Big bird, fired.
May 28, 2001 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Big bird, fired. Seems the economy has truly fallen on hard times when they start letting the puppet people go. Sesame Street lays off 70; can complete financial collapse be far behind?
posted by monstro (41 comments total)
 
From the article: None of the actors or puppeteers who portray the familiar characters of "Sesame Street" were affected.

Was this a test to see if anyone actually reads articles before spouting opinions?
posted by ericost at 8:47 AM on May 28, 2001


I wouldn't worry about a complete collapse so much as a change in philosophy. They just shelled out $180 million to regain licensing rights for Elmo, Big Bird, & Co. Now comes a bit of belt-tightening. Don't be surprised to see the educational value of the show decline in favor of a stronger push to promote toys. Hopefully, that's just my inner Oscar talking.
posted by gimli at 9:02 AM on May 28, 2001


Dude, it was a joke.
posted by monstro at 9:09 AM on May 28, 2001


I was tight with Big Bird's niece when I was in fifth grade. Back then it was pretty much the coolest kid cred you could have to be related to anyone on Sesame Street. I am glad that Carol Spinney is still employed. Please be more careful in your posts.
posted by jessamyn at 9:13 AM on May 28, 2001


Thank God they didnt fire Bigbird. The only thing I'm afraid of is that they are keeping him around in case times get a little more lean and they need to eat his succulent bird flesh.
posted by Doug at 9:14 AM on May 28, 2001


Uh, you're complaining about the headline "Big bird, fired" when the actual article's headline was "MASSACRE ON SESAME STREET"? Zany.
posted by frenetic at 9:19 AM on May 28, 2001


Shouldn't they get rid of Snuffleluffagus (sp.) first? I mean that guy is never around when you need him...
posted by machaus at 9:26 AM on May 28, 2001


You mean those animal creatures are not real but are human beings playing dress ups? Another belief shattered.
posted by Postroad at 9:26 AM on May 28, 2001


From Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, on the previous firings at Sesame Street:

Sesame Street Workshop announced this week that they are laying off 60 workers. At a brief press conference, a spokesman for the company stated, "Sixty! 65 workers! Ah ah ah ah! Ah ah ah ah!" News of the firings was brought to the employees by the letters "F" and "U".
posted by jameschandler at 9:26 AM on May 28, 2001


Was this a test to see if anyone actually reads articles before spouting opinions?

Eric, my gut tells me that we might be greatly depressed by the results of such a test. I'd rather go on being blissfully unaware.
posted by gimli at 9:29 AM on May 28, 2001


CTW can afford to loose people. They have an association with Boston College's School of Education, they can get all the free interns they want.
posted by crackheadmatt at 9:52 AM on May 28, 2001


>> Please be more careful in your posts.

Oh, come on. Had it required an Evan Chan-esque level of commitment, rather than a simple click of the mouse, in order to find out whether or not the big yellow's feathers had actually been sent flying, I might be a little more willing to accept the knuckle-rap. But engaging in a bit of hyperbole to make light of a sad little sign of the times, in an environment that (not to knock MeFi, Brill's Content, or any moonlighting and/or slumming journalist types, since what we're doing here is actually a lot more important, or at the very least certainly a lot more interesting) isn't exactly a bastion of reportorial integrity, doesn't really strike me as the sort of thing over which anyone but a certain green trash can dweller needs to wax critical.

Still, I feel bad now. So in the future, please try and take pretty much everything I say with at least a Kayceeian pixel of salt; and once Matt implements some bozo filter technology, I highly recommend you make me one of the first to fade to blue, since irony and sarcasm make up the bulk of my textual arsenal. That and a tendency to misplace parentheticals.

Also, Saturday Night Live has been really funny ever since Tina Fey took over as head writer. And Sesame Street hasn't been nearly as fun since everybody else got to meet Snuffleufagus. Seriously.
posted by monstro at 10:08 AM on May 28, 2001


Saturday Night Live has been really sexy since Tina Fey took over.
posted by anildash at 10:27 AM on May 28, 2001


RE: SNL -- it still sucks that Molly Shannon left, though...

And double the suckage for "Sesame Street" people who got fired.

My husband and I had been wondering what was up with their licensing. We buy, on a regular basis, these fruit juices called "Grover Grape" and "Elmo Berry," and *constantly* see other Sesame Street-related items in our supermarket.

First time we saw them, we were like, "Uh....we thought they were nonprofit?!"

Actually, though, the same could be said for all of public television -- but I know they've got to make money somehow, and the pledge drives aren't always effective.
posted by metrocake at 10:36 AM on May 28, 2001


CTW has taken a ton of criticism about their product licensing from almost the very beginning. The justification always was that "not-for-profit" doesn't mean that they don't need to bring in revenue. Producing a TV show costs a lot of money. I mean, come on, $180M to re-license the Muppets is a lot of dough. I'm a bit surprised to learn that CTW/Sesame Workshop didn't have some sort of special deal with HA! years ago (or maybe they did and it went away after Jim Henson died).
posted by briank at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2001


briank, you've hit the nail on the head. the interesting story here is the one the article doesn't address. how in the heck did they ever loose the rights to these characters in the first place.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:54 AM on May 28, 2001


Uh, it SAID in the article. They sold them to a German media conglomerate, which then fell on hard times and was presumably unable to keep up with its payments. (Rights licensing tends to be on the basis of multi-year contracts with annual levels of required payments.) SW had a contract worth N millions, but the German company could only pay Y% of N. So SW repurchased the contract presumably for a fraction of what they were paid for it up to now.

They still own the rights, it is just a licensing arrangement. It's like Michael Jackson owning the publishing rights to the Beatles songs.
posted by dhartung at 12:41 PM on May 28, 2001


I'm suprised it takes 350 people to make a show with such a low production quality.
posted by skallas at 2:09 PM on May 28, 2001


Molly Shannon is overrated, Tina Fey is a reason to stay home Saturday nights...
posted by owillis at 2:23 PM on May 28, 2001


SNL -- it still sucks that Molly Shannon left, though...

You mean she's gone? Yay, I can watch again!
posted by Jart at 4:08 PM on May 28, 2001


Hey monstro, don't listen to those chiding Big Bird fanatics.
Keep up the good work.
posted by lagado at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2001


dhartung: I can read.
What I'm getting at is how could they give up the rights to their most valuable asset, why would they put themselves in a position where they would need to buy rights back. It's one thing to license something you own. It's another to give up rights that you later need to purchase back.
posted by Outlawyr at 4:41 PM on May 28, 2001


I'm not sure who owns the rights to Big Bird, Cookie Monster, et al -- whether it's Henson Associates (now known as Jim Henson Company) or Sesame Workshop.

According to the Jim Henson Company site, "In addition to its own television projects, the company continues to create and perform the Muppet characters featured on Sesame Street, which is produced by Sesame Television Workshop." There is no mention on either that site, or the Sesame Workshop site, as to who owns the rights to the above characters.
posted by metrocake at 5:01 PM on May 28, 2001


Shouldn't they get rid of Snuffleluffagus (sp.) first? I mean that guy is never around when you need him...



I hope I'm not the only one who saw the brilliance in machaus' comment...
posted by lizardboy at 5:22 PM on May 28, 2001


I must be the only person in the world that thinks Tina Fey is incredibly, incredibly unfunny. The new Weekend Update with her and fellow uncomedian Jimmy Fallon is just horrid. Even Colin Quinn, as bad as he was, was funnier than this garbage. I guess SNL is entering one of its lame periods - Tina Fey's writing just helps lead the downward spiral. Ugh.
posted by Spirit_VW at 5:39 PM on May 28, 2001


A freaky coincidence: my MP3 of Kermit singing "The Rainbow Connection" came on as I opened this thread.
posted by kindall at 6:16 PM on May 28, 2001


Jessamyn: Please be more careful in your posts

Monstro: take pretty much everything I say with at least a Kayceeian pixel of salt

Me: Kayceeian? Please be more careful when you coin a new term.
posted by jpoulos at 9:10 PM on May 28, 2001


It's a sad day on Sesame Street......
posted by Redgie at 11:23 PM on May 28, 2001


I was big bird for halloween when I was 7.
posted by corpse at 7:13 AM on May 29, 2001


I was tight with Big Bird's niece when I was in fifth grade. Back then it was pretty much the coolest kid cred you could have to be related to anyone on Sesame Street.

Heh, my Mom had a charcoal portrait drawn of her at her wedding by Bob Troh, a.k.a. Bob Dog from Mr. Roger's Neighbourhood. Had we lived in the states when I was a little kid, I would've taken great pride in the fact that my parents were tight with Bob Dog, but then my little brother trumped me - Lady (Betty) Aberlin was his childhood drama teacher.

(Hey, if this could topic drift into the funniness/unfunniness of Tina Fey, I can prattle on about Mr. Roger's Neighbourhood characters. So nyah!)
posted by Dreama at 9:11 AM on May 29, 2001


No, this is a sad day on Sesame Street.

What do you want to bet this news spurs a new round of the "PBS is in jeopardy" e-mail petition?
posted by bradlands at 9:11 AM on May 29, 2001


Would you have prefered "Kayceean?" :)
posted by monstro at 11:42 AM on May 29, 2001


Actually, Big Bird is dead.
posted by swell at 1:59 PM on May 29, 2001


OK....it took me a minute to realize that that gun story wasn't real....that would sadden me.....

Redgie
posted by Redgie at 6:16 PM on May 29, 2001


Of course, for me, SNL is just now getting out of one of it's dry spells. Makes the days of Meyers/Farley/Hartman/Sandler seem so long ago...
posted by owillis at 6:19 PM on May 29, 2001


If you think Farley and Sandler constituted *good* days on SNL...wow. Words fail me. Or things are *really* bad now.

(Oh, and Redgie? You don't have to sign your posts. Look around. Nobody else does, see?)
posted by rodii at 9:20 PM on May 29, 2001


I know I don't HAVE to sign my posts.

I just do it anyway.

Redgie

P.S. And heaven forbid I do something just because "everyone else" does. If everyone else swallowed glass shards, I doubt I would be doing the same. Thanks anyway for the thought.

P.P.S. I saw that Big Bird picture. Kinda funny, in a sick, twisted way.......
posted by Redgie at 2:42 AM on May 30, 2001


Hey, at least she stopped signing everything "Hasta luego". Now if she'd just cut the noise level.
posted by jpoulos at 6:53 AM on May 30, 2001


It's cool, Redgie. I mean, as an analogy, heaven forbid you stop wearing chaps just because "everyone else" is wearing pants.
posted by rodii at 10:45 AM on May 31, 2001


Now if she'd just cut the noise level.

MetaTalk
posted by Avogadro at 10:59 AM on May 31, 2001


Uh oh, John. It's the principal's office for you!
posted by rodii at 11:25 AM on May 31, 2001


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