City celebrates ‘Sesame Street’ 40th anniversary

City celebrates ‘Sesame Street’ 40th anniversary
By Nathan Duke

Kaufman Astoria Studios can tell you how to get to “Sesame Street.”

The studio, at 34-12 36th St. in Astoria, has hosted the popular children’s television show — which debuted its 40th anniversary this week — since 1992. On Monday, a portion of a street in Manhattan’s Dante Park was temporarily renamed after Sesame Street and, on the following day, the first episode of its 40th season premiered on PBS Kids.

Neither Kaufman Astoria Studios nor Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit organization that produces the show, could be reached for comment.

This season’s guests include First Lady Michelle Obama, who co-stars with Sesame Street character Elmo in a public service announcement about healthy eating and exercising, as well as actors Adam Sandler, Cameron Diaz and Sarah Jessica Parker.

“Sesame Street,” which has garnered more than 100 Emmy Awards as well an Emmy lifetime achievement nod, aired its first episode Nov. 10, 1969. The program presents a combination of entertainment and education, featuring a number of popular and memorable Muppet characters, such as Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert and Ernie, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch.

The show was considered groundbreaking at the time of its debut for its inner-city setting and combination of puppets, animation and live actors as well as the diversity of its cast, which has included white, African American, Chinese and Hispanic actors.

“Sesame Street” has been televised in more than 120 countries. In 2009, it was ranked as the 15th most-popular children’s television show.

This week, the city honored the show by hosting a ceremony for the temporary renaming of 64th Street at Columbus Avenue in Manhattan’s Dante Park as “123 Sesame Street.”

In May, President Barack Obama praised the show in a video message during a benefit for Mayor Michael Bloomberg as part of the show’s 40th anniversary.

“The world is a better place for the world you create on ‘Sesame Street,’ a world that enriches our children’s minds and hearts each and every day,” the president said.

On Nov. 21, the Brooklyn Public Library will kick off a three-month exhibition of “Sesame Street” memorabilia at its Grand Army Plaza site.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.