Move over Jimmy Fallon: Elmo’s new talk show will feature Sesame Street friends and A-list celebs

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  • The Muppet will host HBO's ‘The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo’ which begins streaming May 27
  • The official trailer featured the Jonas Brothers, Cookie Monster and other A-listers
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Muppet Elmo from Sesame Street is getting his own talk show. This image released by Sesame Workshop shows muppet character Elmo, who will host a family friendly show called “The Not Too Late Show with Elmo.” It begins streaming May 27 on HBO Max. (Richard Termine/Sesame Workshop via AP) Photo: AP

There was a time, not too long ago, when Broadway star Ben Platt (Pitch Perfect, Dear Evan Hansen) was interviewed by a monster. A perfectly nice monster, of course.

It was Elmo.

Elmo asked Platt what was his favourite music to sing. Cookie Monster interrupted to ask what was Platt’s favorite cookie. “Oatmeal chocolate chip,” replied Platt in one exchange.

“Good answer,” said Cookie Monster. “But, then again, there’s no such thing as bad cookie.” After a stellar group rendition of the song C Is for Cookie, Elmo presented his guest with a placemat. “A placemat for Ben Platt,” commented Cookie, proud of the rhyme.

This meeting of furry monsters and human singer is part of a new Sesame Workshop family friendly talk show on HBO Max called The Not Too Late Show with Elmo. It begins streaming May 27.

Other guests during the initial 13-week episode run include musicians Kacey Musgraves, the Jonas Brothers, Lil Nas X, Josh Groban, Sara Bareilles, Dan + Shay, and Ciara; comedian John Mulaney; and actors Miles Brown, Blake Lively, Olivia Wilde, Jason Sudeikis, and Sofia Carson.

The show is the brainchild of Elmo – don’t tell him differently – and employs his Muppet friends: Cookie Monster is the sidekick, Rosita is the stage manager, Abby Cadabby is the writer, and various monsters are the directors, riffing on the idea that everyone wants to direct.

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“Throughout the 15-minute duration of the episode, Elmo is talking about one specific bedtime ritual, like putting on your pyjamas or reading a book or brushing your teeth,” said Ben Lehmann, executive producer of Sesame Street and The Not-Too-Late Show.

Sesame Workshop has also offered helpful resources and activities online during the pandemic. “It’s an important time to be there for families and kids, so we’re trying to do our part as best we can,” Lehmann said.

“Obviously, the whole thing is meant to be playful and a fun family experience so rather than spend a lot of time talking, we spend more time playing games like Hot Potato or Tic-Tac-Toe,” he said.

The talk show business may be ruthless, but late night hosts Jimmy Fallon and John Oliver make appearances and help sharpen Elmo’s interview skills. Elmo challenges Fallon to a stare contest, which is not entirely fair since Elmo doesn’t have eyelids.

Actor Ben Platt hangs out with Cookie Monster and Elmo for 'The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo'.During a visit to The Not-Too-Late Show set in New York City before the pandemic shutdown, the technology used was both high-tech and low. Three digital cameras, a teleprompter and a microphone boom were employed, but a half-moon prop was dangled over Elmo’s desk on a pole with a wire, like a fishing gear. A crew member cut fake cookies into a crescent shape. It’s the real deal.

The team putting the show together was able to keep on schedule despite the virus pandemic. Equipment was moved to staff members’ homes so post-production, editing and sound effects could be done remotely.

In an interview after the taping, Elmo said he was having a great time. “It’s wonderful meeting new people. Elmo gets to meet new guests on the show every day,” he said.

“Elmo gets to learn about everybody, too. It’s wonderful.”

He said his favourite games include teddy bear dressing races, monster makeovers, freeze dances and tricycle races. Elmo promised plenty of music, sketches and games.

“There’s a lot of good stuff in store. You’ll see.”

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