2019 LitFest to Honor screenplay: “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

Fred Rogers and François Clemmons reprising their famous foot bath in 1993. The scene was a message of inclusion during an era of racial segregation. Photo courtesy of Dr. François S. Clemmons under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

“When I was very young, most of my childhood heroes wore capes, flew through the air, or picked up buildings with one arm. They were spectacular and got a lot of attention. But as I grew, my heroes changed, so that now I can honestly say that anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” The World According to Mister Rogers



PEN America‘s announced that on November 1st it will recognize A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a film about Fred Rogers, his television show, and the effect Mr. Rogers had on the life of a reporter, at PEN’s 2019 LitFest Gala. The film is considered one of this year’s most acclaimed works.

Screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster will receive the Award for Screenplay Excellence. Fitzeman-Blue and Harpster are Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated writers and producers.



The Rev. Fred Rogers / This photo is under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

Fred Rogers (1928 – 2003): An American television personality, musician, puppeteer, writer, producer, and Presbyterian minister was known as the creator, composer, producer, head writer, manager and host of the preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001). The program was marked by its slow pace and Fred Roger’s signature calm manner.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for almost nine-hundred episodes, until 2001. The program emphasized children’s developing psyche, feelings, sense of moral and ethical reasoning, civility, tolerance, sharing, and self-worth. Difficult topics such as the death of a family pet, sibling rivalry, the addition of a newborn into families, moving and enrolling in a new school, and divorce were also addressed.

Rogers died on February 27, 2003 of stomach cancer. His work in children’s television is still widely praised. Fred Rogers received over forty honorary degrees and several awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002 and a Lifetime Achievement Emmy in 1997. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999. Rogers influenced many writers and producers of children’s television shows, and served as a source of comfort during tragic events, even after his death.

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Spoken in 1994, quoted in his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (Courtesy of MentalFloss)



A poster for the 2019 film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. / published under Fair Use

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and is scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on November 22, 2019, by Sony Pictures Releasing, just in time for our Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season.  What could be better timing? What the world needs now is more of Mr. Rogers and more people like Mr. Rogers. I’m delighted though I won’t get to see it until it comes to Amazon or Netflix.

THE PREMISE: A cynical, award-winning journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write an Esquire profile of the beloved television icon Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks). Vogel’s perspective on life is transformed after his encounter with Rogers.

If you are viewing this post from an email subscription, it is likely you’ll have to link through to the site to view this movie trailer:

A sweater worn by Rogers, on display in the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History courtesy of Rudi RietFlickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Whenever a great tragedy strikes—war, famine, mass shootings, or even an outbreak of populist rage—millions of people turn to Fred’s messages about life. Then the web is filled with his words and images. With fascinating frequency, his written messages and video clips surge across the internet, reaching hundreds of thousands of people who, confronted with a tough issue or ominous development, open themselves to Rogers’ messages of quiet contemplation, of simplicity, of active listening and the practice of human kindness.” Rogers biographer Maxwell King

*****

This post is courtesy of Pen America, Wikipedia, and Mental Floss. For more info on the the LitFest Gala 2019 to be held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, November 1st, link HERE.

 PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

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