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Here’s why Billy Porter and Lil Nas X are reading a beloved ‘Sesame Street’ book

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Don’t lie: You defiantly turned the pages of “The Monster at the End of This Book” too, knowing full well that there was a monster waiting for you, right?

Sesame Workshop has tapped Ciara, Lil Nas X, Olivia Wilde, Billy Porter and Jonathan Van Ness, among others, who did the same while reading aloud the beloved picture book to plug “Sesame Street’s” upcoming animated special, “The Monster at the End of This Story.”

The celebrity read-along’s lineup includes several guests from Elmo’s talk show, “The Not Too Late Show,” among them: Kelsea Ballerini, Sofia Carson, Stephen and Ayesha Curry, Josh Groban, Mykal-Michelle Harris, Ben Platt, Maggie Rogers, Jordin Sparks, Hailee Steinfeld and Jason Sudeikis. They filmed the video at the beginning of the year, before COVID-19 shutdowns.

“Story” is the series’ first-ever animated special, which begins streaming Oct. 29 on HBO Max. The 30-minute special adapts the 1971 book for screen audiences with new sequences and songs, according to Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the long-running children’s program.

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In the book, Grover, the tale’s monster-fearing protagonist, begs the reader not to turn the page for fear of the monster who awaits him at the end.

The blue Muppet is joined by Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster and Rosita in the special, which expands the book’s original narrative and adds new layers to share “a strong lesson in friendship, showing how Grover learns to manage his fear with the support of his friends,” Sesame Workshop said.

“After nearly 50 years, the lesson in ‘The Monster at the End of This Book’ remains timeless: It‘s OK to feel afraid, but also important to have courage and keep moving forward in spite of those fears,” said Kay Wilson Stallings, Sesame Workshop’s executive vice president of Creative and Production, in a Thursday statement.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Norah Jones, Solange and other stars help “Sesame Street” celebrate its 50th anniversary with a prime-time TV special airing Saturday.

“The Monster at the End of This Story” is the official special of “Sesame Street’s” 51st season, which debuts on HBO Max later this fall. It’s the latest in new “Sesame Street” content, which includes Elmo’s talk show, a new season of “Esme & Roy” and a docuseries.

The educational program celebrated its 50th anniversary last year with a series of star-studded events before moving to the premium cable channel’s new streaming service.

In June, Elmo & Co. partnered with CNN for a town hall for kids and families that discussed how to combat racism and make a change. It followed an April town hall about the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Oscar the Grouch starred in a PSA about wearing masks out in public.


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