‘Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Continues on Local Screens; Pork & Beans for Texas Brisket and Ribs (Tues., 12/3/19)

1) The new movie about Fred Rogers has surprised some early viewers who thought it would trace his life and career. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based, loosely, on a single true story. It dramatizes how this creator of a children’s TV show could move people—including adults—to live better, happier lives. True story: In 1998, Esquire magazine asked journalist Tom Junod to write an in-depth profile of the famous Mister Rogers, who at age 70 was still making episodes of his show. The reporter found himself warmly welcomed and personally uplifted. Junod’s account of the days he spent with Fred, titled “Can You Say … Hero?,” became a profoundly moving classic in its own right. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood fictionalizes the interplay between the two men. While many true elements are kept—such as carefully re-created scenes of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” being produced in WQED’s Studio A—interpersonal dynamics are cranked up for dramatic effect. 

The magazine reporter (renamed Lloyd Vogel, and played by Matthew Rhys) is portrayed as a cynical young man with a screwed-up family life, upset at first about having to write a piece on a sweet-talking kiddie icon. But Fred (Tom Hanks) doesn’t just talk goodness and love; he embodies it, projects it, and a tortured soul is transformed. A Beautiful Day comes to Pittsburgh theaters trailing strong reviews. (MV)

2) You’ll want to plan ahead for Pork & Beans. This Texas-inspired BBQ and smokehouse offers “a daily, rotating selection of house-smoked meats available by the pound on a first-come, first-serve basis.” These meats run the gamut of brisket and pork shoulders to salt-and-pepper chicken. It’s menu also includes daily specials, like meatloaf on Mondays and baby back ribs on Tuesdays. Luckily, the restaurant takes reservations. The menu also includes appetizers, wings, sides, sandwiches, but only two salads. (Definitely a place Ron Swanson would love.) Although the specials average $25, the sandwiches hover around $14. There’s also an impressive list of craft and imported beers on tap plus wine. This establishment additionally serves lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Pork & Beans is part of the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group, which owns other Cultural District eateries such as Butcher and the Rye and täko. Patrons can dine in, deliver, or plan a catered buffet for private events. 136 6th St., Cultural District. (CM)

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Rick Handler

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