In 1998, rumors started circulating that former host Steve Burns had died following drug-related problems. The rumor became so serious that Burns appeared on The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996) to reassure his young audience that he was alive and well.
When Steve auditioned, he had a skate rat-like appearance. The network gave him a call to tell him that he should dress more family-friendly ("Can you not look like you tomorrow morning?") which is what he did.
Donovan Patton (Joe) auditioned for the role in the show at the age of 24 doing a Christopher Walken impression, even though he never heard of the show thinking it was about the blues and pictured Blue as a jazz-singing dog.
The pilot, entitled "Blue Prints," was never shown in Nick Jr. (except clips from the documentary), it was self-released on VHS for a test audience of children to see if it was good enough for TV debut.
In the original pilot, Steve wore a short-sleeve orange polo rather than his famous long-sleeved green striped shirt. The background looked like it was painted rather than having a construction paper made background. The house even looked different.