On a soundstage in the heart of Hollywood this week, a chicken was giving directions to Mindy Kaling.
The chicken, perched on the shoulder of “The Mindy Project” star, squawked off a couple of instructions to the crew, then muttered, “My mom would be so proud of me ... if she wasn’t stew.”
The chicken was located on the hand of director Joey Mazzarino, and it wasn’t just any chicken. It was a “Sesame Street” Muppet chicken.
Although Sesame Street is an imaginary address, most people realize the TV show “Sesame Street” shoots in New York City. But every year for the last seven years, the production has come out to L.A. for a few days to shoot segments for the “Word on the Street” feature with the Muppet Murray. The Sesame Workshop lines up the stars for these guest spots the way doctors line up patients. This year’s trip has special importance because the segments filmed will air during the show’s 45th season beginning in September.
On one morning last week, Kaling, Zach Galifianakis, Christina Hendricks and Viola Davis each showed up, all before noon, to pay homage and film scenes with the “Sesame Street” Muppets. In total, 20 stars would stop by the “Sesame Street” set for about an hour each to film their moment with Elmo, the Count and others.
And while one would think the imaginary characters would play second fiddle to the flesh-and-blood stars, they’d be mistaken.
Kaling ran her hands over Elmo’s red-fur face when she first met him. “He’s dreamier than James Franco,” she told the “Sesame” crew.
During an improvised interview with Murray the monster, Hendricks confessed that she was scared to come film with the “Sesame Street” cast that day, but Murray, also controlled by Mazzarino, wouldn’t hear of it.
“But you work with Jon Hamm!” Murray protested. “You work with Don Draper! That guy’s intimidating!”
“But you’re so famous,” Hendricks replied.
“Yeah, but not, like, Sterling-Cooper famous!” Murray said.
In the end, not even Don Draper can outshine the star power of a furry monster.