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'Mister Rogers' tapes last show amid tears

Saturday, December 02, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Taping of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" concluded yesterday at WQED in Oakland, as crew members dressed in sweaters and neckties in honor of children's show host Fred Rogers.

Earlier coverage

There goes the Neighborhood
Mister Rogers will make last episodes of show in December


His company, Family Communications Inc., expected to finish taping Tuesday, but producer Margy Whitmer said the day was going so well, Rogers asked if the last show could be taped yesterday afternoon on the set of Mister Rogers' house.

There was no cake to celebrate the conclusion of more than 30 years of production, but many photos were taken, Whitmer said after the taping. And there were some tears from the crew, but none from Rogers himself.

"Everybody worked really hard just to do their job," Whitmer said. "It wasn't until the very last segment was being taped that we lost it."

She said Rogers' voice cracked a little on the word "proud" in the song "I'm Proud of You."

"I thought this would be it, but he didn't crack," she said.

In the control room, Rogers' wife, Joanne, held hands with associate producer Hedda Sharapan, Whitmer said. "Hedda had tears streaming down from her eyes, and I had to look away because I was going to start crying."

Rogers treated the end of an era like any other taping day, Whitmer said. After declaring the last shot a keeper, Rogers played the piano, just like always.

Post-production on the last week of "Neighborhood" episodes will be completed next year. The episodes are expected to air in August.

"It was really hard to think we were done," Whitmer said. "I think all of us will go home tonight and think about today, and a lot will come out over the next week or so.

"It's like when you move out of a house you've lived in for a long time. You think you'll be all sentimental, but on moving day you're so harried you just want to get in the moving van. You don't walk around the house and feel bad, you just leave and have to go on to the next place."

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