In anticipation of his television special, The Great Santa Claus Switch, Jim auditioned puppeteers to see whom he might invite to a puppeteering workshop. About a week later, he got the green light for the program and held one of his first workshops designed to discover new talent. By inviting performers in for a workshop and narrowing down the group over a period of days, Jim could determine who had an aptitude for Muppet-style puppetry, a sense of comic timing, and, perhaps most importantly, got along with the team.
Fran Brill, Sesame Street’s Prairie Dawn and Zoe, was invited to the workshop along with a young Richard Hunt. For the television special taping that August, they performed alongside the core team of Jim, Frank Oz, and Jerry Nelson and were joined by Danny Seagren who had been working behind the scenes for a while and John Lovelady. Even the puppet builders got involved – Don Sahlin, as talented at performing a marionette as he was at making puppets, helped out beside Caroly Wilcox who, along with building characters, often performed their right hands. This expanded talent roster was in place as Jim headed into the Season 2 taping for Sesame Street that September.