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 kicks off the show's landmark 50th season, which begins 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.)
Norah Jones sings "Welcome to the Party" as neighbors from yesterday and today return to the street. On the roof of 123 Sesame Street, music legend Nile Rodgers sings "The People in Your Neighborhood" with a little help from Grover and Ernie. Sterling K. Brown masters Cookie Monster’s patented cookie-eating technique, and Elvis Costello joins Kermit in a touching rendition of “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Elmo and Abby Cadabby join Meghan Trainor to sing the uplifting anthem “Count Me In.” Before the big party, Hoots the Owl tries one more time to convince Ernie to “Put Down the Duckie,” with help from friends like Whoopi Goldberg and Itzhak Perlman on the violin. The celebration culminates with a big performance of “Sing” on the iconic stoop, led by Patti LaBelle.”
In addition to appearances from current human cast members Alan Muraoka (Alan), Chris Knowings (Chris), and Suki Lopez (Nina), returning cast members include Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Bob McGrath (Bob), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), Loretta Long (Susan), Linda Bove (Linda), Alison Bartlett (Gina), Olamide Faison (Miles), and Nitya Vidyasagar (Leela). Retired performers Fran Brill and Caroll Spinney appeared in the special, along with Bill Irwin as Mr. Noodle and Deborah Grausman (voice of Smartie) as a featured extra.
Muppet performers in the special include Pam Arciero, Jennifer Barnhart, Tau Bennett, Warrick Brownlow-Pike, Tyler Bunch, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Frankie Cordero, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Ryan Dillon, Stacey Gordon, Christopher Hayes, Eric Jacobson, Peter Linz, Spencer Lott, Paul McGinnis, Noel MacNeal, Carmen Osbahr, Martin P. Robinson, David Rudman and Matt Vogel.
- The special, written by Christine Ferraro, was primarily shot during the week of May 14, 2019. Nile Rodgers' performance was shot a week prior on May 6.
- ↑ 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