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US characters IN international co-productions

Discussion in 'Sesame Worlds' started by Drtooth, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Now, this I find pretty odd an observation. For the longest time, most countries, when they got a co-production of SS didn't want to use (or couldn't use) the actual American characters. Even when the African and Chinese co-productions had Elmo and Big Bird characters respectively placed in their co-productions, they were always officially cousins of the actual characters.

    Seems that SW has changed their tune with this. Ernie and Bert have an apartment on Sesamestrasse... the Japanese co-production featured American characters co-mingling with their own, Mexico has a new Abby Cadabby segment specifically made for them, Elmo hosts the Danish Sesame program (Elmo's World and Play with me Dubbed... but in new segments)... and now, Grover is popping up in Rechov Sumsum.

    So what exactly is this change in policy? I'm not complete aware of the specifics... but didn't SW frown on the idea of new segments with US characters specifically for co-productions? I know there were different albums where they recorded interstitial where everyone mingles... and then the Ernie and Bert albums from Germany... but I don't count those.
  2. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Member

    i don't know about grover in rechov sumsum or abby in mexico.

    but appearances in germany and japan aren't a change in policy--quite the opposite really. going back to the 70s, germany showed the american version dubbed before it started its own co-production, and continued to use dubbed muppet segments in the early years. ernie and bert have always been central to sesamstrasse, so it's nothing new to have their own german puppeteers and content. japan showed the american version in english to teach english for many years, so again, all our muppet characters were well established before they began to appear recently with japanese puppeteers and content.

    as for elmo's world in danish, my understanding was that the creation of many of these segments is partly because other countries have 10-15 minute blocks for short children's shows, so something like elmo's world can be sold to foreign networks as it's own show that fits within the programming schedule of that country.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think there's a difference between the German dub of the American show and using actual puppets made specifically for that country. A dub is just a dub, but a co-production makes new footage for itself with these characters. I just find it strange. Sure, there was New Garibaldo, Neno and Da Niao Who they explained of as cousins of their counterparts. And I don't really count any older characters reused on other co-productions (like how France had some of the 90's cast renamed and put into wheelchairs).

    Maybe it was the other countries that said they wanted new characters, and discouraged the use of their own characters. But seems like other countries want some of the familiar US faces on their block in segments specifically filmed for them... or even as part of the community.
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I even remember reading in Caroll's book about how no other country was allowed to have Big Bird, but because of the impact of Big Bird in China, they decided to let the Chinese co-production have their own Big Bird.

    I remember how he described the auditioning process, and that there were two strong possibilities, but one was let go because of his heavy Shanghai street accent (which he compared to a heavy Brooklyn accent in our lingo) which would've been a little hard for the children watching to understand.

    So yeah, I don't know what that's all about all of the sudden.
  5. muppet_dk

    muppet_dk Active Member

    I don't know the excat details as to why Elmo was selected to be the character that ended up on "Sesamgade". But I do belive it has something to do with that the show are starting out small, due to the costs of production, and that it would be easier to adopt a excisting character rather than creating a new one from scracth. The plan are that when the first 20 episodes, they shoot in August, have aired, they will decide if it should continue and maybe even expand (something the executive producer really hope would happend), and then they could add newley designed character(s) to the show.
    I can recall that the executive producer mentioned to me on the phone that there was already alot of Merchandise with Elmo, so that area are also covered, the manufactures just need to put on the Danish logo instead of the American that are used now.

    So in one way it makes perfect sense to select Elmo for these first 20 episodes.

    Something that I do know for sure are that Sesame Workshop had a deciding factor in the naming of the show, and of course Kevin Clash in selecting the two puppeteers and the female co-host.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but again, the difference is Da Niao is NOT Big Bird, but rather his cousin that just so happens to look like him. That's what he's officially known as, a cousin. It's been stated as far as we know that Abby in Mexico and Grover in Israel are the same ones we have. Plus, there is apparently subtle differences between the Big Bird and Da Niao puppet... I just can't remember what they were.

    Makes sense. Besides, Elmo's slapped all over everything here and he's known world wide for the same.
  7. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I realize that...

    Doesn't the name the Dutch gave Big Bird literally translate as "Cousin John"?
  8. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    These things always confuse me. Is it ever establish whether the characters live on the local street or back in America. Like when Abelardo visited Sesame Street. Oscar, Rosita, Telly and Big Bird are all characters on Plaza Sesamo, so wouldn't he know them?
  9. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I guess none of that really matters, considering it isn't very likely that Mexican children ever seen the American Sesame Street, while it isn't very likely that American children ever see Plaza Sesamo.
  10. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Member

    yeah, but we're talking about beloved characters integrated into the show for decades. german children for twenty years had dubs of bert & ernie integrated into the sesamstrasse coproduction so most thought they were originally german characters. japanese children for thirty years knew and loved the american characters so much that they complained that the voices weren't right when they got japanese speaking versions in their coproduction.

    it's not like starting a new production for a new audience. if i was in japan, i wouldn't watch a show claiming to be sesame street if ALL the characters i knew were suddenly replaced by new ones, and if i was in germany i wouldn't even notice the difference between the decades of dubs and the new material.
  11. muppet_dk

    muppet_dk Active Member

    Well in the case about Elmo on "Sesamgade" then he do live on the Danish street, he says so in the intro. Also the setup around the segments suggest that Bert and Ernie also lives close by, they are even seen waving to Elmo in the intro. It's the same case with Grover and Prarie Dawn, Elmo mentions them alot in the local segments mainly when he will go and ask them about something.

    Bert and Ernie do also live in Germany, since they directly comment the main story on "Sesamstrasse", they do in fact live above the new human character Frau Kowalski, and if I'm not mistaken it's the building Pepe used to live in with a new paintjob.
    But I think Bert and Ernie are the only ones considered to be living on Sesamstrasse, all the other American characters just stop by every now and then.

    I can remember a few dubbed Ernie and Bert sketches from the Norwegian "Sesam Stasjon" were they mentioned the railroad station outside, so they must have been considered to be living next to the station.

    Well German fans do know the difference, trust me, and some voice actors over the years are more "real" than others in the eyes of the German fans. I've seen discussions were old school Sesamstrasse fans talks about how disappointed they are about the new Ernie and Bert segments.
  12. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    The same goes for Plaza Sesamo. I think an E&B sketch mentions the street, but the "Middle of the Night Whisper Song" by Hoots starts out with him saying the street is Plaza Sesamo.
  13. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Member

    well you would know better than i do. but that seems like disappointment in a newer set of german voice actors, or because the writers aren't as good. like american disappointment at our own newer bert & ernie sketches. it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with having german puppets or not. i would guess that germans would have the same reaction to new bert and ernie skits if they were still dubs of our new ones.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah.,.. but again, that's a dub situation. I remember a Plaza Sesamo where they redubbed Telly (or someone) who was talking about how he asked everyone else on the street something, so that he mentioned Abelardo.

    Really... I wonder if there's any real difference in SW's mind between redubbing characters to make it seem like they live there and making actual puppet characters to send over there, I remember reading an interview with someone who worked on the Russian co-production talking about how they were working so hard on their dub so it doesn't look like you're watching a Russian dubbed Ernie and Bert, you're watching Russian Ernie and Bert who happen to live on Russian Sesame Street... it has more of a punch, but I forgot the Russian names for them.

    Which gets me to wondering what I said in my second post... did SW ever officially say "No US characters," or did they discourage it, or did the international versions all just want their own characters to follow in the footsteps of Sesamstrasse?

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