Today was the day! David Newell came to our station!
Oh!!! That's the guy who plays Mr. McFeely on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood!
I expected to spend maybe 10 minutes with the man, but it was actually a little more than an hour. He'd already been to a school for an appearance, then was brought back here to cut three spots that I wrote and eat lunch before being whisked to the next event.
I'd booked an hour of studio time, based on what our RTL person told me, and everyone was standing by, ready to do this so McFeely could be in and out as quickly as possible.
15 minutes passed. I knew he was in the building somewhere, but he sure wasn't in the studio. Turns out that radio snagged him as soon as he walked in the door to do an interview, and I found him sitting at a table on the radio side with a mic in front of him and the assistant news director asking him to sign photographs. I politely interrupted, mentioned that he wouldn't have time to eat and ushered him out of the radio studio.
And into ours.
We chatted a little as mic checks and camera adjustments were made. Turns out that our cameraman used to date Handyman Negri's daugther. We were busily making connections and realizing just how small a world we live in when the director announced that they were ready.
Like a pro, he read through each script three times (our director is big on safety copies), and then posed for pictures with everyone in the studio... including me.
I do wish I'd washed my hair this morning...
After all that, I took him to the lunchroom for lunch. Did you know that Mr. McFeely is a vegetarian? He had vegetarian sushi rolls, vegetarian eggrolls, steamed vegetables and a salad - along with a diet coke for lunch. While he ate, he signed pictures and we talked about Mr. Rogers, the yearly sweater drive, the Virginia Tech shootings, the appearances he makes all over the country and he volunteered to send me some materials for several projects that we discussed. He even volunteered to do a hurricane spot for children for me. I'd written the script a couple of years ago, but somehow it never got done.
And then it was over. Time to go to the next event. There was a last-minute flurry of picture taking and looking for the glue that holds his mustache on, which was probably inadvertently thrown away as he'd wrapped it in toilet paper.... we never found it.
It's funny. I never really thought much about the Speedy Delivery guy. But as it turns out he's a terrific person and stayed in character pretty much the entire time. Was David Newell even there? Or has he become, over the years, Mr. McFeely? I believe at this point in time, it would be hard to separate them - but they are both incredibly nice people!