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Sesame Workshop lays off 10% of employees

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by Phillip, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    It became public that Sesame Workshop is laying off about 10% of their staff today. It's a sad time for Sesame Street as many wonderful people are now out of work. Our thoughts are with each of them and their families. We hope that everyone finds employment soon.

    'C' is for cutbacks: 'Sesame' lays off workers

    It's a sad day on the "Street." Sesame Workshop, makers of the classic children's program "Sesame Street," laid off approximately 10 percent of its employees Tuesday.

    "Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street, is constantly assessing where we must invest for the future in response to today's rapidly changing digital environment," the company said in a statement obtained by Reuters. "After careful review, we have concluded that we must reduce our workforce by approximately 10% to strategically focus our resources."

    According to Deadline.com, 30 employees lost their jobs, and the company's Sesame Learning program and Global Education departments will be absorbed into other parts of the company. Former Newsweek, Inc. CEO Tom Ascheim, who was an executive vice-president with Sesame Leaning, was one of those laid off, Deadline reports.

    Sesame Learning was described by the company as "a vital Workshop initiative aimed (at bringing) the 'Sesame Street' advantage to classrooms and child-care settings."

    There was no word on whether "Sesame Street," the workshop's Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning program, would be directly affected.


    And here's the full Deadline.com story...

    Once again Sesame Workshop is handing out pink slips. Around 30 employees at the producers of Sesame Street were let go today. This comes just more than a year after a dozen employees were shown the door at the non-profit last May. “We at Sesame Workshop are not immune to the challenges of today’s economic environment. After careful review, we have concluded that we must operate, and achieve our strategic priorities with fewer resources. Therefore, we have reluctantly determined that we must reduce our workforce by approximately 10%,” said CEO H. Melvin Ming in a note sent to staff this afternoon. Among those who have been let go are former Newsweek Inc CEO and Nickelodeon executive Tom Ascheim, who joined the company in March 2012 as EVP of the Sesame Learning program. Sesame Learning will be absorbed into other divisions of the company, Ming said today. The CEO also announced that the Corporate Strategy and the Business Systems Programming groups will be dissolved as of July 1st. Sesame Workshop’s Global Education department will also be melded into other units.“We remain optimistic about our future and remain committed to our mission of helping children reach their highest potential here and around the globe,” a spokesperson for Sesame Workshop told me today while admitting to the layoffs. In 2009, Sesame Workshop, which produces programming for more than 150 countries worldwide, laid off more than 60 of its then 355 employees as the company was hit with declining donations and licensing revenue from the bad economy.

  2. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    That's too bad. Things aren't looking up for them, budget-wise.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Excuse me, but when are they ever not having a budget crisis? I'm sure PBS is giving them less and less, and no matter how many sponsors they have, they still don't have enough money.

    The crappy cable competition is killing the show, sure... but things shouldn't be this bad.

    I just love this "better" economy when better means the wealthy have even more money since they destroyed the world, and everyone else is still struggling.
    CensoredAlso likes this.
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Is the recession over or not? Somebody just give me a straight answer. Everybody says it ended back in 2010/2011 or so, but it sure hasn't felt like it.
    CensoredAlso likes this.
  5. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It depends on what you look at. It's over in the sense that the wealthy pigs that screwed everyone over gained everything back and more. The Stock market is higher than it's ever been (though it dropped a crapload because the sweet sweet government money they deny to everyone else has a chance of drying up as the economy is actually improving), but for certain people around the poverty line, we've never not been in one. And I mean since the freaking 80's. But that's a huge rant for another time.

    There's no telling who's to blame for SW's debt... if it's internal problems, the government not giving PBS money due to the Sequester the Tea Putzy politicians created, or what... but if Sesame has to streamline, they have to streamline. Problem is, they're doing it wrong.

    What Sesame Workshop needs to do, is look at the cost of the American TV show. I'm sure there's money spent overseas on international versions of the show, but I'm sure that the international stations share some of that cost. They need to think about, I dunno, maybe no huge celebrity focus? Maybe have the original actual characters give the definition of the day? I mean, the celebrity word on the street bits are really hit or miss. Some of them do really well some of them are very aloof and don't know what to do. Maybe also stop looking into parody segments, and just doing original character skits more. That's less puppet building. Sure, they reuse animals and AM's, but the cost of dressing them up in period pieces and stuff, that's gotta cut some of the price down. And above all, no long 10 minute CGI segments with Pixar production values. Abby's Fairy School is expensive as heck. The rant about CGI being cheaper is often a myth. Especially if you go for high quality. I mean, Green Lantern didn't fail to make back its budget because of Ryan Reynold's paycheck.

    The show can function with less money and keep it's high quality if they take it out of certain places. I'd rather celebrity segments, parodies, and longer, more expensive show segments take a small hit than to force cost cutting measures on more important things. Like NOT having 6 or more episodes in the already too short 26 episode seasons be cobbled out of older repeats. That was desirable when it was 52-100+ episodes a season. Now it's made out of rerun footage, in a season where it takes almost 6 months to show all 26 episodes, with reruns in between. If anything's losing them ratings, it's that.
  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The problem there is with so many other preschool shows out there giving them (and sometimes creaming them too) competition, they have to lure in an audience somehow, and they seemed to have relied too heavily on celebrity involvement to the point that it's more or less a gimmick now to get an audience. Yes, I know the show's had celebrity guests from the beginning, but there was a time where every single freakin' episode didn't include both a regular segment pairing an A-lister with a Muppet to lecture about certains words, AND a street story where A, B, even C and D-listers were the Celebrity Star (as TV Tropes says) of the plot.
  7. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    More PBS budget problems at the expense of the Street yet again. When will it ever end? :rolleyes:

    The opposite can be true with hand-drawn animation, too. The new Winnie the Pooh movie was like $30 mil. to make compared to Tangled's whopping $260 mil.
  8. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That is part of the problem. Sesame Street is having a bad case of the "We're still relevants," and the competition is only popular because it's shiny and new. But the celebrity bits aren't for the kids. I'm sure the kids barely know who half these people are. It's to get mommy and daddy to watch the show with them, when the show turned into that thing upper class soccer moms shove their kids in front of so they don't get disturbed drinking their Skinny Girl Vodka cocktails and dishing on whatever mommy didn't make it to the play date that week.

    Sesame Street always had celebrity bits, sure... but it really seems that they're even more important than that certain red fellow who was the hottest Christmas toy for several years. Not saying they shouldn't have celebrities in the show, just that they need to use them a little less often, and rely on repeats of those appearances. How about making new street stories that reuse prior words of the day?
    cahuenga likes this.
  9. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    Very sad to hear about the cuts at Sesame, but honestly it doesn't surprise me. Public television's funding has been drastically cut in recent years, Sesame itself films less episodes a season, and I wonder if the whole Kevin Clash debacle has made their funding drop as far as maybe parents not wanting to buy Elmo toys and products which as everyone knows who buys Sesame merch that the monies from the purchase go back into the funding of the show.

    And not to turn this into a political debate because if Linus Van Pelt has taught us anything, it's that you never discuss 3 things with people "religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin" but everyone freaked with Romey because of his headline making "Big Bird" comments, when the truth is, I don't think neither candidate could've really helped in the end, because we need money in so many other areas, but I agree public television and education is important. :( I will feel very sad if Sesame Street goes away one day as funding continues to get cut. Heck, I even enjoy the documentaries and music specials on public television. My parents just pledged to WLIW Ch. 21 here in NY because they love the weekend oldies concerts, etc. that they air.
  10. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    No, I know too many people who are still sadly out of work, etc.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Kids still love Elmo, and the only ones not buying Elmo toys are the parents that actually bothered to get offended by the story.

    The real problem is, kids just aren't buying toys anymore period. I did see the new TMNT line disappear from store shelves, though. But other than that, toys are getting very expensive for multiple reasons (a good portion probably because no one's buying them and they have to make that up, causing less people to buy them). The most damaging thing to toy lines now? Apps. Cheap, crappy little games that shut kids up better than a 15 dollar Transformer that they'd get bored of. While I do like Hasbro's handling of the Sesame Street license so far, they really haven't shown much initiative to expand the line by much lately. We need something like a under 30 dollar Tickle Me Elmo type thing that gets the 3 and 4 year old crowd excited to buy a Sesame Street toy again.
    MelissaY1 likes this.
  12. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    As far as the AFFS stuff is concerned, they stopped production on those by season 42. We'll find out in September what the future of that segment is. We know there's a new Cookie segment, which would probably cost less than AFFS (maybe less than ETM even; I don't next to nothing about the content of it) and it's not know what slot it's going in the show. It may alternate with SG and B&E or it could alternate with AFFS; who knows.

    EDIT: Ooo, ouch. According to a CNN article, they're intake last June went down 15%.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    You can tell that AFFS was expensive because they reran the crap out of it. You know SW. If they can save money by reusing something, you darn well be ready to see character variants, cartoon segments, and whatever's not nailed down as many times as they can use it. I mean, look at homunculus Zoe. That was a very expensive small Zoe puppet to use just once as a mouse in Abby in Wonderland. So Zoe looks ugly and out of scale for a season. The episode where Telly takes care of a duck and randomly turns into was made purely out of the need to reuse the Telly as a duck puppet from Elmo and the Wolf.

    Which is why it confuses the heck out of me that they're not using any of the remaining Ernie and Bert Great Adventures, and not redubbing (if they even need to) special American Character footage from different countries instead of just showing the same TV parodies and celebrity bits twice in a single season. Or in BEGA's case, the same Super Grover 2.0's over and over and over in a season. If there's anything that could save them some real scratch not at the expense of the show's quality, it's actually using these segments. Heck, translate some of the German Bert and Ernie bits if they have to. Much better than sitting through the same The Voice parody a second time.

    That said, I wonder how far Elmo's Backyard and Munchin' Impossible went into production. If they only did the pilots, that's one thing. But if they actually filmed the entire log shows in advance waiting for them to be sold, that's probably the reason they keep coming into budget problems.
  14. MelissaY1

    MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    Totally agreed, Dr. Tooth. I get surprised when I see toy commercials on TV these days at all, and oddly I'm finding a lot of them are infomercial products. It's very sad to me think that Toys R' Us and toy stores in general will be going the route of Barnes & Nobles, etc. Before you know it there won't be any need for physical products or stores in general at the rate we're going. And I agree, I HATE that kids are playing with apps and Ipads and stuff now. I see it too often, and even kids in my family are glued to the things. There's no imagination left, etc.

    But I digress, I don't want Sesame Street to go away.
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I love the all the eggs in one basket bit that forces everything on the internet.

    Here's the thing about the internet... the internet goes down. When the internet goes down, then what? iPads need to be charged. What are you going to do when that has to charge? What are you going to do with all those apps when you have to update to a flashier, more glitch ridden NEW iPad? I miss options. I miss being able to collect something physical. Hopefully that stuff won't go away due to the entitled class. Not EVERYTHING has to be an App.

    But Sesame Street would gladly adapt to that. They have been looking at online options for some time. It's just far easier to sit kids down in a comfortable room to watch TV than to crowd around a computer, hunched over. I actually hate watching stuff on the computer. I do it because I don't have cable, and you can find a lot of stuff if you know where to look. But I still buy DVD's to collect a physical product. Not to mention, as I said before, the internet goes down.
  16. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Well, to be honest, iPads don't need the Internet to charge or use most apps.

    Unless you mean electricity going out too, then yeah, point is valid.
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah. I meant the power going out, the battery burning out from overuse (I'm told a huge problem with Apple products), or just the long time it takes to charge anything. As for the internet, that was a blanket statement. Not just an ipad, but there seems to be a higher reliance on having the internet than needs be. Especially the crop of video game systems that need 24 hr internet connectivity to single person play a game that you already bought.

    It sucks that every industry is hurting because Apps matter more than anything else at the moment. What happens if the App bubble bursts? We don't think we do, but we need the competitive edge of multiple media platforms. And that includes good old physical books and merchandising.
  18. FrackleFan2012

    FrackleFan2012 Well-Known Member

    I'm so sad to hear about the cuts. I hope Sesame Street doesn't get worse. :cry:
  19. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    I'm sure some of the classic fans would say it already has. :p
  20. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Are they wrapped for season 44? Seems like only Season 45 would be horribly affected by this.

    Oh frog.

    The anniversary season is going to be a TREMENDOUS disappointment.

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