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Finance & Economy

Tickle Me More

Okay, I've interviewed a lot of different people over the past two decades, including a bona fide "star" here or there. So when the TMM folks told me they'd booked Elmo (of Sesame Street), I didn't think much of it.

Cute gimmick. I thought, sure, I'll play along, it'll be fun.

Well, when we actually sat down in the studio, and there he was across from me in all his red-fuzziness, I was completely unnerved!! The man who's been the voice of Elmo for more than two decades — Kevin Clash — is about the last person in the world you'd imagine in that role.

He's large, and — you'd think — an imposing presence. But he somehow managed to fade into the background (I think Kevin kept his head tilted down to avoid eye contact with me, but I'm not sure since I couldn't keep my eyes off Elmo).

All I can say is, Elmo came to life ... like Frosty the Snowman or something. He was LOOKING at me, tilting his head, fumbling with the water bottle. It felt like I was having a conversation with a sweet little toddler (and I think I sounded like it, which is kind of embarrassing in retrospect).

But hey, sometimes you're thrown for a loop when you least expect it.

Now, what did we interview Elmo about? We talked to him about his upcoming PBS special "Families Stand Together" (airing Wednesday, Sept. 9) by Sesame Workshop, which explores how children and their families are coping with the bad economy. We also spoke with Gary Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshop.

I hope you'll tune in for some good tips, if you're not sure how to talk to your kids about these hard times.