After a 13 year absence, Big Bird and Elmo are getting ready to return to Chinese screens with an all-new, locally-produced Sesame Street – along with a brand new muppet called Tiger Lilly.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the key to getting Sesame Street back into China was making sure that the show’s eleven minute episodes were Chinese-made. Sesame Workshop CEO Gary Knell explains:
Selling Sesame Street the idea into China wasn’t the hard part since now all the people in offices in China are of the generation that knows who we are: educators who use the media to teach kids. The challenge was to find a sustainable strategy that will keep Sesame Street on the air in China for years to come… This is a Chinese-made show. We listened to what they wanted and worked to create a local show.
To emphasize the local focus, a new muppet – unfortunately burdened with all manner of racial stereotypes such as being a martial arts expert and having the name “Tiger Lilly” (Seriously, for shame, Sesame creators) – will be introduced as one of the main characters in the series. The new show, titled Sesame Street: Big Bird Looks at the World, will focus on scientific discovery, and is planned to debut next year.
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