It's a Scary Day in the Neighborhood

Star-studded gala run by Mr. Rogers wannabe may not be what it's billed

The organizer behind a gala honoring the late children's television star Fred Rogers says he hopes the event sets a San Diego record for most celebrities in attendance.  But it looks like that event may not quite turn out how he envisions.

"In honor of Fred Roger's life, the Children's Media Foundation here in San Diego is going to be hosting what we hope to be one of the biggest celebrity galas San Diego has ever seen, it's very exciting," event organizer Michael Kinsell said.  

The event scheduled for Sunday at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido benefits an organization called the "Children's Media Foundation." Its website features big name celebrities named as supporters.

"I mean ranging from Bette Midler and Prince, Danny DeVito, Barbara Eden, Eddie Murphy, Sally Field, Penny Marshall Arnold and Maria Schwarzenegger, and so many more have been so helpful in making this event a possibility," Kinsell said. 

"We haven't released our final list yet but I do have the list of our supporters, of the event and of the foundation and other things, so we can just expect them to be there," according to Kinsell.

But the publicist for Danny DeVito says; "Danny has never contributed to Children's Media Foundation and knows nothing about any upcoming event."  Stan Rosenfield says he plans to write a cease and desist letter asking the organization to remove DeVito’s picture from the website.
Representatives for Sara Jessica Parker (pictured on the website) also say they know nothing about the foundation, that she won't be at the event.  It’s the same story from representatives for Bette Midler, Governor Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver, Eddie Murphy and Sally Field.
The event website also touts Kinsell himself as "Mister Roger's successor." Last year, he was featured in the student newspaper for Point Loma Nazarene University as the star of "Michael's Enchanted Neighborhood," reportedly set to air in San Diego and dozens of other PBS stations.
PBS says it has no plans to carry the show.
In fact, both PBS and Family Communications, Inc. (the producer of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood") both say they are not in any way affiliated with the Children's Media Foundation.
In a statement, PBS says it has "made repeated requests to Michael Kinsell to stop misrepresenting his relationship to PBS."  PBS also says it has filed a complaint with the California Attorney General's Office, claiming the organization "may be engaging in unauthorized charitable fundraising."
Kinsell calls it all a “very big misunderstanding.”  In a statement, he says "PBS and FCI never had anything to do with this event. PBS has never contacted CMF or any representative regarding the award ceremony and concert…to date, neither CMF nor Kinsell has received "numerous cease and desist" letters from FCI or notification of a complaint filed with the State Attorney General, who does not acknowledge the receipt of any claim.”
He continues to say; "I'm disappointed that FCI would object so loudly without first contacting CMF's legal representation. If there were a problem, it would have been addressed immediately."
Kinsell names attorney Andy Abrams as his legal representation.  However, Abrams says he had not received a retainer as of the morning of May 28th, and therefore, did not represent Kinsell.
Kinsell insists the event will go on this Sunday, and says he expects it to sell out.


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