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Skoll bankrolls ‘Sesame’

Docu will compete at Sundance and shop for a distrib

EBay founder Jeff Skoll’s Participant Prods. is fully financing and producing docu, “The World According to Sesame Street,” from co-directors Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins Costigan.

Film, which will compete at Sundance and shop for a distrib, is about the complexities and challenges Sesame Workshop faces in producing international versions of the world’s most watched television program.

Docu was filmed in Bangladesh, Kosovo and South Africa, where “Sesame Street” producers have tailored the program to local auds, introducing, for instance, an HIV-positive puppet in AIDS-ravaged South Africa.

Knowlton (“Whale Rider”) and Costigan (“Sounds True”) are producers, while Skoll is exec producing. Participant signed onto the project after they had begun shooting. Sesame Workshop did not put up any money.

Skoll founded Participant with an eye to financing and producing films that advance social causes. The first three features nabbing Participant money were this season’s “North Country,” “Syriana” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Now Participant is looking to ramp up its docu slate. This fall, Diane Weyermann ankled the Sundance Institute to serve as Participant’s exec VP of documentary production, overseeing inhouse productions and acquisitions.

Participant also helped finance docu “An Inconvenient Truth,” featuring Al Gore, which will play at Sundance’s Spectrum section. Earlier this year, Participant also teamed with ThinkFilm on docu “Murderball.”

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