"Sesame Street" may be giving a reprieve to three of its most-beloved, non-Muppet residents.
Bob McGrath (Bob), Emilio Delgado (Luis) and Roscoe Orman (Gordon) all believed they'd been let go from the show, until an outpouring of love from fans put the pressure on. Sesame Workshop – the production company that produces the iconic children's show – seems to be pulling back from a decision not to create any more segments with the characters.
McGrath, 84, who has been a featured character on the show since its launch in 1969, first mentioned on July 2 that he, Delgado and Orman had been fired from the show during a Q&A session at the Florida Supercon event.
“As of this season, I have completed my 45th season this year. And the show has gone under a major turnaround, going from an hour to a half-hour," the longtime castmember said. "HBO has gotten involved also, and they let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka — who is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us — and Chris Knowings, who is also young,” McGrath said.
As reported by Variety, PBS CEO Paula Kerger said Thursday that the casting decision had been made by HBO, and they were unaware until after it happened.
Sesame Workshop at first tried to spin the move, pointing out that viewers would still get to see the characters.
“All three of them continue to appear in segments on the show – including in our upcoming Season 47,” a spokesperson for the company said in an email to Fox News Latino. “From the very beginning, 'Sesame Street' has had a tradition of re–airing content because we’ve found that repeated viewings deepens the educational impact for children.”
But the media and social media response seems to have reversed the call.
Fox News Latino got this message from Emilio Delgado: "Due to your overwhelming reaction regarding the status of myself and others on the show, the new producers of 'Sesame Street' have reached out to us with an expressed desire to continue our longstanding relationship, to be initiated with a meeting in September. Hopefully, this will result in the inclusion of veteran cast members in upcoming productions. I look forward to sharing with you at such time, the results of that conversation. Thanks again for your loving support and devotion to 'Sesame Street' and to what it has meant to the children of the world."
Delgado, 76, joined the show in 1971, debuting as Luis the handyman at the same time as Raúl Julia’s character, Rafael. Luis married Maria, played by Sonia Manzano, and the two would be instrumental in introducing Hispanic culture to generations of "Sesame Street" viewers. Manzano retired from the show in 2015.
Though he wasn’t the original Gordon, Orman had played the character since 1974. Gordon was the patriarch of the Robinsons, an African-American family that had been on "Sesame Street" since the beginning. Orman also played Trash Gordon, a superhero made up for Oscar the Grouch.
HBO signed a deal to produce the next five seasons of "Sesame Street" last year and to air new shows first on the network’s channels, before they're broadcast on PBS. The deal went into effect in the fall of 2015.
McGrath told KQED that he believed the attempt to change the cast was part of the fallout from the HBO deal.