"Million Muppet March" planned to defend U.S. backing for PBS

Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:49pm EDT
 

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) - Plans to save Big Bird, the fuzzy yellow character on U.S. public television's "Sesame Street," from possible extinction are taking shape in the form of a puppet-based protest next month dubbed the "Million Muppet March."

The demonstration is planned for November 3 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., three days before the general election.

Before the presidential debate between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney had concluded on October 3, two men who had never met each floated the Million Muppet March idea on social media. They immediately united to defend public broadcasting.

Romney pledged during the debate to end the U.S. federal government's subsidy for the Public Broadcasting Service despite his professed love for Big Bird, one of the characters on PBS's 43-year-old children's educational program "Sesame Street," which features the Muppets.

Michael Bellavia, 43, an animation executive from Los Angeles, and Chris Mecham, 46, a university student in Idaho, separately came up with the Million Muppet March idea in response.

Big Bird, played by actor Carroll Spinney in an 8-foot (2.5-metre) bird costume, is strictly speaking not a member of the group of puppet characters known as the Muppets.

Bellavia bought the Internet address www.millionmuppetmarch.com during the debate and discovered Mecham had already started a Facebook page by the same name.

Within 30 minutes of the end of the debate they were on the phone with each other, planning the march.   Continued...

 
Sesame Street character Big Bird sits onstage before accepting a lifetime achievement award at the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles in this August 30, 2009 file photograph. During the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, Romney pledged to stop the U.S. subsidy for the Public Broadcasting Service despite his professed love for Big Bird, one of the characters on PBS's 43-year-old program Sesame Street, starring the Muppets. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/Files