Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Special Gloves Needed: First Lady Michelle Obama Will Teach Muppets How to Garden

The Obama Admin loves Muppets: First Lady's gardening video...
First Lady Michelle Obama will appear in the season premiere of Sesame Street on November 10, as the long-running show enters its 40th year. Even better, she'll be showing the furry funnies critical gardening skills...by planting tomato, cucumber and lettuce seeds with the Muppets, and the kids who "live" in the neighborhood. (Above: Mrs. Obama during her Sesame Street appearance)

"All these seeds need to grow are sun, soil and water. If you eat these healthy foods, you're going to grow up to be big and strong, like me," Mrs. Obama tells the kids, Elmo and Big Bird as they get set to plant. "I know you're going to like these vegetables, because in addition to being healthy, they really taste great!"

Mrs. Obama has appeared with Sesame Street characters previously, as part of a healthy eating campaign public service announcement, and it's a good way to further bring the healthy food agenda to kids. Mrs. Obama called her May 6 appearance on the show "a thrill."

"I think it's probably the best thing I've done so far in the White House...we were there talking about nutrition and healthy eating, and it's just been a thrill," Mrs. Obama said.

Sesame Street is broadcast in 120 countries around the globe, which is swell--because Mrs. Obama's White House Kitchen Garden inspires international interest, and Mrs. Obama reports that it's the first thing "prime ministers, kings, and queens" ask her about. Topic #2? Bo the First Dog, who could actually be a Muppet...and hmmm, perhaps the Muppets' global popularity explains the big interest in Bo. Other celeb guests for the new Sesame Street season are Cameron Diaz, Ricky Gervais, Kobe Bryant, and Eva Longoria-Parker. The new season also focuses on a two-year science initiative on the show, "My World is Green and Growing." (Above: Bo, Muppet channeler, with a tennis ball, not an apple...although Tennis Ball lettuce grows in the Kitchen Garden)

Noted: The Obama Admin's enduring adoration of Sesame Street characters is fascinating, especially for the large cadre of today's media-savvy parents who grew up with the Muppets and find them to be a combination of adorable and annoying. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has been photographed with the Cookie Monster and other characters as part of a healthy eating campaign (which raises the question--is a puppet that's a compulsive over eater the right role model for moderation?), and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has partnered with Elmo to teach proper hygiene to prevent transmission of H1N1 (er, Swine) flu. (Above: Sec. Sebelius with Elmo; Below, Sec. Vilsack with an apparently reformed Cookie Monster)

*Photos: Mrs. Obama & Muppets from Richard Termine/Reuters; Elmo & Sec. Sebelius via Getty; Sec. Vilsack & Cookie Monster from USDA.

Update, Oct. 1: Time magazine's TV blogger James Poniewozik does a send-up of the expected Right Wing response to Mrs. Obama's Sesame Street appearance in Elmo, Michelle Obama to Indoctrinate Your Kids With Veggies.