Here's the full statement:
We apologize for the misunderstandings around the changing cast roles at Sesame Street. Over more than 40 seasons, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman have made enormous contributions to both television and to the lives of preschoolers. They are, and always will be, a key part of the Sesame family. As always, our curriculum and educational goals drive our story lines and character appearances. These change season-to-season. In 2014, when we first began producing the current half-hour show format, we let all of our cast members know of the shorter story lines and, therefore, reduced appearances. However, our production team also intentionally left the door open for all actors to continue to appear, based on the story lines that were written in any future season. In our latest season, the story lines written did not include appearances by these three actors and we certainly could have done a better job of communicating with them about our ongoing episode plans. I have been in touch with each of them to meet in person about how we best adapt their talents to the current content needs and preschool media landscape, in a way that honors their historic contributions. We are very grateful for the many loyal fans of Sesame who continue to care so deeply about the show and what it means to them.
Some "Sesame Street" fans are channeling Oscar the Grouch after learning that three beloved cast members have been let go from the long-running children's television show.
Bob McGrath, a singer who had been on the show since it started in 1969, revealed the news earlier this month at Florida Supercon, according to MuppetCast, a podcast and blog devoted to all things Muppets. McGrath said that he and two other longtime cast members — Roscoe Orman, known to viewers as the affable teacher Gordon, and Emilio Delgado, who plays Luis — had been let go.
As news spread across the Internet, many fans who grew up watching Gordon, Bob and Luis expressed their disappointment.
I grew up with Bob, Luis, and Gordon, they were the father figures I never had watching Sesame Street. Firing them was a total mistake!— Adam Todd (@ThaBusDriv3r) July 28, 2016
A good deal of resentment has been directed at HBO, which began airing "Sesame Street" in January, after the show spent 45 years on PBS. That move was met with backlash from concerned parents (a venerated children's show on the same network as "Game of Thrones"?) and the subsequent departure of longtime head writer Joey Mazzarino. As reported by Vulture, Mazzarino said in a Facebook post last September that he had spent the better part of a year "battling for what I believe is the heart and soul of the show." Ultimately, Mazzarino wrote, "I lost the war."
The move to HBO followed a number of changes — last fall, the show was cut down to 30 minutes from the traditional hour, and a number of Muppet characters were effectively retired.
HBO proves to be the worst monster Sesame Street has ever faced!— Brad Jones (@thecinemasnob) July 28, 2016
While many fans blame the show's new network for the firings, a statement tweeted from the verified "Sesame Street" account implied that HBO had nothing to do with the decision as day-to-day production is still overseen by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street.
"Sesame Street" also said that McGrath, Delgado and Orman will "continue to represent us at public events." Their on-screen tenures at "Sesame Street" end a year after Sonia Manzano (who played Maria) announced her retirement. Manzano's departure was also met with dismay from fans whose childhoods were impacted by seeing a Latina on their television screens in the 1970s.
In a 2004 interview with the Archive of American Television, Manzano spoke about the significance of "Sesame Street's" groundbreaking diversity, referencing the Gordon character. "At that time, there were no people of color on television and if there were, there certainly weren't nice little Susan and Gordon."
Editor's note: This post was clarified to say that the decision to cut "Sesame Street" to 30 minutes and changes to the pool of characters pre-dated the show's move to HBO.