Semi-averted. The studio wanted a new star for the film but Willson refused. Astounding when you consider Preston had already won a Tony for the role. However, the studio did manage to get their way with Buddy Hackett and Shirley Jones.
Played straight in the fact that Meredith Willson wanted the movie to be shot on location (Mason City, IA), particularly at the library. Due to budget reasons, the film was instead shot in Hollywood and as a consolation, the world premiere was held in Mason City.