Sesame Street creators sue R-rated puppet movie

The creators of iconic children's TV show Sesame Street are suing the company behind an upcoming film that shows puppets using drugs and having sex.

The Happytime Murders, starring Melissa McCarthy, tells the story of the brutal murders of the cast of a 1980s TV show who happen to be puppets.

The first trailer for the film was released earlier this month, and depicts the characters - some of whom resemble Sesame Street figures - engaging in some very adult activities.

Puppets are seen working as prostitutes, snorting lines of ecstasy represented by glitter and in one memorable scene, having sex and seeming to ejaculate silly string.

Sesame Workshop, the educational organisation behind the beloved TV show that first aired in 1969, has now filed a lawsuit against STX Productions, which produced The Happytime Murders.

The organisation claims the trailer has "diluted and defiled" Sesame Street's reputation as wholesome family entertainment.

The lawsuit claims that marketing for The Happytime Murders was deliberately designed to confuse audiences and make them think Sesame Street was affiliated with the film.

One of the film's taglines is 'No Sesame. All Street.' The trailer includes the phrase 'The director of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island'.

In a statement, Sesame Workshop said that the TV show was "being exploited to market this R-rated film". The organisation says it has no desire to stop the film from being released or promoted.

"Rather this is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association."

Brian Henson, son of the late puppeteer Jim Henson, who created The Muppets and helped to develop characters for Sesame Street, directed the film.

The Jim Henson Company also co-produced The Happytime Murders, but in an email included with the lawsuit, CEO Lisa Henson indicated her disapproval of how the film's characters were designed.

"We resisted creative suggestions to make some characters look more like Anything Muppets or Muppet monsters, because that was exactly wrong for the movie. Trading off the famous Muppets to sell the film is exactly what we did not want to have happen."

The Happytime Murders will be released on August 17.


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