Sesame Street Blog

Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

Entries with tag tagoctober2009 .

The Billiard Balls Are on the Move

Word of the Day:  Bizarre

The big billiard balls have moved again! Now, one is being bashful behind a tree. The other is in the distance, looking forlorn.

Neighbor's yard with a ball in it.

I find myself searching their yard every time I drive by to see if the balls are on the move once again, or to catch someone in the act of moving them. I haven’t seen a single person! We will have to do some Sherlock Holmes work on this strange event.  

On a different note, Ripley and Lyra had their first experience on a swing. Ripley had a much better time than she’s letting on in this photo.

Baby Ripley in a swing.

My SESAME STREET Mad Men Spoof Hits The Web

Curriculum of the Day: Self Esteem (a.k.a. Shameless Self-Promotion)

I was just informed that the parody I wrote last season with headwriter Joey Mazzarino already has more than a quarter of a million hits on YouTube.

It’s also been written up on several major blog sites such as the Huffington Post.

I have to say, it’s pretty amazing to know that many people have seen it already—and probably very few of them are children since Season 40 doesn’t start airing until November 10. Crazy!

We always shoot several of these TV parodies every season. In fact, I wanted to do one on “The Closer” this year, but another writer was smart enough to pitch the idea before me. Basically, once we writers have our main shows of the season written, we work on inserts, which include our famous parodies. Last season, I knew Mad Men was a natural for the curriculum of emotions. I pitched the idea to Joey and wrote a first draft that was focused more on the characters themselves being mad, sad and glad. He suggested we add in an advertising angle with a “Honey Bear” campaign. I wrote a second draft, which Joey approved and sent into the long pipeline of production. I couldn’t go to the studio to watch it shoot because I was eight months pregnant and on bed rest. I only recently viewed the finished product myself. Now, I really wish I had been there to witness the fabulous puppetry by Frank Oz playing Mr. Draper and Joey Mazzarino and Tyler Bunch as the two ad men.   

Sesame Street is very good at teaching about emotions and making it funny. Today, I am proud.  

Bangladesh Pictures

Word of the Day:  Inspiration

I bought a new computer. My 7-year-old laptop that I’ve dragged through airports around the world finally went kaput. So with trepidation, I purchased a spanky, new machine with a screen that puts my TV to shame. This new marvel seems to be able to organize my photos by download dates, so I’m finding pictures I didn’t even know I had. These three are from the first launch of the rickshaw TV for Sisimpur back during the first production season.

Rural Villagers in Bangladesh

Since so many rural villagers in Bangladesh don’t have access to television, or only have a single village TV, Sisimpur outfitted a rickshaw to ride about in the countryside playing the show for rural children.

Sisimpur outfitted a rickshaw to ride about in the countryside playing the show for rural children.

The pictures still bring tears to my eyes.

Rural villagers in Bangladesh by Sisimpur outfitted rickshaw.

“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!

Update on the Balls.

Word of the Day: Confused

There is only one ball left!

The week before, the balls were on the move again, this time in a very up close and personal way.  

A big blue ball.

Blue ball with yellow ball just peaking out in the distance.

I was tempted to climb over the stone wall to touch it, but I thought I’d be violating some unique art form. Or a ball guard would jump out from behind a tree.

Then, several days ago, the balls disappeared altogether. Did they take a vacation? Like those traveling garden gnomes you see in pictures in front of famous landmarks? Were they loaned out to another lawn? Then yesterday, only the blue ball returned.

I am always racing back and forth past this ball event late for something so I have yet to stop in and resolve this spherical mystery. I also have to summon my nerve. Meanwhile, I continue to speculate, and be entertained.

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Mail Box

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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