"Two of the most enduring characters in the history of Canadian children's programming, Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe, are about to quit the building. The children of actor and Friendly Giant creator Bob Homme, angered by the CBC's recent treatment of the loveable puppets, are removing them from a museum at the public broadcaster......"
- The Globe and Mail, November 27, 2007
The removal of the iconic puppets was apparently precipitated by their unauthorized appearance in a mock clip at the recent Gemini awards showing them in a retirement home. The voice-over narration reportedly described the cherished hand-operated characters as sitting around drinking, smoking and having sex.
Despite the protests by the Friendly Giant’s family, it appears that there was more to this story than first reported. A recent telephone interview with Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe may blow the lid off what could be the CBC’s biggest scandal ever.
"Yeah, we lived in a retirement home," said the aging, diminutive cock. "CBC brass called it a museum and that’s being generous. The place was a real dump."
"That’s right, Rusty," said his long-necked sidekick. "After 26 years of giving our all for the network, we end up in a dingy place without even a chair for two to curl up in."
"Hey, it’s not like we were complaining or anything," said Rusty. "We had a good life although it would have been nice to realize at least a small percentage of the residuals. Those shows didn’t write themselves, you know."
"Yeah, I didn’t mind that much either," said Jerome. "As long as they kept providing us with booze and smokes, it wasn’t all that bad."
It turns out, however, that Rusty and Jerome’s precipitous departure wasn’t just at the behest of Friendly’s family. The rumours about gambling, drugs and sex at the CBC retirement home were apparently not all false.
"Look, I’m not saying we were saints or anything," said Rusty. "When you’ve got time on your hands, things are going to happen."
"But we weren’t the instigators," said Jerome. "It was those other puppets who started all the trouble."
Asked to elaborate, Jerome was initially reluctant to say more. But Rusty didn’t hold back.
"Jerome’s right. We didn’t start it. You might want to ask Howard the Turtle about his part in all this. Sure, kids loved him but there was a dark side to that ‘Razzle Dazzle’ crowd, too."
"I’m afraid to say too much," said Jerome. "But if you contact Suzie the Mouse from ‘Chez Hélène’, I think you’ll find that she’s still dealing with a severe drug addiction thanks to Howie."
"That’s OK, Jerome," said Rusty. "The truth has to come out some time. Eventually people will even find out about Casey and Finnegan. Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with cross-dressing but it sure wouldn’t have helped the ratings for ‘Mr. Dressup’ if that ever got out."
"Just don’t look too closely at what’s in the Tickle Trunk," said Jerome. "That’s all I’m saying. Rumor has it that the bodies of Fitzgerald Fieldmouse and Grandmother Frog from ‘Maggie Muggins’ are buried under all that junk."
"Some folks say the bodies were in my sack," said Rusty. "But I had nothing to do with it, I tell you. If you want some answers, I suggest you talk to Pokeroo."
When asked to comment on Rusty and Jerome’s revelations, CBC President Hubert Lacroix would neither confirm nor deny that a public enquiry into the puppet scandal would soon be launched.