PASADENA, Calif.--Ever try to interview a Muppet? Critics got to hang with their favourite Sesame Street characters this morning on the PBS portion of the TCA press tour, where the 40th anniversary of the landmark childrens show was celebrated.
Talking to a Muppet shaves 40 years off a critic. It was fun to watch and participate as reporter after reporter thrust their digital recorders in front of Cookie Monster, Grover, Abby Cadabby and Maria instead of the Henson puppeteers who move and speak for them: David Rudman, Eric Jacobson, Leslie Carrara and Sonia Manzano.
Rudman's been speaking for Cookie since 1985, taking over from Original Muppet master-turned-director Frank Oz (also the original voice of Grover).
Cookie and Grover date all the way back to the launch of Sesame Street. The 40th anniversary will be marked November 10, with an episode where Big Bird searches for a new habitat.
I asked Grover to name some of the movie and music stars he's met on the show over the years. When he named Cameron Diaz, I interjected, "She's hot." "I dunno," said Grover, "I never touched her."
Cookie was asked the same question and mentioned he just shared some cookies with Adam Sandler. How did that go? "He needs to work on his aghaghaghaghlffph," said Cookie, getting way into his cookie munching move.
The PBS series tries to keep current with the times. There's a Mad Men sketch in the coming season, we were told. How are pre-schoolers going to relate to that, one critic asked. Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, vp of educational research for Sesame Workshop, said think "Mad" men as in emotional connection. Besides, TV spoofs have taken place on the Street before. "We did Desperate Houseplants," said Sesame Workshop executive vp Miranda Barry. That one dealt with the houseplants not "having its needs met by the Gardener."