Thursday, June 30, 2005

UK Production Environment Causes Closure of The London Creature Shop

The Jim Henson Company will no longer have a full time staff at its London location of Jim Henson' s Creature Shop. Citing the dollar' s unfavorable exchange rate and the absence of concrete tax incentives in the UK production market, the President & Chief Operating Officer, Peter Schube, made the announcement of this news. The company's own television and film projects are not affected and the Creature Shop will continue to service third party clients out of its Los Angeles and New York locations, as well as hiring freelance crews in London on a project-by-project basis.

Peter Schube said, “Jim Henson's Creature Shop in London was founded on the highest standards of innovation and creativity, launching our worldwide facilities with those principles in mind. We are grateful to the UK film industry for its important place in our company's history and we are confident that it will remain a significant production center for us.”

Friday, June 24, 2005

Return of the Balcony

Curmudgeons don't come much more lovable than Statler and Waldorf. Now the Muppet duo is getting a regular spot on to share their inimitable reviews of upcoming films with online fans.

"Statler and Waldorf -- From the Balcony" kicked off yesterday with their remarks on today's release of "Bewitched" and next Wednesday's "War of the Worlds". And besides their witty words, the puppets have the "Snooze-O-Meter" for ranking a movie's interest level between nodding off during the opening credits to staying awake through the whole film. The two old men are even joined by Pepe the king prawn.

Statler and Waldorf did a low budget screen test during the Oscars (using diffrent performers and low production values). The user traffic and feedback was so positive that a regular feature was set up for (using the regular performers and higher production values).

"It strikes a chord of nostalgia with our target audience, 18-34, who remember the Muppets very well," Dan Sherlock ( Vice President) said. "After all, who could forget Statler and Waldorf?"

Besides the titular stars, each biweekly episode will feature a different Muppet guest star, such as Pepe the King Prawn (who reviews DVDs in this premiere episode), Rowlf the Dog and other favorites. "We have access to a variety of the Muppet characters, but obviously certain Muppets lend themselves better to this forum, so we'll be gearing it toward those," Sherlock said.

He added that the initiative is "very much a partnership" with the Muppets Holding Company, so fans should know that is working with the Muppet Holding Company on such things as scripts and characterizations.

Be sure to check out the latested episode of "Statler and Waldorf -- From the Balcony" every two weeks on

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

New Bear CD

Disney decided to release a new CD of music from “Jim Henson’s Bear in the Big Blue House” called “Bear in the Big Blue House: Greatest Hits” The CD features 26 of the best songs from the show. If you're a huge Bear fan/collector you’ll want (or probably already have) both previous releases of "Songs From Bear in the Big Blue House”" and "More Songs From Bear in the Big Blue House”. All of the songs on this CD are featured in those past releases, however since the past CDs are now out-of-print, this is the best way for fans to get the best Bear music. The CD will be released in stores on June 28, 2005 with a suggested retail price of $12:99.

Track Listings
1. Welcome to the Blue House
2. The Bear Cha-Cha-Cha
3. Good Morning
4. Brush Brush Bree
5. Happy, Happy Birthday
6. Baby, Baby
7. Look at You Now
8. When I’m Older
9. Imagine That
10. That’s My Name
11. Making Sense of the World
12. Dear Grandma
13. What’s in the Mail Today?
14. Rhythm in the Air
15. The Otter Dancing School
16. What’s Mine Is Yours
17. Why Can’t the Dirt Just Leave Me Alone?
18. Need a Little Help Today
19. Clean Up the House
20. Hello Doctor
21. What Kind Of Mouse Am I?
22. Love is Incredible
23. Friends Forever
24. Under Your Blanket
25. Shadow’s Lullaby
26. Goodbye Song

Friday, June 17, 2005

Upcoming Season Set Overviews

For all of you who haven't heard the news and details yet, here are the breif details on the upcoming season box sets of "The Muppet Show: Season One [Special Edition]", and "Fraggle Rock: Complete First Season". Just click the thumb-nails below to view the DVD specs. Feel free to use these images to promote the sets and share the news with your friends (just e-mail them the little ad here, or print out a few copys and spread them around), or you can share them on your own website or webspace (please copy image to your own server). Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

More Muppet Show Season Details

The finial pieces of information surrounding "The Muppet Show Season One" DVD box set are surfacing. The fully loaded set will be released on August 9th. Here is some more of the information that you are craving.

As many Muppet fans know, there were two specials created as pilots for "The Muppet Show", and everyone was wondering which would be found on the season 1 set. I have now been told that “The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence” will be included on the season 1 box set. However the fate of the other pilot, “The Muppets’ Valentine Show”, is still unclear. This all depends on what space was available on the discs. With all the content the DVD team is cramming into the collection "the Valentine Show" may not have made final the cut for the season 1 set. Some insiders say that Disney hopes to hold onto it and included the other pilot on the season 2 set (or another release). The exact fate of that special/pilot is unknown at this point. Hopefully "the Valentine Show" will not be forgotten and held from the public, and hopefully Disney releases it on one of their Muppet DVD sets. We’ll have to wait a little longer in order to know for sure if both pilots made the cut for season one (however it is starting to look unlikely at this point)- but we do know that "Sex and Violence" is a lock. The ultimate fate of "The Valentine Show" is still unknown.

International Muppet fans are eagerly waiting for any news about the possibility of international releases of this set. The question of releasing the set on DVD in other regions has been raised many times, and Disney has stated that they hope to eventually create international releases of the product, however the exact details of those releases are not available at this time. Like many of Disney's DVDs, the international release will be sometime after the North American (Region 1) release. Exact details are not available, for more information check the Disney international website at for the information on upcoming releases in your country or region.

Many fans wonder if the set will include closed-captioning or subtitles on the episodes. Disney has not been able to officially comment on this issue yet, but it is very likely that at least one (if not both) of these options will be included. Many of Disney's high quality season box sets (like this set) host closed-captioning and subtitles. And the technical specifications many online retailers have for this particular set list these items for the set. It is not guaranteed, but it is a good bet that one (or both) these features will be included.

The set will boast some interesting and fun packaging. Earlier, I shared some temporary disc art, and last week I shared some information on the furry outer box; well the disc art has changed and now more information on the inner packaging has surfaced. The four discs are housed on two sides of a tri-folded Digipak, which is slid into the furry exterior slipcover. The inner Digipak showcases the classic red-curtain design, and includes an insert folder on the first side of the 6-sided Digipak. The four discs are displayed in an overlapping manner, and the disc feature the four main Muppets characters -- Kermit (Disc 1), Piggy (Disc 2), Gonzo (Disc 3), and Fozzie (Disc 4).

There are still some questions and information left to uncover. I have still been unable to get a straight answer on the issue of the "Season 1 Openings", but someone I've talked with hopes to get back to me this week with the final answer and some other information. I'll keep you all posted as more information on the set surfaces.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Goose is off the Table

I was informed by HIT Entertainment that the upcoming release of the third and forth volumes of DVDs and VHSs in the "Jim Henson’s Mother Goose Stories" series ("Twinkle Twinkle" and "Eensy Weensy") have been postponed. The two discs, originally slated for a June 28th release, will not be released as originally planned and announced. A HIT Entertainment representative said that "all future Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories have been cancelled from our release schedule at this time. New items in the series may be added at a later date, but at this time there are no longer any set plans for the show’s release." Fans of the show can still pick up the first two releases (“Humpty Dumpty” and “Jack & Jill”). I’ll keep you all posted on any future plans HIT may formulate for “Mother Goose Stories" when (and if) that time comes.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Fraggle Rock Cover Art Surfaces

The cover art for the highly anticipated "Fraggle Rock: The Complete First Season" DVD box set has surfaced. The beautiful embossed box will feature a colorful image. The set is due in stores on September 6, 2005 and will feature all 24 season one episodes, the "Down at Fraggle Rock" documentary, all new interviews with the cast and creators, a replica of Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock" notepad, a bonus Fraggle Rock CD-ROM, and much more! This great box set will be an essential for any Fraggle fan.

Bonus CD-ROM in Fraggle Rock Season 1

Just a few hours ago, I shared the preliminary features for the upcoming "Fraggle Rock: Season 1 Box Set". And as we approach September 6th, more information and details on the set will surface. To prove this point here is some more breaking news about the upcoming set. It has just been reported that the box set will come with a bonus CD-ROM full of all kinds of Fraggle fun for your computer. This special disk will be home to all kinds of fun things for fans to enjoy; including Fraggle Rock wallpapers, icons, games, and so much more! With this exclusive disk, fans will be able to experience Fraggle Rock right on their computer screen with all kinds of new content. I'll share more information on this, and the "Fraggle Rock: Season 1 Box Set", as it surfaces.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Fraggle Rock Season One Features

HIT Entertainment insiders have responded to questions regarding the upcoming "Fraggle Rock- Season One" DVD box set, and their tentative list of features and specifications regarding the release surfaced. This is not the final list of features; but gives you a good idea of some of the major features to expect on the first set's release. HIT Entertainment hopes to have a full announcement ready later this month with all the details (and cover art). HIT stated that they hope to be able to release the other four seasons of the show in similar box sets, but (like all things) season one's performance will be a key factor in whether the other sets get made. No further information on the future sets was avalible. I'll keep you posted as more things surface.

Fraggle Rock: Season One DVD Box Set

Episode Listing:

  • Beginnings
  • Wembley and the Gorgs
  • Let the Water Run
  • You Can't Do That Without a Hat
  • The Thirty-Minute Work Week
  • The Preachification of Convincing John
  • I Want To Be You
  • The Terrible Tunnel
  • The Lost Treasure of the Fraggles
  • Don't Cry Over Spilt Milk
  • Catch the Tail by the Tiger
  • The Finger of Light
  • We Love You, Wembley
  • The Challenge
  • I Don't Care
  • Capture the Moon
  • Marooned
  • The Minstrels
  • The Great Radish Famine
  • The Garden Plot
  • Gobo's Discovery
  • Mokey's Funeral
  • The Beast of Bluerock
  • New Trash Heap in Town
Bonus Feature Lisiting:

  • Replica of Jim Henson's "Fraggle Rock" notepad
  • "Down at Fraggle Rock" behind the scenes documentary narrated by Jim Henson
  • All new interviews with "Fraggle Rock" cast and creators
  • Deluxe embossed collector's box and packaging
  • ...and much more!

Retail Specifications:

  • 4-disc DVD collection
  • $44.99 suggested retail price
  • Release date: September 6 , 2005

Friday, June 10, 2005

Final "Oz" Rating Report

It has taken three weeks, but the final rating reports for "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz" are complete. Earlier today I received an e-mail directly from the Muppet Holding Company. They wanted to put to rest all the speculation and rumors of how tele-film really did. As many of you may know, this was the first Muppet production to be released since Disney acquired the brand. The fate of the franchise was not solely riding on the performance; but the better Oz did in the May sweeps, the better the Muppets' future would be (as it would show Disney that the brand could still survive today). Needless to say, the Muppet did great, and Oz was a totally success in the eyes of the executives! Below is a portion of the e-mail I received from the Muppet Holding Company. Enjoy!

Hi Greg,

I hope this email finds you well! I was so excited to see that the fans enjoyed the premiere of "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz." Since you love to receive email news about any and all things Muppets, I thought you would want to hear about the films' ratings – and despite what some media spin would have you think, we think they are FANTASTIC! I've given you the top-line information below so that you can share them with Muppet fans. I think everyone will be ecstatic!

Drum roll, please...

Here are the ratings for "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz"

  • Won its slot with children; Girls (ages 2-11)and Boys (ages 2-11).
  • Among teens, Oz placed first with girls (ages 12-17); and among boys (ages 12-17), the Muppets ran a strong and close second.
  • Among adults (ages 18-49), the Muppets placed second with women and men, just behind “Dateline”.
  • Oz ranked #1 overall in four major markets: Los Angeles,
    Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Antonio.
  • The adult (ages 18-49) rating was up five percent over what ABC had
    delivered in the May 2005 sweep with their regular "America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Hope & Faith”.
  • The movie delivered a 5.2 rating of kids 2-11. (That was the best Wonderful World of Disney numbers for kids in the last two seasons (with the exception of “Lilo & Stitch”, a non-original non-premiere movie).
  • The Muppets provided the third best television kids delivery in prime time this entire season (just behind a couple of “American Idol” episodes on FOX).

Again, as a loyal Muppets fan, this is such great news to receive -- I hope you feel the same way! Feel free to put this information on your site -- I am sure the Muppets fans will go wild (just like all of us working with the Muppets have)!

All the best,

Debbie McClellan
Director, Creative Affairs
The Muppets Holding Company

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Fun and Furry Muppet Show Package

Last month I shared some possible cover for the upcoming "Muppet Show - Season 1" DVD box set. Today Disney confirmed that the box will be the simple Kermit inspired art work that surfaced earlier. However the simple green box with a classy and nostalgic feel will really stand out on store shelves due to another fun packaging feature. “The Muppet Show Season 1” will come in a special collectible packaging with a fun, furry touch. That’s right, the box will not be made of plan cardboard like most DVD box sets, but will feel just like the Muppets themselves. Information on the design for the final disc art or interior packaging is not available yet, but at least now you know what to look for (and feel for) in stores on August 9th.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Breakfast with Bear Debuts June 20th

Breakfast with Bear, the all new fun-filled hour for preschoolers, will make its’ Disney Channel debuts on June 20, 2005 at 7am. The programming block is hosted by Bear, the 7-foot tall star of the Emmy Award-winning series Bear in the Big Blue House as he pays visits to real homes across the USA.

Each weekday morning, Bear will be seen greeting a preschooler and his or her family, interacting with them as they go about the daily routines children age 2-5 are mastering, including brushing teeth, making wardrobe choices and getting dressed, tying shoes, stretching, getting the body moving and eating a healthy breakfast. Throughout Bear’s morning events viewers will also be treated to periodic short cartoons, songs, activities, episodelets, and other entertaining (and education) moments.

The Breakfast with Bear hour will premiere on June 20, 2005 during the learning-based programming block for preschoolers on Disney Channel. The daily programming block will air on Playhouse Disney from 7:00-8:00am each morning (check local listings for details).

Breakfast with Bear is the first new entertainment initiative launched by the Muppet Holding Company since acquiring the characters (along with the Muppets) early last year. Along with Breakfast with Bear, the brand will be supported with additional initiatives, including Internet content, live theatre shows, and a whole new rollout of Bear related merchandise.

"Breakfast with Bear" is produced by Rick Fernandes and Hold the Onions Productions. Bear in the Big Blue House was created by Mitchell Kreigman and produced by Jim Henson Productions.

Extended Cut of Oz Released in Full-Frame

Disney officially stated today that the upcoming "The Muppets Wizard Of Oz" DVD will be an extended version of the film. The DVD release will feature over 20 minutes of new footage not seen in the original broadcast (due to network time restraints). This makes the film over 22% longer.

The film will be released in the full-frame aspect ratio. Despite the film being shot in widescreen, Disney is opting to release the film it the full-screen format. In trying to uncover the reason for this I learned that even though the film was shot widescreen, it was created and composed with full-frame viewing in mind (due to it being a TV-movie). Director Kirk Thatcher knew starting out that the film would most likely not be seen in widescreen by the average viewer, and therefore created the shots for a full-frame viewer. Many film and DVD enthusiast and upset due to this decision, but Disney feels that even though some picture is lost from the original masters, that the overall film is still being released respectfully. It is a shame that Disney did not choose to include both versions so the viewer could decide how to watch.

Aside from over 20-minutes of new film, the DVD will also feature; “Pepe’s Exclusive 'Making Of' Bonus Featurette”, "Outtakes and Bloopers”, and “Pepe’s interview of Quentin Tarantino”. The DVD will arrive in stores on August 9, 2005.