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Tom Hanks cast as Mr. Rogers in upcoming biopic 'You Are My Friend'

| Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, 3:00 p.m.
Tom Hanks will play public-television icon and Pittsburgh-area native Mr. Rogers in a biopic.
AFP/Getty Images/PBS
Tom Hanks will play public-television icon and Pittsburgh-area native Mr. Rogers in a biopic.
Fred Rogers on the set of his show 'Mister Rogers Neighborhood.'
Focus Features
Fred Rogers on the set of his show 'Mister Rogers Neighborhood.'

Tom Hanks will play public-television icon and Pittsburgh-area native Mr. Rogers in a biopic that could start production as early as this fall, Variety is reporting .

Currently titled "You Are My Friend" and directed by "Diary of a Teenage Girl's" Marielle Henner, the film will be based around the relationship between Latrobe native Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod, who wrote a longform biography of Rogers for Esquire in 1998, Variety reported. TriStar Pictures will distribute the film.

In the profile , Junod explores various children and adults whose lives were touched by the gentle TV host, who filmed "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" at WQED in Oakland and whose name remains on the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College, outside his hometown.

In one portion of Junod's profile, Rogers took the writer back to his childhood home on Weldon Street in Latrobe, and even contemplated sneaking inside — under new ownership, the house was vacant but under renovation — then, with his hand on the doorknob and the front door ajar, decided against it and settled for showing Junod his family's cemetery plots.

Dawn Keezer, director of the Pittsburgh Film Office, said she wasn't aware yet of whether any parts of the film will be made in Western Pennsylvania, or if some other locale will fill in.

"We'd love to have them come to Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania, and hope, given the subject matter, that they would," Keezer said.

Variety said the film could begin production this fall, though it noted that Hanks is already expected to film several other projects in 2018 that might come first.

Social media reaction was pleased by the unification of Hanks and Rogers — two icons known for their gentle humor and decency when so many Hollywood stars are having their bad behavior unearthed.

Matthew Santoni is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724 836 6660, or on Twitter @msantoni.

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