Muppets in Moscow: The Unexpected Crazy True Story of Making Sesame Street in Russia

Rowman & Littlefield. Oct. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781538161289. $26.99. TV
Rogoff’s wild tale of producing the Russian version of Sesame Street (Ulitsa Sezam) in the early to mid-1990s is skillfully written and a joy to read. She takes readers on the perilous journey that began when she accepted the assignment to launch the show in a post-Soviet Moscow; she was then a young Russian-speaking American independent documentary filmmaker who loved Russia and its culture. Ulitsa Sezam was partially funded by the United States, but Rogoff was responsible for financing the rest of the project. Her account of producing Ulitsa Sezam demonstrates the sheer creativity and all the joys and difficulties—at one point, there’s a military takeover of the production office—involved in the project. She carefully explains the work by U.S. and Russian set designers, puppeteers, musicians, and writers to create Russian puppets (that weren’t the “ambassadors of Western values” the United States had envisioned) and sets. The tale of this collaboration between U.S. and Russian artists working toward a shared educational goal creates a very unique story that is important and timely.
VERDICT For all readers interested in understanding international media and film production and its role in U.S. diplomacy.
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