United States – The iconic TV show Sesame Street has curbed its human cast after HBO bought it.
Bob McGrath (known as “Bob” on the show), Roscoe Orman (known as “Gordon”) and Emilio Delgado (known as “Luis”) have denounced they were fired after the show was taken over to HBO, the premium cable network.
McGrath, aged 84, was a part of the show since it began in 1969. This means he spent forty-five seasons being an integral component of the childhood of various generations.
He also sang Sesame Street’s most cherished tunes, including “People in Your Neighborhood” and used to be a famous singer in Japan.
Orman, aged 72, replaced the second Gordon in 1974. He was also the Robinson, family patriarch. Delgado, aged 76, joined the cast a decade after McGrath, in 1979, as Luis the Handyman.
The three actors stated the show had changed tremendously, reducing its episode time from an hour to thirty minutes.
With the dismissal of the artists, the show does not have any of its original cast members left, except Alan Muraoka (known as “Adam”) and Chris Knowings (known as “Chris”)
The Sesame Street executive crew defended itself by releasing a statement on Twitter.
“We are constantly evolving our content and curriculum, and hence, our characters, to meet the educational needs of children […] as a result of this, our cast has changed over the years, though you can still expect to see many of them in upcoming productions,” part of the statement explained.
The HBO deal
In the last couple of years, the Sesame Workshop organization has operated at a loss. In 2014 the losses were as high as 11 million dollars.
HBO offered the franchise a second chance and the directive accepted, signing a five-season deal on August 13, 2015.
This is seen as a strategy from HBO, with the objective of giving the premium channel a foothold in children’s TV space.
After all, the channel is mainly known because of its gruesome and often depicting nudity series, such as The Sopranos and Game of Thrones.
Sesame Workshop also gets benefits, like the capacity of delivering twice as much content per season, and new series, including a Muppets spinoff.
Sesame Workshop CEO Jeff Dunn admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that without HBO’s funding the show most certainly would have been canceled.
However, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) will retain its rights to air the show, with the condition that it does so nine months after they run on HBO for the first time.
The show used to sustain itself with DVD and merchandising sales, but with the rise of video streaming services, the sales have gone to the floor.
The merchandise, which is licensed to big companies like Hasbro or Fisher-Price, has also declined on sales. In 2013 the sales were estimated at 46 million dollars, and in a twelve-month period, they dropped five million, a significant loss.
Gary Knell, Sesame Workshop’s former CEO, stated the problem is that children are not pleased with traditional toys anymore, preferring technology and interactive platforms.
Source: Hollywood Reporter