'Won't You Be My Neighbor?' Premiers At Hollywood Theater In Dormont

Mr. McFeely Talks To Larry Richert about the new Fred Rogers' documentary

Won't you be my Neighbor

Larry Richert

PITTSBURGH (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - When speaking to a child, an adult talks with a certain tone. No one knew this tone better than Mister Rogers.

The new documentary about Fred Rogers and his neighborhood, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” premiered in front of a select crowd at the Hollywood Theatre in Dormont Tuesday evening.

Among them was David Newell, also known as Mr. McFeely in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He tells the KDKA Radio Morning News how Mr. Rogers’ was able to speak to children in a profound and unique way.

“I think a lot of that comes from his training in child development and also his theological training. He just had to do it. That was in Fred’s make up. He had to react and help children understand what’s going on.”

Rogers was not the average television personality.

“He didn’t see himself as an actor, he saw himself as a communicator,” Newell stated.

Newell was a part of the show for over 30 years. What he thought was a “job,” turned into a life-changing career.

“We started taping the program September of 67’ and went on the air February 1968 and I thought, well I have a job for a year, take the best of it; and here I am talking to both of you,” said Newell.

How would Mr. Rogers’ react to the documentary?

 “I think Fred would be proud of all this because what this documentary is doing is not talking about him so much, but his concepts, his ideas;  and I think he would  love to know the reception of all of it.”

The musical director, Johnny Costa of course has ties to KDKA Radio.

“Johnny was such a big part of the neighborhood and Fred’s work. Johnny was our musical director; by the way he started at KDKA [Radio],” Newell said.

The documentary is set for release this Friday at the Manor Theatre and AMC Waterfront 22.

Larry Richert

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