Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

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Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Snowth Poogle on Mon Oct 17, 2016 3:18 pm

So, despite having recently returned to writing for ARTHUR as of Season 18, it would appear that now Ken Scarborough has moved on to another long-running, and established educational show: SESAME STREET. And, as their new head writer, to boot!

http://www.sesameworkshop.org/season47/behind-the-scenes/production-bios/ken-scarborough/

So, here's what happened: SESAME STREET has been going through a very troubling and rocky road these past few years. As of its current, 46th season, Sesame Workshop (the production company behind the show) has a new CEO who used to work for Viacom (which we all know is one of the most notorious, devil-worshipping international media conglomerates out there), as well as many new staffers - all of whom have been taking a much more corporate approach to handling the show. SESAME STREET has always been an experimental show, and while it's always had extensive research gone into it regarding its educational value, the show itself in terms of writing and characters has always been handled in an artistic way . . . but not anymore. Now that SESAME STREET is handled with a more corporate approach, several changes have been ordered to ensure it still continues to stand out among the sea of competitive educational shows out there (like DORA THE EXPLORER, and such). Among these changes: the show has been shortened to a half-hour instead of an hour; the street itself has been gentrified to look more eco and community friendly (though Hooper's Store now looks more like it did back in the 70s, as it's been more of a modern convenience store for the last several years); they will be doing away with parodies and spoofs (because kids don't understand them) as well as celebrity guests (because kids don't know who they are) but the biggest hit the show took was scaling back on characters - both human and Muppet (because other educational kids shows have small casts). The Muppets have been reduced to what they're calling a "core six" cast consisting of Big Bird, Oscar, Elmo, Abby, Grover, and Cookie Monster; meanwhile, almost all of the older human cast members have been let go (Gordon, Susan, Bob, Gina, and others). These changes did not sit well with Joey Mazzarino - he's been both a writer and performer for SESAME STREET (and also formerly the Classic Muppets) for over twenty-five years, and had moved up in the ranks to head writer by Season 40 in 2009. Apparently, Joey had been fighting against these changes imposed by Sesame Workshop's new staff for quite some time, but it had become clear to him that he was losing the battle; because of this, Joey quit the show altogether (as writer and performer), on the grounds that he couldn't save the very heart and soul of what the show was.

So, looks like now, Ken Scarborough is SESAME STREET's new head writer as a result. This should be interesting.

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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Count Dracula on Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:00 am

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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by CMSAB11 on Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:30 pm

Season 47...holy shit. I wonder if Arthur will make it that long. Shocked
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by ZeGermanArthurFan on Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:36 pm

Well, for comparison, Alarm for Cobra 11 (action series that is very popular here in Germany) is now at its 40th season despite also having started in 1996, though in March, not in September.
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by A Lotta Moms on Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:59 am

On the upside (for Arthur, at least), it's heartening that PBS has a way of extending their shows a lot longer than most private networks.  

On the downside, it really sounds like Sesame Street has been going downhill in recent years.  I haven't watched it since I was a little kid, but it was my go-to show during my formative years.  As such, it'll always hold a special place in my heart.  Its experimental nature was what really made it such a great experience for young children, opening their minds up to such a wide variety of things and in such a variety of creative ways.  The trippy animation sequences are still captivating, even as an adult:



It sounds like every single "corporate" change they've been making is just stripping all those magical factors from the show.  Shorter, safer, dumbed down...and no more celebrity guests?  That's horrible.  The idea wasn't to have celebrity guests who young children would necessarily be able to identify so much as it was to introduce them to unique and interesting artists, musicians, actors, hell...even Ralph Nader at one point.  I remember having no clue as to who Philip Glass was when I was a kid, until I encountered this:



It really helped foster an early interest in the avant garde, and had Sesame Street not included his work as a behind-the-scenes celebrity composer, I doubt I'd have discovered him early enough to be an enculturating force in my early life.  Regarding scaling back the human and muppet cast...I'm speechless.  I know that some of the lifers like Bob, Gorden, Maria, etc. are getting up there in years, but dammit, they were practically the heart and soul of the show.  I could see some of them voluntarily retiring, but to be fired for rubbish reasons like this?  I'm guessing that the "core six" muppet concept means no more mainstays like Bert n' Ernie, The Count (at least he found his way back to the Slums), the Two-Headed Monster, or any of the others outside of that small group.  Imagine Arthur without any of its secondary characters.  No Molly, no Marina, no Bitzi...would it even be worth watching, anymore?  

Again, while I haven't really watched the show in ages, I can't help but feel like a part of my childhood's being unmercifully savaged.  It's just a shame, because it's yet another great experience that young kids these days will be missing out on.  Hopefully, Ken Scarborough's influence will help cut some of the losses and at least add some sort of positive element in wake of the damage.
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by _Glaceon_VI on Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:56 am

Anime Ken Scarborough Sensei:

Writer of Arthur & Sesame Street~!
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by ZeGermanArthurFan on Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:16 am

Where do you find these anime versions??
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Count Dracula on Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:49 am

ZeGermanArthurFan wrote:Where do you find these anime versions??
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Snowth Poogle on Wed Oct 19, 2016 11:50 am

ZeGermanArthurFan wrote:Well, for comparison, Alarm for Cobra 11 (action series that is very popular here in Germany) is now at its 40th season despite also having started in 1996, though in March, not in September.
Don't most European shows have incredibly short seasons that usually range from 6-8 episodes? And don't some of them air two seasons a year because of it. Not so much in the U.S. ARTHUR aside, most U.S. TV seasons range anywhere from 13 to 24 episodes, and the seasons usually run from fall to spring.

A Lotta Moms wrote:Shorter, safer, dumbed down...and no more celebrity guests?  That's horrible.  The idea wasn't to have celebrity guests who young children would necessarily be able to identify so much as it was to introduce them to unique and interesting artists, musicians, actors, hell...even Ralph Nader at one point.
They make a lot of the changes based on what their market research turns up, and unfortunately, the axing of celebrity guests is reflecting a shift in viewing habits: back in the beginning, bringing in celebrities was a way of getting parents to watch the show with their kids, because they knew kids would respond if they see their parents are watching with them, hence why we also had parodies, spoofs, and occasional grown-up humor to keep parents entertained as well. Unfortunately, in this day and age of streaming and digital media, research is showing that parents aren't watching with their kids anymore, and since kids don't understand parodies/spoofs and/or don't know who the celebrities are, that's why they're getting the boot.
A Lotta Moms wrote:I know that some of the lifers like Bob, Gorden, Maria, etc. are getting up there in years, but dammit, they were practically the heart and soul of the show.  I could see some of them voluntarily retiring, but to be fired for rubbish reasons like this?
Maria actually retired last year of her own volition, however, I've been suspicious about this for a while, because no sooner did she retire, then they brought in a new, much younger Latina human to sort of fill her place, which leads me to suspect Maria's retirement wasn't entirely of her own volition. Because Hollywood has a tendency to do that with older actors - particularly women.
A Lotta Moms wrote:I'm guessing that the "core six" muppet concept means no more mainstays like Bert n' Ernie, The Count (at least he found his way back to the Slums), the Two-Headed Monster, or any of the others outside of that small group.
The "Core Six" refers to a group of characters they intend to use regularly on the show for the actual stories and plots that take place on the street in any given episode; otherwise, other Muppets will still be around, but more or less as supporting fixtures. The Count's still there (he was recently recast since his original performer, Jerry Nelson, passed away years ago), but he's mostly relegated to their Number of the Day segments. Ernie and Bert are still there, but barely: apparently, research is turning up kids today find them "boring" since their skits tend to be mostly dialogue-based with little action.
A Lotta Moms wrote:It's just a shame, because it's yet another great experience that young kids these days will be missing out on.
It is, but unfortunately, with so many other educational shows competiting for the kids' attention, an ancestral giant like SESAME STREET has to do what it can to stay relevant, and again, many of these changes are based on what little kids have come to expect in these other shows: the reduction of characters reflect how many of these other shows have just a small number of characters; the changes made to the street itself reflect the settings of these other shows being bright, vivid, and colorful to snag kids' attention; shortening the show is for two reasons - one is because kids today have such short attention spans, that they wouldn't be able to sit through an entire hour show (I can attest to this: have you ever been to a movie with a bunch of little kids? They can never sit through an entire movie!), but also because the show is also now available for streaming devices, and a half-hour works better for that format than an hour does.

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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by A Lotta Moms on Wed Oct 19, 2016 8:10 pm

That all really is very unfortunate, and demonstrates the circular nature of the "dumbing downward" spiral.  The audience dumbs down due to a majority of shows pandering to short attention spans and less diverse/enculturating material, so finer shows, in turn, have to respond to that shift in interest.  True that if a show can't at least break even with its production costs over a period of time, it can't exist.  Doing a little research, I had no idea the matter was so serious with Sesame Street, either.  They'd lost over $21 million over the past three years. Shocked  Clearly, the show couldn't sustain itself in its current format.  I suppose the big question will be whether or not it wouldn't have been better to just retire the show completely, or whether there actually will be some saving grace to its new incarnation.  

I really wouldn't be surprised if the older crew members were just sort of volun-told to leave as well, or face the indignity of being involuntarily terminated.  It's pretty commonplace in most industries, especially high-profile ones, since it keeps the company from getting bad press and losing fans, avoids nasty lawsuits, etc.  

It's at least good to know that Bert n' Ernie will still be around, for no other reason than the fact that Bert is evil and always will be.
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Snowth Poogle on Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:31 pm

Well, there's another thing too: SESAME STREET is an HBO show now. That in and of itself was a saving grace for the show, because now that they have financial stability with HBO managing their budget, they now have a cushion to do more things, because much of the show's budget came from PBS funding. That got a lot of people pissed, because as you may or may not know, SESAME STREET was originally intended to reach out to disadvantaged kids of lower-income neighborhoods to help give their early education a boost so they could be at a level closer to that of their other peers that came from middle class homes with books and educated parents. That was one of the main reasons why the setting was an inner city street, so those kids could recognize the street as a locale they're familiar with. Being on HBO now, a lot of people took this as a giant middle finger to the lower-income families who don't have cable, but the thing of it is, SESAME STREET is still on PBS as well, just on a nine-month delay system: HBO will air the new episodes, then PBS get to air them completely for free nine months later. A lot of people have been thinking it's time for SESAME STREET to finally be laid to rest, but I don't really look for that to happen any time soon . . . especially since we're so close to Season 50.

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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by fudgy brown sludge on Thu Oct 20, 2016 8:09 am

Count Dracula wrote:
DOWN IN FRAGGLE ROCK, YEAH!
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by ZeGermanArthurFan on Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:15 am

HBO owns Sesame Street now?! Can't wait for the crossover special with Game of Thrones...
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Francine Frensky on Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:49 am

Sesame Street?  That's SUCH a baby show.
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by ZeGermanArthurFan on Sun Oct 23, 2016 7:00 am

...but not without its charm.
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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Snowth Poogle on Sun Oct 23, 2016 11:14 pm

ZeGermanArthurFan wrote:HBO owns Sesame Street now?!
They don't own SESAME STREET, nothing about the ownership of the show has changed, nor does HBO affect any of the creative and/or business decisions that go into the production of the show -- they just simply finance and air it now, which, as I said before, is actually a good thing, because now the show has financial stability to stay afloat, as opposed to relying almost entirely on funding through PBS.

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Re: Ken Scarborough New Head Writer for SESAME STREET

Post by Kerry9Story on Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:14 am

all elmo an shit
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