Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Henson Company's Feature Film Slate Grows

The Jim Henson Company announced today three new additions to their feature film development slate. The company recently acquired the rights to three fantasy titles which they plan to develop into feature films. Aside from producing the films, the Jim Henson Company's Creature Shop is planning to provide numerous characters and creatures for each film using a blend of CGI and animatronics.

The Boggart, a book by Susan Cooper originally published in 1993, tells the story of a family from Toronto who inherits a Scottish castle and all its contents - including the gleeful spirit who has been playing tricks on the castle residents for generations. The story is in development as a "live-action family film" with Brian Henson attached to direct.

The Doubtful Guest, a book by Edward Gorey that debut in 1957, tells the story of an inexplicable and mysterious creature that shows up unannounced and unwelcome at a family-owned bed & breakfast. Brad Peyton is attached to direct and Matthew Huffman is attached to write the screenplay.

Monster Blood Tattoo, a series of three books by D.M. Cornish, tells an adventure story set in a magical Victorian world where an orphaned boy embarks on a perilous quest to become an apprentice to an esteemed line of monster bounty hunters. No writer or director are officially attached yet, however Lisa Henson, Brian Henson, and Jason Lust are all locked in as producers for the project.

Lisa Henson said, “What is exciting to us about these projects is that they are wonderful, unique fantasy stories, each having their own challenges when adapting them for the big screen. We are looking forward to seeing our artists at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop bring The Boggart, the Doubtful Guest and the creatures of The Half-Continent to life and to realizing all these great stories in creative and exciting ways that we hope their loyal fans will enjoy."

Aside from these three titles, the Jim Henson Company's feature film division is continuing work on their sequel to The Dark Crystal, titled Power of the Dark Crystal, along with continuing development on a Fraggle Rock feature film. I will keep you updated with more information on these, and other, Jim Henson Company projects and films as more information is released.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Puppet Up-date

Here is some news for all the Henson fans in the proximity of Anaheim, CA (or those willing to make the journey) -- The Jim Henson Company's puppet improv group is planning to bring the "Puppet Up! - Uncensored" improv stage show to The Grove of Anaheim for a "one night only" performance on Sunday, March 4, 2007 (at 8pm). Ticket go on sale on February 3rd – more information on tickets and the show can be found here.

Also, be check out the latest podcast which is all about "Puppet Up! – Uncensored". This installment of the podcast features exclusive interviews with Patrick Bristow, Julianne Buescher, Drew Massey, Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman and Victor Yerrid.

And for all the Australian fans out there, detailed show information and tickets are now available for the 17 upcoming performances of "Puppet Up! - Uncensored" at the Big Laugh Comedy Festival and Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Check the "The Puppets Are Coming" website for details.

Sesame Considers "Elmo's World" Film Concept

"Elmo's World" was first introduced to "Sesame Street" audiences on November 16, 1998 and has since become one of the show's most successful and popular segments -- spawning more than 60 episodes, over 20 DVD releases, dozens of books and even a collection of video games. Well rumors and rumblings have now revealed that Sesame Workshop is considering "Elmo's World: The Movie".

Kevin Clash (as Elmo) hinted at the idea of an Elmo's World film in a TV Guide interview back in July by simply stating that "there may be an Elmo's World movie". Since then I've talked with some other sources that have affirmed that such a project is in the very early stages of conception and preliminary development. The film concept is said to take viewers on an exciting journey through the imagination of Elmo and his crayon-drawn world by blending Muppet characters with a beautiful "crayon-drawn" CG-world (I've been told to think of it as "ChalkZone" or"Harold and the Purple Crayon" meets "Sesame Street"). Elmo (and his friends) travel through magical lands and imaginary planets (where many of the animals and creatures look somewhat like Elmo) in a fun-filled and imaginative adventure.

Nothing is set in stone. Right now it is just a concept that Sesame Workshop is considering. Sesame Workshop has not officially committed to produce such a film yet, however there is a possibility that the idea will get green-lit and we could see this film enter production in the coming year. There is also the possibility that the project gets "down-graded" to a television special or direct-to-DVD release; and there is a chance that this becomes just another film idea that we never see come to fruition. We will just have to wait and see what happens. Sesame Workshop is just considering the idea…but there is a possibility (I've been told it is "a good possibility") that we'll see Elmo, Dorothy and the gang in "Elmo's World: The Movie" sometime down the road. I'll update you as soon as I hear anything more solid or reaffirming on the subject - so until then let the anticipation, speculation and debating begin!

Monday, January 29, 2007

More Dinosaurs on DVD this Spring

Fans of the Jim Henson's television series "Dinosaurs" will be happy to learn that their DVD collection of "Dinosaurs" will soon be complete. Last spring Disney released "Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons" on DVD, and for the past 7-months fans have been wondering when the final 36 episodes will be released. Well, the "Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons" DVD box set is on the way!

This 4-disc DVD set will hold the final 36 episodes from the 1992-1994 seasons of the prehistoric sitcom along with a collection of bonus features. Although no specific date has been given, a May 2007 release is expected. A sneak peek for this upcoming DVD set can be found on Buena-Vista Home Entertainment's "The Golden Girls: The Complete Seventh Season". The full announcement with details and more information is expected soon. I'll bring you all the info on this highly anticipated release as soon as I get it.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"The Muppet Show: Season Two" is on the Schedule!

For the past 16-months we've been waiting (and waiting) for the next installment of "The Muppet Show" to come to DVD. There have been some bumps along the way (due to all the legal and technical complications required to put these DVDs together). Well you better start saving your pennies now, because the wait will soon be over!

I received good word from several key sources that "The Muppet Show: Season Two" has officially been put onto Buena Vista Home Entertainment's schedule for "Summer 2007". The exact release date has not been released yet, but it is projected to be sometime in the range of 120-200 days from now! The four-disc DVD set is being listed as a "special edition" (like the first season was) and I'm told that there will be some cool extras on the set as well (however no word on what exactly they are yet).

This 24-episode set will be worth the wait, I'm told. The remaining seasons of "The Muppet Show" are in the works for release and should follow close behind (lets just hope the release dates of the future sets' won't be as spaced out). The official announcement, disc features, cover art, and technical specs for the "Season Two" box set should be released in the coming weeks. I will keep you all posted as soon as I hear anything more on the subject.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Muppets Take Manhattan" on TCM

In anticipation of the 79th Annual Academy Awards, TCM (Turner Classic Movies) is planning to showcase a slue of films that have graced the Academy's ballot during the network's 13th annual on-air event entitled "31 Days of Oscar" (running from February 1st through March 3rd). Throughout this special event film historian Robert Osborne will guide viewers through more than 350 movies over ther course of 31 days. Osborne will introduce each film - giving information on their impact, significance, vision and honors. Among the list of films - which include such classics as Breakfast at Tiffany's, From Here to Eternity and West Side Story - is The Muppets Take Manhattan.

The Muppets Take Manhattan is the third Muppet feature film. Originally released in 1984, the film marks the independent directorial debut of Muppeteer Frank Oz. Audiences follow Kermit and the Muppets as they come to Broadway in search of a producer for their musical. Catchy musical numbers, famous cameos, and a surprise wedding keep this movie lively and fun for audiences of all ages. The film was nominated for an Oscar in 1985 in the category of Best Original Song (however it lost to Prince's "Purple Rain".)

TCM's special presentation of The Muppets Take Manhattan is planned to air on February 9, 2007 at 8:00 pm on TCM (check local listings for details). So mark your calendars and tune into catch the Muppets on TCM's "31 Days of Oscar".

Friday, January 19, 2007

"Legends of the Dark Crystal" Postponed

Click to EnlargeBack in November preliminary information surfaced on the release of the forthcoming "Legends of the Dark Crystal" graphic novel series. The Jim Henson Company and TOKYOPOP had planned to release the first volume in March; however due to some snags along the way, the release has been pushed back to November.

I recently heard from Tim Beedle, the editor of "Legends of the Dark Crystal", in responce to the title's current release status. Beedle commented on the delay stating:

"There were a variety of reasons for this, but they all basically boil down to the fact that when working on extremely collaborative projects like this, involving writers, artists, editors and licensors, it's really difficult to estimate a timeline for the finished project...Rest assured, however, that things are progressing and the book is well on its way to making its new release date. And as a fellow fan of Jim Henson's groundbreaking film, I truly feel that fans are going to forgive us for this delay when they see how amazing the book looks."

The prequel story told in "Legends of the Dark Crystal #1: The Garthim Wars" was written by Barbara Randall Kebel with art by Max Kim. The book is now set for release on November 13, 2007, with subsequent volumes to follow shortly afterwards. The book is already avaliable to pre-order from many sites, retailing for under $10. I'll keep you posted as soon if any more news on the "Legends of the Dark Crystal" series surfaces.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sesame Street DVD News

Sesame Workshop and Sony Wonder are planning to release the first, of hopefully many, special DVD sets entitled "Sesame Street TV Episode Fun Packs". Each pack includes complete and uncut Sesame Street episodes. Unlike the "Sesame Street Old School" collection, which focuses on box sets of classic episodes, these sets offer the current and more modern episodes of the series. The first two "fun packs" are planned for release on March 6, 2007 and will provide five great episodes from the last 3-years.

  • Sesame Street TV Episode Fun Pack – Volume 1
    Disc 1: The Letter of The Month Club (Episode 4074)
    Disc 2: Furry Red Monster Parade (Episode 4062)

  • -
  • Sesame Street TV Episode Fun Pack – Volume 2
    Disc 1: Abby Cadabby Moves to Sesame Street (Episode 4109)
    Disc 2: Elmo and the Seven Dwarves (Episode 4114)
    Disc 3: Elmo and Zoe’s Scientific Exploration (Episode 4099)

These box sets will be available wherever Sesame DVDs are sold, and are beginning to pop-up for pre-order on many online retailers. If you don't want to buy the entire box set (which will retail for $20 each), Wal-Mart stores are offering the individual single-episode discs sold separately as an in-store exclusive.

Also on the DVD front is the February 6, 2007 release of "Elmo's World: What Makes You Happy?". This 50-minute DVD offers three complete episode of the "Elmo's World" - each on somthing that makes Elmo happy - friends, singing and dancing. The DVD is already up for pre-order around the web, and will hit store shelves in just 20 days. I'll keep you posted with more information on Sesame Street on DVD as I get it - until then...happy shopping!

The Newsflash on MySpace

Since its founding in 2003, MySpace has since grown into a world-wide internet phenomenon. MySpace is the largest social networking website and a great interactive forum for artists, performers, writers, musicians, fans and, of course, friends to connect. For years I've gotten e-mails from readers asking if I have a MySpace or if I plan on creating one -- and for years I've resisted, declined and/or simply procrastinated.

MySpace allows for a great networking of fans, and I decided to finally jump into the MySpace band wagon with the establishment of an official MySpace presence. If you have an account, feel free to add the Newsflash as a friend (and feel free to tell your friends to do so as well). As the community of fans and friends grow so will the MySpace page. Don't worry, the MySpace page is not here to replace the blog or distract from the activities on this page. MySpace allows for a more informal and personal connection with readers, and I hope to utilize the page, and the features of the MySpace community, to create a more personal and interactive connection with those readers in the months to come.

MySpace is a great way to stay in contact with readers, fellow fans and friends. It is a great promotional tool, and it's also very addictive. I'm not saying you should run out and sign-up for a MySpace account (but if you want to, then go right ahead). But if you are on MySpace and want to connect with the Newsflash (and me), get exclusive bulletins, read the latest news, unite with other fans and have fun - then be sure to check out The Muppet Newsflash's official Myspace.

-The Muppet Newsflash on MySpace -

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sesame Street: Season 38 Update

Since its 1969 debut, Sesame Street has helped entertain and educate audiences around the world. In the US alone, approximately 8-million people tune in to Sesame Street each week and there are over 74-million "graduates" of the program in addition. The groundbreaking show's groundbreaking 38th season is currently in production and is set to debut towards the end of summer 2007.

Although the full and formal announcements are planned to roll out until later this spring, many details on the forthcoming season have surfaced. Without giving too much away, here are some things to expect in the next batch of 26 episodes:

Abby Caddaby, the newest addition to the Sesame Street cast, will return in season 38. Last season the newcomer eased into audience view, as she appeared in only 3 of the 26 new episodes. This season however, it is said that Abby will be seen a lot more. Puppeteer, Leslie Carrara, said that fans will be able to spot her in "almost every episode next season". Additionally, Marco (Gina's recently adopted son) will be featured in the new season. Marco will be played by tot Guatemalan adoptee "Matthew" (replacing last season's infant twin-team of "Ashlynn" and "Caleb"). And those craving the "classics" need not worry because Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Count von Count, Grover, Bert, Ernie, Snuffy, Rosita, Baby Bear, Curly Bear, Zoe, Elmo and all the rest will be back too.

For the past 8-years, "Elmo's World" has been a staple segment of the series. The popular segment will return with several new episodes – covering such topics as mouths, noses, violins and the beach.

Ever since the first episode in 1969, celebrities have been an integral part of the show. This season will be no exception as several big name celebs have already recorded new inserts for inclusion in season 38. Anderson Cooper will demonstrate Grouch journalism with the help of Oscar and Grouch reporters Dan Rathernot and Walter Cranky. James Blunt will sing a about triangles to Telly with a variant on his song "You're Beautiful". And Elmo will get a lesson in football from the New York Jets (Coach Eric Mangini and players Ben Graham, Laveranues Coles and Chad Pennington).

Hopefully this information will help tide you over until the season premiere (or at least until more information is released). And, as always, I'll be here to keep you posted as more information on Sesame Street and its upcoming season surfaces.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Barretta and Henson Work on Script for the Next Muppet Film

Sources say that there is currently work going into a script for the next Muppet feature film. Although the Walt Disney Company has not officially committed to producing the theatrical film at this time, a preliminary draft is being worked on to sell to the studio. The script is currently being penned by Bill Barretta along with writing partner, and fellow Muppeteer, Brian Henson. Although a script is in development, don't expect to see the big screen return of the Muppets too soon - sources say that it will probably be 3-5 years until such creation would be ready for release, and production ultimately relies on Disney's reaction to the script and overall plan for the franchise at the time. However it is nice to know work is underway on the first, of many, steps needed to bring the Muppets to the big screen. Barretta and Henson's script has been in the works for a while now, sources say, but the details have been kept tightly under wraps and any project details are "top secret". Let's hope the script is completed, Disney likes it and the project actually comes to fruition. I will keep you posted when, and if, any further information on the development of this project surfaces -- but until then, let's just keep hope alive that we'll see the Muppets' return to the big screen in the coming years...this is, after all, the first step required in seeing that happen.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Behind the Skrumps

On Wednesday the Jim Henson Company released the first short videos of The Skrumps on Yahoo! Kids (for a limited time). Viewers are able to see a world-premiere Grumblebelly music video and three exclusive character blogs; and Henson is currently working to bring these ground breaking characters to television with a full-lenght TV series!

If you are interested in learning more about the series, the Henson Digital Performance Studio (HDPS) and the creation of the show you can check out a special "The Skrumps: behind the scenes" video on (click here). And if that's not enough for you, you can listen to the latest episode of the podcast (click here) - which is all about The Skrumps.

Lastly, I've been getting a bunch of e-mails about who the performers are in The Skrumps. The facial/vocal performers are Victor Yerrid (Wishbone), Allan Trautman (Skrumpy) and Julianne Buescher (Raisins). I'll keep you posted as news on The Skrumps surfaces.

Possible Muppet Series in Development

For years we've heard all kinds of reports of "the new Muppet Show" - from an edgy prime-time variety show on FOX to a spoof of reality TV competitions on ABC. Well earlier this month a short presentation pilot for a proposed Muppet mini-series recently wrapped production. The project is being kept "under wraps" right now it is still in development and subject to change. However the Walt Disney Company is currently considering a series that will relaunch the Muppets back onto television and in the public's eye.

This presentation pilot, completed in January 2007, proposes a mini-series shot in mock documentary style that continues to follow the adventures of the Muppets as they create a new show.

The short pilot uses the television syntax of a documentary (think "The Office" meets "The Muppet Show"). The series revolves around Kermit the Frog as he attempts to reassemble the Muppet troupe and launch a new Muppet show. The mockumentary mini-series would feature fictional English filmmaker Ian Bascombe who, with his film crew, follow the daily happenings Kermit and the Muppets, both on and off stage. Bascombe finds that many of the classic Muppets have gone off to other venues since we last saw them and follows Kermit as the frog attempts to track them down and get the whole troupe back together. For example, Fozzie has gone off to a solo career in stand-up comedy, Sam Eagle is now a security personnel, and Miss Piggy has been a busy actress in Hollywood. Similar to The Muppet Movie, Kermit travels around getting the gang to come together for a common goal – putting on a show. But aside from just getting everyone onboard, Kermit and the gang have to plan and develop the show itself.

This test pilot, which is now beginning to circulate the inner management of the Walt Disney Company, was written and produced by Bill Prady and was directed by Bill Barretta. Muppeteers Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz and Bill Barretta were also involved in the project. Aside from the Muppets, this spec pilot also included cameo appearances from John Landis and Melina Kanakaredes.

Although a presentation pitch was filmed for the series, it is no guarantee that the project will be developed further or see the light of day. Muppet fans may already know that over the past decade more than three similar pilot pitches for a new Muppet show have been made, and almost half a dozen concepts for series have reached different stages of development as well. However insiders are currently hopeful for this pilot; they say it looks great and is truly entertaining and original. Source say that it is likely the Disney executives, after seeing the presentation pitch, will in fact green-light the mini-series to move into production (and possibly air) later in 2007.

Rumor also has it that if successful, the mini-series could be used as a way to launch the Muppets with a new full-time series (which, like the previous Muppet series, would follow the misadventures of the weekly show they've now developed). However that wouldn't be until 2008 or 2009 (if at all).

Needless to say, this is very exciting new for Muppet fans. It shows hope for the franchise, and give some comfort to eager fans to know Disney is actively looking for ways to use and rejuvenate the characters. I will keep you posted as soon as I get more details on the development of this mockumentary mini-series, or any other information on the possible return of the Muppets to television.

Thanks to all the "insiders" (who asked to be kept anonymous) that provided information and details for this report.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Henson's Fantastic World Tour Dates

Back in November I reported all about an upcoming traveling exhibit is being organized by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service - titled "Jim Henson's Fantastic World". This unique traveling exhibit will include puppets, artwork, photographs, production documents, artifacts, props and videos (more information here).

The exhibit is planned to launch in September and tour until June 2010, making ten stops across the USA. Now I said I would keep you posted as soon as the tour details and locations are announced. Well, four of the ten tour stops have been announced, and here they are:

• 12/15/07 - 03/09/08: Arizona Museum for Youth, Mesa, AZ
• 07/12/08 - 10/05/08: Museum of History & Industry, Seattle, WA
• 10/25/08 - 01/18/09: Atlanta History Center, Atlanta, GA
• 09/05/09 - 11/29/09: James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, PA

So if any of these locations are near you, then make sure you mark your calendar. And if they somewhat near you, then make sure to start planning your road trip. But if these locations are "too far" for you there's still hope – as six more tour stops are still unannounced. More tour locations and dates will be announced when the bookings are finalized - I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Skrumps are Here!

Back in November I post about one of The Jim Henson Company's upcoming projects, The Skrumps. The Jim Henson Company is planning to launch The Skrumps across all media including exclusive online content as well as television productions. Ancillary platforms including merchandising and publishing are also planned.

The Skrumps, a uniquely colorful troupe of Skrumpland residents, have been in active development as part of the company’s slate of animated television projects. The characters have been developed with puppeteers and performed using the Henson Digital Performance Studio, the Company’s proprietary animation system that allows CG characters to be performed by puppeteers in real-time. A music video (directed by Brian Henson) and other short videos have been created and a full television series is in the works and hopeful for the coming year.

After months of work and planning, the debut of The Skrumps is finally here! Audiences can now watch four new videos exclusively online via Yahoo! Kids for a limited time. The music video of "Dance without Feet" and three character video-blogs are online and ready for you to watch! (Click here to see the Skrumps' videos and features at Yahoo! Kids.)

More videos, products and productions from the Skrumps are planned for release in the near future. Brian Henson, Lisa Henson, John Chandler and Craig Bartlett will executive produce and Bartlett is also be a writer on the project. I'll keep you posted as news on The Skrumps continue to develops. So surf on over to the Yahoo! Kids website, watch the 4 exclusive videos that will introduce you to the Skrumps and enjoy.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

In Celebration of Richard

We Remember Richard Hunt

August 16, 1951 - January 7, 1992

- Learn more about Richard -

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Kermit on the Weather Channel

Kermit the Frog is said to make his brief appearance on Sunday's edition of "The Climate Code". The famous frog is said to pop-up on "The Climate Code with Dr. Heidi Cullen" on Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 5:00pm (ET) on The Weather Channel.

In case you miss this brief appearance, you can catch encore presentations of Kermit's guest spot on Saturday January 13th at 5pm, 7pm and 11pm (ET). "The Climate Code" is a 30-minute program shown weekly on The Weather Channel - this week's topic deals with the benefits of alternative fueled vehicles as more car producers "go green".