Street to air hurricane special Friday November 9
of Sesame Workshop November
On Friday a
devastating hurricane will rip through Sesame Street, destroying
Big Bird’s nest and leaving his
entire neighborhood in chaos.
this isn’t the first time Big Bird has
faced a superstorm. The disaster-themed Sesame Street episode that
will play later this week is actually a condensed, edited version
of a five-part Sesame series that first aired in 2001.
played out over five days and told the story of everybody on the
street getting ready for a hurricane, and then ultimately recovering
from a hurricane,” Sesame Street supervising producer Nadine
Zylstra explained. Originally, the hurricane
series wasn’t inspired by any specific event — “It
was designed to stand alone as a piece,” says Zylstra.
In 2005, Sesame
Street re-aired the series in its entirety weeks after Hurricane
Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. And last week,
the show’s producers decided to trot it out once more in
the wake of Hurricane Sandy, albeit with a few twists.“When
the show had originally been written, it wasn’t intended
to go after a devastating disaster. It was intended to maybe be
used as a tool for people to prepare for a storm,” Zylstra
this latest airing, the show’s team excised the portion
about hurricane preparation and edited the hour so that it focuses
on Big Bird’s loss — his nest is ruined, and after
it’s been repaired, he returns home only to find that the
nest still isn’t safe for habitation. (A city nest inspector
tells Big Bird that its mud isn’t dry yet.) The show’s
new opening and transitions have also been incorporated. The result
is a powerful hour that will resonate with anyone suffering a loss
caused by Sandy — or another natural disaster.
special together on short notice — and in a
largely power-less New York City — wasn’t easy. The
show’s tapes were stranded in a storage facility in Long
Island City, Queens; its lead editor was trapped in Hoboken, one
of New Jersey’s hardest-hit cities; its assistant editor
was hit by a car while riding a bike from her home in Brooklyn
to Sesame Street‘s offices in Manhattan. Still, the team
managed to pull together and create something to be proud of. “Nobody
even blinked an eye,” Zylstra recalls. “If you said, ‘Sorry,
we need you to come over from Hoboken, and we know you’ve
got no power at home, and we know you have to climb over sandbags
to get out of your house…”
Oh, and that
assistant editor? After getting treatment for her fractured wrist, “she was here the next day, saying, ‘Okay,
I’m ready. I can digitize with my other hand.’”
local listings to find out when you can watch Sesame‘s
hurricane special on TV. The original five-part series is also
on a subsection of Sesame Street‘s website, sesamestreet.org/hurricane.
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