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Television Reviews : Fun on Every Corner of 'Sesame Street Special'

March 14, 1988|LYNNE HEFFLEY

Barbara Walters sings, Martina Navratilova strums her tennis racket, Phil Donahue tells Oscar the Grouch to "hold your thought" and newscaster Robert MacNeil reports on the "Cookiegate" scandal, in which accused thief Cookie Monster confers with his counsel and stonewalls: "Me don't recall."

Children are welcome to watch, but tonight's disarming, tongue-in-cheek "Sesame Street Special," airing at 8 on Channels 28 and 15 as part of public television's current fund-raising drive, is an adult-pleasing romp, featuring the "Sesame Street" gang and a stellar guest cast.

Patti LaBelle croons the torch song "Oh, How I Miss My X"--the letter, that is--complete with romantic flashbacks. Walters, Navratilova and Ralph Nader gamely join "Sesame Street" regular Bob McGrath in a special rendition of "Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?"

With professional aplomb, Seiji Ozawa conducts the startling Sesame Street All-Animal Orchestra, featuring guest tenor Placido Flamingo and a remarkable chicken-frog-and-pig section.

The entire cast joins Muppet Ernie in the irresistible "Put Down the Duckie" jazz number, including singer Paul Simon, James Taylor, Madeline Kahn, Jane Curtin, John Candy, Andrea Martin, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, Pee-wee Herman, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, Pete Seeger, Joe Williams, Mookie Wilson, Jeremy Irons, members of the New York Giants and Mets and Itzhak Perlman, plunking his violin like a banjo.

Just before cutting to a pledge-drive break, Kermit the Frog conducts a man-on-the-street interview with Oscar the Grouch, who grumps that the only thing he likes about public TV is fund-raising time, when the phones ring and drive everyone crazy, programs are interrupted at the most exciting part and some poor soul has to beg for money.

The wooing of potential subscribers was never so sweet.

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