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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a look at the late beloved children’s TV show host Fred Rogers, was actually intended to be named The Radical Mister Rogers — until director Morgan Neville made the switch after Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.
“I just said, ‘I can’t call this film The Radical Mister Rogers anymore,'” Neville said Saturday at the Producers Guild of America’s Produced By: New York conference. “Because the design of the film was really to try and speak to people I don’t necessarily agree with.”
To Neville, Rogers’ legacy seems to be one of the few things that unites Americans. He’s “a rare subject that doesn’t have cultural baggage.”
“Because he connects with us before we have identities, as little kids, he’s a rare figure that kind of transcends so much of the cultural division that we have,” said the filmmaker.
Ultimately, Neville didn’t want to risk people refusing to see the film because of a word like “radical.”
“I felt like that title, in the context of the era that we’re in, would turn off people who needed to see it,” he added.
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