Longtime readers of this blog know that I love television. I majored in Radio-TV-Film in college and worked in the first two media for several years (including a stint as a PA on the Tonight Show). So I gladly accepted an invitation from the folks at PBS to attend a television critics preview of their Fall 2009 season.
The day began with a sneak peek of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary season... and like all good press junkets, the stars were on hand for a meet and greet.
Yeah, that's me, along with Kimberley Clayton Blaine ("The GoTo Mom") and two of television's biggest stars: Grover and the Cookie Monster. And I confess - I was all over them. I just couldn't resist copping a little feel.
These Muppets are the real deal. Up close, they look like my kid's most beloved, aged plush animals. Their handlers were real, too. They infuse these characters with so much personality, that you tend to forget they're there and talk directly to the puppets.
I told Grover my daughter was going to be jealous when she saw the photo.
"Why didn't you bring her," he asked.
I had known that some of the Sesame Street characters would be there and had asked my daughter if she wanted to come and pose for picture with Big Bird -- but at 13, she's at an age where she's trying to distance herself from little kid stuff. I decided not to tell that to Grover. "She wanted to sleep in," I said.
"Grover wanted to sleep in, too," he cried.
I was also admonished by Cookie Monster, because I did not bring him any sweet, chewy treats. Protesting about my diet didn't help.
Someone had actually brought a toddler to the event, and it was fun to watch a room of hardened TV critics being charmed by the sight of the little girl's delight at meeting Sesame Street's Abby.
It's easy to forget how artful the Muppeteers are. The three at the event (Leslie "Abby"Carrera, Eric "Grover" Jacobsen and David "Cookie Monster" Rudman) were impressive comedians and improvisers, and meeting them was a highlight of a day that also included stars and luminaries like Ken Burns and Alan Alda. The event continues today, with appearances by Joan Baez, Patti Smith, Jonny Lee Miller, and David Tennant (who is following up his stint as "Doctor Who" as the new host of Masterpiece Contemporary).
I've opted not to go for the second day. I came home yesterday with more material than I can handle, all of which needs to be written up for publication closer to the shows' airdates.
When my daughter saw the photo at the top of this post, she became dismayed. "You didn't tell me Cookie Monster would be there," she cried. "I would have gone if I'd known he was going to be there!"
So maybe next time, I'll be able to convince her to come with me. I'll have to remember to bring some cookies.
DISCLOSURE: I did not receive any monetary compensation to attend the PBS Preview event, nor did I promise to write any positive reviews. I received a PBS Kids branded swag bag containing press kits and DVD screeners of upcoming programs, as well as paperback books that accompany some of the shows. Attendees had the opportunity to receive a beautiful coffee table book based on Ken Burns' 12-hour documentary on our National Parks, but I did not leave them my contact information for that. The event included a buffet breakfast (which I skipped) and a lunch (which was too good to resist). I paid for my own parking ($12).