’t remember what they were all for. The love and joy Mr Rogers brought into their lives is immeasurable. Watch the official trailer for Morgan Neville's new movie, Won't You Be My Neighbor? The love and joy Mr Rogers brought into their lives is immeasurable. © 2021 Independent Television Service (ITVS). takes an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Fred Rogers. This is one of the most comforting and tear inducing documentaries. What I’ve enjoyed most is Lady Gaga and what she’s done with her talent. Review: ‘The Human Factor’ takes a fly-on-the-wall approach to Middle East peace negotiations. She kept her MacBook Air at a desk in the kitchen, where she wrote most of her emails. “She’s understanding of the fact that she is 91 — she doesn’t drive at night or drive to Florida anymore,” said Isler, who had come to Joanne’s apartment to greet me. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a warm, nostalgic look back at the life and career of Fred Rogers, and his signature children’s program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” But the new documentary … He was a registered Republican. New Mister Rogers Documentary Is Full Of Surprises About An American Icon. According to reports, the documentary takes a great deal of time to focus on how Mister Rogers was never afraid to address difficult topics with the show's young audience. “He’s just an incomparable figure. The life and legacy of Fred Rogers, the beloved host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Most of Joanne’s friends are younger than she is — not that she doesn’t have friends her own age. Sometimes her emails would arrive in the middle of the night. An obscure but telling detail, never mentioned in the doc: A few weeks before he died in 2003, Mr. Rogers celebrated New Years Day by serving as Grand Marshall of the Rose Bowl Parade. Mister Rogers offered a calm and stable presence, tackling life's weightiest issues in a simple, direct way. “He’s out there now as somebody who’s somehow way above all the rest of us,” she said. At 91, she is the chair emerita of Fred Rogers Productions and the Honorary Chair of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media on the Saint Vincent College campus. Joanne — she dropped “Sara” early on, deeming it too stuffy — was raised in a Puritan home, and she was repulsed by her schoolmates who talked about “sucking face.” Any kissing she said she and Fred did was “pretty unpracticed.”. The film looks at how a young aspiring minister named Fred Rogers … According to reports, the documentary takes a great deal of time to focus on how Mister Rogers was never afraid to address difficult topics with the show's young audience. Here’s how it went wrong. is an intimate look at America’s favorite neighbor: Mister Rogers. All rights reserved. I think that is really smart.”. The movie stars all look alike to me now. The state is receiving about 300,000 to 500,000 COVID-19 doses each week, a pace that would take months for priority list residents to get vaccinated. I finally had a reason to meet Joanne. They kept in touch through the mail, though they weren’t very good writers, Joanne says. “Spectacular even if it should be raining!!”. In football stadiums and ballparks, he fought for the rights of Black athletes. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a warm, nostalgic look back at the life and career of Fred Rogers, and his signature children’s program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” But the new documentary … An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers. On the flight home, I became oddly emotional thinking about Fred and Joanne — about how much they’d affected so many simply by expressing genuine care and kindness toward their neighbors. She still has most of the letters from their early courtship. Keith Richards: Under the Influence and Abstract: The Art of Design. “Spot on,” he said as the credits rolled. “I don’t know how Tom did it.”. He was told to be independent, and Trump fired him for it. Mister Rogers will forever remain an enigma for those who grew up with the show. She got up to show me around the house, making note of a painting of the couple’s “Crooked House” on Nantucket and a “143" yellow production sign from the Hanks film. Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, did indeed win the hearts of minds of children and adults with his calm and friendly demeanor. With little else to do, the COVID-19 pandemic has given D&D players a reason to gather virtually to go on heroic quests in the increasingly popular role-playing game. Stores at the airport sell T-shirts and baby onesies with his face on them, and a 7,000-pound, 11-foot bronze statue of him sitting and tying his sneakers rests next to the Allegheny River. Halley Harding was a gifted athlete and journalist who railed against bigotry and racism. The twisted tale of an LAPD excessive force case. As a Sony publicist tried to bring her toward the red carpet, she was besieged by guests wanting to greet her: her personal trainer, the local film commissioner and former Steelers running back Franco Harris. It was 1952 and they were in the midst of a long-distance courtship that began at Rollins College in Florida. Marc Brown, creator of another PBS children's show, Arthur, considered Rogers both a friend and "a terrific role model for how to use television and the media to be helpful to kids and families". Until a couple of years ago, she insisted on making an annual 15-hour pilgrimage to Florida on her own, preferring to drive alone because it allowed her to concentrate on the road. “He ran around the house in the droopiest drawers. Mrs. Rogers is right — he’s with everyone here all the time. As she told the moviemakers, Fred wasn’t a saint. Fred Rogers was born in the small town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania on March 20, 1928. His acclaimed film. Fred relied on Joanne. !” she advised in her last message to me before my plane departed for Pennsylvania. We carry him with us.”. It was not covering any tattoos. A row behind them, I watched as Jim wiped away tears throughout the movie. He’s an old man. Nearly every reporter asked to pose for a photograph with her after their interview. Vaccinating Californians 65 and older may last till June, pushing back timetable for others. The other, her second wedding ring, was one he’d given her many years into their marriage because she’d found the first “big, fat” diamond too “dressy.”. I would love to do it.’ Well, you can do it. As a cynical investigative writer, Junod was initially hoping to uncover the dark side of the cheery public figure. A doorman took me up in the elevator to her residence, and seconds after knocking Joanne swung the heavy wooden door open. In the years following the publication of the cover story, Fred and Junod kept in touch — migrating from written correspondence to email as he typed away on a lightweight laptop that Joanne had given him one Christmas. “People invariably say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, but I sure do admire him. He talks about his history-making role in the drama for the first time. “I said, ‘Very much, and I must say, Pittsburgh is a great city.’ He said, ‘Thank you, I have to agree.’ And then before I got off at my floor, he said to me, ‘You know, we take Mister Rogers very seriously in Pittsburgh.’ I said, ‘I am aware of that.’ That was not a fan saying ‘Oh, my gosh’ or anything like that. Though Joanne was a respected professional concert duo-pianist, her husband, of course, was the one whom everyone recognized out in Pittsburgh. is an Academy Award-winning director, known for his work on documentaries and commercials. Review: A Weho doctor balances sexual identity and Islam in the rom-com ‘Breaking Fast’, A gay Muslim doctor in Weho looks for love in the endearing romantic comedy ‘Breaking Fast.’, Review: Zendaya is great. will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and will be distributed by Focus Features. MORE, Morgan Neville is an Academy Award-winning director, known for his work on documentaries and commercials. Our virtual pen pal communication began last summer, just after the release of Neville’s documentary. The two met in 2001, and 10 years later, Wagner and his brother premiered their film, “Mister Rogers & Me,” at the Nantucket Film Festival. “I felt so badly for [Joe] Biden when they were going at him about hugging. Won't You Be My Neighbor? See Full Cast + Crew for Won't You Be My Neighbor? An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers. Details For over 30 years, Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, writer and producer, was beamed daily into homes across America. Less than a week later, a message popped up in my inbox. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood first aired in 1968 at a time when many other shows sought laughs at some other character’s expense. Postal Service dedication of the Mister Rogers Forever Stamp at WQED’s Fred Rogers Studio in Pittsburgh last year. One ring, designed in the pattern of a castle battlement, had been given to her by Fred in honor of Queen Sara — the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” character he’d named after her. If you sue a cop for excessive force in L.A., you could be in for a wild ride. Mister Rogers offered a calm and stable presence, tackling life's weightiest issues in a simple, direct way. “Be on the watch as you come from the airport to look at the city when you come out of the tunnel! Rumors that Mr. Rogers had a military background died down in the mid-1990s. Incredibly touching and powerful, Won't You Be My Neighbor? But there was still “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The November premiere was planned for Fred’s native Pittsburgh, where much of Heller’s film was shot. Rogers saw a need for something totally different: a show that brought kindness and love. Other recent projects include Ugly Delicious, Chelsea Does, Keith Richards: Under the Influence and Abstract: The Art of Design. Employing a fairly straightforward documentary style, director Neville makes brilliant use of new interviews with Rogers’ associates, colleagues, friends and family members, as well as writers, critics, and historians, to relate observations, insights, and always more stories and anecdotes about the gentle and unassuming man who sought to make television his personal ministry. I can remember their names — Aniston and this one and that one. The documentary recalls cartoon characters running into things, or watching children getting slimed on Nickelodeon. 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