My "hard hitting" interview with Grover, Cookie Monster and Maria - TCA Report
by Joel Keller, posted Aug 2nd 2009 8:01PM
(Update - 8/3: Added the pic I took with Abby, Cookie Monster, and Sonia. This will be the only time you see me be in a photo with a celebrity here. In this case, I can let my journalistic standards slide a bit.)
Here's a fun thing to help close the first week of the press tour. Before yesterday's panel on the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, Sonia Manzano, who's played Maria for the entire run, was outside the ballroom greeting people, as were three of the actors/puppeteers: David Rudman (Cookie Monster), Leslie Carrara (Abby Cadabby) and Eric Jacobson (Grover). Of course, all three brought along their characters to talk to the crowd, take pictures with the critics, and generally make everyone smile.
What I've always loved about the Muppets and the actors who give them life is that, not only are they speaking on a level that both adults and children can appreciate, but they're always so good and improvising. Think about this; it's not easy to say something funny on the spot when a reporter shoves a tape recorder in you face. And that's without a big ball of fur on your right hand. So I decided to goof around with Grover and Cookie Monster and threw them some curveballs. I also spoke to Manzano after the panel was over. All the audio is after the jump.
I wanted to get Grover's take on the Snuggie, which seems to look suspiciously like him. He told me "I think that could be a new job opportunity; I like hugging people".
Grover on the Snuggie (0:41)
Then I asked Cookie Monster about the flap over his going from an all cookie, all the time lifestyle to a healthier cookies-sometimes regimen. He told me he eats all sorts of things besides cookies, and not just vegetables. "I eat bicycle tire. I eat Christmas tree." When asked to pick his favorite cookie, he agonized about it -- "It like choosing favorite child" -- before picking one.
Cookie Monster on his new regimen and fave cookie (1:13)
Finally, I and a few other reporters spoke to Manzano about how she got the job as Maria and how she's liked her time on the show. I've got to say, it's hard to believe she's 57 years old; she looks fantastic, not much older-looking than the Maria of my youth. And she was as nice as you'd imagine; when a bunch of us were walking from the TCA awards cocktail hour to the ballroom that held the ceremony, we encountered Manzano in the hallway, coming from the pool. We invited her to come along; of course she didn't want to go dripping wet in her robe. But she showed up at the post-ceremony cocktail party, where she hung out almost as late as some of the last stragglers did.
Sonia Manzano on being Maria for 40 years (3:13)