- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 21, 2004

Global Muppet power

The makers of a new documentary about “Sesame Street” hope to show the global impact of the long-running PBS children’s program.

The upcoming film, “The World According to Sesame Street,” will examine the cultural, political and social impact of the various foreign versions of “Sesame Street,” Reuters News Agency reports. A crew is gearing up to travel across several continents as part of the planned year-long shoot.

Among the topics the film will tackle are the impact of an HIV-positive Muppet character in compelling the South African government to address the country’s HIV/AIDS epidemic, the creation of a strong female character that challenged traditional gender roles in Egypt and programming designed to foster cross-cultural tolerance in post-conflict Kosovo.

The indie film will be produced and directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton and Linda Hawkins. Miss Knowlton’s producing credits include “The Shipping News” and the Oscar-nominated “Whale Rider.”

Miss Hawkins has directed and produced for various film and television companies including CBS, Fox, Animal Planet and Oxygen.

Quotable Hollywood

“Leave the gun, take the cannolis.”

“Show me the money.”

“Round up the usual suspects.”

Got a favorite movie line? Plenty of us do. So it’s only fitting that the American Film Institute will count down some of the best in a forthcoming special, Reuters reports.

The nonprofit AFI has sent ballots to 1,500 members of the film community, including artists, critics and historians, with some 400 quotes from which to choose. Space will also be provided for write-in considerations.

The winners will be announced in a three-hour televised special slated for June 2005 on CBS.

“Casablanca” led the way with seven quotes — the most of any film represented in the contest with such lines as Humphrey Bogart’s famous lament as bar owner Rick Blaine: “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

Also included among the entries are: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” (“Gone with the Wind”), “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” (Mae West’s “She Done Him Wrong”), “May the Force be with you” (“Star Wars”), “I see dead people” (“The Sixth Sense”), and “Houston, we have a problem” (“Apollo 13”).

“The Wizard of Oz” was the second most represented film with six quotes; Mr. Bogart was the most represented actor with 10 quotes on the ballot.

As for actresses, Bette Davis, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland and Vivien Leigh each have four memorable movie quotes on the ballot.

Among directors, Billy Wilder was the most represented with 13 quotes he’d written, while Frances Ford Coppola had nine. Seven were from his “Godfather” films, including Don Vito Corleone’s (Marlon Brando) “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

9,000 ‘Children’

Prime-time shows often brag about reaching milestones like a 100th or — much less frequently — 200th installment.

That puts some perspective on ABC’s “All My Children,” which just celebrated its 9,000th episode, Associated Press notes.

Although the daytime soap’s history includes a prison break, ghosts, dozens of marriages and a bear attack, the celebration itself turned out to be… well, not so melodramatic.

The cast gathered for cake and a group picture, with each actor holding a sign displaying the number of episodes aired since they first appeared on the show.

The card of Susan Lucci, 54, who plays diva Erica Kane, read 9,000. She joined the cast playing a teenager, when the show debuted in 1970.

How has she kept it topical for nearly 35 years?

“Part of it is the script is different every day,” Miss Lucci told AP after posing for the photo. “You have no choice. It’s fresh. It’s hot off the presses.”

The 9,000th episode, set to air Dec. 16, deals with the ongoing baby switch saga concerning Kane’s daughter, Bianca Montgomery (played by Eden Riegel) and her believed-to-be-missing baby Miranda.

“The baby story has got to be up in the top five (story lines) over the 35 years,” executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers gushed. “You can’t go anywhere in the country and say you’re associated with the show without someone asking, ‘When is she getting the baby back?’ “

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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