'Sesame St.' heads for Shanghai Expo

Live show producers say only 'stay tuned' for media deals

BEIJING -- Big Bird and Shanghai Expo 2010 mascot Haibao joined the Sesame Street gang and German chemicals company sponsor BASF in Shanghai Saturday to give assembled Chinese kids a preview of an interactive environmental education program set to run twice daily during the upcoming global trade show.

Produced by Sesame Workshop, producers of the hit U.S. children's television show "Sesame Street," the live "Magic Map Show" will run May 1 - Oct. 31, at the Expo Garden's Dock Theater, Maura Regan, sr. vp and gm of global consumer products for Sesame, said.

"Big Bird first came to China in 1983 and when he heard about the World Expo in Shanghai, he couldn't wait to come back to see some old friends, many of whom have their own children today, and to make some new friends like Haibao,” Regan said.

Asked if the event forecast a return of Sesame Street to China's broader media landscape, Regan said only, "Stay tuned."

A Chinese version of Sesame Street called "Zhima Jie" (lit., Sesame Street) aired on Shanghai Television from 1998-2001, featuring Da Niao (Big Bird) and localized characters Hu Hu Zhu and Xiao Mei Zi, and a series of educational books were published here in 2003.

While Viacom's Nickelodeon has managed to make "Spongebob Squarepants" among the top animated TV shows for kids in China, government regulations have in recent years made it difficult for other imported kids programming to reach China's 395 million TV households, the largest such audience in the world.