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'Electric Company' Returns To PBS-TV

by Stuart Levine

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Rita Moreno and Bill Cosby in 'The Electric Company'

"The Electric Company" is turning on the juice again. An update of the classic kids TV series will begin production today with location shots in New York's Washington Heights and the Lower East Side. The show will run weekly beginning in January on PBS stations around the country.

Produced by the Sesame Workshop, the series will target 6- to 9-year-olds, with specific goals to improve the reading habits of children. Like the original version, there will be plenty of music and dance numbers to help kids learn. Original "Electric Company" episodes ran from 1971-77 and starred Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno. It continued in reruns until 1985.

"The literacy crisis today is as pervasive and alarming as it was in 1971 when we created the first version of 'The Electric Company,'" said Scott Cameron, director of education and research for Sesame Workshop. "We know that if struggling readers don't get the literacy help they need by the end of second grade, they are in danger of never catching up."

Series will consist of 26 half-hour episodes and, following its initial TV run, will segue into books, games and digital media. Child actors to co-star include Ricky Smith, Priscilla Diaz, Jenni Barber and Josh Segarra. Karen Fowler will serve as executive producer.

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