Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Amy's FedEx envelope arrived at my office amidst a hurricane of MTV bologna.
Next week is MTV Movie Week. I'm EP of News, but I also manage the Movies area of MTV.com. So I've been trying to hook up excellent programming (trailer premieres, exclusive clips and interviews, etc), assign out all the production, and coordinate the onaire/online/broadband/podcasting promotion. It's not rocket science. It's not even deep and simple. It's a bunch of Major Hollywood Movies that require Major Planning. (Well, it's not all Big Hollywood; I'm most excited about our exclusive interviews with Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith). So I'm wrestling with Michele Gondry's people, trying to nail down an interview location less than an hour before we're supposed to be there, wherever there is. So my heart is racing, my temper is short...
And Amy's FedEx package arrives. I rip it open, close the door, and pop the tape into my VCR. Used to be Amy Hollingsworth was a reporter for The 700 Club. The tape held a dub of her visit to Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood back in the late 80s. For the eight minutes of that package, time stood still. It was like I was watching my dream. Amy went to WQED, where Mr. Rogers shot his show, wandered backstage, interviewed all the major players, and spoke with Mr. Rogers about his faith for the first time on camera. It was the access and the intimacy I've dreamt of. It made me think of a few things.
For one, the film as it stands in my mind is terribly devoid of Mr. Rogers himself. Chris and I never got him on camera. He passed away before we could do so. So I'll have to figure that out. He has to be there in more than words. It is a medium of moving pictures. I need more than the two snapshots I have of Mr. Rogers and me. That absence also made me think about the title. It occurs to me that "Looking For Mr. Rogers" or "Searching For Mr. Rogers" may be a better title. I'm sure we'll know better as we get further along.
For another, the segment reminded me what a huge advocate Mr. Rogers was for self esteem. He's all about the individual, the uniqueness of everyone, and viewing life through the prism of positivity. He talked about seeing ourselves and our neighbors through the eyes of God: as unique, good and beautiful. He wrote it on one of my birthday cards: "You are special." And he probably had no idea how key that is for me. I've never been terribly fond of myself. Cue the applause; that helps. Send in the adoring ex-girlfriends. If they like me, I must be worth something, right?
This whole thing, the entire documentary, is so personal. In just a few words over a few conversations, his words and deeds spoke volumes to me. I hope I make some sense of it all. With people like Amy on my side, and Mr. Rogers smiling down on me, I imagine I'm in good hands.