Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday Talkback - Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

You're summoned to the office of a studio exec with an idea that he calls brilliant. When you show up, he says he's excited about bringing a well-known children's franchise back to theaters via a reboot movie.

Intrigued, you lean forward. Artistic integrity be damned. You've seen the Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks movies bring in a lot of bank. Whatever this guy wants, you're going to pitch him. You'll collect a nice payday and get some breathing room for a premise you really want to develop.

"Hit me," you say.

"Three words," he responds. "Mr. Rogers Neighborhood."

Have at it, folks. What's your pitch?

(I deliberately picked this because there's probably ZERO chance of it ever happening, thus, no one should have to worry about getting their ideas stolen.


  1. Open with the famous "Wont u be my neighbor" routine, "Trolley" brings him a letter, Rogers expression changes...

    Rogers visiting a Make-a-wish kid. Agrees to let him visit him on set for a day...

    On Kid and Rogers after filming of an episode, everyone else leaves set, Rogers and kid have a moment and THEN Rogers does some magic...

    Him and kid shrink, hop on board Trolley for a "Beetelgeuse-esk" adventure during which the kid addresses his illness and life expectancy...

    Back in reality-land, Trolley toots, Rogers changes back to his outside shoes, thanks kid for showing him what courage means...

    Kid smiles - The End.

    Are you going to finish that bagel?

  2. But they are bringing mr. Rogers back. But it'll be hosted by a tiger.

  3. Of course the movie will happen one day. You know better than stating zero chance.

    I vote for plot involving stolen sweater. And somewhere in there, the line: "No more mister nice guy."

  4. "Children have been disappearing. No witnesses, no evidence. Just disappearing. In Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Only one person can find them and bring them back ... one person who cares more than anyone else about them, who's been preparing for this moment his entire life ..."

  5. The easy angle would be a spoof with Will Ferrell in a sweater and so forth. I'd rather try another angle -- a family fantasy-adventure that builds on the Mr. Rogers legend rather than trying to reboot it:

    Troubled neighborhood children break into the former home of Mr. Rogers, discovering his old model train set, dusty and forgotten -- and are whisked away to King Friday's realm, now in dire need of heroes absent the guidance of their friend from the other side of the trolley tracks.

    I Blame Ninjas

  6. Something like this? http://jezebel.com/5826833/

  7. Christopher Nolan is securing the rights as we speak (j/k)

  8. I'm with Ryan Paige, above: Gritty Reboot.

    Protagonist would be maybe early to mid 30's. Fat. Nearly unemployable. Unable to cope with the realities of being an adult. He manages to get one job as a postman delivering mail in the most undesireable part of town.

    It's his first day and he's already cursing the decision to make an honest living. As he huffs his way up and down the street, he starts humming an obscenity-laden version of "Would you be mine"...he gets to a familiar house.

    There is no mailbox.

    Dude's been admonished not to leave mail just anywhere, because people steal that shit. So Our Hero pounds on the door and announces his presence. No response. He peers in the window--no luck there. Finally, he looks around to see if anyone's watching, puts his hand on the doorknob and yanks it--

    --and the door swings open. Dude falls flat on his face at the top of that familiar landing.

    Inside is dark, and broken. Windows have been broken. Guy wanders in a little, calling out, "hello?". He leaves the mail on the counter, next to the fishtank. What's in the fishtank sure as hell ain't goldfish. He studies it. A flicker of an idea...but he dismisses it.

    Until he goes to leave, and trips over a pair of brown shoes. Now he CAN'T dismiss it. And there's only one thing left to check. He approaches the closet. He pulls it open, revealing a row of wooden hangers and dirty, cobwebby, blood-splashed grandfatherly cardigans in an array of colors.

    Dude bolts.
    I don't have the rest of it, except in bits and pieces:

    -After Mister Rogers's passing, despite the foundation formed to maintain the property, it became uncool to like Mister Rogers. The house fell into disrepair.

    -the Land of Make-Believe has turned into a dystopia (obvious choice there). it was always fed by the imagination and love of Mister Rogers. One night after the foundation had stopped caring, a child was kidnapped and taken into the Land of Make Believe. The puppets came out--their first visitor in so many years!--only to see the child be tormented and ultimately murdered. Unable to stop the killing, the puppets ended up blaming themselves, which manifests in oddly human fashion: Queen Sarah Saturday is now a coldblooded despot. Daniel Tiger's an alcoholic, Lady Elaine Fairchilde is using meth.

    -Protagonist puts the place to rights, obviously, and in the course of doing so acquires neighborhood friends, a significant other, and respect for himself.

    -I have no idea how this could be a franchise. But it's a reboot!

  9. My readers are geniuses... every last one of them. I can't recall a comment thread I've enjoyed more!

    InterstellarOutlaw - if you wrote that up as a gimmick spec, you'd probably be able to get it read.

    and I had NO idea about the Mr. Rogers revival... geez, this town leaves no stone unturned.

  10. No kidding! It was odd seeing that come up in my twitter feed just a few minutes after I'd read this post!

    I'd love to have contributed, but Mr. Rogers sadly did not make it across the Atlantic (ooh, maybe that's my pitch? Le quartier du M. Rogers? Herr Rogers Grannskap?)

  11. Gee, I would've thought you folks would've focused on one of Mr. Rogers' sons or grandkids. On a side note while I knew Mr. Rogers was a minister I didn't know he was red-green colorblind and a vegetarian.