Michael Kinsell imagined that his Michael’s Enchanted Neighborhood show would replace Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on public television. Instead, Kinsell and his dream ended up on The Museum of Hoaxes website, which tracks “dubious claims and mischief of all kinds.”
For at least the past 18 months, the young San Diego man took his plans to a sequence of top entertainment pros, pitching a gala fundraising concert that would pay tribute to the late Fred Rogers while presenting Kinsell as Rogers’ successor. Though the event fizzled last month, leaving an empty concert hall in the San Diego suburb of Escondido on Sunday night, May 31, Kinsell had demonstrated he could come from nowhere, win the assistance of others and nearly reach the spotlight. The 1,500 seats in the hall were to be filled with people who paid $300 or more per seat to support children’s public television; millions more would watch the broadcast as a pledge special. In his quest for pubcasting fame, Kinsell sent e-mails, obtained by Current, in which he touted the “confirmed” luminaries who would appear at the tribute: Andy Williams, Bill Cosby, Christina Aguilera, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, President Bill Clinton, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver.