By Jeff Murphy, January 24, 2019
Photo courtesy of The Fred Rogers Company
WARRENSBURG, MO – Mark your calendar for 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, when the University of Central Missouri’s public television station, KMOS-TV, presents one of the most celebrated theatrical releases of 2018, an intimate look at the life of America’s favorite neighbor: Fred Rogers.
“Won't You Be My Neighbor?”, a film by Morgan Neville, 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. In his beloved television program, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, “Rogers and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mr. Rogers on television before, and there hasn’t been since.
Fred Rogers’ career represented a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view of how television could be used as a positive force in society. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” explores his legacy, focusing on his radically kind ideas. While the nation changed around him, Rogers stood firm in his belief about the importance of protecting childhood. This intimate portrait goes 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.
Morgan Neville notes, “We’re excited to have such a great partner in HBO to help spread Fred’s message back into the world. And we’re especially excited that HBO has forged a unique collaboration with PBS to ensure that the film reaches the broadest possible audience in February.”
Since its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2018, the film has become the top-grossing biographical documentary of all time, earning more than $22 million at the domestic box office. It received three Documentary Critic’s Choice Awards, including Best Documentary, Best Director and Best Editing, as well as the Audience Award at the IFP Gotham Awards. Neville’s film is also nominated for the IDA Documentary Award for Best Documentary, five Cinema Eye Honors, including Best Documentary, the Producers Guild of America award for Best Documentary Motion Picture and the Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is a Focus Features presentation, in association with Impact Partners and PBS/Independent Lens, a Tremolo Production; executive producers, David J. and Linda A. Cornfield, David Stone and David Boies III, Rick Rosenthal and Nancy Stephens, John Boccardo and Derek Esplin, Andrea Van Beuren, Jenifer Westphal, Dan Cogan, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Regina K. Scully; cinematography by Graham Willoughby; edited by Jeff Malmberg and Aaron Wickenden; produced by Morgan Neville, Caryn Capotosto and Nicholas Ma; directed by Morgan Neville.
KMOS regularly airs “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” each Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m., but will present memorable episodes of his series during the week of Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. (Feb. 4 Eric Carle and Fortune Cookie Factory, Feb. 5 Pediatrician and Families and Adoption, Feb 6 Visit an Art Museum, Feb. 7 Electric Cars and Electric Wheelchair, and Feb. 8 Drawing Contest / Making Crayons).
Mister Rogers lives on in the form of “Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,” which airs on KMOS 6.1 weekdays at 8:30 a.m., and on channel 6.4 daily at 1:30 p.m.