Last week, the world was introduced to the newest neighbor on SESAME STREET, a Writer from Puerto Rico named Armando - or 'Mando as the folks on the 'Street quickly dubbed him. The introduction of this new character is part of a focus on Hispanic Heritage and Diversity that plays a key role in the forthcoming 44th season of the iconic series on PBS KIDS. Mando (Ismael Cruz Cordova) joins Maria (Sonia Manzano), Luis (Emilio Delgado) and Muppets Rosita and Ovejita (Carmen Osbahr) as part of SESAME STREET's bilingual community. This week, my adventures took me to the famed Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, where I joined my fellow PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent) Ambassadors at the 2013 PBS Annual Meeting. There, I spent some time with Mando and Rosita... and just may have found the answer to that age-old question: "Can You Tell Me How to Get to SESAME STREET?"
During a hosted breakfast presented by Sesame Workshop, details for the 44th Season of SESAME STREET were revealed. A curriculum focusing on the ability to "Self-Regulate" (managing emotions and self-control) and improve "Executive Functioning" skills (working memory, cognitive flexibility) is in place this year. In addition to the arrival of Mando, our old pal Cookie Monster will be getting his own segment - one in which the baked-goods aficionado will help kids master the skills of self-restraint (something that Cookie Monster has struggled with in the past) through a series of parodies as he bravely attempts to self-regulate. On the parody note, HOMELAND and SONS OF ANARCHY are among the pop culture staples getting the send-up this year. Additionally, A-listers such as Tyra Banks, Charlize Theron, Dave Matthews, and Peter Dinklage will be passing through the neighborhood... with some additional celebrity sightings expected. There will also be a tribute to late puppeteer Jerry Nelson, who, while perhaps best-known as Count Von Count, also performed beloved Muppet characters beyond SESAME STREET, such as Electric Mayhem bassist Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Gobo Fraggle, and Emmet Otter among others.
After witnessing a live musical performance by Mando and Rosita at the Sesame Workshop breakfast, the PBS KIDS VIP group moved into a breakout session with PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger, followed by a discussion with SESAME STREET Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente... who was joined by Mando and Rosita.
THE ROCK FATHER was able to spend a few minutes with actor Ismael Cruz Cordova and Muppet Rosita for a fun conversation about writing... music... and how to get to Sesame Street. There's also a lot of talk about Me Encanta Mi Cabello! this season... I LOVE MY HAIR - a song that has been re-done for new audiences - and as such, we dish on hair, followed by some comments on contributing to the 44-year legacy of this iconic show.
And for my daughters... some love from little Rosita...
The version of the "Sesame Street Theme" in the video above was performed by noted Kindie Rockers, THE HIPWADERS, who included the song as the B-side to their "The Books I Like to Read" single when it was released last Fall. Support great family music by grabbing it on iTunes.
About James: A work-from-home Dad with a pair of daughters (Released in 2009 and 2012) - James Zahn is THE ROCK FATHER™.
Bringing over two decades of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, Zahn is an Illinois-based Entertainment Writer, Media Personality and Commentator.
He serves as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent), has made guest appearances as a member of the Sprout Kindness Crew, was featured in the Father's Day issue of Lake County Magazine, and is a former contributor to Chicago Parent.
Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for the likes of FEAR FACTORY, DIRGE WITHIN, PRODUCT OF HATE, ARCANIUM and others, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Blogcritics, Fangoria, Starlog, The River Cities' Reader. Slowfish, Oil, and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360, and in 2013 he's been quoted on CNN, Babble, The Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN.
Learn more here.