It is indeed a beautiful day. A Fred Rogers biopic is heading our way. Treehouse Pictures (Arbitrage) has bought screenwriter Alexis Jolly’s feature script, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, about the life of the legendary children’s television icon. And if everything goes well, it could be hitting film festival screens next year.
“It’s an interesting piece of material to come on our desk and we’re very happy it did,” Justin Nappi, founder and president of Treehouse Pictures, told EW. “I don’t think I’ve seen something like this in a while. The story can resonate on multiple levels. It’s fresh and distinctive. I think that we can make something fun with this.”
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran 1968-2001 and won four Emmys. Rogers himself was given a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award in 1997 and countless other honors. The movie is based on Rogers’ life “but it has other elements of the man becoming Mister Rogers,” says Nappi. “So it’s not just the man. It’s more visually stimulating with different things throughout the film that you read and see how the puppets become who they are and so on and so forth.”
While the movie will likely be done independent of the family, he promises “it will be done in good taste. And obviously we’d run by anything with the family we would think we’d need to.”
We still see plenty of examples of Rogers’ continued relevance, as recently as a few weeks ago when his quotes about talking to children about scary news were all over the Internet and social media after the Boston bombings. Casting someone to play the legend will be key, Nappi acknowledges, because “Fred Rogers was such an inspirational man for so many people. His keen ability to find the good in anyone or anything will make for a truly inspiring cinematic experience.”
“I think when you read the script, it’s like could this man really be this nice?,” he says. “Everyone [who has told stories about him] really has the same thing to say: Yes.”