Children’s television stalwart “Sesame Street” commemorates its 40th anniversary on November 10. In celebration, Sesame Workshop, the production and research company behind the show, is pulling out all the stops—including a ubiquitous publicity campaign and a full-fledged makeover of the on-air show, premiering anew Tuesday.
It will be hard to miss news of this milestone as the ‘gang’ will be everywhere in the coming days. They’re on Google—the recognizable muppets are being featured in Google “doodles.” They are at the Brooklyn Public Library where show memorabilia is on display for a few months. They’ll be at Columbus and 64th Street in Manhattan on the big day where there will be a ceremonial street naming and proclamation declaring it “Sesame Street Day.” They’ll also be featured in an exhibit at Washington D.C.’s Union Station on the 10th and around the corner at the Smithsonian’s Discovery Theater on the 15th.
On television, “Sesame Street” will be unveiled with a completely new format to begin its 40th season. In a statement, Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente declared, “When you turn on your TV on November 10 you’ll see a brand-new and spectacularly beautiful opening sequence. We’re also launching an entirely new format for the show—the magazine format of Sesame Street, which has been evolving over the years, has been officially replaced with what we’re calling a ‘block’ format.
Parente goes on to explain, “When the show first started, we followed what was on the air at the time, so we used the techniques of commercials and variety shows to teach children. These days, however, there are entire networks devoted to preschool programming, and our show is an hour long, which is unique in preschool programming. So we thought, our hour really is a block of preschool programming, so let’s look at it that way.” Rest assured that the fuzzy characters you know and love will remain—although some will appear more often in CGI format.
This special season, “The Street” will host a number of big-name celebrities, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Kobe Bryant, Eva Longoria, Cameron Diaz, Adam Sandler, Christina Applegate, Ricky Gervais, and First Lady Michelle Obama. In keeping with the times, the season will also focus on “green” educational topics throughout.
So, with the big 4-0, Big Bird and company are going the makeover route. Hopefully this is not so much a mid-life crisis and more a step in the right direction. I know I’ll be setting my TiVo to find out.