Rogers Tribute Appears To Be Off

Gala planned by Children's Media Foundation looks to be cancelled after PBS complaint
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It's a confusing day in the Neighborhood

Current magazine, which covers the noncommercial broadcasting industry, reported late Thursday that a controversial May 31 gala planned by the Children's Media Foundation ostensibly to honor the late children's TV icon Fred Rogers, was being cancelled, citing an e-mail to that effect by organizer Michael Kinsell.

Presented with that story, a man answering the phones at the foundation identifying himself as Kinsell flatly denied it. "Not true," he said. "The event is still on." When e-mailed a copy of the Current story, which quoted him as saying it was cancelled and that he was in the process of letting his staff know, he flatly denied it once more. But by Friday morning, the foundation Web site, which had advertised the gala and "stars" that would be attending as late as Thursday evening, was by Friday morning "under construction" and no longer available, suggesting Current senior TV editor, Dru Sefton, had indeed, nailed the story again.

Current had reported in an earlier story on PBS's complaint to the State of California about the event, concerned Kinsell was deceptively marketing the $100-$150-a-head event as associated with PBS and Mister Rogers Neighborhood.

PBS confirmed to B&C that it had filed the complaint with the state attorney general saying the foundation "may be engaged in unauthorized charitable fundraising and falsely claiming association with PBS and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."

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