- - Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ann Curry, replaced as one of the NBC’s “Today” show hosts in June, made a return to the show’s set in London.

Ms. Curry was on the “Today” set in London on Thursday to introduce a filmed report on a still photographer. She lost her job as Matt Lauer’s co-anchor in June and was replaced by Savannah Guthrie.

Her story appeared in the show’s second hour. She introduced it while sitting on the set next to Mr. Lauer and had no on-air interactions with others on the “Today” team.

Ms. Curry’s banter with Mr. Lauer seemed polite but distant. Mr. Lauer said “nice to see you” at the outset and “good to see you” at the end. Ms. Curry returned neither sentiment.

She had appeared on “Today” once since her ouster, reporting from Aurora, Colo., after the movie theater shooting there.

'Sesame Street' seeking actor for new Hispanic role

So you grew up watching Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird, and now you want to be friends with Rosita, Luis and Maria.

If you are a bilingual actor or actress between the ages of 18 and 25, this may be the chance of a lifetime: “Sesame Street” is looking for a new Hispanic character.

The producers of “Sesame Street” told the Associated Press that they are holding an open casting call Aug. 20 at Manhattan’s Roseland Ballroom for a recurring character to join the “'Sesame Street' family.”

“We hope many people show up. We know the Latino community is full of talented people,” said Rocio Galarza, senior director of content planning, design and outreach for Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street.”

Although it’s too early to talk about the specifics of the new character — which would depend on the chosen actor’s background — Ms. Galarza said they are looking for someone capable of singing and improvising in both English and Spanish and with a good sense of humor.

“Sesame Street” debuted in 1969 and has added versions in countries such as Israel, Nigeria, Germany and Mexico, where “Plaza Sesamo” is produced. The series has always tried to adapt to the realities of the changing American population, which has seen a sharp increase in Hispanics in the last decades.

Ms. Galarza said the 44th season of “Sesame Street” will focus on the Hispanic heritage. “Sesame Street” airs on PBS Kids.

Hutterites demand apology from National Geographic

Leaders of a Hutterite colony are demanding an apology from the National Geographic Society and a pledge that it never again broadcast a television show they say misrepresented their way of life and damaged their reputation.

National Geographic Channel CEO David Lyle said Wednesday an apology is unwarranted because the show gave a fair and accurate depiction of colony life.

Caught in the middle are the stars of the show who say they have been told by elders to “tell the truth” but some of whom now fear possible excommunication.

“That’s what I’m scared of,” said Bertha Hofer about the possibility of being cut off from the King Ranch colony.

King Ranch colony minister John Hofer, Mrs. Hofer’s brother-in-law, wrote a July 31 letter to National Geographic Society chairman and CEO John Fahey that “American Colony: Meet the Hutterites” was supposed to be a National Geographic Channel documentary about the German-speaking agricultural community of Protestants in central Montana.

Instead, Mr. Hofer said, the producers turned it into a reality TV show that encouraged discord within the community by pitting generations against each other. Situations and storylines were invented and the people were told what to do and say while the camera was on, he said.

The result was an inaccurate depiction that has damaged the reputation of Hutterites everywhere, he said.

“We feel we were ambushed and publicly humiliated by the producers of Meet the Hutterites, and by the National Geographic Society,” Mr. Hofer wrote in his letter to Mr. Fahey. “King Ranch Colony did not sign up for this sort of abuse.”

Hutterites are Protestants of German descent whose traditional, religious-centered lives have been compared to that of the Amish and Mennonites, but they live in communelike colonies in rural areas of the western U.S. and Canada.

They also make use of some technology, especially when it comes to agricultural production. But the extent to which the Hutterites let in the modern world and the effect of that on their cultural and traditional values is one of the themes in the 10-part series about the King Ranch colony 10 miles west of Lewistown that aired earlier this year.

Producer Jeff Collins said he believes the negative response to the series originated with Hutterite elders in Canada. Those elders, he said, are unhappy that the Hutterites on the show chose to use the camera to talk about education, the role of women and the struggles of adapting to modern ways. Most on the King Ranch colony are pleased with and proud of the show, Mr. Collins said, but he believes they are now under external pressure to lodge a protest.

Mr. Lyle said he stands by the producer and that the show went through National Geographic’s fact-checking protocol.

“We believe in the show. We believe it’s a fair and accurate portrayal of the life in the part time that we were there,” Mr. Lyle said.

Compiled from Web and wire reports.