Big Bird in China
|Big Bird in China|
Big Bird in China video cassette cover
|Directed by||Jon Stone|
Joseph A. Bailey
|Music by||Dick Lieb|
|Edited by||Ken Gutstein|
|Release date(s)||May 29, 1983|
|Running time||75 minutes|
Big Bird in China was a 1983 special produced by Sesame Workshop and CCTV. It was originally broadcast on May 29, 1983 on NBC. The special was based on the popular television series Sesame Street. Big Bird, Barkley and Little Xiao Fu travel through China to find Feng Huang, the Phoenix bird.
The production was released on DVD on February 10, 2004. The DVD lacks about a minute of the original production, in which Big Bird is looking for someone who speaks "American," though it can be seen on the VHS version).
The story starts in New York's Chinatown, where Big Bird spies an old scroll with a picture of a beautiful phoenix on it. The shopkeeper explains that the phoenix is magical and lives in China. To find the phoenix, Big Bird will first have to find the four places pictured on the scroll. Big Bird thinks, "Well, what a good thing it would be if a great big American bird went to meet that beautiful Chinese bird! I mean, she could tell me everything about China, and then I could come home and tell everybody here!" He sets out with Barkley on a boat and makes it to China.
Highlights include Chinese landmarks like the Great Wall of China and Beijing, Big Bird learning the "little duckling dance", and a song to teach Chinese words. A character called the Monkey King helps Big Bird and Xiao Fu on their quest. Meanwhile, Oscar the Grouch decides to try to dig his way to China from his trash can, but when he gets to China, he finds it boring and goes straight home.
In his memoir, Caroll Spinney (the puppeteer who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch) notes that he was inspired to pitch the special to CTW after visiting China on a tour with Bob Hope. This first trip was to film the Bob Hope on the Road to China, a two hour NBC special airing September 16, 1979. The special featured Big Bird, along with the likes of Shields and Yarnell and Mikhail Baryshnikov, with musical numbers by Peaches & Herb and Crystal Gayle. It was produced by James Lipton.
Spinney devised the storyline and suggested locations for Big Bird in China. However, the program's credits do not acknowledge this and instead state, "Created by Jon Stone". Spinney also notes that, when filming on location in Beijing, Guilin, and Suzhou, he experienced much tension and difficulty due to animosity from Stone.
- Caroll Spinney as Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch
- Brian Muehl as Barkley & Telly
- Frank Oz as Bert, Cookie Monster & Grover
- Jerry Nelson as Two-Headed Monster, head #1, Oscar the Grouch (assistant) & Cookie Monster (assistant)
- Richard Hunt as Two-Headed Monster, head #2, Ernie (assistant) & Telly (assistant)
- Jim Henson as Ernie
- Martin P. Robinson as Telly
- Ouyang Lianzi (Lisa Ouyang) as Xiao Foo
- Katherine Lakoski as The Singing Phoenix
- Lu Ja-Lin as The Dancing Phoenix
- Arabella Hong as The Shopkeeper
- Ting Bao-Yi & Wang Kwan-Wei as The Lion Dogs
- Hua Ziu Ping as The Storyteller
- Chou Yi-Ping, Liu Xio-Shen, Zhang Xin-Tien, Xu Tien-Ed, Quan She-Zhen, Li Jiang, Lu Fu-Hai & Wu Chi-Lian as The Monkey Kings (Sun Wukong)
- Directed by: Jon Stone
- Written by: Joseph A. Bailey and Jon Stone
- Executive Producer: Jon Stone
- Music by: Dick Lieb
- Associate Producer: Tish Sommers
- Associate Director: Ozzie Alfonso
- Art Director: Victor DiNapoli
- Editor: Ken Gutstein
- Audio: Blake Norton
- Sound Effects: Dick Maitland
- Stengel, Richard (1983-05-30). "Innocent Abroad, with Feathers". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Spinney, Caroll; J. Milligan. The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch) Lessons Learned from a Life in Feathers. Villard Books.
- "Cleveland Memory Collection : Item View - Bob Hope and Big Bird". Cleveland State University. 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Getlen, Larry (2007-02-22). "Memory Lane - Every Picture Tells a Story in James Lipton's Home". New York Post (News Corporation). Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- "Past Winners Database - 1983-1984 36th Emmy Awards". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-02-22. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- Big Bird in China at the Internet Movie Database
- Photo of Big Bird with Bob Hope from their 1979 special
- Tough Pigs Journal featuring photos from this special and Big Bird in Japan
- Ouyang Lianzi page on Muppet Wiki
- Quyang Lien-Tze (Ouyang Lianzi) at the Internet Movie Database