With Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash gone amid underage sex accusations, an intimate Sesame Street family has a gaping hole to fill. Clash didn't just voice the little red puppet: The multiple Emmy Award winner was the show's "Muppet leader," helped fix technical issues, traveled far and wide to train new puppeteers, gave life to other puppets, and worked as a director and co-executive producer, the New York Times reports.
The show tapes well in advance, so Clash will voice Elmo for the rest of this season and the majority of next; gaps in his work have been filled by temporary puppeteers who have stepped in during past Clash absences. But it's unclear who will take over afterward. The Elmo character will carry on, but "it’s a big transition moving on without him being part of the team," says an insider. And that team is a relatively small one: The show's cast includes fewer than two dozen actors and puppeteers, the Times notes. When cast and crew return to work from a scheduled break next week, a therapist may join them, the insider says.