“I’m so excited,” Murray Monster, a Muppet, told Velvet Roper. “I’m never allowed to stay out past 7:30.”
We were in the center of the atrium at Cipriani for the Sesame Workshop’s anniversary gala; we’d been advised to speak to the Sesame Street characters and not, certainly not, to their operators. That said, the Muppets were not particularly tuned-in to the guests of honor (Jon Stewart was to host the evening, and Bill Clinton was to be honored for his commitment to children’s education. “I’m excited to meet anyone in a tux,” said Murray. “I don’t usually get to wear clothes.”
H. Melvin Ming, CEO of Sesame Workshop, knew a bit more about the event; he spoke very highly of President Clinton, who “has been a champion for education–children’s education–and a humanitarian who’s given funds to improve the lives of families around the U.S.” As for the relationship between PBS and the Sesame Workshop, “I don’t think we’ve ever been better–and we’ve found a complementary niche centered around education. We want to be part of the public media.”
Who was Mr. Ming’s favorite Muppet? “If I’m in the U.S. it’s all of them. I’ve been called Oscar sometimes, or the Bird. But in Africa? I pick an African one! In Germany–I pick Bert or Ernie.” Mr. Ming laughed cryptically and vanished into the crowd, as well-heeled guests lined up for photos with Oscar the Grouch, cropping out the man standing behind him.
We made our way to the front of the line to speak to Oscar–as Jon Stewart was on the late side and wouldn’t have time to speak to us. Hey, they’re both curmudgeonly! Unfortunately, the Grouch had only nice things to say about the Clintons: “It hurts me a lot to say something nice,” he advised us. The PBS star couldn’t resist getting a dig in at the conservative media, though; when asked what he’d been watching on TV, he replied “Fox. When I want to laugh a lot.”
Follow Daniel D'Addario via RSS. firstname.lastname@example.org