1 The Muppet Mindset: Sesame Street at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

Sep 1, 2009

Sesame Street at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards

The Muppet Mindset welcomes fellow Muppet blogger D.W. McKim with his report on Sesame Street's appearances at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards this past Sunday night where they were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for their landmark 40th Season (debuting this November). Big Bird, Elmo, Bob, Gordon, and the gang put on a medley of classic Sesame Street songs and caused other mayhem throughout the night.

By D.W. McKim - I love the Daytime Emmys! Since I’ve never been into sports, I always joke that the Daytime Emmys are my personal version of the Super Bowl - the time of year that I anticipate months beforehand, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors, keeping up with critics' picks and then parking myself in front of the television set during the broadcast with my freshly ordered pizza and cheering on my favorite "teams", screaming at the screen all the while!

The reason I get so into them is because the event combines two of my biggest areas of fandom - Muppets and One Life to Live--as they're both (hopefully!) honored for their recent achievements. While most Muppet fans tune in to see Sesame Street represented, my excitement is doubled as I'm also cheering on my fictional friends from Llanview.

Before the awards themselves, the traditional Pre-Awards Show aired where red-carpet interviews were conducted amidst the typical media spectacle of the arriving nominees and presenters' fashion parade. This was largely done on a split-screen format with interviews occurring on the right-hand side and shots of arriving celebrities viewed on the left. After about 15 minutes, the Muppet performers were shown walking down the red carpet in their evening finery with their Muppet characters on their hands waving and shaking hands with the crowd. Shortly after, Big Bird and Elmo were interviewed together (Big Bird was wearing a "Joan Ganz Cooney" while Elmo was sporting a "Barney - not the dinosaur").

The award show itself began with a comedy bit involving Oscar the Grouch checking tickets and keeping Gordon and Elmo from entering, a positive sign that no matter what else might follow during the next two hours, the evening would be very Muppety! This was followed by an opening number with host Vanessa Williams intercut with video footage of her superimposed Forrest Gump-style interacting with various daytime show personalities including appearing in Big Bird's nest. Between the comedic open and the musical number, the show was off to a strong start and seemed as if it was determined to show that much like its primetime counterpart, this would be an entertaining program with something for everyone.


Unfortunately, after the first drama award was handed out, things went quickly downhill. All of a sudden, it seemed as if someone just realized that between all the stuff they had planned, there wouldn't be enough time to get it all done in two hours so everything became extremely rushed. The rest of the drama awards cut out the standard clips of nominees' work as their names were read and winners were cued to wrap up their acceptance speeches before they could even catch their breath from running up to the stage. Nonetheless the producers plowed ahead with totally unneeded and unnecessary segments such as a fashion display and more musical numbers from Williams to the detriment of announcing winners of the untelevised Creative Arts Awards. Time management wasn't the only area that appeared to suffer from the lack of planning - the voiceovers announcing winners' accomplishments and previous Emmy history made several factual errors throughout the evening. Issues with time plagued the telecast for the rest of the night all the way up to the very end which concluded with a very rushed "The Outstanding Drama Series Emmy goes to the Bold & the Beautiful--congratulations - CREDITS!!"

Thankfully the Sesame Street content wasn't too affected. Besides the Oscar/Gordon/Elmo running gag, the next appearance was the handing out of the Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series award with FOUR of the five nominations coming from Sesame Street (Leslie Carrera-Rudolph as Abby Cadabby, Chris Knowings as Chris Robinson, Martin P. Robinson as Telly Monster and winner Kevin Clash as Elmo). Unlike the drama awards, this category's nominees were granted the courtesy of having clips showing the work they were nominated for shown. Even though it may not have been equally spread among the genres and shows, at least Sesame Street was given much respect throughout the evening.

Finally came the Lifetime Achievement Tribute/Award. Sandra Oh gave the introductory speech holding her "Cookie Fairy" wand from the Season 39 episode she appeared in. A montage of clips followed (an updated version of the timeline from The Street We Live On special). Then, the curtains were drawn and the Sesame Street Theme started playing as Luis, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Zoe, Bob, Elmo (and Dorothy), Chris, Telly Monster, Gordon, Maria, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch sat onstage singing a revisded version of the theme with new lyrics honoring and poking fun at the daytime landscape. Following the theme, Bob led everyone in a new version of "The People in Your Neighborhood" and Elmo prompted everyone to sing along with "Sing" as lyrics were shown on the screens above.

During the entire medley/tribute performance, the entire occupancy of the theater was standing on their feet, grinning ear to ear, singing, and dancing along with the Sesame Street gang. It's truly a testament to how many people Sesame Street has touched and affected when you see Bindi Irwin, Sesame Street's ONLY competition in the Oustanding Actor category, singing and dancing and laughing with Big Bird and Elmo.

Once Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente came up on stage to give the acceptance speech, the Muppeteers came out of "hiding" holding up their characters allowing human cast members, Muppets, and the performers who bring them to life to bask in the glory of their honor. Of course, in typical Muppet fashion, Cookie Monster ate the award before everyone left the stage ("This taste even better than Latin Grammy!") Besides being a hilarious final touch, it was also a very brave performance by David Rudman (who looked incredibly dashing) allowing himself to be fully seen performing Cookie when most people out there think Frank Oz still does the character. Rudman's performance was spot-on perfect though so now half of America probably thinks Frank had an incredible Hollywood makeover!

The tribute was not at all affected by the show's time problems which may have left some viewers who didn't understand or appreciate the importance of the Lifetime Achievement Award going to a groundbreaking children's show that has lasted for four decades and won hundreds of Emmys thinking they were given too much time. But anyone who truly felt this way has an open invite to Oscar's Grouch Celebration After-Party.

As a whole, the ceremony was very uneven and suffered from under-planning and trying too hard to show it's still relevant that they undermined the show's ability to truly demonstrate this. Many viewers were probably left disappointed but Sesame fans had every reason to be fully satisfied. Including the Pre-Show, Sesame related screen time totaled about 18 minutes. Even when they weren't on, their peers in all the other genres often would give them shout outs and mini salutes and I was personally thrilled to see One Life to Live's Susan Haskell (one of my favorites from the show - the lady is an absolute powerhouse!) cheering on Sesame Street throughout the evening and concluding her well-deserved Lead Actress acceptance speech proclaiming how she would do her best to get all the Sesame gang's autographs for her daughter.

Since the Creative Arts Awards were glossed over due to the time problems, here's the final rundown on how well Sesame Street did this year:

Sesame Street was nominated for (but did not win):
- Outstanding Pre-School Children's Show
- Outstanding Original Song - Children's and Animation (three nominations for "The Addition Expedition", "Elmo's Ducks", and "I Don't Wanna Be a Prince")
- Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction
- Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction and Composition
- Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction/Electronic Camera/Video
- Outstanding Writing in a Children's Series

In addition to the aforementioned Lifetime Achievement Award and Kevin Clash's Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series win (along with Carrera-Rudolph's, Knowings', and Robinson's nominations), Sesame Street also won awards for:
- Outstanding Direction in a Children's Series
- Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design/Styling
- New Approaches - Daytime Children's Entertainment

Truly a great appearance and an amazing honor for Sesame Street. The Lifetime Achievement Emmy is one of the most coveted awards in the television industry, and only a select group of people (Caroll Spinney included) have one to their name. Sesame Street truly recieved the honor and recognition it deserves after 40 years of entertaining, teaching, and caring for the world that has allowed it to flourish.


View more pictures from the night on The Muppet Newsflash's TwitPic page!

3 comments:

  1. CONGR-EAT-ULATIONS Cookie and all of the Sesame Street gang, both puppets, ears, and human cast members -- as well as all those crazy behind the scenes people -- for 40 years of splendour and still going strong! We're already looking forward to their 80'th year!

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  2. If you enjoyed this article, you can find a special "extended" version of it that goes into further indepth analysis of how the changing daytime landscape affects the Daytime Emmy broadcast which in turn affects the Muppets' representation on it at http://muppetfreak.blogstream.com - learn why a new rule favors a Kevin Clash win, discover why the awards almost wasn't broadcast at all this year, and learn some neat Muppet trivia!

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  3. Congrats on the Street for it's award!

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