Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigns from ‘Sesame Street’
By Lisa De Moraes,
Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind “Sesame Street’s” Elmo since the early ’80s, has resigned from the show after a second man filed a lawsuit Tuesday, accusing him of a sexual relationship with an underage male and seeking $5 million in damages.
News of the second allegation comes shortly after the first man — who had recanted his allegation that he was a minor when he first had sex with Clash — let it be known Monday that he wanted to recant his recantation and return a $125,000 settlement.
“I am resigning from Sesame Workshop with a very heavy heart,” Clash said Tuesday in a statement.
“I have loved every day of my 28 years working for this exceptional organization,” he continued. “Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.”
Sesame Workshop said Tuesday in a statement: “None of us [at Sesame Workshop], especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. . . . Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job. . . .This is a sad day for ‘Sesame Street.’ ”
The second accuser is suing Clash, 52, in federal court, alleging that he had a sexual relationship with the puppeteer while he was a minor. Cecil Singleton seeks more than $5 million in damages, according to the Web site TMZ, which first obtained the court documents.
In the suit, Singleton, 24, said he “did not become aware that he had suffered adverse psychological and emotional effects from Kevin Clash’s sexual acts and conduct until 2012.”
Clash, a Baltimore area native, had been on leave from the lauded PBS children’s show since news broke this month about the first accuser.
NBC’s mighty return
NBC — once home to “St. Elsewhere” and “ER,” “Seinfeld” and “Cheers,” Johnny Carson and “ALF” — has finally clawed its way back to the land of the prime-time living after being buried for years in the program-to-the-margins underworld of former chief Jeff Zucker.
NBC will win its first November “sweep” in nine years among 18-to-49-year-old viewers, who are the currency of the TV business — jumping from a fourth-place finish last November.
The network decided to celebrate by putting NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt on the phone with reporters Tuesday as another full week’s ratings were issued, officially sealing the deal.
“We’re very happy this November — the first time we’ve been this happy in a long time,” Greenblatt began, well, happily.
Then some Debbie Downer on the call kicked off the Q&A period by asking Greenblatt whether he thought NBC would remain in first place in the first quarter of ’13, when “The Voice” and “Revolution” are on hiatus (and CBS has the Super Bowl and Fox has Nicki Minaj wreaking havoc on “American Idol”).
“We expect a pretty significant leveling of the playing field, but we knew that going in,” Greenblatt acknowledged. But, he said, “we just feel like, to start out this strong heading into what we know will be a tough winter, feels like a big accomplishment.”
Plus, Greenblatt forecast that in March, when “The Voice” and “Revolution” return, NBC will be back in the game in a big way.
Then along comes Negative Nell, wondering what Greenblatt thought the odds were of NBC’s finishing the whole TV season (mid-September to late May) ranked No. 1.
But Greenblatt’s happiness was too strong for them:
“I feel pretty confident we will not end up in fourth place again this year,” he began.
“I’d be astonished if we ended up being No. 1, given the firepower some of the other networks have, but thrilled if we landed at 2 and really pleased if just in third place. . . . Third place would be a triumph for us.”
The reporter noted, as if meaning it to sting, that NBC had finished last season in third place.
Greenblatt countered pleasantly that last year, NBC had the Super Bowl.
That shut ’em up.
‘Boss’ is canned
Pay-cable network Starz has canceled Kelsey Grammer’s “Boss” because the show’s second season clocked fewer viewers than its first.
The second season, which wrapped its 18 episodes in mid-October, averaged about 940,000 viewers across multiple plays. That’s not far behind the ratings for Starz’s “Magic City.”
On the other hand, Starz had domestic rights on “Boss,” while it owns “Magic City” outright and therefore reaps the benefit of its latter show’s sale internationally. You do the math.
“Boss” opened with a bang. Starz CEO Chris Albrecht ordered a second season before the first even premiered in October 2011.
But the ratings weren’t stellar, and, during a Q&A at Summer TV Press Tour 2012 in August, show creator Farhad Safinia said he was “heartbroken” with the first season’s numbers — while Grammer played the king and took a phone call onstage from his wife, irking a hotel ballroom’s worth of TV critics who might have helped goose the second season’s ratings. Too late now.
Grammer, who believes he did not get an Emmy nomination for his first season on “Boss” because he’s a Republican, played a Chicago mayor suffering secretly from a neurological disorder.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.