Sesame Street, the world's largest informal children's educator, celebrates its 40th birthday on November 10, 2009, the exact day the series debuted on television four decades ago, with everything you love about Sesame Street and more: new block format, new show open, new nature curriculum and our new First Lady Michelle Obama! Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the 2008 Tony Award winning musical In The Heights will also guest on the series opener!
While maintaining an emphasis on the importance of literacy and numeracy, the new season kicks-off "My World is Green & Growing," a two-year science initiative designed to increase positive attitudes towards nature, deepen children's knowledge about the natural world and encourage behavior that shows respect and care for the environment. First Lady Michelle Obama appears in the first episode of Sesame Street's 40th season and teaches "the street's" residents about the many benefits of planting a garden and healthy eating as part of Sesame Street's ongoing "Healthy Habits for Life" initiative.
Surrounded by children and preparing to plant tomato, cucumber and lettuce seeds, Mrs. Obama explains, "All these seeds need to grow are sun, soil and water. If you eat these healthy foods, you're going to grow up to be big and strong, like me." Mrs. Obama continues, "I know you're going to like these vegetables, because in addition to being healthy, they really taste great!"
"It is truly an honor to have Mrs. Obama join us in our premiere show on this landmark 40th anniversary season," said Carol-Lynn Parente, Executive Producer of Sesame Street. "I feel extremely privileged to produce the gold standard of children's television, serving up our well-known favorite characters and parodies, while striving to create innovative stories and formats using the latest technologies. This is what keeps the show fresh, exciting and relevant to the needs of today's children."
Original songs, storylines and animations such as "Murray had a Little Lamb," "Word on the Street" and "Elmo's World" will continue to stimulate the preschool viewers' awareness and excitement about the environment. Additionally, new words will be introduced at the beginning of each episode by Murray as he interacts with people on the street. In a series of 26 hilarious celebrity segments, words such as "habitat," "metamorphosis," "camouflage," "hibernate" and "garden" are introduced to enhance vocabulary and further highlight the wonders of nature.
"Research shows that introducing young children to the natural world is the first step towards helping them develop a caring attitude towards the environment," comments Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, Vice President of Education and Research, Sesame Workshop. "Environmental education for preschoolers, through the lens of exploration, provides children with the opportunity to feel a part of nature as they discover and make connections about the natural world around them."
With over 21 million minutes (and counting) since Count von Count's first "ah ah ah," the groundbreaking children's program that began as an experiment has evolved and continues to grow with children and their changing needs. As preschoolers today have different viewing habits, the 40th season has been reformatted to resemble a typical broadcasting block. Murray the Monster MuppetTM hosts each episode from different locations linking four longer segments with fun-filled interstitials throughout the hour. The block format begins and ends with a brand new show open and close, integrating colorful chalk-art animation with the MuppetsTM of Sesame Street, set to the re-versioned classic "Sunny Days."
This season, the "new" continues with the introduction of "Abby's Flying Fairy School," marking the first time a Sesame Street character has been transformed into CGI animation. The original segment, featuring the beloved fairy-in-training with a new 3-D look, has characters created by Peter De Séve, the designer for the film Ice Age. Each segment, which models preschoolers working together to solve problems using critical thinking skills, follows Abby Cadabby with an eclectic gang of new friends - fairies, trolls and a gerbilcorn called Niblet - as they attend Fairy School with Ms. Sparklenose. Together, Abby and her friends, Blögg and Gonnigan, learn that it takes rhyming, twinkle thinking and a helping hand (or wand) from viewers at home to resolve dilemmas. Abby's adventures continue online at www.sesameworkshop.org where preschoolers may engage in telling a story, making choices as it unfolds and using their mouse as a magic wand.
As always, Sesame Street remains the "must do" for celebrities and icons. Parents and caregivers are sure to laugh alongside their children, as the new season features: NBA MVP Kobe Bryant; actors Greg Kinnear, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Cameron Diaz, Hugh Jackman, Debra Messing, Eva Longoria, Adrian Grenier, Julianna Marguiles, Judah Freidlander, Sarah Jessica Parker, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon, Jenny Garth, Paul Rudd, Ricky Gervais, Patricia Arquette, Brendan Fraser, Matthew Fox, Christina Applegate, Debi Mazar and Cedric the Entertainer; The View co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck; Grammy Award winner Ziggy Marley; Grammy Award nominee Jason Mraz; NASCAR superstar Jeff Gordon; NFL Star and Today Show correspondent Tiki Barber; Today Show co-host Meredith Vieira; Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda; and Access Hollywood host Nancy O'Dell.
The fun doesn't stop with the new season's launch! More firsts on this memorable date include the launch of a commemorative DVD release marking four decades of the landmark show, Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days. The two-disc compilation features fan favorites including classic stories, songs, monsters and celebrity segments! Additionally, a new, comprehensive, fully-illustrated behind-the-scenes, coffee-table book, A Celebration: 40 Years of Life on the Street (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers), becomes available for nostalgic adults to look back at 40 years of the people, puppets, songs and scripts of Sesame Street.