Don’t Quit Your Day Job: 9 Things I Learned Writing, Producing & Directing “Mister Rogers & Me”
November 11th, 2012
I was a thirty-year-old, unmarried, singer/songwriter and MTV News Producer when I first met Mister Rogers on Nantucket in September, 2001. By the time my brother and I finished the documentary inspired by that meeting, "Mister Rogers & Me," we'd screened at a dozen festivals, snagged some awards, hosted a number of high-profile events at well-respected institutions like The Paley Center for Media, garnered some great press, and licensed the film to PBS Distribution (DVD, DTO) and American Public Television (broadcast). Over ten years ...

Mister Rogers, MaxFunCon & Me
September 24th, 2012
In many ways, "Mister Rogers & Me" began with a button my mother found in some gift shop somewhere. It read, simply, "PBS Mind In An MTV World." While the binary is less-and-less applicable (PBS airs rock shows on Friday nights, and MTV airs its fair share of documentaries), it created a distinct filter through which to sift and sort my values, influences and passions. My love of public broadcasting, of course, extends to radio, especially pop culture purveyors Ira Glass, Kurt Andersen, and Jesse Thorn. I've been a listeners of Jesse's ...

Mister Rogers, The Dark Knight & Me
July 20th, 2012
Some six-years-ago now, Christofer and I flew to Durham, NC, to interview Human Kindness Foundation founder, author, musician and activist, Bo Lozoff, about his book, "Deep & Simple," and his friendship with Mister Rogers. This evening, some twelve hours into covering the terribly-sad "Dark Knight Rises" shooting in Aurora, CO, for MTV News, I am reminded of our conversation about the value of a deep and simple life in these shallow and complex times. I was sitting with my wife in Fred Rogers office talking with the staff of "Mister ...

Behind The “Bullseye” Interview (Or, Meeting Jesse Thorn For The First Time)
April 5th, 2012
It all happened in an instant. I emailed Jesse Thorn about "Mister Rogers & Me" at 4:39 pm New Year's Day, mere seconds after a rogue synapse reminded me that Jesse -- whose Public Radio International show, "The Sound Of Young America" (now, "Bullseye With Jesse Thorn") I'd been listening to for years -- absolutely loved Mister Rogers. "That sounds very cool," he wrote back just three minutes later. "I am indeed a big fan of Mister Rogers, and have cried more than once at Davy [Rothbart's "This American Life"] story about him. Why ...

The “Mister Rogers & Me” Reviews Are In!
March 30th, 2012
From The Huffington Post to IndieWire and LA Weekly, the reviews are in for the new documentary, "Mister Rogers & Me" available now from PBS DVD and iTunes. Filmmaker Benjamin Wagner first met "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" creator and star, Fred Rogers, at the television icon's summer home on Nantucket, Massachusetts. His mother rented the cottage next door, so Mister Rogers really was his neighbor. Years after his death, Wagner and his brother, Christofer, set out to trace the impact of Rogers' values through interviews with Tim Russet, ...

What’s Your “Mister Rogers & Me” Story?
March 24th, 2012
If Christofer and I learned one thing during the making of "Mister Rogers & Me," it was that nearly everyone has a Mister Rogers story. From the porter at Richmond International Airport who told us how Mister Rogers' voice was the only tranquil thing in his turbulent, childhood home, to the Chicago Reader reporter who met Mister Rogers crossing a bridge, to the Washington Post reporter who's father worked with America's Favorite Neighbor, everyone has a story of inspiration and impact. I've solicited a few as I've gotten to know folks ...

“Mister Rogers & Me” Soundtrack Now On iTunes! See Track List & Liner Notes
March 21st, 2012
As illustrated in the two photos of Mister Rogers and me, music was a core component to my relationship with PBS icon Mister Rogers. In the first, taken in his Nantucket living room, I am holding my guitar moments after playing "Summer's Gone" for him. In the second, we are in his Nantucket study in front of his piano where he'd just played me "It's A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood." For me, songwriting has always been a means of understanding that which Mister Rogers called "the essential invisible": sadness, fear, uncertainty, love, ...

The Beginning Of Something Else
March 20th, 2012
The sunlight is creeping in through the window of the plane. In 30,000 feet more, LAX-JFK Flight #30 will be back home again. It's been an eleven year trip. See, Mister Rogers summered in a modest, gray, shake-shingled house on the edge of Nantucket. My mother rented a tiny cottage next door. So Mister Rogers really was my neighbor. Somehow, one brief but powerful conversation with the television icon on the afternoon of my 30th birthday way back in 2001 inspired me to write, produce and co-direct (with my brother who shot and edited) a ...

“Mister Rogers & Me” NYC Premiere Set For Party March 22
March 12th, 2012
"Mister Rogers & Me" filmmakers Benjamin and Christofer Wagner will host a "Mister Rogers & Me" NYC Premiere Party, Soundtrack Release & Live-Stream Q&A at Rockwood Music Hall Thursday, March 22 7-9pm. The event is free, and will feature performances of songs from the "Mister Rogers & Me" soundtrack, clips from the film, and a Q&A. The evening will be live streamed on uStream. Questions for the filmmakers can be submitted via Twitter using the hashtag #AskMisterRogers. The soundtrack to "Mister Rogers & Me" will be available at the event, ...

“Mister Rogers & Me” LA Premiere At Paley Center March 19
March 10th, 2012
Filmmakers Christofer and Benjamin Wagner will be joined by Found Magazine Creator and "This American Life" Contributor Davy Rothbart and "I'm Proud Of You: Life Lessons From My Friend Fred Rogers" Author, Tim Madigan for the Los Angeles premiere of "Mister Rogers & Me" Monday, March 19th at The Paley Center For Media. The event is free, and celebrates the March 20 release of "Mister Rogers & Me" on PBS Home Video in honor of America's Favorite Neighbor's 84th birthday. Paley Center attendees are encouraged to wear cardigans. Benjamin ...

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  • An MTV producer's life is transformed when he meets the recently retired host of 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,' Fred Rogers. Friendship with the PBS icon sets the young producer on a hero's quest to find depth and simplicity amidst a shallow and complex world through conversations with Susan Stamberg (NPR), Tim Russert ('Meet The Press'), Marc Brown ('Arthur') and more.
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