- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 29, 2004

‘Neighborly’ DVD

Our favorite neighbor has finally found a home on DVD.

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” hit store shelves this week via a documentary about the life of the man in the cardigan sweater and sneakers, AP reports.

The Emmy-nominated three-hour documentary, “Fred Rogers: America’s Favorite Neighbor,” chronicles the life of Mr. Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister from Pittsburgh who produced, wrote and hosted “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” for more than 30 years. He died at 74, in February of 2003, after battling stomach cancer.

The documentary is narrated by another Pittsburgh native, actor Michael Keaton, who began his career as a stagehand on the show. In January, the film was shown on PBS and nominated for prime-time Emmys in the nonfiction special and writing for nonfiction programming categories.

In it, Mr. Rogers discussed his thinking behind his famous routine of putting on a zip-up sweater and changing his shoes that began each show: “It’s an invitation for somebody to be close to you, because that’s what neighbors are — close to you.”

David Newell, who played postman Mr. McFeely throughout the show’s lengthy run, told AP that he remembers Mr. Rogers not only as a perfectionist, but also as an exceedingly gentle man who “never threw a sneaker across the room.”

“We are trying to carry on his wonderful legacy,” Mr. Newell said.

The DVD also includes footage of Mr. Rogers appearing on “The Arsenio Hall Show” and “The Tonight Show,” as well as Eddie Murphy’s urban spoof “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” from NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Proceeds from the DVD will benefit the Fred Rogers Fund and children’s programming on WQED, the Pittsburgh PBS station where “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was produced.

Pax’s ‘Turkey’ hunt

Pax TV is getting into the reality game.

The cable channel’s “Cold Turkey,” invited 10 unsuspecting chain smokers to appear on a wacky new reality show where they signed on to live in a smoke-free home for 24 days.

The new show, premiering Sunday at 10 p.m., sequesters the 10 men and women in a house where they are distracted from their nicotine pangs. Series host A.J. Benza, formerly the host of E!’s “Mysteries & Scandals,” guides the contestants in their journey, with the chance to win a cash prize and emerge smoke-free.

Barenaked variety

Thanks to Jessica Simpson’s highly rated experiment last season, the long-dormant variety-show genre may be waking from its slumber.

Case in point: Fox has ordered a pilot starring the Barenaked Ladies that will feature the playful rockers performing music and comedy skits along with guest stars, Associated Press reports.

The Canadian quintet, known for its upbeat songs and quirky lyrics, will have plenty of leeway to ad-lib on the show.

Band members Steven Page, Jim Creeggan, Ed Robertson, Kevin Hearn and Tyler Stewart will perform in the series, tentatively titled “The Barenaked Ladies Variety Show.”

“This is a natural expansion to their live experience,” co-executive producer John Ziffren told AP. “We are trying to capture that energy and make it into a TV show.”

No air date has been given as yet.

McLeod’s‘ run

Women’s Entertainment will roll out “McLeod’s Daughters,” a Western series showcasing a ranch run by cowgirls, this weekend.

The long-running Aussie show starring Bridie Carter and Lisa Chappell follows the titular siblings as they try to run a ranch on their own after the death of their father.

The cable network’s first installment of the program begins Saturday evening at 10.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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