Sesame Street and Chrysler Are Tapping Your Nostalgia With a Game Show That Touts Minivans

Kristina Monllos

A paparazzo has found his way onto the set of an atypical outdoor Sesame Street shoot. He’s trying to snap a picture of a motionless Big Bird, who has just emerged from under a sheet, so that his handler can give me a peek of the empty costume and tell me a bit about the 10,000 individually dyed Turkey feathers that make up his body.

Whatever the paparazzo got is likely unusable, but the Sesame Workshop team is very careful with its beloved characters—the public should only see them when the performers are animating them—so they try to shoo away the unwelcome photographer. (They can’t technically tell him to leave because we’re in a public park, New York City’s Tompkins Square.) He’s able to snag a few shots of the bird’s behind.

“Our characters are cultural icons as much as they are educational vehicles so [paparazzi are] common when we’re in public,” says Steve Youngwood, chief operating officer of Sesame Workshop. “It’s actually very rare that we’re filming out on the streets at a public location so that probably enhanced [the interest] even more.”

It’s a sweltering 90-degree day in mid-June and the crew is setting up a shot featuring several familiar faces (Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, The Count, etc.) for a new game show, “Listen, Drive, Surprise!,” launching today from Sesame Street and Chrysler. The digital series, from creative shop Mediabrands Society, will have 10 total co-branded videos, with the first four debuting today. It’s the first piece of a Chrysler’s sponsorship of the Sesame Workshop’s PBS show and digital content.

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