Jim Henson

What you didn't know about the Muppets

What you didn't know about the Muppets

It seems like all my friends saw THE MUPPETS this past weekend, and the fact that these are friends whose ages range from 24 – 35 is a testament to the broad and timeless appeal of Jim Henson’s legacy. I’m slightly cursing him though because I’ve had the song “Mahna Mahna” stuck on repeat in my head (and now it’s stuck in yours). I didn’t know until recently that the original song, written by Piero Umiliania, first debuted in the decidedly kid unfriendly Italian film SWEDEN: HEAVEN AND HELL. I also didn’t know that Oscar the Grouch was originally orange before the color of his fur was changed to green in the second season. The explanation given was that Oscar “went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight,” which is subversively disturbing if you think about it. Was that a toxic swamp filled with mutated frogs as a result of illegal chemical dumping by an evil corporation? These are the kind of hard hitting questions that Big Bird needs to be asking on Sesame Street…

BEING ELMO – there will be tears

BEING ELMO – there will be tears

Constance Marks and Philip Shane’s BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY pulls at the heartstrings like a skilled marionettist. Winner of the 2011 Special Jury Prize at Sundance, this film continues to prove that audiences are hungry for documentary content that inspires. (See BUCK, another success story.) It’s highly likely that if you see this film, the incredible story of how puppeteer Kevin Clash not only realized his dream of working with Jim Henson but also ended up creating one of the most beloved childhood characters of all time, you will choke up…

Weekly movie trailer roundup: THE MUPPETS and THE MUPPET MOVIE

Weekly movie trailer roundup: THE MUPPETS and THE MUPPET MOVIE

Let’s just get this out there: I love the Muppets. I grew up with them as much as any kid, but it’s only as an adult that I really appreciate Jim Henson and the art of muppetry. I love The Muppet Show from the late 70s and early 80s, THE MUPPET MOVIE (1979) – I even love the side characters – the two cranky old men in the theatre and the aliens from Muppets in Space – more than the main attractions. And as one generation that spent their childhood alongside Kermit and Miss Piggy grows up and has kids of their own, it’s really no surprise that Disney’s come out with a Muppet movie for the next batch of young ‘uns, THE MUPPETS (due out in November).

The main question is whether director…

How to make puppets with Jim Henson

How to make puppets with Jim Henson

Before Sesame Street, Jim Henson was on Iowa Public Television in 1969 showing viewers and children how to make puppets from everyday simple items like tennis balls, socks, spoons, and cups. I think what’s even more remarkable in this 15 minute segment is how quickly these homely and basic puppets are imbued with a unique…

Sesame Street screenings at BAM

Sesame Street screenings at BAM

Sesame Street celebrated its 40th anniversary last month (with a guest appearance from Michelle Obama, no less) and BAM is screening, this weekend only, some of Jim Henson’s feature length films with his lovable muppets, including ABBY IN WONDERLAND, FOLLOW THAT BIRD, and THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET, a documentary about the show’s international…