Other segments from the episode on February 28, 2003
DATE February 28, 2003 ACCOUNT NUMBER N/Aâ¨ TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/Aâ¨ NETWORK NPRâ¨ PROGRAM Fresh Airâ¨â¨Commentary: Remembering Fred Rogersâ¨DAVID BIANCULLI, host:â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, sitting in for Terry Gross.â¨â¨On today's show, we'll remember Fred Rogers, and listen back to two of hisâ¨interviews with us, recorded nearly 20 years apart. Anyone who saw Fredâ¨Rogers on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" when they were young--and that's justâ¨about everybody--knows a lot about the man who died yesterday at age 74. Theyâ¨know he was kind and loving and trustworthy and enthusiastic and honest and,â¨as a television star, unique. Off camera, based on the handful of times thatâ¨I saw him over the years, I can honestly say that he was exactly the same inâ¨real life. He cared more about his responsibility as a TV personality and hisâ¨audience than any entertainer or educator I ever met.â¨â¨By coincidence, Fred Rogers and I got involved in children's television atâ¨about the same place and time. His career as a children's TV personalityâ¨began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the puppeteer, musician, producer andâ¨co-creator of a local TV show called "Children's Corner." That show began inâ¨Pittsburgh in 1954. I began in Pittsburgh a year earlier. I was born there.â¨â¨So when Fred Rogers and his on-air partner, Josie Carey, started workingâ¨together, I was right there as one of their first and youngest viewers. Thisâ¨was a year before the premieres of "Mickey Mouse Club" and "Captain Kangaroo,"â¨and from the very beginning, Rogers served up a gentle, unhurried, veryâ¨different, very soothing type of TV. He never stopped. He began his ownâ¨show, "Mister Rogers," for Canada's CBC in 1963. He returned to Pittsburghâ¨and launched "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" as a local show in 1966, and tookâ¨it national in 1968, where it's been on PBS with original shows or reruns everâ¨since.â¨â¨The more TV changed, the more Fred Rogers remained the same, and the more heâ¨stood out, almost like a calm oasis in TV's vast wasteland. By the time heâ¨stopped doing original shows three years ago, Rogers had amassed a huge andâ¨invaluable library of special and regular shows, shows like this one, calledâ¨"What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?"â¨â¨(Soundbite of "What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel?")â¨â¨Mr. FRED ROGERS: I remember when I was a boy, if I couldn't go something veryâ¨well and I'd get frustrated about it, I'd go to the piano and tell it with myâ¨fingers on the piano keys. I'll just show you.â¨â¨(Soundbite of piano music)â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Are there things that make you angry? Do you have ways ofâ¨showing you're angry, ways that don't hurt you or anybody else?â¨â¨(Singing) What do you do with the mad that you feel when you feel so mad youâ¨could bite, when the whole wide world seems oh so wrong and nothing you doâ¨seems very right? What do you do? Do you punch a bag? Do you pound someâ¨clay or some dough? Do you round up friends for a game of tag, or see howâ¨fast you go? It's great to be able to...â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Some of the things I'll remember most vividly about Fred Rogers,â¨though, weren't on his shows. They were from my real-life encounters withâ¨him. The first time I met him--and yes, he had that same molasses voice offâ¨camera and was just as sweet and deliberate--was when he was visitingâ¨Philadelphia to speak to a small kindergarten class. The evening before, whenâ¨I was with him, he was contacted by "Nightline" and invited to appear on thatâ¨night's show. Rogers politely but firmly declined, and when I asked him why,â¨he said he owed it to those kindergarten kids to be as fresh and good as heâ¨could be.â¨â¨Another time, when Rogers was accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award from theâ¨Television Critics Association, he stood before the country's TV critics, aâ¨tough room if ever there was one, and asked them to take a minute to thinkâ¨about the parents, teachers and others friends and loved ones who had a majorâ¨influence in getting them to where they were that day. Then he looked at hisâ¨watch and told them, told us, that he'd let us know when the minute was up.â¨And then he stood there not saying another word for a full 60 seconds. Beforeâ¨Rogers spoke again, you could hear the sound of silence, and some sobbing.â¨â¨In that spirit, I'm going to do something similar when I get off the radio.â¨I'm going to take some more time to think about what Fred Rogers asked us toâ¨think about that day. And though he would never have asked it himself, I'llâ¨take a moment to think about Fred Rogers, too.â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Interview: Fred Rogers talks about his life, his long-runningâ¨PBS show and his book "The Mister Rogers Parenting Book"â¨DAVID BIANCULLI, host:â¨â¨Fred Rogers first visited FRESH AIR and spoke with Terry Gross in 1984. We'llâ¨hear that interview later on today's show. We'll begin with another Fredâ¨Rogers interview, this one from just a few months ago. He spoke with Barbaraâ¨Bogaev after the publication of the "Mister Rogers Parenting Book." He joinedâ¨Barbara from his studio in Pittsburgh, where he was seated at his piano.â¨â¨BARBARA BOGAEV, host:â¨â¨Fred Rogers, welcome to FRESH AIR. It's such a pleasure.â¨â¨Mr. FRED ROGERS (Author, "The Mister Rogers Parenting Book"): Thank you,â¨Barbara.â¨â¨BOGAEV: You write about a lot of everyday things. You also write about someâ¨pretty profound issues in parenting, about children's fears. I'm rememberingâ¨a show you once did about how a child cannot go down the drain in the bathtub.â¨You had a whole show about that.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Oh, yes.â¨â¨BOGAEV: It sounds funny, but you're really meeting kids on their own level.â¨That's a real fear. Did a child write to you, and is that where you got theâ¨idea for that?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: A child played that out in front of me one time, making aâ¨character, trying to see if that character could go down a tube, you know,â¨just a plain, ordinary tube, and I found out that it had to do with the drainâ¨in the bathtub. That child was petrified when his parent pulled the plugâ¨while he was still in the tub, and so consequently, we wrote a song aboutâ¨that, you know.â¨â¨(Sings) `You can never go down, can never go down, can never go down theâ¨drain.'â¨â¨And then it goes on, `You're much bigger than the water, much bigger than theâ¨soap,' and its true, but children don't know that when they hear this loudâ¨rush of the flush of water in the bathroom. They think they might be suckedâ¨down the drain, and so just to talk about it, I mean, people were veryâ¨surprised that I would show a bathtub drain, as well as a toilet drain, andâ¨just say, `You see? You could never go down such a small thing.' Well, thereâ¨were many children, I think, who breathed a sigh of relief, just to be able toâ¨talk about it.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Can we talk about discipline for a moment? You hear a lot thatâ¨parents aren't disciplining their children enough now, that they're notâ¨setting limits and they're not being consistent about rules that they do have.â¨Is that your experience, looking back over your long work with kids? Are moreâ¨parents dropping the ball on disciplining their children?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: You know, Barbara, discipline is a kind of love. If childrenâ¨didn't have limits from those who cared about them, they would never feel thatâ¨they were loved. If a child ran out into the street, for instance, and nobodyâ¨screamed and says, `Come back!' or nobody ran after that child, that childâ¨would think that nobody loved him. So healthy limits, which childrenâ¨understand, are a marvelous way of saying `I care about you.'â¨â¨I don't know about the numbers of people who give comfortable limits to theirâ¨children anymore. I know that my grandchildren receive them all the time, butâ¨things that are clear--if children know why we're asking them to do things,â¨they often are very happy to do them, especially if they feel that it isâ¨consistent with our family values. Children love to belong, and if they knowâ¨that this is the way our family does things, then they'll want to be part ofâ¨it.â¨â¨BOGAEV: I have to ask you about the sweaters, and I'm sure you were askedâ¨about the sweaters that you wore on the show many, many times, but Iâ¨understand your mother knitted most of them, until her death.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: She did. Mother was a great knitter. She would carry herâ¨knitting bag wherever she went, and she made a sweater a month, and atâ¨Christmastime she would give 12 sweaters to this sort of extended family ofâ¨ours, and invariably she would say, `OK, here's your sweater for Christmas,â¨and here's the pattern book. Tell me which one you want for next year. Ofâ¨course, I know the one Freddie wants. He wants the one with the zipper downâ¨the front.' Well, I have all of those sweaters, and we used every one that sheâ¨ever made for me. But that's been kind of a trademark, hasn't it, the sweaterâ¨and the sneakers?â¨â¨The sneakers came about because I had to run across the studio floor to getâ¨from the puppet set to the organ when I was doing "The Children's Corner," andâ¨so the sneakers just became--you know, I didn't want to make a lot of noise byâ¨running in other shoes.â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Fred Rogers speaking with Barbara Bogaev last November. We'llâ¨continue in a moment. This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Let's get back to Barbara Bogaev's 2002 interview with Fredâ¨Rogers.â¨â¨BOGAEV: What were you like as a kid?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I was an only child for 11 years, Barbara, and I had to make upâ¨a lot of my own fun.â¨â¨BOGAEV: I think you were sickly often, right? You had a lot of childhoodâ¨diseases?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I had every imaginable childhood disease, even scarlet fever, andâ¨so whenever I was quarantined--and you know, they used to quarantine peopleâ¨for chicken pox and all of those things--I would be in bed a lot, and Iâ¨certainly knew what it was like to use the counterpane as my neighborhood ofâ¨make believe, if you will. But I had puppets...â¨â¨BOGAEV: You mean, the window? You would use--What?--finger puppets or shadowâ¨puppets, or what?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: And things on the bed. I would put up my knees and they wouldâ¨be mountains, you know, covered with the sheet, and I'd have all these littleâ¨figures moving around, and I'd make them talk. And I can still see my room,â¨and I'm sure that was the beginning of a much later neighborhood of makeâ¨believe. But to...â¨â¨BOGAEV: Was King Friday the XIII one of your childhood characters, or Ladyâ¨Aberlin or Lady Elaine?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: The king probably had his genesis there, but it wasn't thatâ¨particular name because it was a child who helped us form that name, Kingâ¨Friday the XIII. A child had been told that Friday the 13th was a very badâ¨day, and he was afraid of those Friday the 13ths, and so I just said one time,â¨`Why don't we have a character whose name is Friday the XIII, and heâ¨celebrates his birthday every time a Friday lands on the 13th of the month.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Oh, that's so unfair!â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: And so his birthday, King Friday's birthday, is always Friday theâ¨13th. And I hear from people all over the world, you know, it's a joyousâ¨occasion for us. It might be otherwise for those who haven't been enlightenedâ¨by the neighborhood, but...â¨â¨(As King Friday) This is King Friday the XIII. I must explain a few things toâ¨Miss Bebe(ph).'â¨â¨Yes, you're certainly welcome, King Friday.â¨â¨(As King Friday) Friday the 13th is a fine day, and may you not say otherwise.â¨Thank you.â¨â¨(Soundbite of piano flourish)â¨â¨BOGAEV: Oh, it's taking me back. Now a gal...â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (As Lady Elaine) This is Lady Elaine, toots. You asked about me,â¨and I'm mighty glad you did. Have you ever been to my Museum-Go-Round? Well,â¨you'll find everything that you could ever want in any one of those rooms.â¨â¨(As X the Owl) This is X the Owl. You seem to be speechless, Barbara.â¨â¨BOGAEV: So true.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (As X the Owl) I'm just flying around here looking for you.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Oh...â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (As X the Owl) Now there's Daniel Tiger over there at his clock.â¨Did you want to say hello to him? I mean, he's awful shy.â¨â¨BOGAEV: So...â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (As Daniel Tiger) Well, I am shy, but I would like to say thatâ¨I'm glad you're having FRESH AIR.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Oh, thank you for that. So is that how you spent the weeks when youâ¨were in your bed as a kid, making up voices?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Yeah. Voices for puppets and all kinds of stories, and when Iâ¨was 11 years old, my sister came, and then I wasn't an only child anymore.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now I think I also read that you were overweight as a kid. Did kidsâ¨make fun of you? I mean, it sounds like you were probably shy because ofâ¨this.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Oh, yeah. Oh, I think I'm still shy. I was concerned aboutâ¨coming to talk with you today. I want things to be right. I want them to beâ¨good. I worry if I make big mistakes, and that's quite a burden at times.â¨But of course, it can help when you're doing work that you feel is soâ¨important.â¨â¨BOGAEV: When you were in college, you studied music composition, and you alsoâ¨got a degree in child development and you became an ordained Presbyterianâ¨minister, but after all those--trying out, I guess, all those avocations, youâ¨went back to TV after that. Why didn't you pursue any of those otherâ¨interests--music or the ministry?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Well, I feel that it's all wrapped up in what we do with theâ¨neighborhood and what we do with all of the things that we publish, that everyâ¨part of who you are comes out in whatever assignment you have. But when I wasâ¨ordained in the church, the ordination read like this: `You are to continueâ¨your work for families and children through the mass media,' so what betterâ¨than to have these different identities and be able to wrap them all in theâ¨service of children and their families? I think that that's when I reallyâ¨knew who I was, when--you know, I loved drama and I loved music, and I lovedâ¨puppetry, and I liked television and I liked philosophy and religion. But theâ¨moment I realized that all of those could be used in the service of childrenâ¨and their families, that's when I knew who I was.â¨â¨BOGAEV: Now did you have a model for your Mr. Rogers persona, the perfectâ¨adult, someone you knew, maybe your father, or your grandfather?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Well, my Grandfather McFeely used to say things to me, the kindsâ¨of things that I would say to the children on the air. We would visit him atâ¨his farm. Every Sunday we'd go out there for dinner.â¨â¨BOGAEV: McFeely as in Mr. McFeely on your show.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Exactly, yeah. And that's my middle name, and that was myâ¨mother's maiden name. But we would go to his farm for dinner on Sunday, andâ¨invariably, he's take us for a walk around the grounds and say things like,â¨`I'm so glad that you've come.' And when we'd leave, he would say, `You'veâ¨made this day a special day,' things like that, you know--`Just your beingâ¨yourself is what matters to me,' and he would take me fishing. And he was aâ¨wonderful person.â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Fred Rogers speaking with Barbara Bogaev last November. He diedâ¨yesterday at the age of 74.â¨â¨We'll continue this interview, and hear a much earlier interview Terry didâ¨with Fred Rogers in the second half of the show. This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite from "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood")â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (Singing) it's such a good feeling to know you're alive. It'sâ¨such a happy feeling, you're growing inside. And when you wake up ready toâ¨say, `I think I'll make a snappy new day,' it's such a good feeling, a veryâ¨good feeling, the feeling you know you're alive. It's such a good feeling toâ¨know you're in tune. It's such a happy feeling to find you're in bloom. Andâ¨when you wake up ready to say, `I think I'll make a snappy new day.' It'sâ¨such a good feeling, a very good feeling, the feeling you know that we'reâ¨friends.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (Singing) It's such a good feeling to know you're alive. It'sâ¨such a happy feeling you're growing inside. And when you wake up ready toâ¨say, `I think I'll make a snappy new day,' it's such a good feeling, theâ¨feeling you know that we're friends.â¨â¨(Announcements)â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨BIANCULLI: That's Johnny Costa on piano. He was the pianist and musicalâ¨director for "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." Coming up, we'll hear more ofâ¨Barbara Bogaev's recent interview with the late Fred Rogers, as well as aâ¨conversation with him Terry Gross recorded nearly 20 years ago. Also, aâ¨review of the new independent film "All the Real Girls."â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨BIANCULLI: This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, back with more of ourâ¨remembrance of Fred Rogers, the children's TV host who died yesterday at ageâ¨74. He spoke with Barbara Bogaev last November.â¨â¨BOGAEV: You worked with the people on your show for decades. Many of themâ¨stayed for decades, right? And I was thinking that when people work togetherâ¨on a television show for so long, they often play some practical jokes on eachâ¨other on the air just to keep things interesting. What kinds of pranksâ¨happened on the set of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"? Did they ever, youâ¨know, sprinkle itch powder in your sweater or anything?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: No, but there were times when they put rolled-up newspaper in theâ¨toes of my shoes, so that when I was singing the goodbye song, I would try toâ¨get on my shoes and, of course, they were much too small for me to get into.â¨So the camera didn't show the shoes those days, and I was going out with myâ¨heels over the backs.â¨â¨And then one time there was this blown-up voluptuous lady made out of rubber,â¨a huge one, in my closet. When I opened it at the end of the program to putâ¨my sweater back in the closet, here was this lady waiting for me.â¨â¨BOGAEV: What did you do?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Well, we taped it over. But you couldn't do that in the days ofâ¨live television and, of course, that's the way we began.â¨â¨BOGAEV: I have to get you to tell this story. I understand once the actorâ¨Michael Keaton was on your show.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Oh, yes.â¨â¨BOGAEV: You had many celebrities on the show, but he made a little bit moreâ¨mischief than most.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Michael worked with us on the studio crew before he ever went toâ¨Hollywood, and he was in charge of the trolley, the movement of the trolley inâ¨my room, and also Picture, Picture. And there's a little sliding door rightâ¨under Picture, Picture where I put in the tape, and so...â¨â¨BOGAEV: This is the magic picture projector, right?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: It is a projector, yeah.â¨â¨BOGAEV: It has a slot.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Uh-huh. And one day I opened the slot to put the tape in, and Iâ¨heard this voice say, `I'm ready to hear your confession, son.' Well, thatâ¨was Michael. And those were the kinds of things that--well, he's just aâ¨wonderful person.â¨â¨BOGAEV: There have been many spoofs of "Mister Rogers," as I'm sure you know,â¨over the years. Eddie Murphy's on "Saturday Night Live" is perhaps theâ¨best-known spoof. I remember National Lampoon also had a skit based on yourâ¨show. What did you think of those? How did you feel about the ribbing youâ¨got over the years?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I think most of them were done with a great deal of affection. Iâ¨remember meeting Eddie Murphy for the first time over at the RCA building, andâ¨he came out of his office, and I was walking down the hall, and he put hisâ¨arms around me and he said, `The real Mr. Rogers.' And Mr. Carson, when I wasâ¨with him one time, he said, `You know, Fred, we would never do these take-offsâ¨about you if we didn't like you. We wouldn't care about making you famous.'â¨There have been some that have concerned me, though, Barbara, and one weâ¨learned of--and this was on local television--somebody dressed up in a sweaterâ¨and sneakers and talked--they said, even more slowly than I talk--I did notâ¨see this, but he pretended that he was I, and he said, `Now, boys and girls, Iâ¨want you to take your mother's hair spray and your daddy's cigarette lighterâ¨and press the buttons together and you'll have a blow torch.'â¨â¨Well, he was meaning to be funny, you know, but it was done in the afternoon,â¨so if any child, even one child, would have gotten the notion that that wasâ¨something that we had condoned and had tried such a thing, such a sexist thingâ¨for one thing, that would have been disastrous. And so we were able to knowâ¨about that because a family that watched the "Neighborhood" wrote us and toldâ¨us about it. So we got it taken off the air.â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Fred Rogers speaking with Barbara Bogaev last November, one monthâ¨before he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.â¨â¨Coming up, a 1984 conversation between Fred Rogers and Terry Gross.â¨â¨This is FRESH AIR.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Interview: Fred Rogers discusses his early life and his career inâ¨children's televisionâ¨DAVID BIANCULLI, host:â¨â¨In 1984, Fred Rogers stopped by our neighborhood to visit with Terry Gross.â¨At that point, he'd already been working in children's television for 30â¨years.â¨â¨TERRY GROSS, host:â¨â¨Was there somebody in your life who was the kind of figure for you like you'veâ¨become to so many children who would, you know, like, reassure you and, youâ¨know, want to discuss things with you? Of course, you can't actually step outâ¨of the TV and discuss it with all the kids, but you offer that to them. Wasâ¨there someone like that for you?â¨â¨Mr. FRED ROGERS: I guess the closest person was my grandfather, Mr. McFeely,â¨and of course we've named the Speedy Delivery man for him. We called him Dingâ¨Dong because he taught us that childhood rhyme, `Ding dong bell, pussy in theâ¨well.' And everybody called him Ding Dong. He was the kind of person whoâ¨would really support your strivings for autonomy. And while my parents and myâ¨grandmother were naturally very concerned about my health and hazards around,â¨he was the kind of person who when I would walk on one of his stone walls, forâ¨instance, and they would say, `Better get down,' Ding Dong would say, `Oh, letâ¨the kid walk on the wall. He's got to learn to do things for himself.'â¨â¨GROSS: What were the things that really scared you when you were a child?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I think the most scary thing was being alone and thinking thatâ¨maybe nobody would come to get me. And I think that school, beginning schoolâ¨was tough for me. That's probably why I've done so much work for children inâ¨this area. I think also I was frightened of the doctor, and that's probablyâ¨why I've made all those videotapes about (technical difficulties) childrenâ¨know about what hospitalization is like before they go; probably why I wroteâ¨that song "I Like to Be Told," because I did, I liked to be told about thingsâ¨before I had to go do them.â¨â¨GROSS: Did you like scary movies and books?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I can't remember.â¨â¨GROSS: Did you go to the movies a lot?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I would go to the movies. It's hard for me to remember. Iâ¨remember a couple movies that--I liked Shirley Temple and I liked those kindsâ¨of stories that, you know, she would always come out OK at the end. And I metâ¨Shirley Temple Black not too long ago, and I just sat beside her in awe, and Iâ¨said--it was interesting because the first thing I said to her was, `You wereâ¨one of my favorite people.' And she said, `Were?' That was the first thingâ¨she said, and that really put me back. I expected her to say something about,â¨you know, `I'm really glad that I could have been part of your childhood,' butâ¨all she said was, `Were? I was one of your favorite people?' Isn't thatâ¨interesting?â¨â¨GROSS: Yeah, it is. Did she diminish in your esteem after saying that?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: A little bit, but I think that so many people you put onâ¨pedestals when you see them from afar, and it's probably just not fair toâ¨expect them to be as wonderful as you thought they would be when you met them.â¨â¨GROSS: What about when you were a teen-ager? Was that an uncomfortableâ¨experience or were you--did you feel like you fit in with everybody in highâ¨school? Which is, I think, a pretty traumatic time for a lot of people whenâ¨they're growing up.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: It sure is. I think the teen-age years are probablyâ¨uncomfortable for everybody. It's just that some seem to be able to carry itâ¨off with more elan than others. But it was tough for me at the beginning, andâ¨then I made a couple friends who found out that the core of me was OK, and oneâ¨of them was the president--or the head of the football team. He later becameâ¨my best friend in high school. But it was after the beginning of thatâ¨friendship that I was more accepted in school. Then I became the editor ofâ¨the yearbook and finally the president of the student council by the end ofâ¨high school. But I was a very shy person going into high school.â¨â¨GROSS: What did you think you were going to be when you got out of school andâ¨started a professional career?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I thought I was going to be a diplomat and was thinking aboutâ¨going to a school for diplomacy, and then I changed my mind--and this wasâ¨during college--I wanted to be a minister, and was all set to go to seminaryâ¨after college. But I saw this thing called television and I saw peopleâ¨throwing pies in each other's faces and all kinds of demeaning behavior, and Iâ¨thought, I would really like to try my hand at that and see what I could do.â¨And so instead of going to the seminary after graduation, I got a job at NBCâ¨in New York and went there for two years before joining educationalâ¨television.â¨â¨GROSS: Well, you worked on the "Hit Parade" and "The Kate Smith Hour," Iâ¨think.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Mm-hmm, "The Voice of Firestone" and all of those programs.â¨â¨GROSS: It surprises me, I think, that you left for a fledgling station, aâ¨brand-new station in educational television, which was also new. It soundsâ¨like it was very risky to do that. Why did you make that switch?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: I don't know. Pittsburgh was closer to where I grew up. Maybe Iâ¨wanted to--I had just gotten married in New York and maybe I had wanted to goâ¨back. I'm not sure that's so. I think that it had to do with wanting to workâ¨with children, because every day that I had off at NBC, I would go and visit aâ¨day-care center or an orphanage or a hospital that cared for children, and Iâ¨cannot tell you why. I'm sure it had very deep roots.â¨â¨But when I got to Pittsburgh--and there were only three or four of us workingâ¨at QED then. We weren't even on the air. This was in November of '53 and weâ¨didn't go on the air until April of '54, 30 years ago. One of the secretariesâ¨and I did a children's program together because nobody else wanted to do aâ¨children's program, but we were doing all of these other things as well. Eachâ¨of us had a salary of $75 a week, and out of our own pockets, we bought all ofâ¨the props for the program and we called the program "The Children's Corner"â¨and it was on an hour every day. And I expected that I would play the organâ¨for the hostess to sing, she would introduce all of the films, which I, as theâ¨producer, would get from all over the country. They had to be free, as weâ¨didn't have any budget. Well, I didn't realize that but those films were veryâ¨brittle at times and, of course, everything was live and we'd be on the airâ¨and here would be a film showing and it would break. We'd have to fill withâ¨something.â¨â¨And so the night before we went on the air, Mrs. Dorothy Daniel, who was theâ¨general manager of the station, gave me a little tiger puppet, so I called himâ¨Daniel, for her. And when the first film broke, I just poked the puppetâ¨through--and this was just a very fanciful set with drawings on it, and I justâ¨poked him through and it happened to be a clock where I poked him through.â¨And he just said, `It's 5:02, and Columbus discovered America in 1492,' andâ¨that was the first thing that I ever said through puppetry on the air.â¨â¨GROSS: Wow.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: But I just wanted you to know that necessity there was the motherâ¨of that invention, because it hadn't been planned. And so much that isâ¨spontaneous is what can be truly inspired. And I feel that all that I've doneâ¨that's been really helpful and good has been inspired.â¨â¨GROSS: You went back to seminary after doing children's programming for aâ¨while, right?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Well, I started with the station, and after we got thatâ¨children's program going, it got to be so busy for us that the secretary and Iâ¨both gave up all of our other duties to do "The Children's Corner." As it gotâ¨moving, the second year, I decided I would go to the seminary, so I went on myâ¨lunch hour and took courses, just one at a time, never expecting that I wouldâ¨graduate. Took me eight years and I finally graduated and was ordained aâ¨minister in the Presbyterian Church.â¨â¨GROSS: Obviously you're very religious, but I don't think you--it's not aâ¨denominational program, and I'm sure that's intentional on your part.â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: It's far from denominational and far from overtly religious. Theâ¨last thing in the world that I would want to do would be something that'sâ¨exclusive. I would hate to think that a child would feel excluded from theâ¨neighborhood by something that I said and did.â¨â¨GROSS: Can I just ask you one more thing before we go? You know how a lotâ¨of adults always say, `God, I wish I was a child again'? Do you ever wish youâ¨were five or 10 or 12?â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: Yes, but I'd like to be that with what I know now, and I thinkâ¨that I'd like that because there are a good many significant people in my lifeâ¨that I have lost through death, and I'd like to be able to talk with themâ¨again and tell them some things that I wasn't able to tell them then. Inâ¨fact, I'd like to be able to tell them, `You are special.'â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Terry Gross speaking with Fred Rogers in 1984. He died yesterdayâ¨at age 74.â¨â¨(Soundbite of song)â¨â¨Mr. ROGERS: (Singing) Did you ever fall and hurt your hand or knee? Did youâ¨ever bite your tongue? Did you ever find the stinger of a bee stuck in yourâ¨thumb? I did, too. It seems the things that you do, I did, too, when I wasâ¨very new. I had lots of hurts and scares and worries when I was growing up,â¨like you. Did you ever trip and fall down on the stairs? Did you ever stubâ¨your toe? Did you ever dream of great big grizzly bears who wouldn't go? Iâ¨did, too. It seems the things that you do, I did, too, when I was very new.â¨I had lots of hurts and scares and worries when I was growing up, when I wasâ¨growing up, when I was growing up, like you.â¨â¨BIANCULLI: Coming up, John Powers reviews the new film "All the Real Girls."â¨â¨* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *â¨â¨Review: New film "All the Real Girls"â¨DAVID BIANCULLI, host:â¨â¨"All the Real Girls" is a new romantic drama by the young filmmaker Davidâ¨Gordon Green. His first film was "George Washington." "All the Real Girls"â¨was a big hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival, where it won a specialâ¨jury prize for emotional truth. Film critic John Powers has a review.â¨â¨JOHN POWERS reporting:â¨â¨For the last 25 years, American filmmakers have been chasing the ghost of theâ¨1970s. That includes a terrific new generation, led by P.T. Anderson, Wesâ¨Anderson and Spike Jonze, who are familiar with the freedoms enjoyed by theâ¨so-called "Easy Riders and "Raging Bulls," yet have a sensibility shaped by anâ¨era of diminished cinematic expectations. They make cult classics, notâ¨big-budget hits, tell original stories rather than milk old genres, preferâ¨ensemble casts to lavish star vehicles, and they largely neglect broad socialâ¨concerns in favor of exploring the beleaguered modern self, a variety of theâ¨higher navel-gazing, which may have reached its peak in the recent movieâ¨"Adaptation."â¨â¨You find nearly all of these qualities in David Gordon Green, the gifted Northâ¨Carolina-based filmmaker who, at age 27, seems poised to join their frontâ¨ranks. In fact, his new movie, "All the Real Girls," comes wrapped in theâ¨familiar Sundance hype that threatens to make real-world audiences feelâ¨oversold and underwhelmed. Set in a sleepy North Carolina mill town, "All theâ¨Real Girls" is a love story of almost dreamy simplicity. Its hero, Paul,â¨played by Paul Schneider, is a 22-year-old idler who might have stepped out ofâ¨a Raymond Carver short story. Emotionally immature, he spends his lifeâ¨hanging out with his buddies and cattishly bedding the local chicks. All thatâ¨changes when he meets Noel--that's Zooey Deschanel--a virginal young womanâ¨just back from boarding school. The two fall for each other instantly,â¨achieving a tremulous honesty that delights and unsettles them both, yet inâ¨ways they can't possibly understand, their lives are terribly out of sync.â¨While Paul seeks salvation in Noel's innocence--`She makes me decent,' heâ¨says, and won't sleep with her--she wants to learn the songs of experience.â¨â¨Here, Paul tries to tell her about his past.â¨â¨(Soundbite of "All the Real Girls")â¨â¨Mr. PAUL SCHNEIDER: I made some ugly mistakes.â¨â¨Ms. ZOOEY DESCHANEL: With girls?â¨â¨Mr. SCHNEIDER: The most really ugly, and anything that would make you feelâ¨more comfortable for you to know, I want to tell you that stuff, because Iâ¨care about you, oh, a lot. And when--you know, when people from before comeâ¨up, you know, I want you to understand what they hate when they see me.â¨â¨POWERS: As he showed in his $50,000 debut, "George Washington," David Gordonâ¨Green is attuned to the poetry of ordinary life, with its slow patches andâ¨sudden bursts of deep emotion. He knows the thrill of confessing your mostâ¨painful secret or how a silly dance at a bowling alley can be the most magicalâ¨thing on Earth. This isn't the glib, saccharine teen love story you normallyâ¨see in the movies. Green understand how profoundly romantic betrayal canâ¨shake up the young. Paul faces the shattering discovery that his beloved isâ¨capable of going to bed with someone else, while Noel has the epiphany thatâ¨she can love Paul, sleep with another guy and, in that very moment, realizeâ¨how much she loves Paul.â¨â¨Of the two, Noel is by far the more compelling creation. She's played withâ¨enormous honesty by Deschanel, whose wide-open face has the emotionalâ¨transparency you found in Gwyneth Paltrow before she got so grand. Gazing outâ¨from her intent raccoon eyes, Deschanel makes us feel the vibrancy of a youngâ¨woman who's discovering her own capacity for startling herself. Byâ¨comparison, the inarticulate Paul is so emotionally arrested that I keptâ¨wondering why all the local women should be so interested in him.â¨â¨Green is essentially a poet of moods rather than a teller of tales, and heâ¨adorns this movie with studied stylistic touches, influenced by '70s wonderâ¨boy Terrence Malick, who made "Badlands" and "Days of Heaven." The movie hasâ¨dialogue that veers toward the literary, juxtaposes nature against man-madeâ¨violence and has a burnished visual style that seeks to elevate commonplaceâ¨reality through sheer beauty. And the film is beautiful. Shot in exquisiteâ¨wide screen by Tim Orr, it gives us a world bathed in golden light. It's alsoâ¨bathed, I have to tell you, in a wash of artistic self-importance. Like manyâ¨young directors, Green is a bit self-serious, especially in his attempt toâ¨make this two-person romance become some sort of commentary on small-town lifeâ¨in general. That's frankly more significance than this small, delicate loveâ¨story can really support.â¨â¨Still, you have to be pretty harsh to dwell on the whiff of pretension of anâ¨ambitious young filmmaker with as much natural talent as Green. That's theâ¨sort of thing that time will burn away. Anyway, as Noel tells Paul near theâ¨end of the movie, `Nobody ever said we had to be perfect.'â¨â¨BIANCULLI: John Powers is film critic and media columnist for LA Weekly.â¨â¨(Soundbite of music)â¨â¨(Credits)â¨â¨BIANCULLI: For Terry Gross, I'm David Bianculli.