Updated Oct. 1: Hold the casting calls. Bill Isler, president of the Fred Rogers Co., today told the Post-Gazette this report was premature. That could mean a movie will be announced down the road, negotiations are still under way or that such a project will not happen with the sanction of the company carrying on the Pittsburgher's legacy.
Catching up with some weekend news:
The story of a Fort Worth, Texas, writer and his friendship with Fred Rogers appears to be headed for the big screen with the directors of “Little Miss Sunshine” in tow.
TheWrap.com reports Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris will make a movie based on Tim Madigan’s memoir, “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers.”
This apparently is not the same project rumored in early May. This screenplay is by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, with Peter Saraf, Marc Turtletaub and Youree Henley producing, according to the entertainment website.
Madigan met Rogers in 1995 when writing a profile of the creator of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
A friendship developed and, as reported by former book editor Bob Hoover in 2006, Rogers supported Madigan through several emotional low points, including the cancer death of his younger brother.
Hoover talked with Madigan before an appearance at the now-closed Joseph-Beth Booksellers on the South Side. Here is some of what he had to say to Hoover:
Q: What was your impression of Fred Rogers before you met him?
A: I have to admit that Fred was only peripherally on my radar screen. I was a “Captain Kangaroo” fan growing up, so I never paid much attention to him. I knew he was great for children, but all I remember was watching those parodies of him on “Saturday Night Live.”
Q: What made Fred Rogers so successful at forming personal connections with children via television?
A: He very intentionally set out to have a relationship with each child who watched him. He designed his show to promote that relationship by letting kids know that there was a caring adult who cared about them and the kids reacted to his gentle spirit.
Q: How have you used the lessons of Fred Rogers’ life in your own?
A: When I spent time with Fred Rogers, he focused on me like a laser. I was the only thing that mattered to him at the time. Making that one-on-one connection was the biggest thing I took from our relationship. We all have our own agendas, and we have to learn to put them aside when we’re dealing with other people.
Q: What is your intention for this book?
A: I felt I had a remarkable opportunity to experience Fred’s extraordinary goodness, and as a writer, had the obligation to share it. Most of us remember him in his role with children and never had the opportunity to experience the adult dimension of Fred.
In 2008, Hoover reported that the Allegheny County Library Association had selected “I’m Proud of You: My Friendship With Fred Rogers” as its One Book, One Community selection this year.
Madigan is also the author of “The Burning: Massacre, Destruction and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921” and “See No Evil: Blind Devotion and Bloodshed in David Koresh’s Holy War.”