TriStar Pictures has acquired worldwide rights to You Are My Friend, a biopic of iconic Mister Rogers Neighborhood creator Fred Rodgers that will star Tom Hanks as Rogers and be directed by Diary of a Teenage Girl helmer Marielle Heller. Production is set to start in September.
The deal with Little Miss Sunshine and Loving producer Big Beach, brokered by CAA and UTA, comes as the beloved children’s TV series starring Rogers celebrates its 50th anniversary; the Morgan Neville docu Won’t You Be My Neighbor? just had its world premiere at Sundance.
You Are My Friend originated from a true story developed by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, whose script made the 2013 Black List. It came from the real-life friendship between Rogers and Tom Junod, when the cynical journalist begrudgingly accepted an assignment to write a profile piece but finds his perspective on life transformed during the process.
Marc Turtletaub and Peter Saraf of Big Beach will produce alongside Youree Henley. Big Beach’s Leah Holzer will executive produce with Fitzerman-Blue and Harpster. Hannah Minghella and Shary Shirazi will oversee the project for TriStar Pictures.
Variety first reported the deal today.