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March 11th, 2009
07:29 PM ET

"L" is for Layoff

Emily Anderson
CNN NY Desk Editor

The recession has hit hard on Wall Street and Main Street…now it’s reached Sesame Street.

Sesame Workshop, the non-profit company that produces the popular children’s educational show, announced Wednesday it would cut its workforce by 20 percent. In a statement, the company said the show “is not immune to the unprecedented challenges of today’s economic environment”.

A spokesperson said the layoffs would affect 67 of Sesame Workshop’s 355 employees, and would hit every department. The statement said though forced to operate with fewer resources, “we remain optimistic about our future and are more committed than ever to our mission of helping children reach their highest potential here and around the globe.”

Tuesday, we learned of the recession’s impact on another institution. Eddie Doyle, the bartender at the Boston bar that inspired the television show “Cheers”, was one of several employees let go. The Boston Globe said the owner blamed falling business in the tough economic climate for the cuts.

No sector of the country is escaping the reaches of the economy. But even as we watch blue and white collar jobs lost by the hundreds every day, there’s something that caught everyone’s attention as a piece of our childhood, and an inspiration of a television memory, are added to the list.

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Cecelia Tanner

    I LOVE Sesame Street.My sister and I grew up with them.My sister learned to tie her shoes because of this precious program.
    Bert and Ernie were our friends, as our father kept us isolated and so we had no human friends.
    We played with the Sesame Street Playhouse.I'm sitting here crying.

    March 12, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  2. joy

    so sad! the LaLaLa song was always so happy for me and my son! lets hope L goes back to being lovely and lilting...

    March 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  3. Taneka

    It wasn't too long ago that I grew up watching sesame street.The thought of seeing a part of my childhood suffer from the grip of this economic crisis is saddening.I'm sure that something could be done to preserve this show,that is not only educational and entertaining but has grown to be an important part of children's lives.

    March 12, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  4. jerryjenn

    I hope Obama's stimulas package includes Sesame Street. I remember watching this as a child, I watch now occasionally when I'm sick. 🙂 Its a great show.

    One of the best parts of the show is that there are not any "bank executives" teaching greed. Sesame Street is all good when the world is bad.

    March 12, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  5. RMR

    I think they deserve a bailout!!!!

    March 12, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  6. JP

    This is beyond sad. How many more non-profits are going to suffer now that donations are not as lucrative for those that can afford to provide them? Send a letter of thanks to your politicians for putting us all in this mess.

    March 12, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  7. Lelia

    Thank God Mr. Hooper isn't alive to see this travesty!

    March 12, 2009 at 8:55 am |
  8. Dadx3

    After reading all of these comments, it appears that many of the posters here didn't spend enough time watching Sesame Street themselves.

    Educational critiques aside, this is hardly news. Sesame Street is supported, in part, by public funding and charitable giving, two things that always drop off sharply in a recession. If you're outraged by these layoffs, look no further than the mirror for someone who can affect positive change.

    That said, while I love Emily Anderson's headline (it made me "LOL"), I think this is just more sensationalist journalism. It's true that the recession has left no part of the country untouched, but there are many industries that are thriving right now, hiring employees, and expanding. Where's the media coverage on those companies? Why aren't we praising them publicly and buying their products as a sign of support for industries that are doing the right thing? "O" is for Optimism.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  9. Curtis

    I remember watching Sesame Street 25-30 years ago as a child and it was entertaining enough to keep my attention without all of the digital special effects. I recently caught an episode with my 2-year-old daughter and aside from many of the characters being the same, it was hardly recognizable as the same show I watched as a child. The Children's Television Workshop could still produce an educational and entertaining program without the added expense of computer generated animation and digital effects. It is a sad state of affairs when even children's entertainment takes a hit during these economic hard times.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:53 am |
  10. Jen

    How long has it been since you folks watched the show? You are bringing up oscar and cookie like they still exist as they always have. Oscar was found to be a manic sepresant that refused medication, a bi-polar puppet if you will......canceled. Cookie, remember Monster-piece theatre, he smoked and ate his pipe....what was he smoking to make him that hungry? Honestly with childhood obesity so prevalent do we want children to idolize a character because he can devour 100 cookies in a min.?

    March 12, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  11. um...

    Remember folks, this is one of the many educational shows on Public Television and without DONATIONS they can't survive...so before all of you boo-hoo about it and wonder why, perhaps donate during one of the telethons they have in order to keep these shows on the air.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  12. Paddy O'furniture

    Uh, they're not taking Sesame Street off the air, they are cutting jobs. Layoffs are not synonymous with cancellation, m'kay? Jeez, overreact much?

    March 12, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  13. John

    How does this happen? I have a soon to be 4 year old. He loves Sesame Street. We have probably 4 DVDs, 3 Elmo dolls, several shirts, a CD, and we've been to live performances. I have a very hard time believing that a show with this many avenues to make money is needing to layoff employees. The beginning of every DVD says somthing to the effect of...everytime you attend a show or buy a DVD, the funds go to education around the world. Maybe they should take a small fraction of that money and pay their employees. Their sponsors are McDonalds and Sandals. How do they have a problem with finances? Everytime I walk in Wal-Mart or Target I see Elmo, Cookie Monster, maybe a Grover here and there. Lots of products. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge supporter of Sesame Street. I do though feel bad for those being laid-off because it's difficult to see the financial need to do so.

    Good luck to those losing their jobs. You definitely have a great addition to your resume. We all love Sesame Street. Take some time off, go down to Hooper's and have a bird seed milk shake. I hear they are great.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  14. Liz

    I would rather see a Sesame Street bailout than a Wall Street bailout!

    March 12, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  15. Henson

    I heard to save money that Telly Monster, Harry Monstar, and Gover are moving together in the same apartment complex as Bert and Ernie, and Kermit is moving back to the swamp because he isnt selling enough Fly Cakes to support his rent.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  16. logan

    come on people................oscar the grouch already lives in a garbage can, big bird on a nest of sticks, bert and ernie live in a two bed studio apartment, and elmo just wanders around. Sesame Street has been showing people how to live on the bare minimum for years:)

    March 12, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  17. Donna

    One would hope that some folks with money will step in to make sure that quality children's programming like Sesame Street will not be harmed by the current downturn. Come on, Oprah, I know you have a few dollars left.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  18. James

    I like Sesame Street. Support you local PBS Station!

    March 12, 2009 at 8:28 am |
  19. Farhibide

    This is sad. Sesame Street is one of the few shows on TV with some value for our kids. It is an oaisis in a desert of mindless cartoons.

    It's been years since I've watched it, but it used to be on PBS. If that's still the case, PBS relies on donations from "viewers like you" (remember that?). Let's keep this show on the air...DONATE!

    March 12, 2009 at 8:23 am |
  20. Kevin F

    Yes, it is sad that 67 of 355 people are losing their jobs. However, there are a couple of things that cross my mind. Does Sesame Street NEED 355 people working on it? That number seems a little bit much for a 1 hour children's program. Also, with the large number of children's television programs, both in the US and Canada, those 67 people may not be out of work long if they play things right. Think about it. Putting "Sesame Street" on your resume has got to carry a lot of clout. Finally, we don't know what departments were affected. Was it the creative? Voice acting? Custodial or catering?

    March 12, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  21. Christina

    Nice comments....But lets take a walk to Sesame Street and make a donation. Maybe that will help stop this injustice.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  22. Karen

    To be honest, in the last 10 years or so there have been so many more upbeat kids shows to choose from (Blues Clues, Pooh, etc.) that we really didn't watch this frenetic show set in a decaying inner-city neighborhood. In fact, I don't know anyone whose kids did.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  23. Susan

    To Lisa – good idea they should do a segment on lay offs. And then one on corporate ethics and last but not least show it to all the New York investment firms that created the financial disaster we have. The good news is that at least they can simply produce the episode on corporate ethics to be shown to investment firms in one language – English. And the two grumpy old men puppets can deliver the message to all the grumpy old thieving white guys who ruined the global economy.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  24. Dre

    "Oh gee Bert" (In Snufalogapus voice) LMAO

    March 12, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  25. the count

    67! AH AH AH!

    March 12, 2009 at 7:49 am |
  26. mike

    B is for bailout. can they request money too?

    March 12, 2009 at 7:47 am |
  27. Lewdini

    Why don't parents take responsibility for their children & sit with them for at least an hour a day reading to/with them (instead of parking them in front of a TV)?

    March 12, 2009 at 7:47 am |
  28. Neil

    I bet this is hitting Oscar the worst.

    March 12, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  29. Don, WA

    Sesame Street is a very under-rated adult show.

    March 12, 2009 at 4:25 am |
  30. Garfield1125

    "D" is for downsizing

    March 12, 2009 at 12:12 am |
  31. Neo

    I thought recession only hit specific sectors of the financial population. Some of which were expendable. It's sad to see the far reaching affects of a recession.

    March 11, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  32. Rodney Weinstein

    AC – I respect you, you really report the best and there is no competition for your logic and preparation.

    However, I think it is time that you started reporting on commodities and the behaviour in those markets historically.

    Please, please, lighten up on the decisions that were wrong that got us here. We need to find the bright light and get it to shine brighter.

    The USA is poised to come out of this global recession faster and better than the whole rest of the world.

    They will do it with commodities. If we buy and bet that commodities are the ultimate backing of wealth, we'll see that the US has the most and will have the most when they get scarce and the rest of the world finally needs them.

    It's cyclical, but just not in the normal sense of other securities.

    Commodoties are "churning" it means we are eating up long positions. Of course commodities will go higher, the question is only when.
    Would love to hear other's opinions.

    March 11, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  33. Joe

    To all those fellow investment bankers out there who lost their jobs and are now recieving government assistance...how does it feel to be on the otherside.

    March 11, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  34. Brenda Bennett

    Anderson,, Just want to say of all the cnn people, I like your show the best, and Larry King to. I think the new president is doing a great job, I just can't figure out the thinking of not raising tax's. Well Our New President is leaveing the tax raiseing to the people who run the diffrent state's. Like Georgia, we are seeing all kind's of new taxes. and I am hereing more to come. People are loosing job's and finding it hard to even buy food. and now the postage stamp's are being raised , how in the -- can they pay new taxes. Thing's will NEVER get any better if the GREED does'nt stop. I just can't figure it out thing's are going up in price and people can't even buy food. I am haveing a really hard time, on this one Georgia want's to raise the food tax, and what are they going to do when people can't buy food. THANK'S Brenda Bennett

    March 11, 2009 at 10:51 pm |
  35. Lisa Griffiths Australia

    Nooooo where are the people that we meet, on our street, going to go?

    I, for one, will miss them "Let me count the ways... Ha ha ha..." in the counting Count's voice..

    Bail Out Bert and Ernie please...
    we need co-operation, sharing, community and social interaction, with the odd letter and number on the side.

    March 11, 2009 at 9:56 pm |
  36. Tracy

    Well, I guess the parents that lost their jobs can fill in at home to keep the entertainment part of education alive. Hopefully everyone will get back to doing what they do best and Sesame street may live again!!

    March 11, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  37. Juanita

    It is so sad; I havae 4 grown children that all watched it and now my grandchildren watch. It is really sad.

    March 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm |
  38. Franky

    Ohh man, Sesame Street is also affected by this?? Before you now it, Cookie monster is gonna start eating cookies one by one...that's wrong! How dare you! Cookie monster didn't deserve this, he loves his cookies, we love cookies, it ain't fair. But I guess is not as embarrassing when Barney staring hating on his peeps because other characters were joining him...ohh yeah, I heard the urban legend, Barney never wanted that yellow dinosaur dude, LOL!! Thinks he's cool with his hat and all that...which it was but still, Barney hated more his job than Bob Sagat was when he was in Full House...now that's serious, LOL!

    Ohh lord, hopefully you guys havin a good evening, LOL!

    March 11, 2009 at 9:22 pm |
  39. SA

    ABC,it's easy as one ,two,three ! Will Jackson help and he's back on tour ! We'll be inventive,creative and make it happen !

    March 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  40. Isabel, Brazil

    The saddest is to see an educational show suffering from the crisis.

    But in times of recession and economic uncertainty in the market, some entrepreneurs paralyzes, others accelerates.
    There are entrepreneurs who can circumvent the vicissitudes of the corporate world and grow in the period in which the majority cut costs, dismisses and few are able to survive.

    On the weekend I read an matter with the champion of Big Brother Brazil, 2007 (Diego Gasques) that in two years, invested his prize in 3 different sectors (public relations, construction and Internet), businesses already paid themselves and he has tripled the prize.

    Today, it is rare but happens.
    People should get these examples and learn from them.

    March 11, 2009 at 8:45 pm |
  41. Lisa

    wow.
    do you think they may create a segment on the show explaining layoffs and telling children in an understanding manner about job losses and not being able to do certain family events because they cannot afford it?

    March 11, 2009 at 8:41 pm |
  42. Kim

    We're not losing SESAME STREET ! The little ones love it ! It's an educational journey and learning is FUN ! Call Hillary Clinton ! We can't loose SESAME STREET in this darn, economic traffic jam ! Does anybody really care out there ?

    March 11, 2009 at 8:32 pm |
  43. Kim

    End the mandates on PL 107-110 ! Support school system audits and transparancy for results ! Make it happen Ernie ! Crisis Management in our American School Systems on go for results ! Send Stimulus check to NC ! The Senator had to use educational lottery money to balance the state budget ! Uh Oh !

    March 11, 2009 at 8:27 pm |
  44. Sharon S

    Well at least Elmo will be safe he has made a fortune off of his Elmo dolls, Tickle me Elmo, Love Me Elmo, Stretch Elmo!
    But what will happen to Bert and Ernie? And Big Bird can probably find a job as a baseball mascot somewhere but what about Grouch how many jobs are there going to be for grumpy little things that live in trash cans?
    What is this world coming to? No more Sesame Street, it is just horrific!

    March 11, 2009 at 8:07 pm |
  45. April Decheine

    Great article, visiting our local pub every week there is one or two folks that we hear are being let go, it is really sad. I was downsized in 2005 and made the choice not to return to a traditional job. We made it after a tough year but now, my salary is a distant memory. Good luck to all that need it, we all need a helping hand!

    March 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm |
  46. Annie Kate

    "S" is for sad.

    Sesame Street has always been a favorite of my children and they have learned so much for it. Its sobering to see that they have to lay off too.

    March 11, 2009 at 7:51 pm |
  47. Cindy

    AWW..so I wonder who will get their walking papers first...Big Bird or Elmo!? LOL

    All kidding aside it is terrible that even our children's shows are feeling the pinch. Hopefully they'll be able to keep themselves up and running and not have to lay off more people. And I definitely hope they can stay up and running!!

    Cindy..Ga.

    March 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm |