McBrayer brings up Mister Rogers with the Apple TV show ‘Hello, Jack!’ | Movies


There was only one Fred Rogers, known to the world for decades as Mister Rogers. He gave preschoolers a warm and safe place to learn about positive and negative emotions, right and wrong, fantasy and reality.

Jack McBrayer, who grew up in Conyers, GA, has his own distinctly sweet, non-threatening character captured in a new Apple TV + show called “Hello, Jack!” The show of kindness. The show for young children incorporates elements of both “Sesame Street” and “Mister Rogers Quarter”.

The first seven episodes debuted in November with 11 more to come at a later date.

“We just want to remind kids how easy it is to say and do nice things,” McBrayer said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Anytime you greet someone sincerely and warmly, it’s the most basic and common way of expressing kindness. I wanted it all up top with the name ‘Hello, Jack!’”

McBrayer did years of improvisation in Chicago and New York in his twenties, before Tina Fey gave him her big shot at the age of 33 on her hit NBC show “30 Rock” featuring him as a lovable adorable. naive Kenneth the Page. It’s a role he’s embraced over seven seasons and 138 episodes.

Since then he has done numerous voice acting in the films “Wreck-It Ralph” and in animated shows such as “Puppy Dog Pals”, “Bob’s Burgers” and “Big Mouth”. He has also worked regularly with Adult Swim, appearing on various shows including a short-lived series associated with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Most recently, he spent six months performing in London in the musical version of “Waitress”.

But this particular idea of ​​a children’s show has crept into his mind for several years.

“I started to notice how adults behaved towards each other and I couldn’t help but feel a lack of compassion and a lack of civility and a lack of kindness in these daily interactions,” said McBrayer. . “I started to think about when we as human beings start to learn these lessons. I started to think of TV shows we grew up with like “Sesame Street” and “Electric Company”.

But ‘Mister Rogers’ was the beacon:’ He was a grown man talking to me directly, the home viewer, in a very sweet way about these wonderful things, his feelings, his empathy, his fears. and his questions. It was a very unique spectacle and he was a very unique individual.

McBrayer had naturally seen the acclaimed Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and the Tom Hanks-directed biopic “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”.

“I don’t pretend to be a Fred Rogers,” he said. “I’m Jack McBrayer but I wanted to honor that post, emulate what Mister Rogers did with his show and give it a McBrayer twist. And we are in 2021. Life is different. How can we approach these universal concepts in a modern way? “

A tribute to Mister Rogers, who created imaginary scenes using puppets, was the animated sequences on his show, which he called “moments of shared imagination” where he foresaw what could possibly happen later in the show. episode.

McBrayer needed help making his vision a reality. He collaborated with Angela Santomero, who helped create classic children’s shows such as “Blue’s Clues” and “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”. She immediately fell in love with the idea of ​​McBrayer. “It was the way he was looking at me through the camera,” she said. “It was his infectious smile and his passion.”

“Hello Jack!” is based in a brightly colored town called Clover Grove, where residents all practice cuteness and sing frequently. McBrayer runs the Hummingbird Cafe where he interacts with musician Bebe (Markita Prescott) and chef Theo (Albert Kong). A coterie of primary school children also propels the intrigues.

Each episode presents a dilemma, and Jack guides viewers and residents alike in using the tools of kindness to overcome the obstacles they face. After a short introduction, McBrayer sang “Try A Little Act of Kindness” written by pop group OK Go, most famous for its 2009 music video featuring the band members doing an elaborate choreography using treadmills. (OK Go, actually created all of the original music.)

In one episode, the cafe hosts a weekly feast on Fridays, but Chef Theo injured his arm, forcing everyone to join in to make sure the feast still goes on. And even when Jack accidentally drops the pizza into a veggie platter, they find the combo to work anyway. In another episode, Jack and his friends surprise homesick new resident Mr. Prickles with a new garden. In a third, Jack gives the disappointed Sonia a chance to sing in her cafe when her concert has been canceled.

The show is also infused with clovers, as the name of the town suggests. Why? It really is a lucky charm for McBrayer, who had a knack for finding four leaf clovers in the wild while growing up.

“The trick is to be patient and to be careful,” he said. “Over the years, I have collected over 300 of them. I always keep one in my wallet and love to give them as gifts. People can’t believe they are real! “

And what makes McBrayer especially happy is that he managed to involve several alumni of Heritage High, the high school in Conyers from which he graduated in 1991, in the project.

Ashley Ward was one of her best friends at Heritage after moving to Conyers in 10th grade. They went to the prom and the prom together as friends. She has been a stage actress for many years and landed the recurring role of Delivery Dolores in a purple jumpsuit in “Hello, Jack!”

Ward remembers meeting McBrayer on his first day at Heritage. “I didn’t understand his name because he spoke so quietly,” she recalls. “I must have asked him four times. He became the most popular kid in school. “

They kept in touch over the years and she remembered being in awe of visiting the set of “30 Rock” and meeting the cast.

McBrayer also commissioned his high school friend Claudia Childs Wilson, who makes pottery as a business in Shady Dale, Georgia, to create pottery items for his fictional cafe. And Heritage High graduate Brooke Posch was part of the production team.

McBrayer said having familiar faces around him was a comfort to him because it was the biggest responsibility he’s ever had on set as a lead actor, creative force and executive producer.

“That’s why he was so excited to have me,” Ward said. “I was someone who spoke the same funny language as him. We could riffle and fool around.

Apple TV + has not yet renewed the show for a second season, but the feedback is positive.

“The show may seem a bit slow and repetitive for adults,” writes Ashley Moulton of Common Sense Media, “but it helps to repeat the main social and emotional message for maximum children’s understanding… adults shouldn’t be. surprised if they end up on their children’s kindness missions after watching the episode. Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing, couldn’t we all use a little more kindness in our lives? “

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