Friday, April 20, 2007

McFeely is the McDude!

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.

IMG_2160 IMG_2163 IMG_2162

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.

Me & McFeely
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!


Anonymous said...

Loved your post. I met Mr. McFeely along with Princess Aberlin and Mr. Rogers many years ago and yes, David Newell is a genuinely nice guy--actually, I think Mr. McFeely is David Newell himself. Princess Aberlin was dishy, very cute in person and Mr. Rogers? A man who ernestly and forcefully believed in what he was doing..forceful? Yup, forceful--but quietly so. dad

Factor 10 said...

I think it's lovely that he really WAS a nice guy. At the bookstore we had a few authors in, and the children's picture book authors were always a horrifying disappointment. I just expected them to be lovely and warm to everyone, not just turning it on for the kids. Give THAT cookie to your mouse and make of it what you will.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

oh my gosh! How old is this guy now?? I wonder. Amazing he is still around!

Me said...

Your station reminds me of the station I used to work in. I guess PBS stations everywhere look the same.
I was glad that he turned out to be a nice guytoo.
I mean, it would be like finding out that Mr. Rogers was mean or something.

Alice in Wonderbread said...

You are STILL gorgeous by the way. Thanks for sharing your pictures. xoxo

Mr. McFeeley looks exactly the same as when I met him in 1977 or 78. I can't believe it. EXACTLY the same 30 years later. He was warm too, and had good breath. These are the things a six year old remembers when tonguing a rasberry into Mr. McFeeley's microphone instead of singing Jingle Bells as I had volunteered to do.

Alice in Wonderbread said...

P.S. My sister met Lady Elaine on the side of the stage where I insisted on asking Mr. Rogers how old he was, then getting pissed off that he didn't give me a direct answer and had to think about it (he said something like "How old am I now....42? 43? Yes. I'm 43")

I miss him so much now, and wish I had been able to tell him, nearly three decades after watching his show, that I "get" where he was going now! And why my mom enjoyed his show more than I did.

Long live PBS.