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War Enters World of Mister Rogers

PUBLICATION: Calgary Herald
AUTHOR: Unknown
DATE: November 8, 1983

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- King Friday XIII suspected that Cornflake S. Pecailly was making bomb parts for the neighborhood of Southwood, so he decided he'd better stock up on some bombs himself.

Any day now he'll be mobilizing for battle.

What? War in Mister Rogers's Neighborhood of Make-Believe? Death and destruction as the theme for a children's show?

With news of the invasion of Grenada and the suicide bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon fresh in the minds of children, war now invades the television world created by soft-spoken mild-mannered Fred Rogers.

The five half-hour shows that make up the week-long series, called Conflict, were taped and scheduled last summer, but Rogers said the recent events in Grenada and the deaths of 230 U.S. servicemen in Lebanon give the series even more meaning.

"Little did I know that we would be involved in world-wide conflict now," Rogers said. "But that's all the better because our shows give families an opportunity for communication. If children should hear the news of war, at least they have a handle here, to assist in family communications."

The week-long series which started Monday precedes, also coincidentally, the Nov. 20 showing of ABC's TV movie The Day After, which is about nuclear holocaust in the American Midwest.

"Conflict is no stranger to very little children," Rogers said, "They know that disagreements can lead to fighting.

"So often conflicts arise from lack of communication, false assumptions or confusion, and that's what happens in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe."

Conflict makes up the first of three weeks of new Mr. Rogers programs produced by WQED, Pittsburgh's Public Broadcasting Service station, for broadcast this season. The rest of the shows this season will be reruns.


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