Sesame Street creators sue backer of raunchy puppet film

The upcoming film The Happytime Murders used the advertising tagline "No Sesame. All Street." which allegedly caused the public to believe it is connected to the Sesame Street children's TV show (left).
The upcoming film The Happytime Murders used the advertising tagline "No Sesame. All Street." which allegedly caused the public to believe it is connected to the Sesame Street children's TV show (above).TNP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES • The creators of Sesame Street have filed a lawsuit against the distributor of an upcoming raunchy Hollywood film The Happytime Murders to halt an advertising tagline that it claims falsely associates the film with the children's television show.

An early trailer release for the film shows Muppet-like characters engaged in sex, coarse language, drugs and violence.

Sesame Workshop alleges in the lawsuit, filed on Thursday in the New York state court, that STX Productions has created confusion among the public, causing them to believe the film is connected to the show, and infringed on the "Sesame Street" trademark.

"As evidenced by a parade of social media posts, e-mails and public comments, the 'No Sesame. All Street.' tagline has confused and appalled viewers because of what they believe to be a serious breach of trust," the lawsuit alleges.

STX has issued a statement in response.

"STX loved the idea of working closely with Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they're not performing," the statement said.

"While we're disappointed that 'Sesame Street' does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position," it added.

The Happytime Murders, scheduled for an Aug 17 release, is directed by Brian Henson, the son of The Muppet Show creator Jim Henson, who helped develop the puppet characters of Sesame Street when it launched in 1969.

The film stars comedian Melissa McCarthy as a detective who is tasked with tracking down a serial killer in a world in which puppets and humans coexist.

The lawsuit also asks for punitive damages and a jury trial.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 27, 2018, with the headline 'Sesame Street creators sue backer of raunchy puppet film'. Print Edition | Subscribe