Movie sets can obviously be dangerous places to work. However, one would not expect the worst to befall somebody on the set of a biopic about children's television legend Fred Rogers. Unfortunately, just that has happened, as a sound mixer on the upcoming film has died from injries sustained after falling two stories.
The deceased man has been identified as James M. Emswiller of Pittsburg. According to reports he was taking a break on the set of the untitled Mr. Rogers biopic and was smoking a cigarette on a balcony. Other crew members inside the building noticed Emswiller was no longer on the balcony, and then discovered him on the ground. A medic on the set began to perform CPR on Emswiller when he was discovered to not be breathing. He was then transported to a local hospital last night in critical condition. Later that evening he was pronounced dead.
According to Deadline, it appears that Mr. Emswiller suffered some sort of medical emergency while on the balcony, possibly a heart attack, which resulted in the fall.
Production on the movie was halted once the medical emergency began and did not resume last night. It's not clear if it has resumed this morning or if the set has remained closed in case any sort of investigation is necessary.
While deaths are not common on film sets they are, unfortunately, not unknown either. However, frequently serious injury or death happens when something dangerous, like a complicated stunt, goes wrong. It sounds like, in this case, the death isn't necessarily connected to the movie and may have happened even if the victim was someplace else at the time. Still, that doesn't make the events less tragic.
James M. Emsmiller was a long time sound technician who had previous won an Emmy award for sound mixing for the HBO series Bessie. He can be seen below with the award.
The movie, which is currently only officially known as the "Untitled Mr. Rogers/Tom Hanks Project" will star Oscar winner Tom Hanks as the famous children's television host. The film will follow the real life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod after the latter is assigned to profile Rogers. Matthew Rhys will play the writer.
I'm sure everybody on the set of the new film is thinking about their dead colleague today. It's the sort of thing that Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood would have dealt with head on. The show rarely if ever shied away from topics that many would consider inappropriate for children. At the very least, expect the new movie to remember itssound mixer with a dedication when the film arrives in theaters next fall.
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