Sesame Street has been franchised all over the world; in Israel, it’s called “Rehov Sumsum.” In 1986, an English-language program called “Shalom Sesame” used elements of both American Sesame Street and Rechov Sumsum to create a video series about Jewish culture and life in Israel. It featured segments with Hollywood celebrities from the era, including Bonnie Franklin and Sarah Jessica Parker.
For the last year or so, Sesame Workshop’s been working on a reboot of the series, and now the AP has announced that a new group of celebrities have signed on to do appearances in Sesame segments, which will be filmed in both the US and in Israel at several tourist-based locations including the Western Wall.
Celebs include Jake Gyllenhaal, Debra Messing and Christina Applegate.
According to the report (as cited on AccessHollywood.com), “the new incarnation will tackle more issues of diversity for Jewish children and be accompanied by an interactive Web site and other outreach materials.”
An official release quotes Danny Labin, executive director of the project as well as of the upcoming 40 new episodes of Rechov Sumsum that are simultaneously being produced in Hebrew and Arabic to be launched on Channel HOP! in December 2009:
“Nothing speaks to children and families better than Sesame Street, so the new production of Shalom Sesame is bound to make a real impact on understanding and connection for the newest generation of Israeli and North American Jews,” said Danny Labin, Executive Director for both the Shalom Sesame and Rechov Sumsum projects. “The project is a platform for children, parents, and educators to explore their Jewish identity, culture and traditions.”