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“Don’t Wake The Baby” Shoots

Curriculum of the Day: People and Their Jobs

In all my years writing for Sesame Street, I’ve never had my shows shoot two days in a row. Until today.

My actual first show of the season, which I wrote back in May, follows my major theme this year—babies. The show is called “Don’t Wake the Baby.” Leela is babysitting her niece and Telly and Elmo are the “Noise Patrol” trying to keep the street quiet. Of course, the opposite happens.

Leela (Nitya Vidyasagar) and the baby bassinette.  

Leela (Nitya Vidyasagar) and the baby bassinette.  

We had a live baby (actually twins) who we were able to successfully shoot both sleeping and awake as Leela sang her a lullaby. The rest of the time we used a plastic baby. Down front are Marty and Pam Arciero with Telly; David Rudman and Leslie Carrara with the Lion; and Carmen Oshabr and John Kennedy with the Tiger.

We had a few big scenes what were hard but incredibly entertaining for everyone to perform and watch. The first big noise that Telly and Elmo try to stop is an elephant playing basketball. Joey Mazzarino, our head writer, puppeteer, and director, plays Horatio the Elephant.

Horatio doesn’t think that bouncing a basketball will wake the babies. Telly rants about a worst-case scenario—Horatio’s bouncing attracts an animal basketball team. And, of course, up pops an animal basketball team.

Kevin Clash is setting up the first shot with the entering animals – a lion, a tiger and a monkey.

Kevin Clash is setting up the first shot with the entering animals—a lion, a tiger and a monkey. 

The ball gets tossed off camera. Everyone chases after it. Elmo cries for Telly to grab the ball. Easy to write, hard to shoot. It gets very complicated with all the Muppet performers rolling across the floor. Marty used the full-body Telly to toss in on top of the animals as he tries to "grab" the ball. Everyone crashes below frame.

Marty practices his throw of the full-body Telly.

Marty practices his throw of the full-body Telly.

It took many tries to get it right, but they finally nailed it with Horatio ending up on the top of the pile.

Telly’s arm behind Horatio about to be tossed into the group of “running” animals.

The shot mid-action. You can see Telly’s arm behind Horatio about to be tossed into the group of “running” animals.

Yes, it’s a pretty crazy way to make a living, but someone’s got to do it. You’ll have to watch the final show sometime in 2010 or 2011 to see if they wake the baby!

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Like your family we have twins, boy/girl, that turned three last month. I saw your blog entry for January and it looks like we have something in common, potty training twins. Like one of your girls, my son WILL NOT pee in the potty but his sister was doing well until she caught on to "Bubbie" not trying. I was just letting things run their course but our local pre-schools/mommy day out programs require the children to be potty trained and this mommy needs a day out. Bribery isn't working. Have you had any success?


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How often is the telly puppet renewed or replaced?

Katherine Sydney, Australia

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I read in 40 Years of Life on the Street about an incident involving Snuffy's puppet where a sombrero caused the wood frame to collapse on you and Bryant Young. Did they rebuild the puppet after that or did they just make a new one?


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I just wanted to say thanks for the blog. My daughter Kylie (who just turned two yesterday) loves to ask if we are going to see "the babies." Thank you so much to you and Marty for bringing the joy of Sesame Street into our lives every day.

Kendal and Kylie Montreal, Canada

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I've noticed that there are fewer Muppets and people in an episode now than there were twenty years ago. Does everyone show up on the set for filming days or only certain ones? Who decides who gets to play the Anything Muppets? There are some voices I hear more than others.


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