General News

"Sesame Street" sweepin' the clouds away

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Feb 08, 2002 | 2:07pm EST

The most famous street in the world is getting a makeover. Sesame Street, the show that has been making learning fun since 1969, will unveil its new look with the opening of its 33rd season Monday.

Much-loved characters like Elmo, Ernie and Big Bird will not change, and while the street where the air is sweet will remain the same, the way it is presented to young viewers will be significantly different.

When the show was created in the late '60s, its goal was to educate poor children between the ages of 3 and 5 who didn't go to preschool. But Sesame Street's audience has since changed and now primarily consists of more media savvy 2-year-olds.

Michael Loman, the show's executive producer, told the Associated Press that they needed to cater to the younger viewers without lowering the level of challenge involved in the show.

To cater to children's short attention spans, the show is becoming a series of individual stories.The Sesame Street "street story" that used to be visited throughout the hour will now be told in one 10-minute block. Ernie will also get his own segment called Journey to Ernie, a daily installment in which viewers will search for Ernie in a computer-generated world. But there will still be regular points in the show in which a letter and number of the day are featured.

In keeping with the show's tradition of ethnic inclusiveness, the new Sesame Street will introduce viewers to a Spanish word of the day. Eventually, the show may introduce additional languages.

Loman, who has been heading Sesame Street for nine years, told AP that while he was concerned about changing a show that is considered an institution, it was important that they keep up with the times to avoid becoming a relic.

This story was brought to you by the letters "H" and "L," and by the number "3."

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