Natasha Rogoff at Harvard Book Store

presents

Muppets in Moscow:
The Unexpected Crazy True Story
of Making Sesame Street in Russia

in conversation with GISH JEN

Date

Nov
7
Monday
November 7, 2022
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Bookstore welcomes award-winning television director, producer, and writer NATASHA ROGOFF for a discussion of her new book Muppets in Moscow: The Unexpected Crazy True Story of Making Sesame Street in Russia. She will be joined in conversation by award-winning novelist GISH JEN.

A Return to In-Person Events

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  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Muppets in Moscow

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the timing appeared perfect to bring Sesame Street to millions of children living in the former Soviet Union. With the Muppets envisioned as ideal ambassadors of Western values, no one anticipated just how challenging and dangerous this would prove to be.

In Muppets in Moscow: The Unexpected Crazy True Story of Making Sesame Street in Russia, Natasha Lance Rogoff brings this gripping tale to life. Amidst bombings, assassinations, and a military takeover of the production office, Lance Rogoff and the talented Moscow team of artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and puppeteers remained determined to bring laughter, learning, and a new way of seeing the world to children in Russia, Ukraine and across the former Soviet empire. With a sharp wit and compassion for her colleagues, Lance Rogoff observes how cultural clashes colored nearly every aspect of the production—from the show’s educational framework to writing comedy to the new Russian Muppets themselves—despite the team’s common goal.

Brimming with insight and nuance, Muppets in Moscow skillfully explores the post-Soviet societal tensions that continue to thwart the Russian people’s efforts to create a better future for their country. More than just a story of a children’s show, this book provides a valuable perspective of Russia’s people, their culture, and their complicated relationship with the West that remains relevant even today.

Praise for Muppets in Moscow

“In a sparkling memoir of the era and the enterprise, ‘Muppets in Moscow’, Natasha Lance Rogoff (as she is now) re-creates the frantic and vertiginous efforts to launch ‘Ulitsa Sezam’ against what turned out to be tremendous headwinds” ―Wall Street Journal

“The ‘unexpected crazy true story’ of Ulitsa Sezam (Sesame Street in Russian) is told by Natasha Lance Rogoff in a highly entertaining and readable new book, Muppets in Moscow, which recounts a litany of cultural clashes, wild west-style assassinations and dashed hopes about the post-communist era.” ―The Guardian

“In this thrilling debut, television producer and filmmaker Lance Rogoff recounts her mission to bring Sesame Street to Russian audiences. The resulting tale is one of perseverance and creativity that illuminates how even the most disparate cultures and perspectives can find common ground.” ―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Fascinating and timely, Muppets in Moscow is an enthralling read; such a unique story that highlights the turmoil of the fall of the Soviet era, and the difficult growing pains of a culture trying desperately to shift into the modern age. Loved every minute of it, and I’ll never look at Sesame Street the same way again! ―Ben Mezrich, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires

Gish Jen
Gish Jen

Gish Jen

Gish Jen is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a recipient of fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute and the Guggenheim Foundation as well as of a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction and of a Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her short work has appeared in the New Yorker and other magazines, and has been included in The Best American Short Stories four times, including The Best American Short Stories of the Century. She delivered the William E. Massey Sr. Lectures in American Studies at Harvard University, where she is currently a visiting professor.

Photo Credit: Basso Cannarsa

Natasha Lance Rogoff
Natasha Lance Rogoff

Natasha Lance Rogoff

Natasha Lance Rogoff is an award-winning television director, producer, and writer of more than 25 years. Her previous credits include executive producer of Ulitsa Sezam (Sesame Street in Russia) and producer of Plaza Sesamo (Sesame Street in Mexico). Lance Rogoff embedded herself with hardline Russian communist fascists for two years, filming “Russia for Sale” which aired on ABC’s Nightline with Ted Koppel the night of the failed 1991 coup that ended the Soviet Union. She is now an Associate in the Art, Film and Visual Studies Department at Harvard University and lives between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and New York City.

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