Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fred and Courteney

This post is all about two people I like a lot - but in different ways. Believe it or not, there is a connection between Fred Rogers and Courteney Cox Arquette, and if you read on, you’ll learn what it is.

Let’s begin with Courteney. It all began in 1985 when I first saw “Misfits of Science.” The show featured Courteney as “Glo,” the girl with the telekinetic powers. Well, let’s just say she moved me as well. Dang, she was beautiful. Remember, this is before the Internet, so I couldn’t go online and look at pictures of her. So I watched that show as much as I possibly could, but that wasn’t long, because the show went off the air very quickly. RATS! The love of my life was gone!

Thankfully, “Misfits” wasn’t the end for Courteney. She stuck it out and eventually landed another role on “Family Ties,“ a show I was already watching anyway! She appeared on the show as Alex P. Keaton’s rebound girlfriend. Boy, what a rebound. Of course, they kiss only a few minutes after they meet, which is the way relationships work in TV land. She provided some unintentional competition to the equally lovely Justine Bateman, who played Alex’s sister Mallory. Courteney and Justine on the same show! Rowr!

A bit later “Family Ties” had gone off the air as well. (Not again!) But Courteney being the strong person she is stuck it out, and landed a role on another show called “The Trouble with Larry.” In the first episode, the lead character walks up to Courteney and, believing she is somebody else, gives her a passionate kiss.

What did I tell you about relationships in TV land?

Anyway, that show went off the air quickly as well. The “Courteney curse” strikes again. I suppose that could have been the end of some people’s careers, but she got by with a little help from her “Friends,” and starred on one of the most popular shows of the past few years. What do I think of “Friends?” Well, like so many shows, Friends has a few funny moments surrounded by a bunch of unfunny ones. “Friends” can be fun, but that’s about it. It’s not a show I watched regularly, even though I liked Courteney and the cast. There just wasn’t enough on it to keep me interested. Real life friendships don’t work out the way they do on "Friends." Plus, my main TV-watching years were beginning to fade as college arrived and kept me busy - and thinking about the future.

I definitely still like Courteney. Attractive and smart, it’s no surprise she took her time picking out a husband. Courteney is married to David Arquette whom she met while filming the “Scream” series. (And is it just a coincidence that the two of them were tied up together in the third movie? Hmmm.) But before she met David, Courteney had a relationship with actor Michael Keaton, who played “Batman” in the 1989 film. But Keaton was not always working on-screen. Early in his career, he worked behind the scenes in Pittsburgh on a children’s show called - MISTER ROGERS’ NEIGHBORHOOD!

If you’ve seen the documentary “Fred Rogers: America’s favorite neighbor,” you already know all this. Michael Keaton hosts the documentary and even shows a brief clip of when he appeared on the show. Fred Rogers also tells a funny story about Michael Keaton when he was working “Picture Picture”. Man, what a cool thing to put on your resume! “And I worked ‘Picture Picture’ on ‘Mister Rogers!’” I think this documentary is out on DVD, so try to pick up a copy if you can. It’s great fun for fans of the show & brings back a lot of memories. Remember the “Purple People?” Too much, man.

Fred Rogers’ impact on my life is huge. Like many others, I learned from him, made fun of him, and then revered him when I realized what he had done, and is still doing. Fred Rogers cared about the heart of children so much that he dedicated his life to helping them deal with their inner feelings. And he’s still helping me deal with some of mine today. There are times when we all need to hear that people can like us exactly as we are.

I don’t always write to celebrities, but when I heard that Mister Rogers was retiring, I wrote him a letter. He wrote back a short letter in return. It’s one of my treasures, as are my memories of the show.

But what about the future? I mentioned in December that many PBS stations no longer carry Mister Rogers at all. Well, it looks like even the folks at Family Communications (Mister Rogers’ production company) understand that the show won’t be around forever. Here’s a clip from an article about a new show that Family is working on:

Mr. (Kevin) Morrison acknowledged that individual PBS stations make decisions about what shows to carry and FCI continues to support "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," but he also understands the reality of the television business.

"We're on PBS and will be into the foreseeable future, but I think no one has any doubt about the fact that one day it won't be on," he said.

"I still think there's so much good about the 'Neighborhood' that I would want it to go on as long as it can, because I think it's ageless," Mrs. Rogers said. "But there are some dated things about it."

(From the article, 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' firm plans new TV series; Thursday, December 28, 2006; By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

And so it goes. This is why preserving video is so important. I want others to know about Mister Rogers’ and I want other kids to enjoy his show. My dream is that someday virtually all of the episodes will be available for download or something like that, and we’ll be able to enjoy them for all time to come. Until then, we have our memories, which is really almost as good.


If you have some older episodes of Mister Rogers on videotape, I would be interested in trading with you. I have several, but I am looking for early (pre-1977) episodes that I don’t already have. Send me an e-mail at and let me know what you’ve got.
You can find out which episodes of Mister Rogers will be airing on PBS by checking out the link at the Family Communications web site: