Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pretty Persuasion

Much as I'd like to update this blog every day, there's not always alot of progress to report. In fact, while we're not quite at a standstill right now, we are moving very, very slowly.

As you know, Chris and I are working on "Mister Rogers & Me" concurrent to our day jobs (Sony and MTV, respectively). Chris is currently on paternity leave at his in-laws in Stone Harbor, NJ -- though he did take his Mac laptop and a drive full of media so he can cut some selects. And I'm currently in full-on Video Music Award mode. The VMAs are MTV's tentpole event, a huge, multi-departmental initiative. It's like going into battle: onair, online, on demand, simulcast, podcast, radio, etc. It's massive. So I don't have a lot of free time.

That said, we're in a bit of a holding pattern until Family Communications gives us their official thumbs up. Let me explain.

I emailed Mrs. Rogers the pitch for this documentary over two years ago. She granted me her blessing, but explained that I need FCI's approval. Chris and I began seeking said approval via a cover letter and teaser trailer in April. I have been sending letters, packages, and emails, and making phone calls a few times a week ever since. In the intervening four months, I've spoken with FCI's president (who is also president of the Pittsburgh School Board, and Executive Director of St. Vincent's College's Fred Rogers Center) in person exactly once. He was, predictably, and fairly, quite busy.

"Listen, Benjamin," he said. "I've got everything on my desk here, and we're gonna do this. But I really wanna spend time discussing this with you, and be sure I don't commit to anything I can't deliver. So let's try this call again next week?"

We rescheduled, but haven't spoken since. That was June.

"We're gonna do this."

That's what Chris and I are going on. Roughly $4000 dollars into this project, that's all we have. That and Mrs. Rogers blessing. That and Mister Rogers assignment ("Spread the message, Benjamin"). Which, come to think of it, is enough.

Chris is coming home from the beach on Monday prior to the rest of his new family to shoot our interview with "I'm Proud of You" author Tim Madigan. As I mentioned before, one of Tim's three book tour stops is at the Barnes & Noble on 82d and Broadway -- exactly halfway between Chris and my apartments. So Tim (and, no doubt, his PR entourage) are coming over to Chris' place for the interview. Then we'll shoot the two of us walking up the block (as if we're old friends), as well as his B&N reading.

After that? Well, after a few days in Nantucket (during which time I hope to see Mrs. Rogers), I've suggested to FCI's Powers That Be that we meet in Pittsburgh on September 7, 8, or 11.

So far, I haven't heard anything. But I'm hopeful.

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