Elmo and PBS: Network head says 'Sesame Street' character isn't going anywhere

paula-kerger-pbs-gi.jpgThe furry red toddler will live on.

Elmo will remain a major character on "Sesame Street." Though he seems to be everywhere, Elmo is not the official face of PBS Kids, Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS, says in a wide-ranging one-on-one with Zap2it.

"I think about Kevin a lot, and his commitment to 'Sesame Street' and the work he does and how he loves the work," Kerger says about Kevin Clash, who resigned after repeated accusations that he had sex with underage boys. "That is why he made the decision to step back. He is extraordinarily talented and this is extraordinarily sad."

"PBS Kids has not shied away from using Elmo," she says, adding that few people realize which character trumps him. "Curious George is actually the No. 1 show of PBS Kids."


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Other children's shows such as "SuperWHY," "Word Girl" and "Cat in the Hat" are extremely popular and used in promotions, Kerger says. Still, Elmo, the perpetually popular character who speaks like a 3-year-old, will continue to be used.

"The character is the character," she says. "And 'Sesame Street' is a show on television for more than 40 years."

She likened Clash no longer providing the squeaky voice to Elmo to how Kermit is still going strong, almost 23 years after the death of Jim Henson, the Muppets' creator and Kermie's original voice.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images, PBS