Teenage Mr. Rogers 'successor' angers PBS

Eighteen-year-old Michael Kinsell has the cardigan and the smile — even six episodes of a self-produced show called Michael’s Enchanted Neighborhood — down pat, but PBS says the San Diego teen has no right to falsely associate himself with the non-profit network and the late, beloved TV icon.

Kinsell is currently selling tickets for a May 31 gala event entitled "An Evening Honoring Fred M. Rogers, His Family, Friends and the 40th Anniversary of his PBS classic, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood," at which, according to his publicist, he will present himself as successor to Rogers.

Tickets for the 1,500-capacity venue, initially priced at $75 to $500 (and since lowered) are meant to raise funds, he claims, for children’s public television. According to a lengthy investigation by current.org, though Kinsell says he invited members of Rogers’ family to receive a Children’s Hero Award in Rogers’ honor, and claims that he will give $10,000 in mid-June to Roger’s production company, Family Communications Inc., PBS has reportedly sent Kinsell cease-and-desist letters and filed a complaint with the California Attorney General’s office stating that his false association with Rogers and his legacy could end up costing both PBS and FCI by diverting funds that rightfully belong to them.

Some Rogers devotees have called the FCI in Pittsburgh to say they purchased tickets to the event in good faith, and according to Kinsell, his supporters include Eddie Murphy, Bette Midler, Tom Hanks, and Sally Field. “That’s kind of our way of saying they will be on stage that night," he claims, "but scheduling stars is difficult." Kinsell has said that the event will be taped for use in a PBS pledge show; in a certified-letter reply, PBS categorically refused the offer.

“We understand that he was much loved and that he was part of growing up for so many generations, and that there are people who miss him in that sense,” FCI CEO Kevin Morrison said. "But Fred Rogers was unique and can’t be replaced.”


Comments (9 total) Add your comment
  • Christie

    I call B.S. on Michael Kinsell because: 1) he lowered the prices of his tickets (probably b/c they weren’t selling); 2) he won’t say who is attending the show; 3) he claims to not have received cease and desist letters despite the fact the letters have been certified, and although he now KNOWS about said letters, he is still going on with his show. Sounds like a scam to me. Mr. Kinsell, you best run along, otherwise you may be sued by PBS!

  • mel

    That guy is shady, give me a break!

  • Officer Farva

    If you have to say what you are, you aren’t.

  • holy mackarel

    I think there’s something creepy about an 18 year old who wants to ‘present himself as the successor’ to Mr. Rogers.

  • dk

    this guy has been backpedaling on the local san diego news. he announced that his ‘gala’ would have tons of celebrities, but the ones that he mentioned all say they have no idea who he is, and aren’t attending. this guy is either extremely delusional, or a major scam artist.

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