The following article appeared in the Globe and Mail yesterday. (I have included the text below since the Globe cuts off access to non-members after a number of days.) For those who did not grow up in Canada, The Friendly Giant was a wonderful children's program that ran on the CBC from 1958-1985. I have very fond memories of this show and can still see Bob Homme's (The Friendly Giant) smiling face. There was something warm and comforting about the Giant and his faithful puppet companions Rusty and Jerome. These clips I found on You Tube will give you the general idea of what this show was all about. I had nostalgic tears in my eyes watching them. (Although the commercials for Fraggle Rock and The Beachcombers that begin the first clip did make me laugh my ass off.)
I was pretty disappointed when I read this article. Not in the CBC. The only thing the CBC did wrong was not ask for permission to use the puppets. But come on people! Doesn't anyone have a sense of humour anymore?
EDIT: Just found the offending clip on You Tube. Judge for yourself.
Rusty and Jerome will live happily ever - after the CBC
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
November 27, 2007 at 1:04 AM EST
Two of the most enduring characters in the history of Canadian children's programming, Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe, are about to quit the building. The children of actor and Friendly Giant creator Bob Homme, angered by the CBC's recent treatment of the loveable puppets, are removing them from a museum at the public broadcaster, their home since the iconic program debuted in Canada in 1958.
In an e-mail to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Homme's daughter, Ann, asked for assistance tracking down a video of the recent Gemini Awards, which included a skit showing Rusty, Jerome and other stuffed stars now living in a retirement home after their shows were cancelled.
From friends, Ms. Homme had heard about her dad's puppets appearing in the mock clip, where a narrator described them as sitting around, drinking, smoking and having sex.
Rusty and Jerome were not shown engaging in any salacious behaviour.
“The appearance of the puppets, alone, shocked me, as the CBC is required to get our permission to use them in any way… This is the last straw (a big one) and I feel I have to address it,” Ms. Homme wrote.
“Until recently, we were contacted by the people at the CBC museum, where the puppets are on loan, by a very conscientious woman who seemed to guard the Friendly Giant display with her life. Recently, she was let go, and replaced by someone who seems to think our permission is unnecessary. Needless to say, I am going to remove the Friendly Giant props and puppets as soon as possible.”
Ms. Homme and a brother plan to remove Rusty, Jerome and other Friendly Giant paraphernalia from the CBC Museum Tuesday.
Monday, in an internal memo, the CBC communications group invited staff to “say goodbye to Rusty and Jerome in style,” at a midafternoon ceremony at the Graham Spry Theatre, where milk and cookies were served while classic episodes of Friendly Giant ran on a continuous loop.
“While you may have bid farewell to Friendly when you left your childhood behind, this afternoon, you'll have an opportunity to say goodbye to the real Rusty and Jerome,” the memo said. “After a lengthy stay with us here in the Broadcasting Centre, these iconic creations and other Friendly artifacts, which have been on loan to the CBC museum for many years, will be going home – at the request of the family of the man who made them famous,” the memo said.
None of Mr. Homme's family attended.
For 26 years, young viewers were greeted by the tune Early One Morning as Friendly (played by Mr. Homme) lowered the drawbridge on the miniature castle. He would invite them to have a seat: “One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle.”
Then: “Look up, look wa-a-ay up …” and there was Friendly, soon joined by Rusty, a guitar-playing rooster who lived in a book bag hung on the castle wall, and Jerome, a giraffe with blue spots who stuck his head through a nearby window. The two principal puppets were manipulated by CBC radio veteran Rod Coneybeare.
Mr. Homme produced more than 3,000 episodes before the show was cancelled in 1985 after deep cuts to the CBC budget. Mr. Homme was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1998. He died on May 2, 2000, of prostate cancer, at the age of 81.
In her e-mail to The Globe, Ms. Homme called her father “a truly gentle man” who “never caused much of a fuss.”
“But I can assure you,” she wrote, referring to the Geminis, “that he would be very angry about this breach of trust.”