Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration is a primetime special commemorating Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary. The special aired on November 9, 2019 on HBO, followed by a November 17th airing on PBS. The special kicked off the show's landmark 50th season, which began on HBO the following Saturday.
The special was announced as early as July 2018, where it was said to feature celebrity guests, along with "new takes on classic segments" and "visits from Sesame Street icons," while also focusing on "the show’s cultural impact."
Press kit description
“Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary Celebration is an all-ages primetime event that offers a sweeping look back at fifty years on the Street. Hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the special reimagines classic segments and songs as the Sesame Street gang gets ready for a big party to celebrate the neighborhood’s 50th birthday. When the famous street sign goes missing before the party, it’s up to Elmo, Rosita, Grover, and Abby to track it down, while Big Bird and Snuffy plan a surprise of their own.
This star-studded special includes cameos from rare characters like Roosevelt Franklin and Kermit the Frog, and visits from celebrity guests. Joseph Gordon-Levitt serves as the audience’s guide, breaking the fourth wall to talk to viewers about his favorite Sesame Street memories. (He also pops up inside some of those classic moments, discovering a telephone with the Yip Yip Martians, practicing “near” and “far” with Grover, and joining the shocked crowd meeting Snuffy for the first time.)”
- "Sesame Street Theme"
- "The People in Your Neighborhood"
- "Roosevelt Franklin Counts" (score)
- "Captain Vegetable" (score)
- "Bein' Green"
- Medley: "I Love Trash," "ABC-DEF-GHI," "Elmo's Song," "One of These Things," "Rubber Duckie," "C is for Cookie"
- "I Remember"
- "Count Me In"
- "Put Down the Duckie"
- "This Is My Street"
- The special was primarily shot during the week of May 14, 2019. Nile Rodgers' performance was shot a week prior on May 6. The on-location cold open was shot on June 6.
- For the PBS airing, between the main feature and the credits, a series of "Sesame Street Memory" videos play featuring Busy Philipps, Alessia Cara, Jason Schwartzman, Patton Oswalt, Lucy Liu, and Terry Crews, followed by the celebrity shout-out montage that followed the credits in the HBO version.
- The PBS preview clips, published prior to the special's airing on both HBO and PBS, features a slightly different version of "Count Me In" in the opening.
- The plot of the street sign going missing had previously been explored twenty-one years earlier in Episode 3699.
The special won six 2020 Daytime Emmy Awards, including:
- Outstanding Special Class Special
- Outstanding Writing for a Special Class Special
- Outstanding Technical Team
- Outstanding Principal Performance in a Daytime Program (for Ryan Dillon)
- Outstanding Main Title and Graphic Design for a Live Action Program
- Outstanding Multiple Camera Editing
It was additionally nominated for:
- Outstanding Host for a Daytime Program (for Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
- Abby Cadabby, the Amazing Mumford, Baby Bear, Bert, Big Bird, Captain Vegetable, Cookie Monster, Count von Count, Dish, Don Music, Elmo, Ernie, Forgetful Jones, Goldilocks, Gonger, Grover (and Super Grover), Grundgetta, Guy Smiley, Harvey Kneeslapper, Herry Monster, Honkers, Hoots the Owl, Horatio the Elephant, Jacket, Julia, Lefty the Salesman, Letters of the Alphabet (A, B, C, X, Y), Mama Bear, the Martians (archival footage), Mr. Snuffleupagus, Old MacDonald, Oscar the Grouch, Roosevelt Franklin, Rosita, Rudy, Sherlock Hemlock, Spoon, Telly Monster, Two-Headed Monster
- AM Monsters, Anything Muppets, Betty Lou, Biff, Chickens, Clam, the Countess, Ducks, Gabrielle, Gladys the Cow, Hansel and Gretel, Little Bird, Louie, Mr. Johnson, Mrs. Crustworthy, Number 50, Pigeons, Penguins, Prairie Dawn, Ovejita, Sheep, Sherry Netherland, Sully, Zoe
- Lost Boy and Man with Yo-Yo, Donnie Budd, The Alligator King, The King of Eight, Fruta Manzana, The Bridgekeeper, Martian Beauty, Teeny Little Super Guy, Cecille, Little Girl (I Can Remember), Twiddlebugs, Ladybugs, Suzie Kabloozie, Fef, Dorothy, The Typewriter
- Gina: Alison Bartlett
- Linda: Linda Bove
- Luis: Emilio Delgado
- Miles: Olamide Faison
- Mr. Noodle: Bill Irwin
- Chris: Chris Knowings
- Susan: Dr. Loretta Long
- Nina: Suki Lopez
- Maria: Sonia Manzano
- Bob: Bob McGrath
- Alan: Alan Muraoka
- Gordon: Roscoe Orman
- Leela: Nitya Vidyasagar
Special Guest Stars
- Fran Brill, Sterling K. Brown, Elvis Costello, Whoopi Goldberg, Norah Jones, Solange Knowles, Patti LaBelle, Itzhak Perlman, Nile Rodgers, Caroll Spinney, Deborah Spinney, Meghan Trainor
Sesame Street Muppet Performers
- Pam Arciero, Jennifer Barnhart, Tau Bennett, Warrick Brownlow-Pike, Tyler Bunch, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Frankie Cordero, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Ryan Dillon, Stacey Gordon, Chris Thomas Hayes, Paul McGinnis, Noel MacNeal, Eric Jacobson, John Kennedy, Peter Linz, Spencer Lott, Carmen Osbahr, Martin P. Robinson, David Rudman, Matt Vogel
Special Appearance By
- Rohan Agneshwar, Kaden Anderson, Adrianna Aquavella, Aydin Artis, Mark Christopher, Pierce Cravens, Lailene Delos Santos, Holanda Demeloitz, Saffron Faith, Adian Fong, Veronica Frazier, Kay Gaffney, Kafayat Gboladel, Lukas Gilkison-Parrish, Sheila Glenn, Zoe Glick, Kimberly Gorman, Deborah Grausman, Chris Guttadaro, Anika Hatch, Connor Hawke, Leah Horowitz, Joe Huu, Anna Kuchma, Sarah Lockwood, J. Elaine Marcos, Barry Mitchell, Erin Moore, Brianna Growalt, Hudson Loverro, Tayanah Jn Philippe, Kavon Newman, Martin Rohleder, Azra Tahirovic, Christina Williams, David Wong, Leonard Zimmerman
The Baker (Voice) By
- Executive Producers: Brown Johnson, Benjamin Lehmann, Ken Scarborough
- Producers: Mindy Fila, Todd E. James, Karyn Leibovich, Stephanie Longardo, Autumn Zitani Stefano, M.A.
- Directed By Jack Jameson
- Head Writer: Ken Scarborough
- Writer: Christine Ferraro
- Digital Producer: Andrew Moriarty
- Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content: Rosemarie T. Truglio, Ph.D.
- The Jim Henson Company NY Creature Shop
- Puppets, Costumes, and Props: Ben Durocher, Joel Gennari, Tyler Hall, Michelle Hickey, Joshua Holden, Rollie Krewson, Sarah Lafferty, Anney Ozar, Constance Peterson, Sierra Schoening, Keely Snook, David Valentine, Jason Weber, Stacey Weingarten, James Wojtal
- Production: Melissa Creighton, Joseph Roddy, Gabriella Degennaro, Carolyn Fanelli, Rich Dyar
- Music Copyist: Joe Fiedler
- Sesame Street Band: Randy Cohen, Michael Croiter, John Deley, Doug Derryberry, Joe Fiedler, Rob Jost, Gary Meyer, Kenny Rampton
- Sound Effects Editor/Re-Recording Mixer: Dick Maitland, C.A.S.
- Music Editors: Tyler Hartman and Paul Rudolph
- Supervising Music Editor: Michael Croiter
- Music Director: Bill Sherman
- Music Director (Arrangements and Orchestrations): Joe Fiedler
- Music Director (Vocals): Paul Rudolph
- Composers: Christopher Cerf, Joe Fiedler, Tony Geiss, Jeff Moss, Joe Raposo, Bill Sherman, William Vaughn
- Lyricists: Tony Geiss, Bruce Hart, Emily Kingsley, Jason Kingsley, Jeff Moss, Joe Raposo, Ken Scarborough, Norman Stiles, Jon Stone
- Sign Language Interpreter: Lynette Taylor
- Associate Director: Ken Diego
- Control Room Production Assistants: Christina Elefante and Andrew Moriarty
- Stage Managers: Frank Campagna, Phyllis Digilio-Kent, Shawn Havens
- Production Designer: David Gallo
- Cameras: Frank Biondo, Jerry Cancel, Shaun Harkins
- Utility: Barbara Bianco (Video), Keith Guadarrama (Video), John Neroulas (Audio), Gordon Price (Audio)
- Cold Open Directed By Benjamin Lehmann
- "I Remember" Directed By Matt Vogel
- Magnetic Dreams Animation Team:
- Creative Director: Rickey Boyd
- End Credit Design (Based on Classic Animations): Rickey Boyd and Michael Lapinski
- Taped at Kaufman Astoria Studios
- PR Week "Leaving the Neighborhood" by Diana Bradley, July 27, 2018
- Sesame Workshop Press Release February 4, 2019
- Amazon product listing
- Sesame Street Instagram post
- @nilerodgers Twitter, May 6, 2019
- Ryan Dillon on Instagram
- Clementine Kline on Instagram (June 7, 2019)
- Ben Durocher on Instagram (June 7, 2019)