Thursday, November 30, 2006

Henson Fantasy World Plushes

Toy Vault is preparing to release several new lines of plush dolls based on the Jim Henson Company's fantasy world productions. The company, which has officially gained the licensee to produce the collectibles based on "The Dark Crystal", "Labyrinth" and "Farscape", is planning to bring a great collection of plush collectibles to fans.

The first plush doll in the "Labyrinth" line will be Sir Didymus. The 10-inch tall plush of the valiant and chivalrous knight is expected to ship by the end of the year. More "Labyrinth" plushes are expected to follow, however the exact details of timing and which characters have not been announced yet.

"The Dark Crystal" line will be kicked off in March 2007 with the release of Fizzgig, the courageous ad lovable little fur ball. The 6-inch plush of Fizzgig will be followed by more plush characters from "The Dark Crystal", however the details of the subsequent plushes have not been released.

The "Farscape" line was recently launched with the release of Dominar Rygel XVI, the first plush Farscape character ever. The medium-sized Rygel plush stands just over a foot tall and is avalible now. A "life-size" (26-inch tall) plush of Rygel will be released soon; with a DRD plush and Moya plush to follow. Any more details on the Farscape line are not available at this time.

The Sir Didymus, Fizzgig and Rygel plushes are currently available to buy or per-order on several online retail sites. For more information on the upcoming "Dark Crystal", "Labyrinth" and "Farscape" plushes check out -- or just stay turned to The Muppet Newsflash, as I'll keep you posted as more information surfaces on these collectibles.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Kermit the Frog on "Regis & Kelly"

Everyone's favorite amphibian, Kermit the Frog, will be a guest on "Live with Regis & Kelly" on Friday, December 8, 2006! Kermit will be a featured guest along with Jennifer Connelly and musical performer Brian McKnight. "Live with Regis & Kelly" is a daily daytime talk show syndicated around the country, check local listings for time and channel. So be sure to set your VCR, program you Ti-Vo, and check out this unique talk show spot!

Kermit This will mark Kermit's third time on the show (his first appearance was in 1990 along side Jim Henson, back when the show was "Live with Regis & Kathie Lee"; and he dropped in again on Christmas Eve 2001). Miss Piggy has appeared on the show twice (once in 1996 to promote "In the Kitchen with Miss Piggy" and again in 2005 to promote "The Muppets' Wizard of Oz"). There is no official word on if Kermit will be promoting or announcing any specific projects, but you can be sure that the frog will share something special with viewers who tune in.

So get ready! And don't forget to watch Kermit the Frog on "Live with Regis & Kelly" on Friday, December 8th.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Henson's Fantastic World is Coming to You

Starting in September 2007, fans will be able to get a firsthand look into the imagination and innovative brilliance of Jim Henson with the debut of a new traveling exhibit titled "Jim Henson's Fantastic World".

The exhibit is being organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) with cooperation from the Henson family, The Jim Henson Company, The Muppets Holding Company and Sesame Workshop.

This unique traveling exhibit documents Henson’s process of “visual thinking” through exceptional displays and showcases. The exhibit will include several of Henson's Muppets (from "The Muppet Show", "Sesame Street", "Fraggle Rock", "The Dark Crystal" and others); plus over 100 framed works of art (include paintings, sketches, cartoons, and storyboards), a large collection of rare photographs, unique production documents and additional artifacts and film props. Viewers of the exhibit will also be treated to over 30-minutes of special videos included in the exhibit.

A listing of the museum stops and the tour schedule has not been solidified yet. The exhibit is currently available to Smithosian-approved locations for 12-week booking periods starting in September 2007. I will keep you posted as soon as the tour details and locations are announced. For more details be sure to check out the exhibit's official information page at

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sesame Deals with Parental Deployment

Sesame Workshop has finished production on a new television special titled "When Parents Are Deployed". The special focuses on the educational and emotional needs of children with parents and caregivers deployed by the military.

The half-hour show is set to premiere on December 27, 2006 at 9:00 pm on PBS (check local listings for details). The special, hosted by Cuba Gooding Jr, is targeted at educating adults about the issues and effects of parental deployment on children and what they can do, rather than targeting the effected children and their parents (which has been addressed in the special " Talk Listen Connect" support material).

The special is an offshoot of Sesame Workshop's "Talk, Listen Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment" series, which is directly targeted at helping the kids and caregivers effected deal with the issues. These educational kits and videos are downloadable (for free) at the Sesame Workshop website.

There will be more than 700,000 kids separated from their mother or father this holiday season due to military deployment. The special will show the effects of the deployment of Muppet Elmo's father while showing interviews with military families and others.

The newly produced special, "When Parents Are Deployed", will feature a documentary-style look at the issues of parent deployment, while also including the classic fun and sincerity from the Sesame Street Muppets as they address the topic. Many local PBS stations are planning to repeat the special after the initial premiere so be sure to check local listings for further airings.

Monday, November 20, 2006

"Puppet Up!" Airs Tonight!

The world television premiere of "The Jim Henson Company's Puppet Up! - Uncensored" will occur tonight (Monday, November 20, 2006) at 11:00pm (ET/PT) on TBS. More information about the show can be found on the TBS webpage and at

The one-hour puppet improv special was filmed on Wednesday (November 15th) in Las Vegas. The improv cast includes Brian Henson, Julianne Buescher, Tyler Bunch, Ted Michaels, Drew Massey, Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman and Victor Yerrid; with Patrick Bristow serving as director and host.

You won't want to miss this one time only television event. So set your VCR, program your TiVo, finish your homework, clean off that couch, collect your friends, pop some corn and get ready to laugh like you've never laughed before. "Puppet Up! - Uncensored" airs tonight at 11pm on TBS!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Muppet Babies Art on Display

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) in New York opened a new exhibit toady titled "Saturday Morning: Art and Artifacts from a Golden Age of Television." The exhibition celebrate nearly sixty years of television animation with a focus on the "Golden Age" of Saturday morning cartoons, which lasted from 1966 to 1990.

Over 200 pieces of animation artwork and memorabilia have been collected from over 75 television programs. One of the key programs featured is "Jim Henson's Muppet Babies". The animated series ran on CBS for seven years (1984-1990). The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art has several pieces of "Muppet Babies" art; including designs, sketches, completed cels and other related artwork.

Matt Murray, the exhibition’s lead curator and MoCCA Chief Operating Officer, expresses excitement over the show stating "it contains examples of almost every kind of animation art - from character roughs, to model packs, storyboards to drawings, as well as scripts and series bibles. It’s a great chance for the public to see how much work goes into the making of an animated cartoon, and hopefully will give them some perspective on the art form when they watch a cartoon on TV or see a pretty cel for sale in a gallery."

Other programs featured in the exhibit include: "Looney Tunes", "Schoolhouse Rock", "The Smurfs", "Inspector Gadget", "Garfield & Friends", "Winnie the Pooh", "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Captain Planet", "Where's Waldo", "Ren & Stimpy", "Pinky & the Brain", "The Flintstones" and many others.

"Saturday Morning: Art and Artifacts from a Golden Age of Television" will remain on view at the museum until March 16th, 2007. For more information on the exhibit and the museum, visit their website at

Friday, November 17, 2006

Henson Trys to Sell "Tinseltown"

Over the past year, the Jim Henson Company has been working one many projects. There are have been many family-friendly project in development (such as the "Fraggle Rock" feature film, "Frances", "Unstable Fables", "Laugh Pad" and "The Skrumps"), plus the company's more elaborate fantasy-world projects (including "Power of the Dark Crystal", a "Dark Crystal" TV show and creature effects for "Where the Wild Things Are"). However, recently the company has been vying to restore their presences in the consciousness of adult audiences. Henson's thrust to capture mature audiences started with "Puppet Up!" and continued with the development of "Late Night Buffet".

Brian Henson told the New York Times that "we lost our position as funny, popular entertainment in the prime-time arena, so I’m trying to get back there. To do that and be innovative, we have to really establish a new voice."

Another new project that the Henson Company is currently shopping around is titled "Tinseltown." The puppet sitcom focuses on a gay couple living in Hollywood. There's Bobby, a pig, and his partner Samson, a bull. The show focus on the life of the couple (both puppets) after they adopt a human son; naturally, comedy ensues.

A five-minute presentation tape for "Tinseltown" has been produced and is circulating the industry. In one portion of the tape, family tribulations arise after Bobby and Samson's 12-year-old son pulls a beer from the refrigerator. Samson is distraught over their son's recent action; however Bobby dismisses Samson’s concern stating "Oh, it was a light beer."

Brain Henson emphasized that being offensive is not the goal. "We didn’t set out to do risqué adult-exclusive content," he says. "What we set out to do is forget all the rules of the 8 p.m. sensibility and just do what we as puppeteers think is the funniest thing we can do in the moment." The show's brief description may seem a bit surprising to Henson-fans, but from people who have seen the project, the writing, characters and humor is said to be "unique", "sophisticated", "tasteful", "enjoyable" and "pure Henson".

As of today, no one has officially picked-up the series; and it is not clear how, or if, the concept will move forward. But I'll keep you posted on this, and all of the Henson Company's projects, as more information surfaces.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Henson Caters to Pre-Schoolers with "Laugh Pad"

"The Dan Clark Company" has teamed up with "The Jim Henson Company" to produce "Laugh Pad", a brand-new preschool series, intended for airing on Cartoon Network. Although the series has not been officially picked-up yet, a pilot was produced earlier this fall. The show focuses on Legume, a silly green alien-like creature, and Tammy, his human friend.

The show utilizes the state of the art Henson Digital Performance System. The system allows for immediate real-time performance of 3-D generated characters via puppeteering techniques. The system allows an unprecedented level of spontaneity, interactivity and readiness when compared to traditional computer animation.

"Laugh Pad" inserts the human actor into the computer generated world where she interacts with the real-time-animated characters. By using the Henson Digital Performance System, the digital puppeteer and actors are working side-by-side, which allows the actor and characters to feed off each other and provides a spontaneous and "realer" feeling to the interactions when compared to animation.

A short sample clip from the test pilot, which showcases the show's unique style and visual effects, has surfaced on the net -- the short clip is available to watch here. It is unsure if Cartoon Network will green-light the series or when viewers will be able to see more "Laugh Pad". I'll keep you posted as more develops on this, and other Henson, project.

Update: I got several e-mails after posting this story (including two from people who worked on the program), they informed me that since producing the pilot Cartoon Network officialy decided not to pick up the show. Apparently the entire preschool programming block the show was to be a part of was cancled, and "Laugh Pad" was a casualty. There are currently no plans to sell and distribute the program elsewhere, but I'll keep you posted if anything changes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Puppet Up! Television Special on Monday!

The Jim Henson Company's "Puppet Up" improv troupe will be performing two live shows of "Puppet Up!" tonight (7:00PM and 10:30PM at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas). These two improv shows will be filmed for the upcoming hour-long "Puppet Up – Uncensored" television special, set to air on Monday, November 20th at 11pm on TBS.

The improv cast includes Brian Henson, Julianne Buescher, Tyler Bunch, Ted Michaels, Drew Massey, Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman and Victor Yerrid; with Patrick Bristow serving as director and host. The troupe has been working together for over a year now, and strenuous rehearsals for tonight's Vegas shows have been running for several months. With a diverse set of characters brought to life world-renowned puppeteers, the show is truly innovative comedy.

So be sure to watch "Puppet Up! – Uncensored" on Monday night (November 20th at 11pm on TBS). This will be a one-time-only television event; TBS told me that "there are no re-airings scheduled at this time". This special, like most of TBS' Comedy Festival coverage, will only be broadcasted once (Monday, November 20th at 11pm on TBS) – so don't miss it! If you enjoy the show, be sure to let TBS know (it might be the kind of encouragement needed to get other Henson projects, and possibly more "Puppet Up!", on the TBS schedule).

So be sure to mark your calendars, set your VCRs, program your TiVo, tell your friends and get ready! You won't want to miss this special one-time-only television event...oh, did I mention "Puppet Up- Uncensored" will air on Monday, November 20th at 11pm on TBS?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Henson Brings "The Skrumps" to Life

Last month the Jim Henson company shot a four-minute demo for a new televison production titled "The Skrumps", a series based on characters created by John Chandler. The Skrumps are unique and wacky characters that delight kids and adults of all ages.

These quirky creatures live in the world of Skrumpland. The Company has included existing characters like drummer Skrumpy and has also extended the Skrumps family with new characters like lead singer Wishbone and his lovelorn groupie Raisins.

Henson's production of "The Skrumps" features computer-generated puppets, using the revolutionary Henson Digital Performance Studio for character performance. Allan Trautman, one of the Henson performers that worked on the project, said "I’m pleased with the results, and glad to help bring this fun project to the next level."

It's is certain when, or where, audiences can expect to see "The Skrumps", but I'll keep you posted as more information on this project surfaces.

Watch Sesame Street on Verizon Wireless' V CAST

Verizon Wireless and Sesame Workshop announced today an expansion to bring “Sesame Street” and “Plaza Sesamo” content to Verizon Wireless' V CAST mobile video service. With this announcement, Verizon becomes the largest wireless host of “Seseame Street” content and the first wireless carrier in the US to air “Plaza Sesamo”. Now, with just a few simple clicks, fans can view classic and new video segments from Sesame Street and Plaza Sesamo right on their phone.

Customers can enjoy the newly expanded of the Sesame Street channel. V Cast hold many new segments and educational videos for kids from the show – including episodes of “Elmo’s World”. Another new addition to the network is "Sesame Favorites," a large collection of videos featuring memorable songs, sketches, skits and celebrity appearances from the past 37 years.

The Plaza Sesamo channel, featuring a new two to three minute segment each day is also now available on V CAST. Fans, or those hoping to learn a little Spanish, can enjoy watching the Spanish Muppets Abelardo, Pancho, and Lola, perform songs, skits, and instruction directly from their phone.

To get Sesame Street and Plaza Sesamo, Verizon Wireless customers can equip their LG VX8300 phones with a V CAST VPak subscription for $15.00 monthly access, or $3.00 daily access, added to their Verizon Wireless calling plan. The subscription includes unlimited basic video. The Sesame Street content is now available to customers with V CAST-enabled phones via the Sesame Street channel (located in the newly created kids section). And Plaza Sesamo is available via the Sesame Street channel and through its own dedicated channel (located in the Latino section).

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Sesame Street Christmas Carol

"A Sesame Street Christmas Carol", a brand-new direct-to-video movie, is hitting store shelves tomorrow (November 14, 2006). The film, as the title suggests, is based on the classic Dickens story with a Sesame twist. The special was written by Muppeteer Rickey Boyd and is being released by Sesame Workshop and Sony Wonder.

It's no surprise to fans that Oscar the Grouch would have his regular grumpy and cranky temperament towards Christmas – a season of love, joy, sharing and togetherness. However things begin to change when the Grouch finds himself haunted by three "ghosts" - a British Grouch, a talking Christmas tree, and a robot. These three visitors, along with Elmo, Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and the rest of the gang, try to persuade Oscar that even a Grouch can love Christmas! The special also features the celebrity voices of Tim and Kristen Chenoweth.

Aside from the home video release, the special will be broadcast on Sprout On-Demand from November 17th through the 23rd. Additionally, the special will also be broadcast on the Sprout cable channel throughout December.

So be sure to
pick up a copy of the DVD (nicely priced at around $10) and bring in the Holiday season with an this all-new Sesame Street Christmas movie.

Bah humbug… now scram!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

TBS to Produce 30 Online Episodes of "Puppet Up!"

This coming Monday, TBS will air "The Jim Henson Company's Puppet Up! – Uncensored" television special (Monday, November 20, 2006 at 11pm on TBS). However this will not be the last public display of "Puppet Up!", as Henson and TBS will be bringing the improv puppetry to the web in exclusive web-episodes.

TBS announced that they ordered 30 episodes of "Puppet Up!" for "Laugh Lab", their video service located at The episodes are set to hit the web in March, 2007. The episodes for "Laugh Lab" will be executive-produced by Brian Henson and Lisa Henson, produced by Martin Baker, co-produced by Eric Poticha and feature the "Puppet Up!" performers and characters.

I'll keep you posted as more information is released on Henson's upcoming web-series for TBS' "Laugh Lab".

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Legends of the Dark Crystal #1

Click to EnlargeAlmost 16-months ago it was announced that the Jim Henson Company was teaming up with TOKYOPOP to release a series of Dark Crystal graphic novels. Well, the first volume in the highly anticipated "Legends of the Dark Crystal" series will finally be released early next year - March 11, 2007 (to be specific).

The graphic novel, titled "Legends of the Dark Crystal #1: The Garthim Wars", was written by Barbara Randall Kebel with art by Max Kim. The story is a prequel to the 1982 film, and will showcase many of the established Dark Crystal characters (such as the Skeksis, the Mystics and Aughra) as well introduce many new characters (such as Larh and Neffi, two young Gelflings).

Details on the second part have not been announced yet, however more installments are planned to follow later in 2007. The novel is already avaliable to pre-order from many sites, retailing for under $10. I'll keep you posted as soon as more news on the "Legends of the Dark Crystal" series surfaces.

Return to Labyrinth #2

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The Jim Henson Company and TOKYOPOP released the first installment in their "Return to Labyrinth" series graphic novels back in August. The series takes place thirteen years after the events of the original film. Toby, who was just an infant when his sister Sarah wished him away to the Labyrinth, is now a teenager. However trouble starts when Jareth the Goblin King sends his minions to capture Toby and return him to the Labyrinth to take his place as the heir to the Goblin Kingdom. Sarah, Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus and other characters appear; and several new characters are introduced as well.

The 192-page graphic novel, written by Jake Forbes with art by Chris Lie, will be followed by the part 2 - currently set for release on April 10, 2007. The second volume, also by Forbes and Lie, will continue the saga of "Return to Labyrinth" set in motion in the first graphic novel.

Details on the third chapter have not been announced yet, however it is currently planned for release in 2007 as well. The part 2 is already available for pre-ordering on many sites, retailing for under $10 – and the first part is in stores now!

Monday, November 06, 2006

C is for Cooking

Click to Enlarge!

Wiley Publishing is set planning to release a new cookbook, titled "C is for Cooking: Recipes from the Street", in April 2007. The Sesame Street cookbood, written by Susan McQuillan, will features over 50 recipes that parents can make for, or with, their children.

The recipes range from chicken nuggets to cupcakes and each recipe includes nutrition advice and serving tips. Chapters include "Sweet Sips", "Best Breakfasts", "Lunches to Munch On", "Super Soups", "Family Dinners", "Something Special on the Side" and "Sweets and Treats". The preparation steps even include a special "Kids!" icon that indicate the specific steps that young children can do.

The book features color photographs of each recipe along with illustrations and photos with Elmo, Oscar, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, Zoe, Rosita, Abby Cadabby, and other Sesame Street characters.

<"C is for Cooking" is set to hit stores on April 17, 2007. The 112-page hardcover book is starting to pop-up for pre-order on many online sites (generally retailing for less than $17).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Jareth the Goblin King Action Figure

Fans of Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy-film Labyrinth will be excited to hear that they will finally be able to get their very own Jareth the Goblin King action figure! The fine folks at NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) announced that they will be releasing a Jareth figure, with the likeness of David Bowie, under their "Cult Classics Presents" banner. Pictures have not been released by NECA yet; however the reactions from those who saw the figure shown at the recent Toy Fair are nothing but high praising. The figure is set to be in stores in March 2007. NECA has no other Labyrinth figures or merchandise planned or licensed for release.

Labyrinth collectors may recall that Palisades Toys announced last October their plan to release a Jareth figure in "spring 2006". However the company's buy-out and closure in February resulted in the figure never being released. Although this figure is similar is subject matter, the NECA figure is different from the product Palisades had designed and publicized.

I'll keep you all posted as more news on this, and other Labyrinth products, develop.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Green and Red Christmas

A brand-new Muppet album was release last month. "A Green and Red Christmas" is 12-tracks of Christmas music performed by the Muppets. The Electric Mayhem performs 3 newly recorded songs, Pepe sings "Merry Christmas Baby", Gonzo and Rizzo sing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year", and Kermit serrinades listeners with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" . The CD also includes tracks from Miss Piggy, Rowlf the Dog, Fozzie Bear and even the Swedish Chef. It's an great way to bring in the Christmas season and will be a classic for years. Be sure to read my indepth review of the album on Muppet Central and pick up a copy of the album today!