During the first season of the show, the episode number is displayed in a claymation sequence. Two characters, a unicorn and abstract man, form the words “SESAME STREET,” which is then placed on an arch. The episode number appears below as the two enter through the arch.Beginning with episode 0900, the longest-running method of displaying the episode number was during the opening vamp of the theme song, using varying fonts, colors, and backgrounds depending on the episode. Since the debut episode of Sesame Street, nearly every episode has begun by displaying the episode number, with different methods of doing so throughout the series. This method was used in a few of the co-productions, including Sesamstrasse and Plaza Sésamo, as well as other Children’s Television Workshop shows, such as The Electric Company and Square One TV. During Sesame Street’s first season, some critics felt that it should address more overtly such affective goals as social competence, tolerance of diversity, and nonaggressive ways of resolving conflict. The show’s creators and producers responded by featuring these themes in interpersonal disputes between its Street characters. During the 1980s, the show incorporated real-life experiences of its cast and crew, including the death of Will Lee (Mr. Hooper) and the pregnancy of Sonia Manzano (Maria). In later seasons, it addressed real-life disasters such as the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.The research team, in a series of meetings with the writers, also developed “a curriculum sheet” that described the show’s goals and priorities for each season. After receiving the curriculum focus and goals for the season, the writers met to discuss ideas and story arcs for the characters, and an “assignment sheet” was created that suggested how much time was allotted for each goal and topic. When a script was completed, the show’s research team analyzed it to ensure that the goals were met. Then each production department met to determine what each episode needed in terms of costumes, lights, and sets. The writers were present during the show’s taping, which for the first twenty-four years of the show took place in Manhattan, and after 1992, at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens to make last-minute revisions when necessary.
Sesame Street has used many writers in its long history. As Peter Hellman wrote in his 1987 article in New York Magazine, “The show, of course, depends upon its writers, and it isn’t easy to find adults who could identify the interest level of a pre-schooler.” Fifteen writers a year worked on the show’s scripts, but very few lasted longer than one season. Norman Stiles, head writer in 1987, reported that most writers would “burn out” after writing about a dozen scripts. According to Gikow, Sesame Street went against the convention of hiring teachers to write for the show, as most educational television programs did at the time. Instead, Cooney and the producers felt that it would be easier to teach writers how to interpret curriculum than to teach educators how to write comedy. As Stone stated, “Writing for children is not so easy.” Long-time writer Tony Geiss agreed, stating in 2009, “It’s not an easy show to write. You have to know the characters and the format and how to teach and be funny at the same time, which is a big, ambidextrous stunt.”
Jim Henson and the Muppets’ involvement in Sesame Street began when he and Cooney met at one of the curriculum planning seminars in Boston. Author Christopher Finch reported that Stone, who had worked with Henson previously, felt that if they could not bring him on board, they should “make do without puppets.” Henson was initially reluctant, but he agreed to join Sesame Street to meet his own social goals. He also agreed to waive his performance fee for full ownership of the Sesame Street Muppets and to split any revenue they generated with the CTW. As Morrow stated, Henson’s puppets were a crucial part of the show’s popularity and it brought Henson national attention. Davis reported that Henson was able to take “arcane academic goals” and translate them to “effective and pleasurable viewing.” In early research, the Muppet segments of the show scored high, and more Muppets were added during the first few seasons. Morrow reported that the Muppets were effective teaching tools because children easily recognized them, they were stereotypical and predictable, and they appealed to adults and older siblings.On recommendations by child psychologists, the producers initially decided that the show’s human actors and Muppets would not interact because they were concerned it would confuse young children. When CTW tested the new show, they found that children paid attention during the Muppet segments, and that their interest was lost during the “Street” segments. They requested that Henson and his team create Muppets such as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to interact with the human actors, and the Street segments were re-shot.
In late 2015, in response to “sweeping changes in the media business” and as part of a five-year programming and development deal, premium television service HBO began airing first-run episodes of Sesame Street. The episodes became available on PBS stations and websites nine months after they aired on HBO. The deal allowed Sesame Workshop to produce more episodes—increasing from 18 to 35 per season—and to create a spinoff series with the Sesame Street Muppets, and a new educational series.
We basically deconstructed the show. It’s not a magazine format anymore. It’s more like the Sesame hour. Children will be able to navigate through it easier.
Who sings 1 2 3 4 5 on Sesame Street?
One of the most popular “Sesame Street” songs is “1,2,3,4,” a take-off on Feist’s 2007 indie hit.
Shortly after its creation, its producers developed what came to be called the CTW Model (after the production company’s previous name), a system of planning, production and evaluation based on collaboration between producers, writers, educators and researchers. The show was initially funded by government and private foundations, but has become somewhat self-supporting due to revenues from licensing arrangements, international sales and other media. By 2006, independently produced versions (“co-productions”) of Sesame Street were broadcast in 20 countries. In 2001, there were over 120 million viewers of various international versions of Sesame Street; and by its 40th anniversary in 2009, it was broadcast in more than 140 countries.Sesame Street is an American educational children’s television series that combines live-action, sketch comedy, animation and puppetry. It is produced by Sesame Workshop (known as the Children’s Television Workshop until June 2000) and was created by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett. It is known for its images communicated through the use of Jim Henson’s Muppets, and includes short films, with humor and cultural references. It premiered on November 10, 1969, to positive reviews, some controversy, and high viewership. It has aired on the United States national public television provider PBS since its debut, with its first run moving to premium channel HBO on January 16, 2016, then its sister streaming service HBO Max in 2020. Sesame Street is one of the longest-running shows in the world.
Is Sesame Street still on 2023?
– Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind decades of award-winning educational content, today announced Sesame Street’s 53rd season will debut on Thursday, November 3 on Cartoonito on HBO Max. Episodes of the iconic children’s series, 35 in all, will drop every Thursday. The season will stream on PBS KIDS in Fall 2023.
The show’s research team developed an annotated document, or “Writer’s Notebook,” which served as a bridge between the show’s curriculum goals and script development. The notebook was a compilation of programming ideas designed to teach specific curriculum points, provided extended definitions of curriculum goals, and assisted the writers and producers in translating the goals into televised material. Suggestions in the notebook were free of references to specific characters and contexts on the show so that they could be implemented as openly and flexibly as possible.In spite of their commitment to multiculturalism, the CTW experienced conflicts with the leadership of minority groups, especially Latino groups and feminists, who objected to Sesame Street’s depiction of Latinos and women. The CTW took steps to address their objections. By 1971, the CTW hired Hispanic actors, production staff, and researchers, and by the mid-1970s, Morrow reported that “the show included Chicano and Puerto Rican cast members, films about Mexican holidays and foods, and cartoons that taught Spanish words.” As The New York Times has stated, creating strong female characters “that make kids laugh, but not…as female stereotypes” has been a challenge for the producers of Sesame Street. According to Morrow, change regarding how women and girls were depicted on Sesame Street occurred slowly. As more female Muppet performers like Camille Bonora, Fran Brill, Pam Arciero, Carmen Osbahr, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Jennifer Barnhart, and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph were hired and trained, stronger female characters like Rosita and Abby Cadabby were created.
According to the CTW’s research, children preferred watching and listening to other children more than to puppets and adults, so they included children in many scenes. Dave Connell insisted that no child actors be used, so these children were non-professionals, unscripted, and spontaneous. Many of their reactions were unpredictable and difficult to control, but the adult cast learned to handle the children’s spontaneity flexibly, even when it resulted in departures from the planned script or lesson. CTW research also revealed that the children’s hesitations and on-air mistakes served as models for viewers. According to Morrow, this resulted in the show having a “fresh quality,” especially in its early years.
After Sesame Street’s initial success, its producers began to think about its survival beyond its development and first season and decided to explore other funding sources. From the first season, they understood that the source of their funding, which they considered “seed” money, would need to be replaced. The 1970s were marked by conflicts between the CTW and the federal government; in 1978, the U.S. Department of Education refused to deliver a $2 million check until the last day of CTW’s fiscal year. As a result, the CTW decided to depend upon licensing arrangements with toy companies and other manufacturers, publishing, and international sales for their funding.Sesame Street is best known for the creative geniuses it attracted, people like Jim Henson and Joe Raposo and Frank Oz, who intuitively grasped what it takes to get through to children. They were television’s answer to Beatrix Potter or L. Frank Baum or Dr. Seuss.
Sesame Street was praised from its debut in 1969. Newsday reported that several newspapers and magazines had written “glowing” reports about the CTW and Cooney. The press overwhelmingly praised the new show; several popular magazines and niche magazines lauded it. In 1970, Sesame Street won twenty awards, including a Peabody Award, three Emmys, an award from the Public Relations Society of America, a Clio, and a Prix Jeunesse. By 1995, the show had won two Peabody Awards and four Parents’ Choice Awards. It was the subject of a traveling exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution, and a film exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.At its 50th anniversary in 2019, Sesame Street had produced over 4,500 episodes, two feature-length movies (Follow That Bird in 1985 and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland in 1999), 35 TV specials, 200 home videos, and 180 albums. Its YouTube channel has almost five million subscribers. It was announced in October 2019 that first-run episodes will move to HBO Max beginning with the show’s 51st season in 2020. Sesame Street used animations and short films commissioned from outside studios, interspersed throughout each episode, to help teach their viewers basic concepts like numbers and letters. Jim Henson was one of the many producers to create short films for the show. Shortly after Sesame Street debuted in the United States, the CTW was approached independently by producers from several countries to produce versions of the show at home. These versions came to be called “co-productions.” By 2001 there were over 120 million viewers of all international versions of Sesame Street, and in 2006, there were twenty co-productions around the world. By its 50th anniversary in 2019, 190 million children viewed over 160 versions of Sesame Street in 70 languages. In 2005, Doreen Carvajal of The New York Times reported that income from the co-productions and international licensing accounted for $96 million. When Sesame Street premiered on November 10, 1969, it aired on only 67.6% of American televisions, but it earned a 3.3 Nielsen rating, which totaled 1.9 million households. By the show’s tenth anniversary in 1979, nine million American children under the age of 6 were watching Sesame Street daily. According to a 1993 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, out of the show’s 6.6 million viewers, 2.4 million kindergartners regularly watched it. 77% of preschoolers watched it once a week, and 86% of kindergartners and first- and second-grade students had watched it once a week before starting school. The show reached most young children in almost all demographic groups.
As of 2001, there were over 1,000 research studies regarding Sesame Street’s efficacy, impact, and effect on American culture. The CTW solicited the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to conduct summative research on the show. ETS’s two “landmark” summative evaluations, conducted in 1970 and 1971, demonstrated that the show had a significant educational impact on its viewers. These studies have been cited in other studies of the effects of television on young children. Additional studies conducted throughout Sesame Street’s history demonstrated that the show continued to have a positive effect on its young viewers.
By the end of the 1990s, the show faced societal and economic challenges, including changes in young children’s viewing habits, competition from other shows, the development of cable television, and a drop in ratings. As the 21st century began, the show made major changes. Starting in 2002, its format became more narrative-focused and included ongoing storylines. After its 30th anniversary in 1999, due to the popularity of the Muppet Elmo, the show also incorporated a popular segment known as Elmo’s World. In 2009, the show won the Outstanding Achievement Emmy for its 40 years on the air.In its first season, the show addressed its outreach goals by focusing on the promotion of educational materials used in preschool settings; and in subsequent seasons, by focusing on their development. Innovative programs were developed because their target audience, children and their families in low-income, inner-city homes, did not traditionally watch educational programs on television and because traditional methods of promotion and advertising were not effective with these groups.As a result of Cooney’s initial proposal in 1968, the Carnegie Institute awarded her an $1 million grant to create a new children’s television program and establish the CTW, renamed in June 2000 to Sesame Workshop (SW). Cooney and Morrisett procured additional multimillion-dollar grants from the U.S. federal government, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, CPB, and the Ford Foundation. Davis reported that Cooney and Morrisett decided that if they did not procure full funding from the beginning, they would drop the idea of producing the show. As Lesser reported, funds gained from a combination of government agencies and private foundations protected them from the economic pressures experienced by commercial broadcast television networks, but created challenges in procuring future funding.Sesame Street was by then the 15th-highest-rated children’s television show in the United States. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched it by the time they were three. In 2018, it was estimated that 86 million Americans had watched it as children. As of 2022, it has won 222 Emmy Awards and 11 Grammy Awards, more than any other children’s show.The show’s format consists of a combination of commercial television production elements and techniques which have evolved to reflect changes in American culture and audiences’ viewing habits. It was the first children’s TV show to use educational goals and a curriculum to shape its content, and the first show whose educational effects were formally studied. Its format and content have undergone significant changes to reflect changes to its curriculum. From its first episode, Sesame Street’s format has utilized “a strong visual style, fast-moving action, humor, and music,” as well as animation and live-action short films. When it premiered, most researchers believed that young children did not have long attention spans, and the show’s producers were concerned that an hour-long show would not hold their attention. At first, its “street scenes”—the action recorded on its set—consisted of character-driven interactions. Rather than ongoing stories, they were written as individual, curriculum-based segments interrupted by “inserts” of puppet sketches, short films and animations. This structure allowed producers to use a mixture of styles and characters, and to vary its pace, presumably keeping it interesting to young viewers. However, by season 20, research showed that children were able to follow a story—and the street scenes, while still interspersed with other segments, became evolving storylines. Sesame Street’s creators and researchers formulated both cognitive and affective goals for the show. They initially focused on cognitive goals, while addressing affective goals indirectly, believing it would increase children’s self-esteem and feelings of competency. One of their primary goals was preparing young children for school, especially children from low-income families, using modeling, repetition, and humor. They adjusted its content to increase viewers’ attention and the show’s appeal, and encouraged older children and parents to “co-view” it by including more sophisticated humor, cultural references, and celebrity guests; by 2019, 80% of parents watched Sesame Street with their children, and 650 celebrities had appeared on the show.Sesame Street’s format remained intact until the 2000s, when the changing audience required that producers move to a more narrative format. In 1998, the popular “Elmo’s World,” a 15-minute-long segment hosted by the Muppet Elmo, was created. Starting in 2014, during the show’s 45th season, the producers introduced a half-hour version of the program. The new version, which originally complemented the full-hour series, was broadcast weekday afternoons and streamed on the Internet. In 2017, in response to the changing viewing habits of toddlers, the show’s producers decreased the show’s length from one hour to 30 minutes across all its broadcast platforms. The new version focused on fewer characters, reduced pop culture references “once included as winks for their parents”, and focused “on a single backbone topic.”Critic Richard Roeper said that perhaps one of the strongest indicators of the influence of Sesame Street has been the enduring rumors and urban legends surrounding the show and its characters, especially speculation concerning the sexuality of Bert and Ernie.Morrow reported that the networks responded by creating more high-quality television programs, but that many critics saw them as “appeasement gestures.” According to Morrow, despite the CTW Model’s effectiveness in creating a popular show, commercial television “made only a limited effort to emulate CTW’s methods,” and did not use a curriculum or evaluate what children learned from them. By the mid-1970s commercial television had abandoned their experiments with creating better children’s programming. Other critics hoped that Sesame Street, with its depiction of a functioning, multicultural community, would nurture racial tolerance in its young viewers. It was not until the mid-1990s that another children’s television educational program, Blue’s Clues, used the CTW’s methods to create and modify their content. The creators of Blue’s Clues were influenced by Sesame Street, but wanted to use research conducted in the 30 years since its debut. Angela Santomero, one of its producers, said, “We wanted to learn from Sesame Street and take it one step further.”
Shortly after the CTW was created in 1968, Joan Ganz Cooney was named its first executive director. She was one of the first female executives in American television. Her appointment was called “one of the most important television developments of the decade.” She assembled a team of producers, all of whom had previously worked on Captain Kangaroo. Jon Stone was responsible for writing, casting, and format; Dave Connell took over animation; and Sam Gibbon served as the show’s chief liaison between the production staff and the research team. Cameraman Frankie Biondo has worked on Sesame Street from its first episode in 1969.
Starting in 2006, the Workshop expanded its outreach by creating a series of PBS specials and DVDs focusing on how military deployment affects the families of servicepeople. Its outreach efforts also focused on families of prisoners, health and wellness, and safety. In 2013, SW started Sesame Street in Communities, to help families dealing with difficult issues.
Producer Joan Ganz Cooney has stated, “Without research, there would be no Sesame Street.” In 1967, when she and her team began planning the show’s development, combining research with television production was, as she put it, “positively heretical.” Its producers soon began developing what came to be called the CTW Model, a system of planning, production and evaluation that did not fully emerge until the end of the show’s first season. According to Morrow, the Model consisted of four parts: “the interaction of receptive television producers and child science experts, the creation of a specific and age-appropriate curriculum, research to shape the program directly, and independent measurement of viewers’ learning.”
Although the producers decided against depending upon a single host for Sesame Street, instead casting a group of ethnically diverse actors, they realized that a children’s television program needed to have, as Lesser put it, “a variety of distinctive and reliable personalities,” both human and Muppet. Jon Stone, whose goal was to cast white actors in the minority, was responsible for hiring the show’s first cast. He did not audition actors until Spring 1969, a few weeks before the five test shows were due to be filmed. Stone videotaped the auditions, and Ed Palmer took them out into the field to test children’s reactions. The actors who received the “most enthusiastic thumbs up” were cast. For example, Loretta Long was chosen to play Susan when the children who saw her audition stood up and sang along with her rendition of “I’m a Little Teapot.” Stone stated that casting was the only aspect of the show that was “just completely haphazard.” Most of the cast and crew found jobs on Sesame Street through personal relationships with Stone and the other producers. According to puppeteer Marty Robinson in 2019, longevity was common among the show’s cast and crew. According to Morrow, the “most important” studies finding negative effects of Sesame Street were conducted by educator Herbert A. Sprigle and psychologist Thomas D. Cook during its first two seasons. Social scientist and Head Start founder Urie Bronfenbrenner criticized the show for being too wholesome. Psychologist Leon Eisenberg saw Sesame Street’s urban setting as “superficial” and having little to do with the problems confronted by the inner-city child. Head Start director Edward Zigler was probably Sesame Street’s most vocal critic in the show’s early years. Sesame Street was conceived in 1966 during discussions between television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Foundation vice president Lloyd Morrisett. Their goal was to create a children’s television show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them,” such as helping young children prepare for school. After two years of research, the newly formed Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) received a combined grant of US$8 million ($64 million in 2022 dollars) from the Carnegie Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the U.S. federal government to create and produce a new children’s television show.According to writer Michael Davis, by the mid-1970s the show had become “an American institution.” The cast and crew expanded during this time, with emphasis on the hiring of women crew members and the addition of minorities to the cast. The show’s success continued into the 1980s. In 1981, when the federal government withdrew its funding, CTW turned to and expanded other revenue sources, including its magazine division, book royalties, product licensing, and foreign broadcast income. Its curriculum has expanded to include more affective topics such as relationships, ethics and emotions. Many of its storylines have been inspired by the experiences of its writing staff, cast and crew—most notably, the 1982 death of Will Lee, who played Mr. Hooper; and the marriage of Luis and Maria in 1988.
Early in their history Sesame Street and the CTW began to look for alternative funding sources and turned to creating products and writing licensing agreements. They became, as Cooney put it, “a multiple-media institution.” In 1970, the CTW created a “non-broadcast” division responsible for creating and publishing books and Sesame Street Magazine. By 2019, the Sesame Workshop had published over 6,500 book titles. The Workshop decided from the start that all materials their licensing program created would “underscore and amplify” the show’s curriculum. In 2004, over 68% of Sesame Street’s revenue came from licenses and products such as toys and clothing. By 2008, the Sesame Street Muppets accounted for between $15 million and $17 million per year in licensing and merchandising fees, split between the Sesame Workshop and The Jim Henson Company. By 2019, the Sesame Workshop had over 500 licensing agreements and had produced over 200 hours of home video. There have been two theatrically released Sesame Street movies, Follow That Bird, released in 1985, and Elmo in Grouchland, released in 1999. In early 2019, it was announced that a third film, a musical co-starring Anne Hathaway and written and directed by Jonathan Krisel, would be produced. In November 2019, Sesame Street announced a family friendly augmented reality application produced by Weyo in partnership with Sesame Workshop in honor of the show’s 50th anniversary.
Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, owned the trademarks to those characters, and was reluctant to market them at first. He agreed when the CTW promised that the profits from toys, books, computer games, and other products were to be used exclusively to fund the CTW and its outreach efforts. Even though Cooney and the CTW had very little experience with marketing, they demanded complete control over all products and product decisions. Any product line associated with the show had to be educational and inexpensive, and could not be advertised during the show’s airings. As Davis reported, “Cooney stressed restraint, prudence, and caution” in their marketing and licensing efforts.Lesser believed that Sesame Street research “may have conferred a new respectability upon the studies of the effects of visual media upon children.” He also believed that the show had the same effect on the prestige of producing shows for children in the television industry. Historian Robert Morrow, in his book Sesame Street and the Reform of Children’s Television, which chronicled the show’s influence on children’s television and on the television industry as a whole, reported that many critics of commercial television saw Sesame Street as a “straightforward illustration for reform.” Les Brown, a writer for Variety, saw in Sesame Street “a hope for a more substantial future” for television.
Sesame Street was not without its detractors, however. The state commission in Mississippi, where Henson was from, operated the state’s PBS member station; in May 1970 it voted to not air Sesame Street because of its “highly [racially] integrated cast of children” which “the commission members felt … Mississippi was not yet ready for.” According to Children and Television, Lesser’s account of the development and early years of Sesame Street, there was little criticism of the show in the months following its premiere, but it increased at the end of its first season and beginning of the second season. Historian Robert W. Morrow speculated that much of the early criticism, which he called “surprisingly intense,” stemmed from cultural and historical reasons in regards to, as he put it, “the place of children in American society and the controversies about television’s effects on them.”In 1998, the CTW accepted corporate sponsorship to raise funds for Sesame Street and other projects. For the first time, they allowed short advertisements by indoor playground manufacturer Discovery Zone, their first corporate sponsor, to air before and after each episode. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, who had previously appeared on Sesame Street, called for a boycott of the show, saying that the CTW was “exploiting impressionable children.” In 2015, in response to funding challenges, it was announced that premium television service HBO would air first-run episodes of Sesame Street. Steve Youngwood, SW’s Chief Operating Officer, called the move “one of the toughest decisions we ever made.” According to The New York Times, the move “drew an immediate backlash.” Critics claimed that it favored privileged children over less-advantaged children and their families, the original focus of the show. They also criticized choosing to air first-run episodes on HBO, a network with adult dramas and comedies. The program premiered on public television stations on November 10, 1969. It was the first preschool educational television program to base its contents and production values on laboratory and formative research. Initial responses to the show included adulatory reviews, some controversy, and high ratings. Director Jon Stone, talking about the music of Sesame Street, said: “There was no other sound like it on television.” For the first time in children’s television, the show’s songs fulfilled a specific purpose and supported its curriculum. In order to attract the best composers and lyricists, the CTW allowed songwriters like Joe Raposo, Sesame Street’s first musical director, to retain the rights to the songs they wrote, which earned them lucrative profits and helped the show sustain public interest. By 2019, there were 180 albums of Sesame Street music produced, and its songwriters had received 11 Grammys. In late 2018, the SW announced a multi-year agreement with Warner Music Group to re-launch Sesame Street Records in the U.S. and Canada. For the first time in 20 years, “an extensive catalog of Sesame Street recordings” was made available to the public in a variety of formats, including CD and vinyl compilations, digital streaming, and downloads. In 2002, Sesame Street was ranked number 27 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Sesame Workshop won a Peabody Award in 2009 for its website, sesamestreet.org, and the show was given Peabody’s Institutional Award in 2019 for 50 years of educating and entertaining children globally. In 2013, TV Guide ranked the show number 30 on its list of the 60 best TV series. As of 2021, Sesame Street has received 205 Emmy Awards, more than any other television series. Cooney credited the show’s high standard in research procedures to Harvard professors Gerald S. Lesser, whom CTW hired to design its educational objectives; and Edward L. Palmer, who conducted the show’s formative research and bridged the gap between producers and researchers. CTW conducted research in two ways: in-house formative research that informed and improved production; and independent summative evaluations, conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) during the first two seasons, which measured its educational effectiveness. Cooney said, “From the beginning, we—the planners of the project—designed the show as an experimental research project with educational advisers, researchers, and television producers collaborating as equal partners.” She characterized the collaboration as an “arranged marriage.”Author Malcolm Gladwell said that “Sesame Street was built around a single, breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them.” Gerald S. Lesser, the CTW’s first advisory board chair, went even further, saying that the effective use of television as an educational tool needed to capture, focus, and sustain children’s attention. Sesame Street was the first children’s show to structure each episode, and the segments within them, to capture children’s attention, and to make, as Gladwell put it, “small but critical adjustments” to keep it. According to CTW researchers Rosemarie Truglio and Shalom Fisch, it was one of the few children’s shows to utilize a detailed and comprehensive educational curriculum, garnered from formative and summative research.The show’s ratings significantly decreased in the early 1990s, due to changes in children’s viewing habits and in the television marketplace. The producers responded by making large-scale structural changes to the show. By 2006, Sesame Street had become “the most widely viewed children’s television show in the world,” with 20 international independent versions and broadcasts in over 120 countries. A 1996 survey found that 95% of all American preschoolers had watched the show by the time they were three years old. In 2008, it was estimated that 77 million Americans had watched the series as children. By the show’s 40th anniversary in 2009, it was ranked the fifteenth-most-popular children’s show on television, and by its 50th anniversary in 2019, the show had 100% brand awareness globally. In 2018, the show was the second-highest-rated program on PBS Kids. In 2021, however, the Sesame Street documentary “50 Years of Sunny Days,” which was broadcast nationally on ABC, did not fare well in the ratings, scoring only approximately 2.3 million viewers.”The kids were watching classic Sesame Street on @hbomax and wanted to see the entire sequence of episodes where Big Bird has to rebuild his nest after a hurricane. In the middle of watching it, HBO Max pulled those seasons and a bunch of others,” tweeted one parent. “This is what happens when media is at the mercy of big corporations. If we had them on DVD…this wouldn’t happen.”
“As a parent whose child’s comfort show is Sesame Street—and the older episodes at that—what HBO Max did is absolutely soul-crushing,” lamented one person.Sesame Street “is and has always been an important part of television culture and a crown jewel of our preschool offering,” the spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed. HBO Max removed about 200 episodes of Sesame Street last Friday as it sought to make room for new content pending its merger with Discovery+ by the summer of 2023. Now, people are making like Oscar the Grouch and airing their grievances. Sesame Street can still be viewed on platforms like YouTube and local PBS stations. In fact, PBS was happy to lend a hand last week after people learned the news and weren’t exactly doing a happy dance (dance).
That said, the long-running, popular television show reportedly isn’t generating strong ratings for HBO Max, and Warner Bros. is looking to trim $3 billion in costs because of the merger. The spin-off The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo was also removed from the platform.
When you visit the site, Dotdash Meredith and its partners may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Cookies collect information about your preferences and your devices and are used to make the site work as you expect it to, to understand how you interact with the site, and to show advertisements that are targeted to your interests. You can find out more about our use, change your default settings, and withdraw your consent at any time with effect for the future by visiting Cookies Settings, which can also be found in the footer of the site. Even though there are more than 4,500 episodes of Sesame Street, there are still about 400 episodes of the show on HBO Max, and a spokesperson for the platform told BuzzFeed the newest season is still set to debut this fall. New Muppet characters were introduced during the 1970s. Count von Count was created and performed by Jerry Nelson, who also voiced Mr. Snuffleupagus, a large Muppet that required two puppeteers to operate. Richard Hunt, who, in Jon Stone’s words, joined the Muppets as a “wild-eyed 18-year-old and grew into a master puppeteer and inspired teacher”, created Gladys the Cow, Forgetful Jones, Don Music, and the construction worker Sully. Telly Monster was performed by Brian Muehl; Marty Robinson took over the role in 1984. Frank Oz created Cookie Monster. Matt Robinson created the “controversial” (as Davis called him) character Roosevelt Franklin. Fran Brill, the first female puppeteer for the Muppets, joined the Henson organization in 1970, and originated the character Prairie Dawn. In 1975, Henson created The Muppet Show, which was filmed and produced in London; Henson brought many of the Muppet performers with him, so opportunities opened up for new performers and puppets to appear on Sesame Street.
Cooney’s study, titled “The Potential Uses of Television for Preschool Education”, spelled out how television could be used to help young children, especially from low-income families, prepare for school. The focus on the new show was on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, but Cooney and the show’s creators recognized that in order to achieve the kind of success they wanted, it had to be equally accessible to children of all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. At the same time, they wanted to make the show so appealing to inner-city children that it would help them learn as much as children with more educational opportunities.
After the show’s initial success, its producers began to think about its survival beyond its development and first season and decided to explore other funding sources. The CTW decided to depend upon government agencies and private foundations to develop the show. This would protect it from the financial pressures experienced by commercial networks, but created problems in finding continued support. This era in the show’s history was marked by conflicts between the CTW and the federal government; in 1978, the U.S. Department of Education refused to deliver a $2 million check until the last day of the CTW’s fiscal year. As a result, the CTW decided to depend upon licensing arrangements, publishing, and international sales for its funding. Henson owned the trademarks to the Muppet characters: he was reluctant to market them at first, but agreed when the CTW promised that the profits from toys, books, and other products were to be used exclusively to fund the CTW. The producers demanded complete control over all products and product decisions; any product line associated with the show had to be educational, inexpensive, and not advertised during its airings. The CTW approached Random House to establish and manage a non-broadcast materials division. Random House and the CTW named Christopher Cerf to assist the CTW in publishing books and other materials that emphasized the curriculum. In 1980, the CTW began to produce a touring stage production based upon the show, written by Connell and performed by the Ice Follies. Beginning in 1998, a new 15-minute segment shown at the end of each episode, “Elmo’s World”, used traditional elements (animation, Muppets, music, and live-action film), but had a more sustained narrative. “Elmo’s World” followed the same structure each episode, and depended heavily on repetition. Unlike the realism of the rest of the show, the segment took place in a stylized crayon-drawing universe as conceived by its host. Elmo, who represented the three- to four-year-old child, was chosen as host of the closing segment because he had always tested well with this segment of their audience. He was created in 1980 and originally performed by Brian Muehl, and later Richard Hunt, but did not become what his eventual portrayer, Kevin Clash, called a “phenomenon” until Clash took over the role in 1985. Eventually, Elmo became, as Davis reported, “the embodiment” of Sesame Street, and “the marketing wonder of our age” when five million “Tickle Me Elmo” dolls were sold in 1996. Clash believed the “Tickle Me Elmo” phenomenon made Elmo a household name and led to the “Elmo’s World” segment. According to children’s media experts Edward Palmer and Shalom M. Fisch, children’s television programs of the 1950s and 1960s duplicated “prior media forms”. For example, they tended to show simple shots of a camera’s-eye view of a location filled with children, or they recreated storybooks with shots of book covers and motionless illustrated pages. The hosts of these programs were “insufferably condescending”, though one exception was Captain Kangaroo, created and hosted by Bob Keeshan, which author Michael Davis described as having a “slower pace and idealism” that most other children’s shows lacked.In recent decades, Sesame Street has faced societal and economic challenges, including changes in the viewing habits of young children, more competition from other shows, the development of cable television and a drop in ratings. After the turn of the 21st century, the show made major structural adaptations, including changing its traditional magazine format to a narrative format. Because of the popularity of the Muppet Elmo, the show incorporated a popular segment known as “Elmo’s World”. In late 2015, in response to “sweeping changes in the media business”, HBO began airing first-run episodes of Sesame Street. Episodes became available on PBS stations and websites nine months after they aired on HBO. As of its 50th anniversary in 2019, Sesame Street has produced over 4,500 episodes, 35 TV specials, 200 home videos, and 180 albums. Its YouTube channel had almost 5 million subscribers, and the show had 24 million followers on social media.
“What if? became their operative phrase. What if you could create content that was both entertaining and instructive? What if it went down more like ice cream than spinach?”
In late 2015, as part of a five-year programming and development deal, it was announced that premium television service HBO would air first-run episodes of Sesame Street. Episodes became available on PBS stations and websites nine months after they aired on HBO. The move came after “sweeping changes in the media business”. Sesame Street was operating at a loss of $11 million in 2014; according to the Hollywood Reporter in 2019, it was one of the reasons for the move to HBO the following year. The deal allowed Sesame Workshop to produce more episodes, about 35 new episodes per season, compared to the 18 episodes per season it aired previously, and provided the opportunity to create a spinoff series with the Sesame Street Muppets and a new educational series. Steve Youngwood, SW’s Chief Operating Officer, called the move “one of the toughest decisions we ever made”. According to The New York Times, the move “drew an immediate backlash”. Critics claimed that it favored privileged children over less-advantaged children and their families, the original focus of the show. They also criticized choosing to air first-run episodes on HBO, a network with adult dramas and comedies. In 2017, in response to the changing viewing habits of toddlers, the show’s producers decreased its length of episodes presented on all platforms from one hour to thirty minutes, focused on fewer characters, reduced the pop culture references “once included as winks for their parents”, and focused “on a single backbone topic”.
Sesame Street Season 1 premiered November 10, 1969. It was widely praised for its originality, and was well received by parents as well as children. The show reached only 67.6% of the nation, but earned a 3.3 Nielsen rating, meaning 1.9 million households and 7 million children watched it each day. In Sesame Street’s first season, the ETS reported that children who watched the show scored higher in tests than less-frequent viewers.
In October 16, 2011, Sesame Street’s YouTube channel was compromised by hackers that deleted the entire channel’s uploaded videos and replaced them with pornographic content. The channel was closed down in less than 30 minutes by YouTube due to “repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines”.
In 2014, in response to increased online and mobile viewing and to the increase in competition from other preschool programs, Sesame Workshop and PBS began producing, airing, and streaming a half-hour version of the program. The hour-long version continued to air on PBS in the mornings and the new version, which consisted of fewer segments, aired in the afternoons, when more children watched television. PBS also began to stream full-length episodes on its website, mobile app, and Roku channel. Also in 2014, Sesame Workshop began an online streaming subscription service called Sesame Go, which aired both old and new episodes of the show.The CTW hired Harvard University professor Gerald S. Lesser to design the show’s educational objectives and establish and lead a National Board of Advisers. Instead of providing what Lesser called “window dressing”, the Board actively participated in the construction of educational goals and creative methods. At the Board’s direction, Lesser conducted five three-day curriculum planning seminars in Boston and New York City in summer 1968. The purpose of the seminars was to ascertain which school-preparation skills to emphasize in the new show. The producers gathered professionals with diverse backgrounds to obtain ideas for educational content. They reported that the seminars were “widely successful”, and resulted in long and detailed lists of possible topics for inclusion in the Sesame Street curriculum; in fact, the seminars produced more suggested educational objectives than could ever be addressed by one television series.
Why did Sesame Street stop?
“Sesame Street” nearly went out of business — and was forced to turn to HBO for a multimillion-dollar boost, its financial chief has revealed. The TV favorite — which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year — left its original home at PBS in 2015 after plunging into an $11 million loss.
The new show was called the “Preschool Educational Television Show” in promotional materials; the producers were unable to agree on a name they liked and waited until the last minute to make a decision. In a short, irreverent promotional film shown to public television executives, the producers parodied their “naming dilemma”. The producers were reportedly “frantic for a title”; they finally settled on the name that they least disliked: Sesame Street, inspired by Ali Baba’s magical phrase, although there were concerns that it would be too difficult for young children to pronounce. Stone was one of the producers who disliked the name, but, he said, “I was outvoted, for which I’m deeply grateful”.
Why was Sesame Street Episode 847 banned?
Episode 847 features Margaret Hamilton reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West nearly four decades after The Wizard of Oz (1939) premiered. The episode was banned for being “too scary” for kids, and for decades it was difficult to find.
Palmer and his team’s approach to researching the show’s effectiveness was innovative; it was the first time formative research was conducted in this way. For example, Palmer developed “the distractor”, which he used to test if the material shown on Sesame Street captured young viewers’ attention. Two children at a time were brought into the laboratory; they were shown an episode on a television monitor and a slide show next to it. The slides would change every seven seconds, and researchers recorded when the children’s attention was diverted away from the episode. They were able to record almost every second of Sesame Street this way; if the episode captured the children’s interest 80–90% of the time, the producers would air it, but if it only tested 50%, they would reshoot. By the fourth season of the show, the episodes rarely tested below 85%.
By the early 1990s, Sesame Street was, as Davis put it, “the undisputed heavyweight champion of preschool television”. Parade Magazine reported in 2019 that the show’s music had been honored with 11 children’s Grammys. The show’s dominance however, was challenged for the first time by another PBS television show for preschoolers, Barney & Friends, causing Sesame Street’s ratings to decline. The producers of Sesame Street responded, at the show’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1993, by expanding and redesigning the show’s set, calling it “Around the Corner”. With Michael Loman as the new executive producer of the show, new human and Muppet characters were introduced, including Zoe (performed by Fran Brill), baby Natasha and her parents Ingrid and Humphrey, and Ruthie (played by comedian Ruth Buzzi). The “Around the Corner” set was dismantled in 1998. Zoe, one of the few characters that survived, was created to include another female Muppet on the show, to break stereotypes of girls, and to provide female viewers with a positive role model. According to Davis, she was the first character developed on the show by marketing and product development specialists, who worked with the researchers at the CTW. (The quest for a “break-out” female Muppet character continued into 2006 with the creation of Abby Cadabby, who was created after nine months of research.) In 1998, for the first time in the show’s history, Sesame Street pursued funding by accepting corporate sponsorship. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader urged parents to protest the move by boycotting the show.
The Street scenes, as Palmer described them, were “the glue” that “pulled the show together”, so producers knew they needed to make significant changes. On the basis of their experience on Captain Kangaroo, Connell, Stone, and Gibbon thought the experts’ opinions were “nonsense”; Cooney agreed. Lesser called their decision to defy the recommendations of their advisers “a turning point in the history of Sesame Street”. The producers reshot the Street segments; Henson and his coworkers created Muppets that could interact with the human actors, specifically Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird, who became two of the show’s most enduring characters. In addition, the producers found Saunders’ role as Gordon not to be as likable by children watching the show, resulting in the character being recast by Matt Robinson, who was initially the show’s filmed segments producer. These test episodes were directly responsible for what Gladwell called “the essence of Sesame Street—the artful blend of fluffy monsters and earnest adults”.
Producer Jon Stone was instrumental in guiding the show during these years. According to Davis, Stone “gave Sesame Street its soul”; without him “there would not have been Sesame Street as we know it”. Frank Oz regarded Stone as “the father of Sesame Street”, and Cooney considered Stone “the key creative talent on Sesame Street and “probably the most brilliant writer of children’s material in America”. Stone was able to recognize and mentor talented people for his crew. He actively hired and promoted women during a time when few women earned top production jobs in television. His policies provided the show with a succession of female producers and writers, many of whom went on to lead the boom in children’s programming at Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and PBS in the 1990s and 2000s. One of these women was Dulcy Singer, who later became the first female executive producer of Sesame Street.
In 2000, the Children’s Television Workshop changed its name to Sesame Workshop to better reflect its entry into non-television and interactive media. In 2002, Sesame Street’s producers went further in changing the show to reflect its younger demographic by fundamentally changing the show’s structure, which had relied on “Street scenes” interrupted by live-action videos and animation. The target age for Sesame Street shifted downward, from four years to three years, after the show’s 33rd season. As co-executive producer Arlene Sherman stated, “We basically deconstructed the show”. The producers expanded upon the “Elmo’s World” by changing from a magazine format to a narrative format, which made the show easier for young children to navigate. Sherman called the show’s new look “startlingly different”. Following its tradition of addressing emotionally difficult topics, Sesame Street’s producers chose to address the attacks of 9/11 during this season on its premiere episode, which aired February 4, 2002. This episode, as well as a series of four episodes that aired after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, were used in Sesame Workshop’s Community Outreach program.
The producers and writers decided to build the new show around a brownstone or an inner-city street, a choice Davis called “unprecedented”. Stone was convinced that in order for inner-city children to relate to Sesame Street, it needed to be set in a familiar place. Despite its urban setting, the producers decided to avoid depicting more negativity than what was already present in the child’s environment. Lesser commented, “[despite] all its raucousness and slapstick humor, Sesame Street became a sweet show, and its staff maintains that there is nothing wrong in that”.Early childhood educational research had shown that when children were prepared to succeed in school, they earned higher grades and learned more effectively. Children from low-income families had fewer resources than children from higher-income families to prepare them for school. Research had shown that children from low-income, minority backgrounds tested “substantially lower” than middle-class children in school-related skills, and that they continued to have educational deficits throughout school. The field of developmental psychology had grown during this period, and scientists were beginning to understand that changes in early childhood education could increase children’s cognitive growth. Because of these trends in education, along with the great societal changes occurring in the United States during this era, the time was ripe for the creation of a show like Sesame Street.
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Cooney proposed that public television, even though it had a poor track record in attracting inner-city audiences, could be used to improve the quality of children’s programming. She suggested using the television medium’s “most engaging traits”, including high production values, sophisticated writing, and quality film and animation, to reach the largest audience possible. In the words of critic Peter Hellman, “If [children] could recite Budweiser jingles from TV, why not give them a program that would teach the ABCs and simple number concepts?” Cooney wanted to create a program that would spread values favoring education to nonviewers—including their parents and older siblings, who tended to control the television set. To this end, she suggested that humor directed toward adults be included, which, as Lesser reported, “may turn out to be a pretty good system in forcing the young child to stretch to understand programs designed for older audiences”. By 2019, 80% of parents watched Sesame Street with their children.The responsibility of casting for Sesame Street fell to Jon Stone, who set out to form a cast where white actors were in the minority. He did not begin auditions until spring 1969, several weeks before five test shows were due to be produced. He filmed the auditions, and Palmer took them into the field to test children’s reactions. The actors who received the “most enthusiastic thumbs up” were cast. For example, Loretta Long was chosen to play Susan when the children who saw her audition stood up and sang along with her rendition of “I’m a Little Teapot”. Stone reported that casting was the only aspect that was “just completely haphazard”. Most of the cast and crew found jobs on Sesame Street through personal relationships with Stone and the other producers. Stone hired Bob McGrath (an actor and singer best known at the time for his appearances on Mitch Miller’s sing-along show on NBC) to play Bob, Will Lee to play Mr. Hooper, and Garrett Saunders to play Gordon.
Shortly after the premiere of Sesame Street, the CTW was approached by producers, educators, and officials in other nations, requesting that a version of the show be aired in their countries. Former CBS executive Mike Dann left commercial television to become vice-president of the CTW and Cooney’s assistant; Dann began what Charlotte Cole, vice president for the CTW’s International Research department, called the “globalization” of Sesame Street. A flexible model was developed, based upon the experiences of the creators and producers of the original show. The shows came to be called “co-productions”, and they contained original sets, characters, and curriculum goals. Depending upon each country’s needs and resources, different versions were produced, including dubbed versions of the original show and independent programs. By 2016, 39 different coproductions have been created and produced, “each with its own local name, its own Muppets…, and its own educational objectives designed to meet the educational needs of local children”. By its 50th anniversary in 2019, 150 million children viewed over 150 versions of Sesame Street in 70 languages. The New York Times reported in 2005 that income from the CTW’s international co-productions of the show was $96 million.
By the show’s tenth anniversary in 1979, nine million American children under the age of six were watching Sesame Street daily, and several studies showed it was having a positive educational impact. The cast and crew expanded during this time, including the hiring of women in the crew and additional minorities in the cast. In 1981, the federal government withdrew its funding, so the CTW turned to other sources, such as its magazine division, book royalties, product licensing and foreign income. During the 1980s, Sesame Street’s curriculum expanded to include topics such as relationships, ethics and emotions. Many of the show’s storylines were taken from the experiences of its writing staff, cast and crew, most notably the death of Will Lee—who played Mr. Hooper—and the marriage of Luis and Maria.Since 1962, Cooney had been producing talk shows and documentaries at educational television station WNDT, and in 1966 had won an Emmy for a documentary about poverty in America. In early 1966, Cooney and her husband Tim hosted a dinner party at their apartment in New York; experimental psychologist Lloyd Morrisett, who has been called Sesame Street’s “financial godfather”, and his wife Mary were among the guests. Cooney’s boss, Lewis Freedman, whom Cooney called “the grandfather of Sesame Street”, also attended the party, as did their colleague Anne Bower. As a vice-president at the Carnegie Corporation, Morrisett had awarded several million dollars in grants to organizations that educated poor and minority preschool children. Morrisett and the other guests felt that even with limited resources, television could be an effective way to reach millions of children.
Two days before the show’s premiere, a thirty-minute preview entitled This Way to Sesame Street aired on NBC. The show was financed by a $50,000 grant from Xerox. Written by Stone and produced by CTW publicist Bob Hatch, it was taped the day before it aired. Newsday called the preview “a unique display of cooperation between commercial and noncommercial broadcasters”.
In 2006, the United States Department of State called Sesame Street “the most widely viewed children’s television show in the world”. Over half of the show’s international co-productions were made after 2001; according to the 2006 documentary The World According to Sesame Street, the events of 9/11 inspired the producers of these co-productions. In 2003, Takalani Sesame, a South African co-production, elicited criticism in the United States when its producers created Kami, the first HIV-positive Muppet, whose purpose was educating children in South Africa about the epidemic of AIDS. The controversy, which surprised Sesame Workshop, was short-lived and died down after Kofi Annan and Jerry Falwell praised the Workshop’s efforts. By 2006, Sesame Street had won more Emmy Awards than any other children’s show, including winning the outstanding children’s series award for twelve consecutive years—every year the Emmys included the category. By 2009, the show had won 118 Emmys throughout its history, and was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Emmy for its 40 years on the air.Starting in 2009, the producers of Sesame Street took steps to bring back older viewers; it was also successful in increasing its audience viewership among 3- to 5-year-olds by the end of the 40th season. In 2012, the show’s 43rd season, Elmo’s World was replaced with Elmo the Musical, which was targeted at the program’s older viewers.
Sesame Street’s cast expanded in the 1970s, better fulfilling the show’s original goal of greater diversity in both human and Muppet characters. The cast members who joined the show were Sonia Manzano (Maria), who also wrote for the show, Northern Calloway (David), Alaina Reed (Olivia), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Linda Bove (Linda), and Buffy Sainte-Marie (Buffy). In 1973, Roscoe Orman became the third actor to play Gordon.
“To be frank, I was really surprised, because we thought we were creating the quintessential American show. We thought the Muppets were quintessentially American, and it turns out they’re the most international characters ever created.”
For Sesame Street’s 30th anniversary in 1999, its producers researched the reasons for the show’s lower ratings. For the first time since the show debuted, the producers and a team of researchers analyzed Sesame Street’s content and structure during a series of two-week-long workshops. They also studied how children’s viewing habits had changed since the show’s premiere. They found that although Sesame Street was produced for three- to five-year-olds, children began watching it at a younger age. Preschool television had become more competitive, and the CTW’s research showed the traditional magazine format was not the best way to attract young children’s attention. The growth of home videos during the 1980s and the increase of thirty-minute children’s shows on cable had demonstrated that children’s attention could be sustained for longer periods of time, but the CTW’s researchers found that their viewers, especially the younger ones, lost attention in Sesame Street after 40 to 45 minutes.The preschool educational television program Sesame Street was first aired on public television stations on November 10, 1969, and reached its 53rd season in 2022. The history of Sesame Street has reflected changing attitudes to developmental psychology, early childhood education, and cultural diversity. Featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets, animation, live shorts, humor and celebrity appearances, it was the first television program of its kind to base its content and production values on laboratory and formative research, and the first to include a curriculum “detailed or stated in terms of measurable outcomes”. Initial responses to the show included adulatory reviews, some controversy and high ratings. By its 40th anniversary in 2009, Sesame Street was broadcast in over 120 countries, and 20 independent international versions had been produced. It has won eleven Grammys and over 150 Emmys in its history—more than any other children’s show.In 2020, CNN had aired a few town hall segments with Sesame Street characters to help children understand difficult topics during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests.The CTW wanted to attract the best composers and lyricists for Sesame Street, so songwriters like Joe Raposo, the show’s music director, and writer Jeff Moss were allowed to retain the rights to the songs they wrote. The writers earned lucrative profits, and the show was able to sustain public interest. Raposo’s “I Love Trash”, written for Oscar the Grouch, was included on the first album of Sesame Street songs, The Sesame Street Book & Record, recorded in 1970. Moss’ “Rubber Duckie”, sung by Henson for Ernie, remained on the Top-40 Billboard charts for seven weeks that same year. Another Henson song, written by Raposo for Kermit the Frog in 1970, “Bein’ Green”, which Davis called “Raposo’s best-regarded song for Sesame Street”, was later recorded by Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. “Sing”, which became a hit for The Carpenters in 1973, and “Somebody Come and Play”, were also written by Raposo for Sesame Street.
Why is Sesame Street removing old episodes?
But families can still watch Sesame Street elsewhere. So long, sunny days. Instead of chasing the clouds away, HBO Max pushed out Sesame Street. HBO Max removed about 200 episodes of Sesame Street last Friday as it sought to make room for new content pending its merger with Discovery+ by the summer of 2023.
In the mid-1980s, Americans were becoming more aware of the prevalence of child abuse, so Sesame Street’s researchers and producers decided to “reveal” Mr. Snuffleupagus in 1985. “Snuffy” had never been seen by any of the adults on the show and was considered Big Bird’s “imaginary friend”. The show’s producers were concerned about the message being sent to children; “If children saw that the adults didn’t believe what Big Bird said (even though it was true), they would be afraid to talk to adults about dramatic or disturbing things that happened to them”.The 2008–2009 recession, which led to budget cuts for many nonprofit arts organizations, severely affected Sesame Street; in spring 2009, Sesame Workshop had to lay off 20% of its staff. By the show’s 40th anniversary, it was ranked the fifteenth most popular children’s show on television. When the show premiered in 1969, 130 episodes a year were produced; in 2009, because of rising costs, twenty-six episodes were made. According to the Hollywood Reporter, corporate funding “dried up” and DVD sales “bottomed up”. Also by 2009, Sesame Workshop started a new website containing a large library of classic and more recent free video clips, as well as a series of podcasts.
Sesame Street was the first children’s television program that used a curriculum with clear and measurable outcomes, and was the first to use research in the creation of the show’s design and content. Research in Sesame Street had three functions: to test if the show was appealing to children, to discover what could be done to make the show more appealing, and to report to the public and the investors what impact the show had on its young viewers. Ten to fifteen percent of the show’s initial budget of $8 million was devoted to research, and researchers were always present in the studio during the show’s filming. A “Writer’s Notebook” was developed to assist writers and producers in translating the research and production goals into televised material; this connected the show’s curriculum goals and its script development. The Muppet characters were created to fill specific curriculum needs: Oscar the Grouch, for example, was designed to teach children about their positive and negative emotions. Lesser called the collaboration between researchers and producers, as well as the idea of using television as an educational tool, the “CTW model”. Cooney agreed, commenting, “From the beginning, we—the planners of the project—designed the show as an experimental research project with educational advisers, researchers, and television producers collaborating as equal partners”.In November 1970, the cover of Time magazine featured Big Bird, who had received more fan mail than any of the show’s human hosts. The magazine declared, “… It is not only the best children’s show in TV history, it is one of the best parents’ shows as well”. An executive at ABC, while recognizing that Sesame Street was not perfect, said the show “opened children’s TV to taste and wit and substance” and “made the climate right for improvement”. Other reviewers predicted commercial television would be forced to improve its children’s programming, something that did not substantially occur until the 1990s. Sesame Street won a Peabody Award, three Emmys, and the Prix Jeunesse award in 1970. President Richard Nixon sent Cooney a congratulatory letter, and Dr. Benjamin Spock predicted the program would result in “better-trained citizens, fewer unemployables in the next generation, fewer people on welfare, and smaller jail populations”.
While New York Magazine reported criticism of the presence of strong single women in the show, organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) expressed concerns that the show needed to be “less male-oriented”. For example, members of NOW took exception to the character Susan, who was originally a housewife. They complained about the lack of, as Morrow put it, “credible female Muppets” on the show; Morrow reported that Henson’s response was that “women might not be strong enough to hold the puppets over the long hours of taping”. The show’s producers responded by making Susan a nurse and by hiring a female writer.
According to Davis, Sesame Street’s second decade was spent “turning inward, expanding its young viewers’ world”. The show’s curriculum grew to include more “affective” teaching—relationships, ethics, and positive and negative emotions. Many of the show’s storylines were taken from the experiences of its writing staff, cast, and crew.
In April 2017, Sesame Street introduced Julia, the first Muppet with autism. Her puppeteer, Stacey Gordon, is the mother of an autistic son. The character had already been featured in digital and printed storybooks since 2015. For the 1988 and 1989 seasons, the topics of love, marriage, and childbirth were addressed when the show presented a storyline in which the characters Luis and Maria fall in love, marry, and have a child named Gabi. Sonia Manzano, the actress who played Maria, had married and become pregnant; according to the book Sesame Street Unpaved, published after the show’s thirtieth anniversary in 1999, Manzano’s real-life experiences gave the show’s writers and producers the idea. Before writing began, research was done to gain an understanding of what previous studies had revealed about preschoolers’ understanding of love, marriage, and family. The show’s staff found that at the time that there was very little relevant research done about children’s understanding of these topics, and no books for children had been written about them. Studies done after the episodes about Maria’s pregnancy aired showed that as a result of watching these episodes, children’s understanding of pregnancy increased. During the production of Sesame Street’s first season, producers created five one-hour episodes to test the show’s appeal to children and examine their comprehension of the material. Not intended for broadcast, they were presented to preschoolers in 60 homes throughout Philadelphia and in day care centers in New York City in July 1969. The results were “generally very positive”; children learned from the shows, their appeal was high, and their attention was sustained over the full hour. However, the researchers found that although children’s attention was high during the Muppet segments, their interest wavered during the “Street” segments, when no Muppets were on screen. This was because the producers had followed the advice of child psychologists who were concerned that children would be confused if human actors and Muppets were shown together. As a result of this decision, the appeal of the test episodes was lower than the target.Instead of focusing on the social and emotional aspects of development, the producers decided to follow the suggestions of the seminar participants and emphasize cognitive skills, a decision they felt was warranted by the demands of school and the wishes of parents. The objectives developed during the seminars were condensed into key categories: symbolic representation, cognitive processes, and the physical and social environment. The seminars set forth the new show’s policy about race and social issues and provided the show’s production and creative team with “a crash course” in psychology, child development, and early childhood education. They also marked the beginning of Jim Henson’s involvement in Sesame Street. Cooney met Henson at one of the seminars; Stone, who was familiar with Henson’s work, felt that if they could not bring him on board, they should “make do without puppets”.
In 1978, Stone and Singer produced and wrote the show’s first special, the “triumphant” Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, which included an O Henry-inspired storyline in which Bert and Ernie gave up their prized possessions—Ernie his rubber ducky and Bert his paper clip collection—to purchase each other Christmas gifts. Bert and Ernie were played by Frank Oz and Jim Henson, who in real life were, like the puppets they played, colleagues and friends. To Davis, this demonstrated the puppeteers’ remarkable ability to play “puppetry’s Odd Couple”. In Singer’s opinion, the special—which Stone also wrote and directed—demonstrated Stone’s “soul”, and Sonia Manzano called it a good example of what Sesame Street was all about. The special won Emmys for Stone and Singer in 1979, beating, among others, the independently produced A Special Sesame Street Christmas for CBS.
In the late 1960s, 97% of all American households owned a television set, and preschool children watched an average of 27 hours of television per week; programs created for them were widely criticized for being too violent and for reflecting commercial values. Producer Joan Ganz Cooney called children’s programming a “wasteland”, and she was not alone in her criticism. Many children’s television programs were produced by local stations, with little regard for educational goals, or cultural diversity. As writer David Borgenicht stated, the use of children’s programming as an educational tool was “unproven” and “a revolutionary concept”.
The show was conceived in 1966 during discussions between television producer Joan Ganz Cooney and Carnegie Corporation vice president Lloyd Morrisett. Their goal was to create a children’s television show that would “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them”, such as helping young children prepare for school. After two years of research, the newly formed Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) received a combined grant of $8 million from the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation and the U.S. federal government to create and produce a new children’s television show.
As of its 50th anniversary in 2019, Sesame Street has produced over 4,500 episodes, 35 TV specials, 200 home videos, and 180 albums. Its YouTube channel had almost 5 million subscribers, and the show had 24 million followers on social media. As part of its 50th anniversary PR campaign, Sesame Street conducted a traveling show, featuring some Muppets, between February and December 2019. The “unofficial slogan” of the show’s anniversary was “50 Years and Counting”, which Underwood called “a nod that we are still going strong”. “To look back at that period [the 1980s] is to appreciate the profound effect that life-cycle events had on the show, offstage and on. There was birth and death, love and loss, courtship and calamity, pain and pleasure, all from a little show whose aims at first were simply to test television’s ability to stimulate the brain. That it would also touch the heart was not its original intention, but as each year passed, Sesame Street became as much an emotional pathway for children as an intellectual one.” In 1982, Will Lee, who had played Mr. Hooper since the show’s premiere, died. For the 1983 season, the show’s producers and research staff decided they would explain Mr. Hooper’s death to their preschool audience, instead of recasting the role: the writer of that episode, Norman Stiles, said, “We felt we owed something to a man we respected and loved”. They convened a group of psychologists, religious leaders, and other experts in the field of grief, loss, and separation. The research team conducted a series of studies before the episode to ascertain if children were able to understand the messages they wanted to convey about Mr. Hooper’s death; the research showed most children did understand. Parents’ reactions to the episode were, according to the CTW’s own reports, “overwhelmingly positive”. The episode, which won an Emmy, aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983 so parents could be home to discuss it with their children. Author David Borgenicht called the episode “poignant”; Davis called it “a landmark broadcast” and “a truly memorable episode, one of the show’s best”. Caroll Spinney, who played Big Bird and who drew the caricatures prominently used in the episode, reported the cast and crew were moved to tears during filming.
The producers of Sesame Street made a few changes in its second season. Segments that featured children became more spontaneous and allowed more impromptu dialogue, even when it meant cutting other segments. Since federal funds had been used to produce the show, more segments of the population insisted upon being represented on Sesame Street; for example, the show was criticized by Hispanic groups for the lack of Latino characters in the early years of production. A committee of Hispanic activists, commissioned by the CTW in 1970, called Sesame Street “racist” and said the show’s bilingual aspects were of “poor quality and patronizing”. The CTW responded to these critics by hiring Hispanic actors, production staff, and researchers. By the mid-70s, Morrow reported that “the show included Chicano and Puerto Rican cast members, films about Mexican holidays and foods, and cartoons that taught Spanish words”.
A few days after the dinner party, Cooney, Freedman, and Morrisett met at the Carnegie Corporation’s offices to make plans; they wanted to harness the addictive power of television for their own purposes, but did not yet know how. The following summer, Morrisett hired her to conduct research on childhood development, education and media, and she visited experts in these fields across the United States and Canada. She researched their ideas about the viewing habits of young children and wrote a report on her findings. In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) deregulated commercial restrictions on children’s television. Advertising during network children’s programs almost doubled, and deregulation resulted in an increase in commercially oriented programming. Sesame Street was successful during this era of deregulation despite the fact that the United States government terminated all federal funding of the CTW in 1981. By 1987, the show was earning $42 million per year from its magazine division, book royalties, product licensing, and foreign income—enough to cover two-thirds of its expenses. Its remaining budget, plus a $6 million surplus, was covered by revenue from its PBS broadcasts. Davis called the 1990s a “time of transition on Sesame Street”. Several people involved in the show from its beginnings died during this period: Jim Henson in 1990 at the age of 53 “from a runaway strep infection gone stubbornly, foolishly untreated”; songwriter Joe Raposo from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma fifteen months earlier; long-time cast member Northern Calloway of cardiac arrest in January 1990; puppeteer Richard Hunt of AIDS in early 1992; CTW founder and producer David Connell of bladder cancer in 1995; director Jon Stone of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1997; and writer Jeff Moss of colon cancer in 1998.The producers spent eighteen months preparing the new show, something unprecedented in children’s television. The show had a budget of $28,000 per episode. After being named executive director of the CTW, Cooney began to assemble a team of producers: Jon Stone was responsible for writing, casting, and format; David Connell took over animation and volume; and Samuel Gibbon served as the show’s chief liaison between the production staff and the research team. Stone, Connell, and Gibbon had worked on Captain Kangaroo together, but were not involved in children’s television when Cooney recruited them. At first, Cooney planned to divide the show’s production of five episodes a week among several teams, but she was advised by CBS vice-president Mike Dann to use only one. This production team was led by Connell, who had gained experience producing many episodes in a short period of time, a process called “volume production”, during his eleven years working on Captain Kangaroo.
Is Sesame Street still running?
The preschool educational television program Sesame Street was first aired on public television stations on November 10, 1969, and reached its 53rd season in 2022.
The producers of Sesame Street believed education through television was possible if they captured and sustained children’s attention; this meant the show needed a strong appeal. Edward Palmer, the CTW’s first Director of Research and the man Cooney credited with building the CTW’s foundation of research, was one of the few academics in the late 1960s researching children’s television. He was recruited by the CTW to test if the curricula developed in the Boston seminars were reaching their audience effectively. Palmer was also tasked with designing and executing the CTW’s in-house research and with working with the Educational Testing Service (ETS). His research was so crucial to Sesame Street that Gladwell asserted, “… without Ed Palmer, the show would have never lasted through the first season”.As a result of Cooney’s proposal, the Carnegie Corporation awarded her a $1 million grant in 1968 to establish the Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) to provide support to the creative staff of the new show. Morrisett, who was responsible for fundraising, procured additional grants from the United States federal government, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Ford Foundation for the CTW’s initial budget, which totaled $8 million; obtaining funding from this combination of government agencies and private foundations protected the CTW from economic pressures experienced by commercial networks. Sesame Street was an expensive program to produce because the creators decided they needed to compete with other programs that invested in professional, high quality production.
By the show’s tenth anniversary in 1979, nine million American children under the age of six were watching Sesame Street daily. Four out of five children had watched it over a six-week period, and 90% of children from low-income inner-city homes regularly viewed the show.
By the mid-1970s, Sesame Street, according to Davis, had become “an American institution”. ETS conducted two “landmark” studies of the show in 1970 and 1971 which demonstrated Sesame Street had a positive educational impact on its viewers. The results of these studies led to the producers securing funding for the show over the next several years, and provided the CTW with additional ways to promote it. By the second season, Sesame Street had become so popular that the design of ETS’ experiments to track the show’s educational outcomes had to be changed: instead of comparing viewers with a control group of non-viewers, the researchers studied the differences among levels of viewing. They found that children who watched Sesame Street more frequently had a higher comprehension of the material presented.Sesame Street was not without its detractors; there was little criticism of the show in the months following its premiere, but it increased at the end of its first season and beginning of the second season. In May 1970, a state commission in Mississippi voted to not air the show on the state’s newly launched public television network, which at the time had only one station in Jackson. A member of the commission leaked the vote to The New York Times, stating that “Mississippi was not yet ready” for the show’s integrated cast. A commercial television station in Jackson picked up the show instead. Cooney called the ban “a tragedy for both the white and black children of Mississippi”. The state commission reversed its decision three weeks later after the vote made national news.
Getting the call “It was a no-brainer. I handed myself over, knowing that they would rewrite the lyrics, and that the whole thing would be very much out of my control, because the caliber [of the show] has been so high my whole life.”
The Muppeteers “A subplot that was in no way being filmed, was that Telly was crushing out so hard on me. [Laughing] Like, the guy just had Telly nibbling on the tips of his fingers while he stared at me, nervously. And then I’d look, and he’d look away. And if you watch the video, there’s a couple of times where you’ll see Telly facing me, in profile, with this kind of awe. It was going on for, like, eight hours. It was incredible.”On the set “It’s like you have this out-of-body experience. I remember walking down ‘the street,’ holding my hand out in front of me, wondering at what point I was going to hit the backdrop. I mean, I think it was the backdrop of my childhood. It felt like the most familiar place on earth.”
What is the number on the banner in Sesame Street?
The episode number is shown on a banner trailing behind an airplane during the beginning of the theme.
Meeting her collaborators “I hadn’t yet seen any of the Muppets. And at some point, these four penguins with football helmets just kind of peeked up at me [in the vocal booth]. I was literally [screaming]. It actually took my breath away with childlike glee. They kind of were hitting each other and trying to run away and trying not to get spotted, ducking down again, and then they would appear on the side. It was all that childhood is about.Whenever she’s traveling, a breathless parent will stop her for a photo. They say, “Do you mind, my 3-year-old has watched it 7,000 times,” Feist said. “And I say yes, but I always joke: You notice me because you’re a grown-up — the 3-year-olds are really only interested in the puppets. And without fail, the kids are just sort of looking at me like, who is this weird lady in the airport?”In the studio “A diction coach was making me pronounce the words so specifically, because she said, ‘Imagine you don’t know how to talk yet, and this is how you learn to count.’ And [the lyric] ‘Monsters walking cross the floor,’ there was no slurring, no poetry about it. It was very much, ‘There are monsters, and they are walking across the floor.’ You have to make sure they know what you’re saying.”
Melena Ryzik is a roving culture reporter and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for public service for reporting on workplace sexual harassment. She covered Oscar season for five years, and has also been a national correspondent in San Francisco and the mid-Atlantic states. @melenar
In a phone interview, Feist described what it was like to perform on “Sesame Street.” “It kind of just felt like playing,” she said. “It really didn’t feel like, we’re filming something that will far outshine anything else that I will do in the rest of my life.” These are edited excerpts from the conversation.One of the most popular “Sesame Street” songs is “1,2,3,4,” a take-off on Feist’s 2007 indie hit. With a Muppet cast that includes Elmo, Rosita, some penguins and vacation-ready chickens, it’s the appearance that the Canadian singer-songwriter gets recognized for the most, she said. The “Sesame” version of the song, released in 2008, has over 240 million YouTube views; the original has about 13 million.
My brother and I played with two sock puppets my entire childhood. And that’s all we ever did, was have them peek out the window and pretend to be in a wind storm when we were on long road trips. When these penguins showed up, they let me put one on my hand, which just felt like — did I just drop acid?”
Was Grover killed off Sesame Street?
Grover is alive and well. Just turn into Sesame Street any given day and you’ll see him.
The song’s viral success “That’s a number that’s hard to understand [240 million views]. It’s funny, I haven’t played ‘1234,’ the album version, in a few years. And then, this year, for a few summer festivals, I was like, ah, let’s just play it properly. And I had to look up the lyrics, because I had the chickens and the monsters going! It’s reverse-engineered me to be more aware of the Muppet version than my own.”
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“It was one of the toughest decisions we ever made,” Steve Youngwood, Sesame Workshop’s COO, told The Hollywood Reporter as he admitted that the conversations with PBS were “complicated.”
“Sesame Street” is now a $100 million empire, with 5 million subscribers on its YouTube channel — and last June, bosses signed a huge deal with Apple to create new content. There are more than 150 versions of the show being produced in 70 languages, everywhere from South Africa to Bangladesh, with more countries on the way.
And the people who bring our favorite Muppets to life pose for a rare photo on the cover of THR. David Rudman hides under Cookie Monster, while Big Bird looks on as Peter Linz handles Ernie. Meanwhile, Ryan Dillon — who joined “Sesame Street” at just 17 — is under perennial favorite Elmo and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph appears with Abby at the show’s Queens studios.“Sesame Street” puppeteers have recently made trips to Jordan to help set up a new Arab-language production aimed at children displaced by the Syrian refugee crisis and that’s scheduled to launch in the region in September.
The show — which hired a young and exceedingly talented puppeteer called Jim Henson — was the brainchild of Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, who hatched the idea at a Manhattan dinner party. It now reaches 150 million across the globe. Meanwhile, Bert, Ernie and the gang have won 189 Emmys, more than any other TV program.
A host of A-listers, from Robert De Niro to Carol Burnett, have appeared on the show. As Ryan Reynolds (who stuck his head through a giant letter A) told THR: “Honestly, ask any actor if they want to stick their face into an A-hole and sing … chances are pretty good they’ll say yes.”“We have a few rules here,” Carmen Osbahr, who normally operates Rosita, “Sesame Street”’s Latina Muppet, told the magazine: “Always deodorant, never onions.”