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Rio’s TV Cultura opens own ‘Sesame’

Pubcaster to air local version of kids series

RIO DE JANEIRO — Big Bird and Elmo will join Bebel in Rio sometime this summer.

Local pubcaster TV Cultura has announced the production and airing of a customized version of kids series Sesame Street, including Bebel, a 3-year-old, pink puppet Sesame Workshop has created for the Brazilian series.

According to the net’s programming director, Mauro Garcia, TV Cultura and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” have inked a three-year agreement for production of the series in Brazil. The parties are discussing an accord, under which the pubcaster will license “Sesame Street’s” puppets, toys and other products here, he says.

A local version of “Sesame Street” aired on TV Cultura and leading net TV Globo in the 1970s. Since then, several unsuccessful attempts have been made to resume production of the series in Brazil. In the most recent attempt, local education net TV Futura inked an accord with Sesame Workshop in late 2003, but the net did not manage to bring the show to the air.

“As opposed to other nets that have tried to make “Sesame Street” here, TV Cultura has a production facility and a team,” Garcia says.

In fact, the pubcaster has a long tradition in the production of kids programming, and it recently created a production unit with an exclusive studio, which will concentrate on the making of all of its shows for kids. Its puppet series, “Cocorico,” is successful both in ratings and licensed product sales, and has been exported to Venezuela, Argentina and Angola.

The first season of “Sesame Street” will have 78 hourlong episodes to air starting in October. Both TV Cultura and the pubcaster’s paynet TV Ra-tim-bum will air the series Monday through Friday in the morning, with an afternoon rerun.

Garcia says the pubcaster will invest 1.5 million reais ($750,000) to produce the first year’s shows. This figure does not include the use of TV Cultura’s facility, equipment and permanent crews in Sao Paulo.

The net will start production in June in Sao Paulo, with sketches of Big Bird and Bebel. Also in June, TV Cultura will start to dub to Portuguese Sesame Workshop’s original animations, and sketches with Elmo and other characters. In July and August, it will shoot the documentary inserts with local kids, Garcia says.

TV Cultura belongs to the Padre Anchieta Foundation, which has as its main sponsor the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s wealthiest and most populous state.

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