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'Blue's Clues' Returns With A New Host


UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (As characters) A clue.


"Blue's Clues" is back.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Oh, a clue. Wait. Where's the clue?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (As characters) There.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Oh, a clue.

SIMON: For the Blue's Clue-less, it's a kid's TV show on Nickelodeon with an animated blue dog and her companion who rely on viewers to help them solve mysteries. Started in 1996, that companion was Steve. Joe followed. It was never BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music. But there were no new episodes for 12 years. Well, that wrong will be righted Monday. Blue returns with new puzzles for preschoolers and with a new human, a nice guy named Josh Dela Cruz, who joins us now from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

JOSH DELA CRUZ: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: This new version, I gather, of the show is called "Blue's Clues And You." And besides you, what else is new?

DELA CRUZ: (Laughter) Well, since it is 2019 and it's been years since a new episode has been released, we've updated a lot of things, starting with Blue and Magenta. Traditionally, they were 2D animation. And now they will be 3D. They will be furry and fluffy and...


DELA CRUZ: ...So huggable. And I guess the most notable is the handy dandy notebook. It'll still have the classic yellow pages. And we'll still draw on it with the crayon. But now on the other side, it's a smartphone. So that opens up an entire world of possibilities, and it's really exciting.

SIMON: Aw. Were you Aladdin on Broadway?

DELA CRUZ: Yeah. I was with the show for about five years. And I was originally an understudy. And I understudied Aladdin and Iago. And then I took over for three months, which was a dream. Yeah.

SIMON: What's it like to go from being on Broadway to playing to a green screen?

DELA CRUZ: The most notable difference is the silence (laughter)...

SIMON: Yeah.

DELA CRUZ: ...Because, you know, there's always an audience there with you when you're on stage. After I finish a take, I'll usually turn to somebody and be like, did we get it? Was that funny because I have no idea (laughter).

SIMON: Let's advise all youngsters to turn away from the radio for just a moment while I ask you this next question. They add Blue later, right?

DELA CRUZ: Yes. Oh, my gosh. She's the biggest diva. She's never there for any of my scenes.

SIMON: (Laughter).

DELA CRUZ: You know (laughter) she's like Marlon Brando was during...

SIMON: Oh, with Rod Steiger...

DELA CRUZ: ..."On The Waterfront." Yeah. That's right.

SIMON: ...Or without Rod Steiger. Right, exactly.

DELA CRUZ: Yeah. That's right (laughter).

SIMON: Oh, my word.

DELA CRUZ: No. Yeah, she's usually a piece of green tape, or if I'm lucky - if I'm lucky, Scott - a green tennis ball.

SIMON: Well, it's a tribute to your acting ability that that doesn't throw you off. Did you watch the shows as a youngster?

DELA CRUZ: I did. I did. You know, I was about seven at the time. And I was watching with my little sister. And that was my first brush with the show.

SIMON: And I have to note. You're a Filipino American...


SIMON: ...Which - we haven't seen a lot of Filipino Americans front and center on children shows, have we?

DELA CRUZ: Yeah, not on children's television. You know, it's - I really feel honored that I've been given this opportunity to be in a role where it didn't require somebody that was Filipino American, you know, where I could just be myself. And they didn't cast me because they needed to cast a Filipino American. I think that's what the powerful part is for me and hopefully for other generations to come was that growing up, I never saw anybody that looked like me or that I could identify with that wasn't a caricature of a stereotype or somebody that didn't resort to violence or was a foreigner. So it's really an amazing thing to be in a children's show where I'm being silly, and the comedy has nothing to do with my nationality or my ethnicity or whatever I identify with.

And my most favorite thing that I've heard so far comes from friends or friends of friends from their kids saying that they point at the TV screen or the computer screen and they go, hey, he looks like me. And I think that's the coolest part.

SIMON: "Blue's Clues And You" with Josh Dela Cruz premieres Monday, 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Nickelodeon. Thanks so much for being with us.

DELA CRUZ: Thank you so much, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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