HBO Sets January Premiere For ‘Sesame Street’

The Big Bird watching on premium cable is less than two months away. HBO will be sweepin’ the clouds away starting January 16 as Sesame Street changes addresses after 45 years on PBS. Two new episodes of the iconic preschooler series will bow back-to-back with its new half-hour format, new opening and closing songs and an updated set. And there will be a new segment called “Smart Cookies” with Cookie Monster that teaches “a Smart Cookie has to stop and think things through.”

There also will be a new cast member, Nina (newcomer Suki Lopez), a young, bilingual, Hispanic woman who will help the Street’s furry denizen solve their daily dilemmas and provide a positive role model for children. She replaces Sonia Monzano, who announced her retirement during the summer after having played Maria on Sesame Street since 1971.

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the series, and HBO partnered in August to bring first-run episodes of Sesame Street to the premium channel  and its streaming outlets. The group will produce 35 new half-hour episodes a year, down from 18 hourlong shows in the past. The new episodes will be available on free TV at PBS after an exclusive nine-month window on HBO.

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