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Discussion in 'Sesame Merchandise' started by Phillip, Dec 20, 2008.
Yup, and the precursors to Sesame Street, like Ding Dong School and Howdy Doody.
Eisner is now officially 100% evil in my eyes. I do not like that man. Bad man!
Yea, I agree! If you had problems with him fore you definitely will look at him with different eye's after reading this book.
Yeah. It's funny to me how so many key people who ended up working for this show and The Workshop pretty much dreaded children's television shows and didn't want any part of it. But after seeing, hearing or viewing parts of Sesame Street in some way, they totally wanted in. They didn't view it like a children's television show at all.
I finally finished "Street Gang" two nights ago and was thoroughly impressed. So many behind the scenes and lowdown dirt stories, and I must admit I also shall never look at Michael Eisner the same again. I also was shocked to learn about Bob Keeshan...who knew that Captain Kangaroo was such a jerk?
In contrast to "Unpaved", (which I also own and LOVE) "Street Gang" is the real deal. No color photos and Bios of the Muppets, no poems, no songs, this is something I've waited for. I have always been interested in what went on behind the scenes and Michael Davis has brilliantly brought to us a fine narrative of what it took to get Sesame Street on the air and what it took to sustain it's supremacy as the #1 Children's TV show of all time. Yes the rise of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel seemed like a threat to the throne during the 80's and 90's, but I truly believe that SS will go down in history as not only the best Kid's TV show of all time, but as the show that taught generations of children like myself our letters and numbers, but more importantly taught us to appreciate the world around us and to accept people no matter their race, religion or disabilities.
Other than Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, Sesame Street taught us to love...what could be wrong with that?
Street Gang- My review- SPOILERS
I have mixed feelings about this book. For those that haven't read it, I'd say close to 75% is backstory of the people involved with getting the show on it's feet and gathering the significant funding. This means there are significant bios on Directors, producers, writers, not to mention whole chapters on the childrens shows they came from, mainly Captain Kangaroo and Howdy Doody. While informative, the result of all of that exposition was that by the time they got to where Sesame Street was in production, the rest of the book felt very rushed. Also they'd take you through the bio of somebody and you'd finally get to how they got into Sesame Street, and suddenly you'd back up and start with the birth of another important contributer. I don't know how this could have been changed, for they certainly gave a lot of people thier due, but it made for frustrating reading.
The book is really the story of Sesame Street from Joan Ganz Cooney's perspective, who sounds like a fascinating woman. Obviously she's more than integral to the Sesame Street story, but I felt that the author wasn't telling us about Sesame Street so much as he was telling us about her involvement with it. Even when he would do a section about other Cast Members or contributors it always came back to when they met Cooney for the first time or what she thought of them. There were some interesting anecdotes about some character origins, ideas for the show, etc... but far too few. After the initial season, the 70s are pretty much handled as a chapter, the 80s as a chapter, and then into the current times. There is a chapter on the cast, mainly those who were added after the first season, but any kid knows, Maria, Luis, and David, are just as much a part of Sesame Street as the Muppets, and neither human cast or puppets got as much time in this book as I would have liked.
I will say you come away from the book with a very good sense of just how groundbreaking the show was, and how it was viewed in the context of that era. It's a bit hard to remember nowadays with so many choices for kids shows, that back then, nobody made television with the intention of benefiting kids. It was all about doing whatever you could to hook them and keep them hooked. Sesame Street obviously did that too, but that was the icing around the educational cake.
You know? It's funny about people like Bob Smith or Bob Keeshan. Although Bob Keeshan was a little better in that he actually was genuinely like and cared about children and was just difficult to work with. Where as Bob Smith just didn't rally like kids at all. But I was watching this biography on Fred Rogers, and Lavar Burton was saying that before he actually met Fred that his first thought was this guy has to be some kind of act... It couldn't be for real. But after meeting him he saw that Fred was just who he is and that he is just like the guy you see on TV and not an putting on some kind of facade. Lavar was kind of taken back because it was the first time that he had really saw someone on television who was just honest and their true self and not some image. He said that that was the first time he realized that you could be on television and just be yourself.... Just be honest with people.
I think that surprises a lot of people with him. But children respected him for his honesty.
I just finished listening to the audio version. And I LOVED it! Caroll Spinney did a wonderful job. Now I need to buy the book.
moved by the prologue
thanks for the automated birthday wishes. i bought the street gang book for myself for my 30th when i got it and balled through the prologue! so far am thrilled by the format and dedication in this book. i so very appreciate being apart of this group, its how i found out about this book, and henson is a potent part of my growth, mr davis in his prologue fully explained my sentiment.
Actually it was thanks to Elmo that the Muppets were saved from Eisner's and Disney's Hands for good! Do not hate on Elmo too much because his success saved the Sesame Street characters, this show and possibly the workshop itself. And I think he's a bit more deserving of it then we give him credit for after reading this book.
I second that thought.
The New York Times printed an excellent review of the book that reinstates the view that Henson wasn't into "kiddie" humor:
You're right. I grew up in the Jim era when that was still respected in every aspect of the Street. The magic Sesame formula was creating educational children's entertainment that would appeal to kids while not talking down to them and retaining enough solid humor to effortlessly entertain adults. Post Jim and in PBS' Barney-era all children's entertainment was dumbed-down. It (along with SS) started to become the sort of kiddified media that contradicted the magic that Jim brought to the mix. Sesame Street was a trend-setter that eventually began to follow a fad. A terrible, dull, Barney-influenced fad. My thoughts on today’s Sesame are quite different than they used to be. I do think an effort is being made to revisit their roots, but then a focus-grouped character like Abby appears. Time will tell.
I actually see kind of compromise happening in the past few years. You see character lie Lulu and Murray come along in recent years, and they seem like they are genuine and crated the old way where the performers would play around with a character and who ever had the best fit for it would create and develop it with the writers and producers. Abby to me seems like a compromise. Okay, maybe he first season see seemed like she was out to sell merchandise., but it seems like her performer and the creative people were able to get to her and further in the development of a character that will last and not just be forgotten about down the line. I see good in both aspects of Abby. She can help the Workshop continue to be self supportive and she can be an engaging character that people can like. I forgot who said it; it may have been Christopher Cerf. But most of the Characters that end up last have some kind of obsession to a fault the humans can identify with.
I finally finished the reading the book. It was pretty good; I liked the fact they were branching out to other projects/tv shows that basically pioneered the way to Sesame Street. A LOT of good information, who knew the Captian (Bob Keeshan) was such a scrooge? And it seemed a sad situation with Northern Calloway, after reading the "Nashville incident", I really felt sorry for him. It was also a shocker that he actually came up to Alison O'Reillys high school and proposed to her. This book also changed my view on Micheal Eisner, since I always thought he was sort of a cool, laid back guy, wanting to expand the Muppets into other bigger projects without leaving the whole load on Jim. Instead he seemed like a greedy, selfish kind of guy who wanted all the money to himself, since he kept pressuring Jim to buy the SS Muppets as part of the deal, which we all know, Jim would never let happen. It's frustrating knowing that Eisner, as Cooney said, basically was one of the factors that 'killed him'. Richard Hunt's portions of the book were also interesting, espically his choice of "colorful words" he used to some of his castmates. He seemed like a fun guy to work with. I liked how they explain the whole 'Around the Corner' change thing too. Even though I liked it, I now understand why so many Classic fans didn't approve of it(though I still do not like the bashing of the set, I really don't). I guess the 90's were really a transitional period, not to mention the introducing of Zoe, which I must say, goes into good detail. It seemed as if her introduction was rushed, only really for marketing purposes and to outsell the 'Barney' folks. Let's not forget the whole "Elmo stole the spotlight from Big Bird" thing. I kind of accept it, knowing Elmo basically "saved" SS with the whole "'Tickle Me Elmo' craze". I could go on about the book, and how good it was. I highly recommend. It really goes in- dept about the history of the show (though it did take a LONG while to 'get to' Sesame Street), something fans have been waiting for a while to finally see. What a great 'experiment' this show has turned out to be.
*3/3 Big Birds*
Thank you, Mr. Davis.
I'm still getting through the book... but I just received an e-mail from email@example.com with the subject Thanks to you...
"...and readers like you, "Street Gang" is a New York Times Best-Seller. It has reached No. 32 on the Extended List for the issue dated January 18.
And there's more: the new issue of People gives the book four stars and includes the line "Davis's chronicle is as joyful as Sesame Street itself."
How incredibly exciting for both Sesame Street and Mr. Davis! This is awesome news!
Has anyone had a chance to read Michael Davis' new book Street Gang: The Complete Sesame Street History
I'm about a third of the way through it.
I beg your pardon. All I meant was that the depth given to the pre-show was so incredible that I can't wait to see that same amount of depth in the chapters dedicated to the show itself. I too am "willing to learn about Sesame Street's history;" I'm enjoying the meat - but I want the fur too!
I dodn't mean to come off as immature... just inpatient.
I read the part about Calloway this morning. Its a shame that he had so many problems. I remember watching him as David on the show when I was little. Then I remember him just not being there. The same week I got Street Gang, I recieved the old School DVD set in the mail from Amazon.com. I was able to watch some of the parts they were talking about in the first episode.
BTW; I choose the name Grundgetta because I love Oscar.
As the book said, you either love Elmo or you hate him. Personally I think Elmo is incredibly huggable. LOL, even if I love the Grouch! One of the things that amazed me, was that for a long time Elmo was a discarded puppet that no one knew quite what to do with.
Well maybe not so oddly enough, tat is the way Frank Oz described Miss Piggy. She just has this unapologetic bravado personality to her and she is how she is and some people liked her for it and some didn't. This was especially true during the hight of her.
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