'Sesame Street' creators sue over Melissa McCarthy flick

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The murder-mystery film in question is set in a world where humans and puppets co-exist, much like previous The Muppets movies and the show Sesame Street.

"It is only [the] defendants" deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate "Sesame's" name and goodwill in marketing the movie - and thereby cause consumers to conclude that "Sesame" is somehow associated with the movie - that has infringed on and tarnished the "Sesame Street' mark and goodwill".

Melissa McCarthy's latest movie, "The Happytime Murders", faces legal action from the producers of "Sesame Street".

But the trailer, which features muppets drinking alcohol, swearing, using drugs, and offering themselves for sex, uses the tagline "no sesame, all street".

In the first trailer for the film, McCarthy - who plays a police detective - can be seen exchanging dialogue with a puppet who uses vulgar language and makes sexual references to her, which the 47-year-old actress responds to by punching him.

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"STX loved the idea of working closely with Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they're not performing in front of children", the statement said.

While the lawsuit against the film refers to it as "incredibly crude", Sesame Workshop isn't seeking to stop promotion of the film, just the removal of the tag line, adding that the association between the two has "confused and appalled viewers". The lawsuit was filed in an effort to eliminate the phrase "No Sesame, All Street" from the advertising.

Set for release in August, The Happytime Murders does not actually feature Big Bird, the Cookie Monster or any other resident of 123 Sesame Street, where puppets have been teaching children basic math and decency since 1969.

An STX spokeswoman issued a statement on Friday, attributed to a puppet lawyer named Fred, Esq.

Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson, directed the movie. "Defendants threaten to inflict serious, irreparable damage to Sesame's mark and brand by associating their adult movie with Sesame Street". Daughter Lisa Henson executive-produced the film. The organisation says it has no desire to stop the film from being released or promoted. The rights to the Muppets characters were acquired by Disney in 2004.