Recent news that Sesame Street was parting ways with longtime cast members was all a misunderstanding, said Sesame Workshop CEO Jeff Dunn on Tuesday in a message posted on Facebook.
“We apologize for the misunderstandings around the changing cast roles at Sesame Street,” Dunn wrote. “Over more than 40 seasons, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman have made enormous contributions to both television and to the lives of preschoolers. They are, and always will be, a key part of the Sesame family.”
Just last week, the Inquisitr reported that McGrath had made statements at Florida Supercon that he and Delgado and Orman had all been let go from Sesame Street.
“They let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka — who is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us — and Chris Knowings, who is also young,” McGrath said to the Muppet Cast podcast.
McGrath had attributed the change as part of the show’s new partnership with HBO, which included cutting the hour-long showdown to 30 minutes. However, PBS Chief Executive Paula Kerger laid that rumor to rest soon after.
“As you know, Sesame Street is produced by Sesame Workshop, which is an independent production company, and the casting decision was made by them,” Kerger said. “We did not know about it beforehand. We found out about it after.”
— Holly Robinson Peete (@hollyrpeete) August 4, 2016
With all of the finger-pointing, Dunn has tried to clear the air. The rest of his Facebook statement continues to say that though the three actors will not be featured during the current season, they have not been replaced.
“As always, our curriculum and educational goals drive our story lines and character appearances. These change season-to-season. In 2014, when we first began producing the current half-hour show format, we let all of our cast members know of the shorter story lines and, therefore, reduced appearances. However, our production team also intentionally left the door open for all actors to continue to appear, based on the story lines that were written in any future season. In our latest season, the story lines written did not include appearances by these three actors and we certainly could have done a better job of communicating with them about our ongoing episode plans.
“I have been in touch with each of them to meet in person about how we best adapt their talents to the current content needs and preschool media landscape, in a way that honors their historic contributions. We are very grateful for the many loyal fans of Sesame who continue to care so deeply about the show and what it means to them.”
Sesame Street first premiered on November 10, 1969. The original cast of “human” characters included Will Lee (Mr. Hooper, a storekeeper), Bob McGrath (Bob, a music teacher) and Loretta Long (Susan, a nurse). Roscoe Orman who plays Gordon, Susan’s husband, is actually the third actor to play the role and didn’t join Sesame Street until 1974. The first Gordon was played by Matt Robinson from 1969 to 1972. Hal Miller played Gordon from 1972 to 1974. Emilio Delgado, who plays Luis Rodriguez, a repairman, joined the show in 1971. His character is married to Maria (Sonia Manzano) who also started in 1971, but left the show last year.
‘Sesame Street’ CEO apologizes for ‘misunderstandings’ about cast changes: https://t.co/CeOFZqiaV4 pic.twitter.com/TX9bqMUjgZ
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 4, 2016
Variety also reports that it is not only the human character roles that have been cut down. Many of the beloved Muppets are making fewer appearances on the show as well. The only characters that you are guaranteed to see on every episode of Sesame Street this season are Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby.
[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images]