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Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame…

Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Michael Davis

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4402823,849 (3.38)20
Title:Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street
Authors:Michael Davis
Info:Viking Adult (2008), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:nonfiction, history, television

Work details

Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (2008)

  1. 82
    Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, Stories, Secrets, and Songs by David Borgenicht (lorax)
    lorax: "Unpaved" is an extensively illustrated coffee-table history of Sesame Street, with pictures and tidbits rather than the extensive biographies of every participant that made "Street Gang" such a slow read for many. A much better nostalgia fix.
  2. 00
    Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests by Tom Shales (Othemts)
  3. 00
    Jim Henson: The Works - The Art, the Magic, the Imagination by Christopher Finch (punkypower)

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How can you resist a book with Oscar the Grouch on the cover? My children loved Sesame Street and on occasion, in a pinch – don’t cringe at the thought – it was indeed an electronic babysitter. Having been fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom while my children were preschoolers I like to think I had a big impact on their early education, however, I must give Sesame Street its due in helping them start kindergarten knowing more than the basics.
Mr. Davis does a superb job of giving us the history not only behind the creation of Sesame Street but also of the iconic shows (Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo) that were to precursors to this longest running children’s show on television. The little pieces of history and trivia about the actors were priceless tidbits.
Starting out as dinner table conversation the concept of educational children’s programming fell firmly into the hands of Joan Ganz Cooney. She did the research and initiated the funding. The first two thirds of the book deals with these topics, so for die-hard Sesame Street fans it may seem a little tedious, but keep reading, the importance becomes apparent.
Mr. Davis clearly explains how this show was ground breaking on so many levels – it incorporated multiculturalism, dealt with age and gender issues, it did not shy aware from real life issues such as birth, death, marriage, love and loss, pain and pleasure.
Of course the chapters dealing directly with the creative side of the program were not only interesting but fun. The history of puppetteering and the meeting of minds between Jim Henson and Frank Oz are fascinating.
Interestingly enough Mr. Davis does not gloss over the less attractive aspects of the show and its production including, the progression of the show to its current form, the behind the scenes tensions, actors coming and going and being human, and the sale to Disney Corporation.
The book draws to a close with a beautiful recollection and tribute to Mr. Henson’s memorial service.
Having read some other reviews of the book, readers are saying there were many things left out. I say how can you possibly include everything? In my opinion this a wonderful tribute to a piece of programming history and all the people involved in making it happen. I listened to the audio version narrated brilliantly by Caroll Spinney (the long time voices of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch).
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Dude can't use a comma correctly to save his, life. ( )
  redrabbit | Nov 25, 2014 |
"If Sesame Street is the most successful show on television, it is also the most analyzed, criticized, evaluated, debated, debunked, championed, viewed with alarm, pointed to with pride, interpreted, misinterpreted, and overinterpreted media event since William Randolph Hearst declared war on Spain:---Ron Powers, television critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, 1970 (one year into the life of "Sesame Street").

Conceived in 1965 by television producer Joan Cooney and experimental psychologist Lloyd Morrisett, and born in 1969, "Sesame Street" became an overnight success after four years of gestation.

In Street Gang, Michael Davis takes us through the entire history of "Sesame Street". From research into how children watch television and learn (short segments, "jingles", colors, animation) to the decision to have Sesame Street, itself, an inner city street, to funding, to hiring everybody both in front of and behind the cameras.

Davis includes small biographies on each of the players as they arrive on the scene. The reader gets to know "Gordon and Susan" (Matt Robinson/Roscoe Orman and Loretta Long), Jim Henson and Frank Oz, Joe Raposo and Jon Stone, and countless other professionals and entertainers who strove to make "Sesame Street" the most innovative children's program on television yet.

Street Gang also gives a bit of background on earlier children's programming..."The Howdy Doody Show", "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" and, possibly most importantly, "Captain Kangaroo".

Writers and producers (including Jon Stone) from "Captain Kangaroo" were involved in the development and production of "Sesame Street". The character of Mr. Hooper (portrayed by Will Lee) was created as homage to Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo). Although, reading through Street Gang, one would think it was actually Oscar the Grouch (brought to life by Caroll Spinney) who was meant to mirror Keeshan.

This is probably the most comprehensive book you will ever read about any television show. Yet, far from being a dry tome, author Michael Davis keeps Street Gang flowing (much like "Sesame Street", itself) with quick moving scenes, so the reader is never bogged down in the details that could easily become tiresome, such as the financial and political wranglings in creating and keeping this show on the air. Davis gives us just enough at just the right time to keep the story flowing.

If you have any doubt about whether you should read Street Gang, pick it up, read the prologue...and then enjoy the rest of the book. ( )
  retropelocin | Dec 13, 2013 |
I wanted to like this book. I was excited to pick this up and start reading. Unfortunately, the book very much let me down. Truth be told, I don't think this is the kind of story best told with written word, but rather would better suit a TV documentary. As a person trying to get into the children's television business, I was hoping for a little insight on the creative end of Sesame Street, more so than the business end prior to Sesame Street, which the beginning of the book definitely pushed.

Overall, It wasn't my kind of book. I can't recommend it whole-heartedly, but worth taking a peek at if you're at all interested. ( )
  Kewpie83 | Apr 3, 2013 |
I tried to put my review for this on right after I read it, but I was foiled by poor wifi access. So the short version is that I liked this book because it was thorough in touching all the different things that affected Sesame Street's creation, nostalgic for me when I recognized different skits and scenes, and well-written in that it kept me reading right along. ( )
  sriemann | Apr 1, 2013 |
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Prologue: Joan Ganz Cooney walked toward the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street, lost in a fog of grief.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670019968, Hardcover)

In advance of the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, comes Street Gang, Michael Davis's compelling--and often comical--story of the creation and history of the media masterpiece and pop culture landmark, told with the cooperation of one of the show's co-founders, Joan Ganz Cooney. Sesame Street was born as a result of a discussion at Cooney's home about the poor quality of children's programming, and hit the air as a big bang of creative fusion from Jim Henson and company, quickly rocketing to success. Street Gang, traces the evolution of the show from its inspiration in the civil rights movement through its many ups and downs--from Nixon trying to cut off its funding to the rise of Elmo--via the remarkable personalities who have contributed to it, and reveals how it has taught millions of children not only their letters and numbers, but cooperation and fair play, tolerance and self-respect, conflict resolution, and the importance of listening. This is the unforgettable story of five decades of social and cultural change, and the miraculous creative efforts, passion and commitment of writers, producers, directors, animators and puppeteers who have created one of the most influential shows in the history of television.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:29 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The story of one of the most important and beloved shows on television, how it got started, nearly failed, and was saved by Elmo. This is the unforgettable story of five decades of social and cultural change and the miraculous creative efforts, passion, and commitment of the writers, producers, directors, animators, and puppeteers who created one of the most influential programs in the history of television.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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