Sesame Workshop examines possible unlicensed North Korean knock-off toys

Sesame Workshop voiced concern Wednesday after a North Korean government-owned trade publication highlighting a toy company’s apparent offerings came to light that appear to include unlicensed Sesame Street characters. The photos appeared in the latest issue of Foreign Trade of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a quarterly publication highlighting manufacturers of products ranging from plush toys and “Gold Liquor” to “cornhusk shoes.” On page 13 of the publication is a profile of Kyonghung Trading Corp., a 7-year-old manufacturer of plush toys, some bearing the likenesses of Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Elmo. In an email to Voice of America, which ran the story, Sesame Workshop said “we believe the toys pictured are unauthorized." But, on his Twitter feed Thursday, Felix Abt, author of A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom cautioned that the picture did not equal proof the North Korean company was producing illegal knock-offs of Sesame Street characters. “Where is the evidence?

Elmo puppeteer remains on leave; allegations of improper relationship recanted

Following this week’s  media scandal over allegations that were aggressively rebutted and later recanted, award-winning Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash remains on a leave from his role as Elmo, one of the show’s most beloved characters. An accusation that Clash had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy, published online early Nov. 12 by gossip news site TMZ, prompted Clash to request leave so that he could defend his reputation. Sesame Workshop, which looked into the allegations after learning of them in June, granted the leave and issued a statement:

“We . .

Elmo puppeteer on leave after allegation of improper relationship; accuser recants

Puppeteer Kevin Clash, the performer behind Elmo, one of Sesame Street's most beloved characters,  has taken a leave of absence following news reports of an allegation that he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy, according to a statement released today by Sesame Workshop. The accuser recanted Tuesday afternoon (see update, below). The Workshop heard of the allegation in June, when a 23-year-old who claimed to have had a relationship with Clash at the age of 16 first communicated with the company. "We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," the Workshop said in its statement. "We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him.

Sesame Street will re-air hurricane special

Sesame Street will broadcast an edited version of its five-part special on hurricanes on Friday, Nov. 9.  Editors cut the original to eliminate segments on storm preparation, focusing the new version on dealing with the aftermath of a storm, according to Entertainment Weekly. In the original program, first broadcast in 2001, a storm ravaged the iconic neighborhood of Sesame Street, leaving Big Bird's nest in ruins. This is the third airing for the hurricane special. Sesame Street re-ran the entire series in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina assaulted the Gulf Coast.  Last week, during an Oct.

Jerry Nelson, voice of Count von Count on Sesame Street, dies at 78

The man behind Sesame Street’s Count von Count, Jerry Nelson, died Aug. 23 at age 78. Nelson, who worked with Muppets creator Jim Henson early in his career, also played Gobo Fraggle on Fraggle Rock, a Henson TV series from the 1980s. Nelson “imbued all his characters with the same gentle, sweet whimsy and kindness that were a part of his own personality,” said Lisa Henson, c.e.o. of  Jim Henson Co., in a statement. “He joined the Jim Henson Co.

Longtime Sesame Street writer dies

Judy Freudberg, who wrote for Sesame Street for almost 40 years, died June 10 of a brain tumor, according to Hollywood Reporter. She was 63. Freudberg won 17 Emmy Awards for her work on the pubcasting series, and collaborated with Tony Geiss on Sesame Street’s first feature film, Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird (1985), and on two animated movies for executive producer Steven Spielberg: The Land Before Time (1985) and An American Tail (1986). Freudberg joined Sesame Street in 1971, during its third season, as a script typist and began writing for the program four years later.

Miss Provo Meredith Gaufin, center, helps with an art project during a KBYU Kids Club Event. (Photo: Kylea Knecht/BYU)

PubTV tests new approaches for fundraising with kids’ programs

During pledge drives, public television stations routinely ignore one of their biggest audience draws — the daytime PBS Kids block — deeming the meager returns not worth the effort of disrupting the viewing habits of children who watch each day. But ongoing financial challenges at many stations have prompted some to test new approaches for tapping into the strong affinity for the shows.

Alvarado joins CIR, Knight fellows announced, NewsHour hires new managing editor, and more…

Alvarado, a former APM and CPB exec, is joining the Center for Investigative Reporting
The nonprofit news organization announced on May 2 that Alvarado will serve as chief strategy officer and work to expand membership, engage diverse audiences and increase revenue for the San Francisco–based center, the nation’s oldest nonprofit investigative reporting organization. Alvarado also will take a leadership role in the center’s upcoming Knight Foundation–funded YouTube investigative channel. Alvarado departed in March from American Public Media, where he served as senior v.p. for digital innovation for two years. In 2009, he led efforts to bring more diversity and digital innovation to public media as a CPB senior v.p.

“When I joined the board of CIR last year,” Alvarado said in a statement, “I said that CIR exemplifies a truly networked newsroom with some of the most talented reporters and producers working today. It’s still true — and even more so with the merger with the Bay Citizen,” the local nonprofit online news hub.