Back in the 1960s, children’s TV programming producer Fred McFeely Rogers developed a half-hour educational program for young ages that would later become a television legend along with its host. “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” clicked with audiences in the US and around the world for its carefully balanced concept of discussing real-world topics while encouraging children’s imaginations. The show would broadcast for decades on PBS and for a time was the longest-running children’s TV series (now held by “Sesame Street”). Over a decade after Rogers’ death, his memory will be revived in an upcoming biopic where he will be portrayed by Tom Hanks, a trailer of which has just been released.
CBS News has it that the first trailer for “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” about Mister Fred Rogers and his memorable children’s show, was released by Sony this Monday, July 22. Produced under Sony’s Tri-Star Pictures label the movie stars Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers in the closing years of “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” which ended in 2001, as seen from the eyes of Esquire reporter Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) who has been assigned to do a profile piece on the children’s host and educator.
The story is actually adapted for dramatic purposes from the real-life friendship between Rogers and Vogel’s inspiration, Tom Junod, who did publish a well-received article about the children’s host on “Esquire” in 1998. “A Beautiful Day” focuses on Junod’s personal life issues, embodied in the Vogel character, that gave him a very cynical outlook on life until his interactions with Mister Rogers on the PBS “Neighborhood” set and beyond helps him to see everything in a better light. As one line by Hanks’s Rogers in the trailer goes, “We are trying to give the world positive ways of dealing with their feelings,” something that Vogel would eventually take to heart.
Framing the movie in the late 1990s would also factor in the eventual closing of the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on PBS by 2001, after being on the air (with remakes) since 1967. Fred Rogers himself would only live beyond that point to 2003, dying of stomach cancer. His sheer humanity and neighborliness is brought across in “A Beautiful Day” by director Marielle Heller, with filming happening from September to November last year. The production met with some misfortune such as the accidental death of a sound-mixer, but has gone through and is now starting promotion.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” also stars Susan Kelchi Watson, Chris Cooper, Enrico Colantoni, Maryann Plunkett and Carmen Cusack. Originally scheduled to premiere this October, the film will be released instead on November 2.
Image courtesy of Fox News