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Your Thoughts: Sesame Street 40 Years Hardcover Book

theprawncracker

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I bought this book saturday night and everytime I go to look at it I can't quit looking. It is an awesome book! I wish they can make book awards, this book definately deserves an award! I cannot wait to get my hands on the dvd. I hope I don't have to order it because I don't have a credit card. I hope I can just go to the store and go pick it up. Will you please send me a list of where I can go pick it up.
Thank you,
boostboy
I'm fairly certain you'll be able to get the DVD at most of the big-name chain stores... Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target. I don't know why they wouldn't have it.
 

BEAR

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Unfortunately I'll have to wait to get these new items for my collection. Luckily my birthday is in about a month, and then Christmas! I am really looking forward to it. I already skimmed through a few pages of the book when I saw it at a bookstore near my work. It looks great!
 

dwmckim

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My B&N got them in today and even though i basically had to sacrifice food money for the week, i picked it up. I'm really resisting the temptation to flip ahead and skim photos - i want each and every page to be a new surprise upon coming to it!

I'm about 85 pages in and here's some random thoughts so far.

As mentioned in other reviews, what looks like a photoshop mess on a computer screen looks heartbreakingly beautiful on the cover - but the montage does strongly highlight the contrast between a photo taken with a real Muppet with a hand in it and a relatively lifeless shot done with a poser.

Man o man - this totally seems like the keys to the kingdom. Gikow stated she wanted readers to feel like they learned how to get to Sesame Street and i do - i do!

Some of the advance reviews gave the impression that the behind the scenes bits that start each chapter would be glimpses of season 40 but i'm glad that they actually are from earlier too as i like reading about what went into episodes i've seen first.

YIPPEE SKIPPEE - this may be my FAVORITE thing in the whole book - SCRIPT PAGES THROUGHOUT (I collect scripts) including from the first episode - really cool to see how much was actually left for improvisation - no real "preplanned lines" until Big Bird says about Sally "She's eight feet tall!"

Oh dear. Despite how wonderfully thorough and carefully put together the book is, it's not without error - on page 41 there's a double-whopper. They tell the story of how Cookie started and they do describe how it was actually a different puppet that first triggered the idea but instead of showing a picture of Beautiful Day Monster, they show a pre-SST photo of Cookie Monster...AND identify the photo as being from Jim Henson's non-Muppet film Time Piece. Eep. (BD Monster can be seen partially blocked by Jon Stone's hand in a small photo on page 25)

Once again, Frank drops the F-bomb, here replaced with asterisks. I propose that SST could get a hefty amount of additional funding by starting a "swear jar" everytime Frank Oz drops the F bomb in interviews or panel discussions talking about Sesame Street - the money that would end up in that jar could be used to build another Bruno!

Wow - they actually addresses the "are B&E gay" question in an officially liscensed product!

Okay - major question about segment numbering which i'll devote a different thread to.

Jaw dropping surprise - Jerry Nelson had to workshop for his part joining the Sesame cast in season two with hundreds of others. By now, after the amount of work he had done with the Muppets (most recently at that time on Hey Cinderella) i would have thought that he was already a major part of the team, basically considered "the third main Muppeteer" and that his joining the cast would have been a given! But instead he was put through the same process as a fresh-off-the-street newbie.

I love how Joey Mazzarino says the EXACT same thing about Chris Knowings that i thought after a few episodes - that he comes across like a modern day Northern Calloway in terms of talent and screen presence.

Speaking of Joey, NIIICE photo of him on page 64!

Page 83 - very nice! Good that just about all the human cast members got their due recognition.

More thoughts i'm sure i'll have as i get more into it.
 

Oscarfan

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A large package arrived today from Amazon for my mom, which kind of looks like it's a big book. Here's hoping it's this for me!
 

dwmckim

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Am now up to page 165. Just have to re-iterate how much i love how they give just about every puppeteer from Sesame over the years their due recognition - including the right-handers (although a few "leftover" Muppeteers who in all honesty were far more than right-handers who don't get a page of their own are pretty much lumped in here.) Fought back a tear when i read how Carmen Osbahr, who was struggling to learn English when she got a chance to work on American Sesame, would go nuts when everyone else would improv because she couldn't respond.

One of the standout sections (to me at least) is the segment called "A New Generation" on pages 130-131 concerning the recasting of the larger more iconic characters. Overall it's well written; each word perfectly chosen - i sense a lot of particular care was afforded to the writing of this section given how its a sensitive emotional issue to the book's primary audience. This is the first time i think i've read/heard Frank talking about the recasting of his characters. I love the following sentence: "These transitions, the source of intense adult-fan scrutiny, appeared undetectable to the preschoolers watching the show." Given the lead time in publishing, that was probably written prior to the recent Kismet the Toad controversy! The only misstep was another of the book's rare errors - it cites the Bert and Ernie Fish Call sketch ("here fishy fishy fishy") as Steve's first Ernie sketch though that one was a classic Jim sketch recorded at latest in 1982. Gikow confused that sketch with a new Ernie & Bert fishing sketch (the one that ended with Bert catching a note reading "what happened to your friend?")

Am loving all these photos of the Muppeteers - and a lot of you know how i think David Rudman is my biggest crush among Team Muppet but yikes - what was the deal with his "white afro" haircut on page 126? Don't get me wrong - he's as heart-stopping gorgeous as ever but i'm thinkin' you could quietly slip a crop of him from that pic into the picture frame on Don Music's piano and he wouldn't notice a difference!
 

minor muppetz

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This is the first time i think i've read/heard Frank talking about the recasting of his characters. I love the following sentence: "These transitions, the source of intense adult-fan scrutiny, appeared undetectable to the preschoolers watching the show."
I have noticed lately that performers rarely comment on recasts, unless they are the ones who have taken over and they comment on their own performances of the recasts (and it's mainly Steve Whitmire who has commented on his portrayals of who he's been recast as). Caroll Spinney never mentioned Matt Vogel in his autobiography and hardly in any interviews I've seen, and I've thought it'd be interesting to hear how Frank Oz feels about Steve Whitmire's performances of Kermit and Ernie. But I guess to the performers this could be a personal subject that they don't want to comment on publicly.
 

MrTheFrog

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I have noticed lately that performers rarely comment on recasts, unless they are the ones who have taken over and they comment on their own performances of the recasts (and it's mainly Steve Whitmire who has commented on his portrayals of who he's been recast as). Caroll Spinney never mentioned Matt Vogel in his autobiography and hardly in any interviews I've seen, and I've thought it'd be interesting to hear how Frank Oz feels about Steve Whitmire's performances of Kermit and Ernie. But I guess to the performers this could be a personal subject that they don't want to comment on publicly.
Recasts and understudies are always a sensitive subject. They occur for many reasons, whether it be a death, a physical ailment, contractual issues, or even in some cases a puppeteer's disinterest in a given character (eg: Richard Hunt w/ Elmo). Being that the puppeteer involved is often filling very big shoes, the other Muppeteers often form a wall of support around them, to let them know that everyone is behind them. Part of that is not discussing it publicly. They also realize that the parent company hasn't taken the decisions of a recast or an understudy lightly. There's a lot of thought put into it, and alot of discussion and training involved. All of the major characters in both the Muppets and Sesame Street have understudies. It's only when they're called upon that we find out they exist. It was something Jim believed in, and was beginning to put into effect before his passing.

BTW, I got my copy of the book today and it's incredible. I give the author a lot of credit for giving recognition to the "right handers." It's the first major Henson publication to do so.

-Artie
 

dwmckim

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Thanks for piping in and sharing about that. It says (and means) a lot!
 
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My copy arrived the other day and I'm absolutely loving it. The pictures are beautiful, it's presented wonderfully and with some really interesting nuggets of info and snippets of interviews. In fact, that could be one of my only real downsides - some of the information is so interesting, it has me itching for far more on some subjects that are just covered in a few lines. Wanting more from a book this huge and with so much content could hardly be considered a genuine down side though.

The subjects seem to be treated with such love and it's great to see some of the now-departed members like Nothern Calloway and Will Lee get perfect tributes in here. They'll never be forgotten by anyone who grew up with Sesame Street.

And I love that some totally (relatively) new elements also got coverage, like Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures. They may not carry the nostagia that the classic stuff does (and, in the case of Bert and Ernie, I'm always looking out for a mention of Bert's cosmetic surgery disaster that resulted in the permanently happy look), but they have earned their place in Sesame Street history and deserve their place here.

Though, with that in mind, given the domination of Elmo, there is surprisingly little of him in this book. Not that I'm complaining, although in book form his screeching wouldn't be an issue. But I expected more of him.

I do agree with the review here on Muppet Central about the placement of the set stories. I find they make the order of the book seem entirely random and break it up needlessly. Stories of what happened on set in the relevant era would have been better or, as suggested in the review, giving them their own chapter.

Overall, though, a beautiful book and one that I'll treasure.
 
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