Sesame Street will join HBO for five seasons without three familiar faces, according to a statement released by Sesame Workshop. Longtime cast members Bob McGrath, 84, ("Bob"), Emilio Delgado, 76, ("Luis") and Roscoe Orman, 72, ("Gordon"), have been let go of the children's program. McGrath has been a part of the show since its inception in 1969. Delgado joined shortly after in 1971 and Orman in 1974.
"Sesame Street is produced by Sesame Workshop, which is an independent production company, and the casting decision was made by them," said PBS CEO Paula Kerger. "We did not know about it beforehand. We found out about it after."
Earlier this week, McGrath confirmed his 45th season on the program would be his last on the MuppetCast podcast, implying that ageism could have been a factor in the decision. "The show has gone under a major turnaround," said the actor. "Going from an hour to a half hour. 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."
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street, partnered with HBO in January. It released a statement denying that HBO had any impact on the firings: "Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman remain a beloved part of the Sesame family and continue to represent us at public events ... We are constantly evolving our content and curriculum, and hence, our characters, to meet the educational needs of children ... As we’ve stated previously, Sesame Workshop retains sole creative control over the show. HBO does not oversee the production."