January 21, 2023



(ABC, September 18, 1993-January 29, 1994)
Jim Henson Productions, The CityKids Foundation


Cyndi Cartagena – Angelica
Hassan Elgendi – Snoopy
Dulé Hill – John
Anne Ho – Susan
Renoly Santiago – Tito
Diana Smith – Nikki
Brad Stoll – David
David Rudman – Dread, Frankie Frank, Lieutenant, Koozebanians, Toya (performer)
Joey Mazzarino – Bird, Captain, Trish (performer)
John Henson – Libido
Noel MacNeal – Koozebanians
Elizabeth Regen – Trish (voice)
Cenophia Mitchell – Toya (voice)



            When Laurie Meadoff visited the Albany Empire (now Albany Theatre) in London, she found a thriving and impactful social services and arts program for the youth there. Inspired, when she returned to New York City in 1985 she began the CityKids Foundation. Originally meeting in the basement of a local church, the Foundation invited kids from different backgrounds to come together and engage with each other through the performing arts. The Foundation has grown in the years following into an internationally recognized one dedicated to positive youth development and social emotional learning while allowing the voices of youth to rise up and be heard.

The Kids (from top): Tito, David, Angelica, Nikki, Susan, Snoopy and John.

            After their first decade in operation, CityKids partnered with Jim Henson Productions to bring their message to the airwaves. The series followed an interracial group of urban kids in New York City—Angelica (Cyndi Cartagena), Snoopy (Hassan Elgendi), John (Dulé Hill), Susan (Anne Ho), Tito (Renoly Santiago), and siblings Nikki (Diana Smith) and David (Brad Stoll), and Frida (Audrey Ince)—as they dealt with school and life issues, such as bad grades, damaging rumors, sexism, racism, financial responsibility, and more. It was the first series targeted for a teenaged audience by Henson and ABC, who ultimately picked it up for broadcast.

Dread and Bird.

            What made the series stand out from other similar pro-social shows at the time was the inclusion of Henson’s Muppets. All-new characters were created that would serve as kind of a Greek chorus. They were never seen by or interacted with the human characters, but they would offer commentary on the goings on in the story and helping to drive home the lessons being conveyed. These Muppets included Dread (David Rudman), a Rastafarian philosopher that ran a radio show with his sidekick, a pigeon named Bird (Joey Mazzarino); Captain (Mazzarino), Libido (John Henson) and Lieutenant (Rudman), who inhabited the head of a particular character; Dirt Sisters Trish (Mazzarino & Elizabeth Regen) and Toya (Rudman & Cenophia Mitchell), two girls who always gossiped with each other over the phone; the Hot Dogs, anthropomorphic hot dogs that would sing songs from the container they were being served from until a pair of tongs took one out; Frankie Frank (Rudman), a hot dog rapper and leader of Frankie Frank and the Footers; and the Koozebanians (Noel MacNeil & Rudman), three aliens from the planet Kozzebane. David Gumpel served as the Muppet segment supervisor while Rudman was the puppeteer captain.

Trish and Toya.

            CityKids debuted on ABC on September 18, 1993. The pilot episode itself, the only episode directed by Savage Steve Holland, aired as an ABC Saturday Morning Special in January featuring different puppet designs. The series was written by executive producer Adriana Trigiani, Matt Callaway and Jeffrey Solomon, with Susana Preston serving as script supervisor. The theme and series music were composed by Raliegh Neal II and Malik Yoba. Muriel Stockdale was the costume designer. Members of the CityKids foundations appeared on the show as performers, in quick candid interview segments about the topic at hand, and worked as creative assistants and production interns. Kate Hillis served as the coordinator between the Foundation and the production.

Inside the head with Captain, Lieutenant and Libido.

            Unfortunately, the series never seemed to reach its target demographic and ABC cancelled it after 13 episodes. The Foundation’s website currently hosts all but the pilot episode on their website, as well as separate clips of their kids performing from the episodes. The pilot itself was preserved on the Internet ArchiveWhile only Hill, Santiago and Stoll would go on to have active careers in showbusiness, the Muppet characters would also go on to have careers recycled as new characters in various Henson productions.


“Pilot” (1/30/93) – While David tries to approach a girl he likes, Susan deals with racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
“Becoming a Man” (9/25/93) – David has ulterior motives for wanting to have a bar mitzvah.
“Get a Job” (10/2/93) – Angelica and John bet to see who can get and keep a job first.
“The Curse of Ali Baba” (10/9/83) – Nikki takes her new credit card as a license to spend.
“Bye, Bye Reputation” (10/16/93) – Rumors spread around school about Angelica being under the control of the guy she has a crush on.
“The Mural” (10/23/93) – A boy asks Tito to paint a mural of his father, but Tito’s friends are against it as the man was a drug dealer.
“Alterations with Attitude” (10/30/93) – David volunteers for the Big Buddy program and gets saddled with a troublemaker.
“Quality Time” (11/13/93) – Snoopy’s friends are suspicious of his estranged father’s reasons for visiting.
“Rooftop Thanksgiving” (11/20/93) – The kids band together to help a hard-off family have a good holiday.
“Pack of Lies” (12/4/93) – Snoopy lies about a family death to get out of taking a test while Angelica buys something she hopes will help her attract a guy.
“Love Letters on the Hudson” (12/11/93) – Susan plans to meet her secret admirer on the Hudson River with her friends.
“All My Trials” (12/18/93) – Anjelica receives a fine and summons for improperly disposing of trash.
“I Am Woman” (1/29/94) – The boys make fun of Nikki when she wants to play basketball with them.

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