The Electric Company has been a passion for Karen Fowler since she began spearheading its reinvention three years ago. As a development executive at Sesame Workshop, she began to explore her vision for this multimedia project that leverages the property’s brand awareness and infuses it with the power of hip-hop and the spoken word as a pop culture phenomenon.
In her search for new talent that would bring the project a 21st century vibe, Fowler collaborated with the musical improv troupe Freestyle Love Supreme and the creators of the off-Broadway show In the Heights (a Tony Award winning hit Broadway musical) to produce a six minute test video. Last year, Sesame Workshop shot a 25-minute pilot episode, and after extensive research and testing, the Workshop began production on 35 half hour episodes for broadcast.
To bring this vision to fruition, Fowler sought out a huge team of creative and educational talents, including: Head Writer and Co-Executive Producer Willie Reale, creator of Out There and founder of New York City’s 52nd Street Project; celebrities such as Wyclef Jean, Common, and Marc Ecko; music directors from the musical In the Heights; multi-talented beatboxing sensation, Shockwave; directors of Emmy award-winning prime-time comedies, independent films, and music videos; Director of Education and Research, Scott Cameron; and animation houses including Psyop, 6 Point Harness and Blender Films.
Before becoming Executive Producer of The Electric Company, Fowler developed a variety of projects for Sesame Workshop. She served as the Creative Director of the Japanese co-production of Sesame Street and Pinky Dinky Doo. She also co-developed and produced the comedy improv series Sponk! for Noggin.
Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Fowler spent five years at Nickelodeon's Creative Lab. As a Senior Producer/Development executive, she produced dozens of animated and live action films that premiered on Saturday Night Nick, and was recognized with a CableAce nomination.
Raised in a mining town in northern Canada with two TV stations and a whole lot of hockey, Fowler has been working in New York City for over 15 years.
Head Writer & Co-Executive Producer
Willie Reale is no stranger to critical acclaim, his work has garnered both Academy Award and Tony Award nominations. He wrote the lyrics for the song “Patience” (music Henry Krieger) for the movie Deamgirls which was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Song category in 2007. He co-wrote A Year With Frog and Toad with his brother, Robert Reale. The show was performed at the Childrens’ Theater Company in Minneapolis, the New Victory Theater and at the Cort Theater on Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards for book and lyrics. Other collaborations with his brother include the musicals Once Around The City (Second Stage Theatre in New York) Quark Victory (Williamstown Theatre Festival) and The Dinosaur Musical (The Arden in Philadelphia). Other plays have been produced at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Circle Repertory Company.
In 1981, Reale founded The 52nd Street Project, an organization that brings inner-city children together with professional theater artists. He served as the theater’s artistic director for 18 years. For the Project’s students, he has written over fifty plays and the lyrics to hundreds of songs. He also wrote “52 Pick Up,” the Project’s how-to manual. The 52nd Street Project’s programs are currently being replicated at 12 sites across country. In June of 1994, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in recognition of his ingenuity in creating theater and theater education programs for young people.
For television, Reale has written for Damages on FX, and the NBC dramas Homicide: Life on the Streets, Deadline and Mr. Sterling. For Fox he has written for Keen Eddie and The Jury and served as Writer/Producer for the limited series, Tilt, on ESPN. He developed a number of pilots for the networks and created a series called Out There for Sesame Workshop, the BBC and the Australian Broadcasting Company. His work on the show was recognized with an Australian Film Institute Award (The Australian Emmy) and by Prix Jeunesse and Writers’ Guild of America with nominations. He has taught at New York University and the Yale School of Drama.
Reale is married to theater producer, Jenny Gersten. They have two children, Augustus and Leonardo.
Dionne Nosek has produced dozens of DVD titles for Sesame Street including Zoe’s Dance Moves starring Paula Abdul, which was a top ten video in all categories, and is Sesame Workshop’s the best-selling DVD title; All Star Alphabet, starring Stephen Colbert; Happy Healthy Monsters, featuring Andy Richter, Wyclef Jean, and India.Arie; Elmo’s Potty Time; Sesame Street’s 35th Anniversary special, What’s the Name of That Song?; and Elmo’s Magic Cookbook, featuring Emeril Lagasse. Additionally, Nosek worked on the PBS special of Elmo’s musical adventure, The Story of Peter & the Wolf. That special was a collaboration between the Sesame Street Muppets™ and the Boston Pops Orchestra and was recognized by the Carnegie Medal/American Library Association. Nosek developed, produced and launched the Sesame Beginnings brand, which is specifically designed with the primary goal of helping parents and caregivers encourage their child's curiosity and interest in learning through everyday interactions.
Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Nosek worked on Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? Nosek also worked in the writer’s office of The Late Show with David Letterman.
Nosek was inspired by Karen Fowler to join The Electric Company team and is an avid fan of the original series and the prospect of making a similar impact on another generation while working with a gifted and cool group of colleagues was irresistible.
Carol Klein began her career as a stage manager working on several Off Broadway shows and at the Circle in the Square Theater. She moved to television for the ‘80s staple, The Cosby Show, followed by MTV’s first non-musical program, Remote Control. She started line producing for the Comedy Central specials the Denis Leary Roast and Bar Mitzvah Bash. Klein has since produced series for The Food Network, Bravo, The Style Network and others. Most recently, Klein was the Supervising Producer for nine seasons of the award-winning Between the Lions, a children’s puppet and live-action show designed to promote reading. She is delighted to continue and expand that mission with The Electric Company.
As well as playing Shock in the narrative format of The Electric Company, Chris Sullivan served as a producer of his short-form green screen and live-action segment. For the last five years, Sullivan has also produced comedy and music shows throughout New York City including The BEATdown at Mo Pitkins and The Upright Citizen Brigade Theater, The MIXTAPE at The Ars Nova Theater, The 8-Track at The Green Room at 45 Bleecker and Character Dogville at The People's Improv Theater. Prior to his New York City productions, he co-created the long-form improvisational comedy troupe, TOAST! at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and founded The Foxboro Fun Foundation, a youth event and service organization in his hometown.
With 25 years of producing and launching experience behind her, The Electric Company marks a return to Sesame Workshop for Nussbaum. There, she spent 15 years developing, producing and launching all of the company’s video properties. She was the Executive Producer of the PBS KIDS hit Dragon Tales, Executive in Charge of Production for Noggin’s popular Pinky Dinky Doo and The Upside Down Show. She most recently was at the Workshop as Group VP for Global Production, where she oversaw worldwide media production including all of the international Sesame Street co-productions. Prior to Sesame Workshop, Nussbaum has worked in varying capacities on films, sitcoms, documentaries and commercials. She is delighted to join The Electric Company team as launch producer.
Director of Education and Research
Scott Cameron oversees the educational integrity of all The Electric Company materials, including the TV show, broadband games, comic books and outreach activities.
A former English teacher, Cameron has worked in children’s educational media as a curriculum specialist, researcher and writer. In the mid-1990s, he was part of the team that developed the Israeli-Palestinian Sesame Street co-production. He also worked on the Mexican, Canadian, Polish and Japanese versions of Sesame Street and was the Director of Content for the series Sesame English, which combined classic Sesame Street segments with new narrative material to teach English to non-native speakers.
Cameron has written and edited over 20 educational books, including: nonfiction readers for Time for Kids; early readers for Rigby/CTW’s City Stories series; and Hemispheres, an English-learning series for McGraw-Hill. As a television writer, Cameron wrote for educational programs such as Noggin’s award-winning Oobi and PBS’s Special Good Night. He has served as an educational consultant for Leapfrog, Disney Publishing and other multimedia educational companies.
Cameron holds a Master’s degree in international education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and television from Boston University.
Randell Marie Bynum
Director of The Electric Company Outreach
As Director, Randell Bynum manages all community activities for Sesame Workshop’s new production of The Electric Company. This includes community events, partnerships and the development of literacy materials for both children and educators. The program’s outreach initiative supports and enhances The Electric Company’s broadcast and broadband components, providing a 360 degree experience for children.
Prior to joining Sesame Workshop, Bynum was an independent consultant at her own firm marieimage inc. serving non-profits and other organizations in support of positive youth image. Her clients included Unilever’s Dove brand Campaign for Real Beauty; Illinois’ Robert Crown Center for Health Education; and NYC Office of the Mayor’s Commission on Women’s Issues and Department Of Youth and Community Development – NYC GirlsREACH Program.
Bynum is a former social worker with over 15 years experience of working with youth in various settings, providing both direct service and program development. She also worked at the Girl Scouts of the USA both locally and nationally where she was responsible for the implementation of The Dove Self-Esteem Fund partnership in the United States and the development of uniquely ME! The Girl Scout/Dove Self-Esteem Program. She is the co-author of Dove’s true you! “Sometimes I Feel Ugly” and “Other Truths about Growing Up” workbook for mothers and daughters.
Bynum received a Master of Social Work with a planning, administration and research concentration from Stony Brook University. She also holds a B.A. from Binghamton University in Psychology and African & Afro-American studies.
Broadband Supervising Producer
Erica Branch-Ridley is the Emmy Award winning Broadband Supervising Producer for The Electric Company.
Before joining The Electric Company, Branch-Ridley served as the Executive Producer and Sr. Director of TV Land Digital where she oversaw the creative direction, content development, design and production for both the TV Land and Nick-at-Nite websites. She was also in charge of the development and production of Broadband Video which included content for the streaming video player, mobile platforms, content syndication and podcasting.
Prior to her position with TV Land, Branch-Ridley was the Senior Producer for Nickelodeon Online and oversaw the production for the “Playtime” area of Nickjr.com. She was in charge of coordinating TV, Web development, design and technology to extend the Nick Jr. brand. Branch-Ridley has nurtured many notable online properties for Nick Jr. including Blue’s Clue’s, Bob the Builder, Little Bill and Oswald. She was the lead producer of the first ever successful TV/Web convergent effort for preschoolers with Dora the Explorer! The Dora online launch went on to be voted “best use of online” by Kidscreen Magazine in 2000.Additionally, Branch-Ridley worked as the Education Content Producer for The AT&T Learning Network where she was responsible for providing online support and resources to teachers and communities. In particular, she managed the web-based teacher support pages and the “Ask the Learning Network” online mentoring program for K-12 teachers.
Branch-Ridley has won numerous awards for her work at TV Land but most importantly she won a Primetime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Television” for her work as Executive Producer for the 2005 TV Land Awards Online application. She was also twice nominated for a Technology Emmy Award in 2004 and 2005 in the same category.
Previous to working in the internet industry, Branch-Ridley spent 10 years in television. At Black Entertainment Television, she created and produced the children’s television show Storyporch that featured celebrities like Maya Angelou, Bill Cosby, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Storyporch won her a National Education Association Award and two nominations from the NAACP for their renowned Image Award. Branch-Ridley also worked for six years at CBS NEWS on the award-winning show 48 Hours where she started out as the assistant to Dan Rather and future CBS NEWS president Andrew Heyward. Finally, she worked at WNBC-TV, where she got her start in television working on many local shows and on NBC network specials including the annual Christmas in Rockefeller variety show.
In 2007, Branch-Ridley was one of 30 people chosen by the National Association of Multi-ethnicity in Cable to participate in their prestigious Executive Leadership Development Program at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA where she graduated prior to joining Sesame Workshop. She has completed graduate coursework at Seton Hall University in Elementary Education and Technology and holds a B.S. degree from Syracuse University from the esteemed S.I. Newhouse School in Speech Communications and Television Production.
Branch-Ridley resides in West Orange, New Jersey with her husband, 10-year-old daughter and six-year-old twins.
An award winning actor, musician and lyricist, Jackson is currently starring as “Benny” in the Tony Award-winning musical, In the Heights. He has also starred as “Simba” in Disney’s The Lion King on Broadway. His regional theatre work includes: “Clay Harris” in Comfortable Shoes (Jefferson Award, Black Theater Alliance Award nomination ‘03) and “Happy Mac” in Beggar’s Holiday (BATC nomination ‘05). Jackson is a 2007 Drama Desk Award recipient for Outstanding Ensemble Performance for In the Heights. He is a Charter Member of the hip-hop comedy improv group Freestyle Love Supreme that has performed in comedy festivals around the world.
Jackson received the Song of the Month Award from BMI with his song “Be a Light” and has recently written and arranged songs for Crystal Waters, Veronica, and Andrea Burns as well as many other artists. With his partner Bill Sherman, he wrote music for the popular MTV show Gamekillers in 2007. He is currently working on his first solo album, to be released in spring of ’09, as well as developing a new stage musical. He lives in New York with his wife, Veronica, and their son CJ.
Thomas Kail was nominated for a 2008 Tony Award for his direction of the new Broadway musical, In the Heights. He also directed the off-Broadway production of In the Heights, for which he received the Callaway Award from SSDC, and was nominated for a Drama Desk and an Outer Critics Circle Award. He directed the world premiere of Broke-ology at the 2008 Williamstown Theater Festival. He is the co-creator and director of the hip-hop improv group Freestyle Love Supreme, which was produced at Ars Nova in NYC, and then played the HBO Comedy Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Melbourne Comedy Festival and the Montreal Comedy Festival. He was the recipient of the 2008 Martin E. Segal Award for emerging artists from Lincoln Center. Kail is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
Bill Sherman is the Tony Award-winning Arranger/Orchestrator for the Tony Award for Best Musical winning Broadway production of In the Heights. He also received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Orchestrations for the Off-Broadway run of In the Heights. Bill has composed music for MTV's Gamekillers, The Paley Center, and Nike's Kobe Mentu. Recently, he collaborated with Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens on the score for After the Storm, a new documentary produced by KIDRO Productions, Inc. Additionally, he is the composer for Barrio Grrll, a new children's musical commissioned by The Kennedy Center. Bill is a proud member of New York’s premier hip-hop and improvisational comedy group, Freestyle Love Supreme, that has traveled to the Aspen, Edinburgh, Melbourne, and Montreal Comedy festivals.