'Blue's Clues' Host Didn't Want To Be Krusty
Sat, Dec 23, 2000 10:01 AM PDT
LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com)
- It took Mr. Rogers decades to burn out on children’s television, but it only
took "Blue’s Clues" host Steve Burns five years.
Departing after 100 shows, Burns says he’s not at all sad about leaving a show he found tedious after a five-year daily grind -- not to mention the fact that he was playing a character he said he would have loathed as a child, Reuters reports.
"I didn't really want to become Krusty the Klown in front of the nation," Burns said.
The 27-year-old actor walked off the set for the last time on Dec. 20 after shooting his final show, looking forward to other opportunities. The episode is to be aired sometime in 2002 before a new host takes his place. A Nickelodeon spokesperson confirmed future episodes would be introduced in the fall of 2002, if the show is picked up, including a new host named "Joe" who would play Steve's brother. (played by Donovan Patton)
Burns has been wildly successful with the show, taking it from a pilot for Nickelodeon to a top-ranked children's show seen in more than 60 countries and backed by a successful merchandising push. The latter, he said, was part of what soured him on the gig.
"I was surprised to see the degree to which children's television exists to sell toys to children. When you have the attention of that many kids there's a lot of good you can do that doesn't involve the selling of products," he said. "But I always got upset when we got more press for the amount of toys that we have for sale as opposed to the educational value of the show."
Steve's Not Blue
Host of hit kids' show is happy to move on
AFTER FIVE YEARS and 100 shows, you would think Steve Burns, the happy-go-lucky star of the popular children's TV show "Blue's Clues," would be a little nostalgic or a touch sad about making his last episode of the series before he leaves in 2002.
After all, Burns has taken the show from a pilot for Nickelodeon to a worldwide phenomenon seen in more than 60 countries and backed up by a hugely successful merchandising push.
But there were no regrets when Burns walked off the set for the last time on Dec. 20 after shooting his last show. The episode is to be aired sometime in 2002 before a new host takes his place.
"It was five years of doing the same thing, wearing the same clothes," Burns said in an interview from his New York home recently. "It was time to leave though. It felt good." "Blue's Clues" is a computer-animated series starring live-action host Steve and his animated puppy Blue. In each show, the host invites viewers into his storybook world to help him solve the day's puzzles.
The two characters present games and ask questions while waiting for the young home audience to shout out their responses.
The fact that Burns is so casual about the role made it easier for him to walk away from the show while it was still at the top of the charts, watched by 14 million in the United States alone, and by more kids around the world than several other popular shows combined.
Unlike so many successful actors or athletes, Burns realized it was the right time to leave while still at the top of the heap.
"It's not that I'm leaving. It's just that I'm not taping any new episodes.
I'll be on the air for a very, very, very long time," he said.
Nickelodeon has not picked up the option for a fifth year after 2002, but it is expected to do so, when it will announce several changes, including the new host.
Nickelodeon will replace Burns with his "brother" Joe, to be played by Donovan Patton.
Though Burns, 27, says he has no regrets about taking the starring role more than five years ago - and creating a character he claims he would have "hated with all his heart" if he were a child today - he says the commercial aspect of the show disillusioned him.
After all, the show generated almost $1billion in retail sales in the United States in 1999 through various products, including clothes, toys, books, videos and CD-ROMs.
"I was surprised to see the degree to which children's television exists to sell toys to children. When you have the attention of that many kids, there's a lot of good you can do that doesn't involve the selling of products," he said.
"But I always got upset when we got more press for the amount of toys that we have for sale as opposed to the educational value of the show." Burns has also never been comfortable with the influence he and the show have had on its young viewers.
"The one thing I was never comfortable with being the host of 'Blue's Clues' is that television in general has too much influence on children. With 'Blue's Clues' we did everything we could to get the kids' attention, and I always felt that was a tremendous amount of responsibility. Luckily, we were always so careful that our content is always good. It was always educational, so there's always a very good end to what we're doing," he said.
"But still, there's always too much television, and in a small way we're helping to addict them to it." While Burns foresees the show carrying on in its highly successful way with the new host, he does not see much of a future for the original Steve, the one who broke the ground to get it where it is today.
"I'm pretty realistic about the mold that I would have to break. It would take a lot of creative projects, people desperate to work with me," he said.
"It would be hard. You don't want to be destructive to an image that is dear to children." But Burns does not see any tears shed by his young viewers when he says goodbye and a new Steve appears.
"I think they'll be absolutely fine with it. The new guy is funnier and better than me, and just so much more suited for the job.
"Unfortunately, I think the kids will probably forget fairly quickly."
Your item about my forthcoming departure from Blue's Clues described me as bitter (PEOPLE,Jan.8). This is anything but true. For six years, with the help of an animated puppy named Blue, I have had the honor of serving as friend and teacher to millions of preschoolers. In this role, I speak frankly with a salt-and-pepper shaker, dress up as Elvis and search for cookies. I have been supported by an outstanding team, all of whom have the single goal of empowering children and teaching them to think, think, think. I am proud that Blue's Clues will go on without me; it will always be the best show on television for young children. Yes, I will be sad to hang up my rugby shirt; I have worn the green stripes with pride. I hope that the show's fans-those still in strollers, parents, grandparents -- know that I am grateful for their unfailing support and will miss them greatly.
New York City