May 3, 2019

Film screening with Tom Junod: "Won't You Be My Neighbor"

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood when "Won't You Be My Neighbor" was shown on May 3rd at the University at Albany.

Award-winning magazine writer and UAlbany alumnus Tom Junod provided commentary and answered questions following a screening of the 2018 documentary, "Won't You Be My Neighbor," about the life and legacy of his friend Fred Rogers, the beloved star of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

Tom Junod wrote a cover story about Fred Rogers for Esquire magazine in 1998 titled  “Can You Say… Hero?” The profile -- and the ensuing friendship between Junod and Rogers -- is the basis of an upcoming feature film starring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers. The film is due for release in November 2019.


In his eulogy for Fred Rogers, Junod wrote:

“... I wrote about Fred for Esquire in 1998. People were always amazed when I said that Fred and I had stayed in touch after my story—that we spoke on the phone a couple of times a year and that Fred had written me well over 100 e-mails—but once you entered into Fred's life, well, there was no doubt that he would enter into yours.


He was not only the kindest man I'd ever met but also one of the most fiercely disciplined, to the degree that he saw nothing but the good in other human beings. When he saw the good in me, he fixed on it, and there was a never a moment in which he didn't try to make me live up to it, by word, or by example, or, most often, by prayer.” 

Junod, a senior writer for ESPN Magazine, is the author of some of the most celebrated pieces in American magazine writing, including "The Falling Man," his meditation on AP photographer Richard Drew’s iconic image of a 9/11 victim plunging to his death.  He has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award a record ten times, winning twice. Junod previously spoke at the Writers Institute in 2015.


Cosponsored by the University at Albany Foundation and the Student Association.

Photos by Patrick Dodson, University at Albany


Movie poster for the "Won't You Be My Neighbor" documentary and the 1998 Esquire cover showing Tom Junod's profile of Fred Rogers.