Sesame Street Blog

Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

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A Failed Attempt

Curriculum of the Day:  Emotion: Curious!

For all of you who are following the mystery of the billiard balls, Marty, the girls and I made an attempt to finally answer the question “What’s up with the Balls.” It was a lovely Saturday afternoon when we pulled into the driveway of the large, yellow house. We were nervous, or just embarrassed. This isn’t a neighborhood where people visit unannounced. There were four cars in the driveway, so we figured someone must be home. Also, earlier in the day, THE YELLOW BALL RETURNED! Yes, for only one hour or so, the yellow ball was there side by side with the blue ball. Marty saw them on his way to his karate class. But on the way back, THE YELLOW BALL WAS GONE AGAIN! Enough was enough. The mystery needed to be solved today!

I got out of the car. Marty stayed with the girls. I bravely knocked on the door. No one answered. I marched across the driveway to their massive barn, which looks like another dwelling, or perhaps a billiard ball workshop? I knocked. No answer. Despite the cars, no one was around.    

Where did they go? And why did they take the yellow ball with them?

It all still remains a mystery. We will try again next weekend.

It’a a wrap!

Curriculum of the day:  Relational Concepts:  Beginning/End

Today, we wrapped shooting the 41st season of Sesame Street. Sadly, since we only produce 26 new shows a year (as compared to 116 shows 20 years ago), our season is only six extraordinarily packed weeks of shooting. This doesn’t include the Murray "Word of the Day" segments that are shot more guerilla-style on the streets of New York, or the new “Abby Flying Fairy School,” which is animation and takes over a year to complete.     

Wrap time is always slightly nostalgic and sad, since we don’t see people now for long stretches of time between shoots. So, tonight there will be a wrap party at a billiards hall near the studio where lots of toasts and hugs will be given, as well as awards and bottles of wine for people who got engaged, married or had babies. (Last year, Marty and I got four bottles for getting engaged, married and having two babies!)  

We used to do the wrap parties on the actual set. Because the crew had to work these parties rather than enjoy them, and we moved to a smaller studio, the wrap parties started happening “off campus” a few years ago. These earlier studio wrap parties used to be quite lavish affairs. People such as John Tartaglia and Alan Muraoka  would perform as well as other talented crewmembers. Often these were spoofs such as Alan and Telly singing “Everybody Poots.” And then, there was the infamous Muppet performance. This show, usually written by Joey Mazzarino, was always a parody and very blue. Parents were warned ahead of time it was NOT suitable for children (but children came anyway). One year, it was Elmo the snobby star in Hollywood because of the “Tickle Me Elmo” craze. Another time, it was a Letterman-style show called “Late Night with Oscar the Grouch” and once it was a marketing spoof about all the Sesame Street products.

One of the most famous wrap party moments of all is when Mr. Snuffleupagus ate the child. Snuffy was replacing Big Bird who usually opened the show with a joke. Snuffy was so nervous, and got so frustrated because he was making mistakes, that when a child (the nephew of Frankie Biondo our cameraman) came up to get an autograph and called him the wrong name, Snuffy ate him. Literally.

Snuffy feasting.
(Frankie Biondo with his nephew being eaten by Mr. Snuffleupagus!)

Marty and the boy had worked the entire moment out earlier. He was able to put Snuffy’s mouth down around the boy and once he was mostly inside, Marty could pick him up and hold him upside-down inside the costume. The boy was able to put his hands onto Marty’s feet and then stay there as Snuffy walked off the stage. The boy was so good, he even succeeded in kicking his legs as he was “swallowed.” As a person in the audience, I never laughed so hard in my life.    

At the next season wrap party, Snuffy came on to start the show again, but he wasn’t feeling well. He had a tummy ache for some strange reason. Suddenly, he started to heave, and he “threw-up” the same boy from last season, now wearing a tattered shirt and covered in goo. Another bust-a-gut moment for the Sesame history books.

So, with lots of memories, we say, “It’s a wrap,” for now.

Babies of Mass Destruction

Curriculum of the Day: Safety

They find electrical cords pushed behind chairs and pull down boom boxes. They raid the magazine rack, pull out the National Geographic and eat the best pictures. They rip the wooden slats off the antique radio and make holes in the speaker material. They take the clock radio and push all the buttons changing all the settings. They crawl behind chairs and find outlets I didn’t even know were there. They pull off placemats, grab the plunger, drop binkies behind the bed, they are—BABIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION.

Every time I think I have baby-proofed a room, they prove to me yet again I am ignorant of baby ingenuity, and the length of their arms. Their curiosity is basically endless. Every waking moment is spent on the hunt for something new to futz with. Today, we are focusing again on the bathroom, putting safety latches on every drawer and even hanging the toilet paper and garbage can four feet off the ground. Lastly will be the toilet seat lock, although I tend to be sitting on it most of the time they’re playing “Bathroom Adventure.”

“Wait until they can walk.”  My friends say. Egads.

Baby getting a bath.
Just look at that face, is that girl poised for mischief or what?

The Annual Holiday Card

Word of the Day: Salutations

Marty and I have become known for our holiday card. This is wonderful in many ways. Friends you don’t see often will stop you and gush about how they always hang your card on their refrigerator. We often hear how people can’t wait to open our card when it arrives. “Where did Annie and Marty go this year?” We usually make a 5x7 card that opens with several photos from our Sesame Street international teaching trips. Here are just some examples of photos that have been part of our previous holiday greetings:

 Our Renaissance Fair outfits with the pets
Our Renaissance Fair outfits with the pets

 St. Basil’s during one of the coldest Russian February’s in history
St. Basil’s during one of the coldest Russian February’s in history

Annie and Marty with two elephants.
Our Elephant Ride in Bali

The downside of doing an extravagant holiday card is people expect it from you. Because I was pregnant and on bed rest last December, we didn’t send out a card. We didn’t get calls and letters asking where it was, but I did feel like we let our family and friends down a little. So, we’re sending one out this year and are in the midst of deciding what will be the main photos. It won’t be a big card; we are still in a recession mentality here at our house. Still, we will probably use at least these two pictures. The shot of Ripley in the air was actually suggested by one of our blog readers to be on the card.

 Sesame Family Robinson at a lake.
"Love at the Lake” shot on the August Vacation Post (us in the Water)

Martin and baby at play.
Ripley in Flight.

We’ll probably put some kind of line next to the Ripley shot about “Flying happily into the New Year.”

Happy Holidays to all!

Holiday Card

Hoilday Card

Big News at Sesame Family Robinson

Curriculum of the day: Addition

For those following our blog, you know we’re “older” parents with young children. I’m also part of the Sandwich Generation, so I also take care of my father who moved to an assisted living facility near us recently. And now, Marty and I are going to be GRANDPARENTS!

Yes, Marty’s eldest daughter Lauren is pregnant. She’s already five months along, so she’s due in April. Her boyfriend, now fiancé, Sam and she will be living with us in January and they will decide then whether to be in Connecticut for the birth or up in New Hampshire to be near her aunt. Of course, we are pushing for our house, since she wants to do a home birth, but we’re just the GRANDPARENTS.

Lyra and Ripley will be little aunties. Their nephew or niece will be their playmate. How weird and wild.

I never thought I’d be a GRANDMOTHER quite so soon. Not as the MOTHER of 9-month-old twins! In truth, I’ll really be a step grandparent-in-law, but Lauren has made it clear that all of her parents (she has several through the modern American divorce culture) are grandparents. There will be no subdivisions. I find this quite wonderful—and daunting, since I’m going to be a GRANDMOTHER. 

So, Sesame Family Robinson will be adding another member. What a holiday gift!
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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?

Sommer

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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?

Edward

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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.

Glenda

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