As a pre-schooler, Josh Selig, 40, was a child-actor on Sesame Street during the show's first two seasons.
In the early ‘70s, Josh, along with his mother and brother, moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico, for a year before returning to the U.S., to the town of Woods Hole on Cape Cod. Josh returned to New York as a teenager and attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, where he studied poetry and theater, and became a juggler, unicyclist and fire-eater.
After college, Josh worked briefly as a street performer and circus arts instructor before returning to Sesame Street at age 24 as a writer. While at Sesame Street, Josh became a filmmaker for the series and began working as a producer for Sesame Street International. He won 10 Emmys as a member of the Sesame Street writing team, and was the resident producer of the historic Israeli-Palestinian Sesame Street episode co-production (winner of The Japan Prize, 1998).
In 1999, Josh founded Little Airplane Productions, Inc., “with the simple goal of creating the most innovative pre-school television programming in the world.
“When I began working at Sesame Street, I used to observe pre-school classrooms so I could learn more about this age group,” Josh explains. “I was — and still am — amazed by the creativity and decency of very young children. I think adults have much to learn from them. Including this adult.”
The name of his company comes from the song "I'm A Little Airplane". “I used the song in a Sesame Street film many years ago. For me, young children are not unlike little airplanes who must fly bravely into the unknown each and every day,” he says.
He is the creator and executive producer of Oobi! on Noggin (winner of a Gold Parents’ Choice Award), and Linny the Guinea Pig on Nick Jr. Josh was the head writer for Little Bill on Nick Jr., and has written and directed films for Playhouse Disney and SAGWA. Josh created Go, Baby! and Big & Small! as part of a co-production agreement with Granada Kids in the U.K.
Josh's short film, The Time-Out Chair, was included in last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and has since been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. Upcoming projects include executive producing The Power Pets!, a new series he created for Nick Jr., and creating and executive producing a new host character for the Nick Jr. pre-school block. Both projects are being produced at Little Airplane's Tribeca-based studio.
Favorite ‘Sesame Street’ character: I love Grover. What's not to love?
Where you take visiting out-of-towners with kids: The Staten Island ferry is a great way to spend an afternoon. You see all the sights, you get to ride on a boat, and it’s free! Make sure you sit outside so you can feel the breeze!
The best family entertainment venue in NYC: The city parks offer great free theater, dance and music events. There are also wonderful programs along the Hudson River waterfront, including biking, kayaking and catch-and-release fishing. The New Victory Theatre has incredible shows for families.
The best current kids' TV show (you didn't produce): I am a very big fan of the shows on Nick Jr., especially Little Bill. I like Playhouse Disney's The Shanna Show, and I think Bear in the Big Blue House is one of the best shows ever made. Noggin also has wonderful shows, including Connie the Cow.
Favorite cartoon character: Bugs Bunny. He is the Elvis of cartoons for me.
Favorite book you read as a child: I loved Dr. Seuss and I still do.
The classic film you would recommend parents rent for their kids: I just watched Mary Poppins again this weekend, and it is amazing. I also love The Sound of Music. Anything with Julie Andrews is more or less perfect. I also love the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The number of hours you sleep at night: I have a cat who walks on my head after seven hours of sleep.
The six people you'd love to invite to a dinner party: Walt Whitman, Dr. Seuss, Jim Henson, Julie Andrews, Dr. Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs.
Favorite indulgence: Sunshine.
The best part of having grown up in New York City: You don't notice that it smells funny. And you know where to eat. And every other city in the world seems quaint.
The best lesson learned as a New York street performer: Only bring that which you really need.