Sesame Street fans were taken aback to learn that the series had more or less done away with Luis the fix-it man, Bob the music teacher, and Gordon the science teacher, cutting actors Emilio Delgado, Bob McGrath, and Roscoe Orman. Now, Sesame CEO Jeff Dunn steps in to clarify the matter, noting that while the actors aren’t fired altogether, they won’t be seen in the current season.

McGrath had recently spoken out about being “let go,” but according to Dunn, the actors had simply not been utilized for the current half-hour season, something that hadn’t properly been communicated to them. McGrath had joined Sesame Street with its first year in 1969, while Orman took over the role of Gordon from Garrett Saunders in 1974, and Delgado joined as Luis in 1971. Says Dunn:

We apologize for the misunderstandings around the changing cast roles at Sesame Street. Over more than 40 seasons, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman have made enormous contributions to both television and to the lives of preschoolers. They are, and always will be, a key part of the Sesame family.

As always, our curriculum and educational goals drive our story lines and character appearances. These change season-to-season. In 2014, when we first began producing the current half-hour show format, we let all of our cast members know of the shorter story lines and, therefore, reduced appearances. However, our production team also intentionally left the door open for all actors to continue to appear, based on the story lines that were written in any future season. In our latest season, the story lines written did not include appearances by these three actors and we certainly could have done a better job of communicating with them about our ongoing episode plans.

I have been in touch with each of them to meet in person about how we best adapt their talents to the current content needs and preschool media landscape, in a way that honors their historic contributions. We are very grateful for the many loyal fans of Sesame who continue to care so deeply about the show and what it means to them.

A prior message from the Sesame Street team also stressed that the changes had nothing to do with the move to HBO, as “HBO does not oversee the production.”

It stands to reason that Emilio Delgado, Bob McGrath, and Roscoe Orman will return as their characters sometime in the next season, but is Sesame Street still mistaken to bench its oldest human characters all the same?

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