Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth" Revisited with New DVDs

Brian Froud's official website reports that Froud participated in recording full-length audio commentary in February for brand-new DVD editions of "The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth". Froud served as creature and conceptual designer for both Henson fantasy films, and is greatly responsible for the look, tone and feel of the characters and worlds seen in the Dark Crystal and the Labyrinth.

Not much is known about these DVDs at this point, aside from these new audio commentary tracks (and some stray rumors of the films recently undergoing some image and sound restoration). However it has been confirmed that these new fully-loaded DVDs are set to be released by Sony Home Entertainment later this year. So start saving up now so you can scoop up these exciting new DVD releases as soon as they hit store shelves. I will keep you posted with more details on disc features, release specifications and the release dates as soon as Sony makes them public.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Disney Adventure's Muppet Comic Update

As reported earlier, Disney Adventures Magazine will soon start printing a series of exclusive Muppet comic strips in their comic section. The series is being drawn and written by the wonderful Roger Langridge (who is known for such works as "Fred the Clown" and "The Straitjacket Fits").

The first strip is set to run in the "August 2007" issue (which means it should be hitting newsstands soon), and according to Langridge it'll be a two-page "Pigs in Space" adventure. Steve Swanson, from the wonderful MuppetCast podcast, interviewed Langridge about his career and his work on the strip in the latest installment of the MuppetCast (which you can listen to here; Langridge's interview starts around the 34-minute mark). In the interview Langridge shares his insights on his inspirations and gives some details on how he got the gig working on the Muppet comics; plus he even jokes about how, unlike with puppets, he can show the Muppets' legs without "going over budget".

Langridge has also recently posted a single-panel "teaser" from the first Muppet comic his blog to wet your appetite (a copy of which you can see below). Disney Adventures plans to feature the Muppet comic in the regular monthly magazine and also plans to include bigger comic featurings in the Disney Adventures Comic Zone specials (of which a Muppet "At the Dance" comic is in the works for, full of wacky one-liners, puns and other classic Muppet fun).
I will keep you posted as soon as any more news on this very exciting comic surfaces. But you really should consider subscribing to Disney Adventures (or at least locating a local newsstand or vendor that carries the publication) so you don't miss out on this upcoming Muppet comic adventures.

Click to enlarge

NECA Labyrinth Update

As reported earlier, NECA has produced an action figure of Jareth the Goblin King from Jim Henson's fantasy film Labyrinth. The wonderful action figure hit retailers just over a month ago. If you haven't picked up your Goblin King, be sure to order yours today!

But aside from Jereth, NECA has also been planning to release a Hoggle action figure and several goblins to accompany the goblin king. NECA has given fans an update on the status of these future Labyrinth figures. A NECA representative just stated that "Hoggle is coming in a boxed set probably in early 2008." NECA has said that more information on the figures will be made public at Comic-Con in July, but until the company plans to keep the details under wraps.

I'll keep you posted as more information on NECA's Labyrinth coverage develops, but until then enjoy the Jareth figure that's already available.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Disney to Produce Exclusive Muppet/Star Wars Figures

May 25, 2007 marked the 30th anniversary of Star Wars; and as part of the festivities several representatives from Disney's merchandising division took part in an exclusive panel discussion at the Star Wars fan convention "Celebration IV" in Los Angeles. Their presentation covered the history and future of Disney/Star Wars cross-merchandising. Disney gave fans in attendance a "sneak peek" at a slue of new Disney/Star Wars merchandise. And one of the many items show is sure to excite Muppet collectors.

Disney gave a glimpse of an upcoming series of action figures of Disney Characters dressed as Star Wars characters – such as Mickey Mouse as Luke Skywalker, Donald Duck as Han Solo or Goofy as Darth Vader. But one similar upcoming product they have planned is a Muppet/Star Wars gift set which will feature six well-known Muppets as characters from the Star Wars saga. The planned figures include Beaker as C-3PO, Fozzie Bear as Chewbacca, Miss Piggy as Princess Leia, Kermit the Frog as Luke Skywalker, Gonzo the Great as Darth Vader (or Dearth Nadir as known in the Muppet-universe) and Rizzo the Rat as Yoda. The panel at "Celebration IV" even shared some concept art for the figures (see below).

This box set is planned for release later this year; however the product will be sold exclusively at the Disney Theme parks' gift shops (the shops tied to the Star Tours theme ride); they may also become available through online retailers as well. I'll keep you posted as the development of this, and other, Muppet merchandise evolves.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Animal Photo Puppet Replica Coming Soon!

Last year fans rejoiced as Master Replicas Inc., an industry leader in movie and television prop replicas, released a top-quality Kermit the Frog "photo puppet". The Kermit replica is a top-notch display replica of the world’s most famous Frog – produced using the original patterns and materials. The full-body doll is fully posable, highly detailed and skillfully crafted. Master Replicas is planning to continue their line of Muppet replicas and the next release - Animal - is planned for later this year.

Master Replicas is proud to be able to present this first-ever authentic replica of an Animal photo puppet. Like the Kermit replica, Animal is created using the same patterns and similar materials as the original. Animal will be a fully posable replica with mouth expression, and movable eyelids; plus full articulation in neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles and fingers. The replica will also come with a custom display stand and numbered plaque. The Animal "photo puppet" will measure approximately 38” x 5” x 8.5”. Please note that, just like Kermit, this is not a functioning puppet but rather a replica of the full-figure posers used for photo-shoots and displays.

The Animal replica is being held to a very limited edition production and will be strictly limited to 1,500 pieces worldwide (so be sure to pre-order your copy before they all get scooped up). With a price tag of approximately $399, this is a high-price collector's item – but given the quality and uniqueness of this item, it is surely worth the addition to any Muppet collection. Pre-orders are popping up on the web so collectors should start getting ready to reserve there copies.

The next replica in the pipe-line is said to be a Gonzo photo puppet replica which is said to follow later this year (it was planned to precede Animal, but has been delayed due to "nose complications"); and word on the street is that the next Muppet after that will be Fozzie Bear in 2008. I'll keep you posted on these releases as more information surfaces. Until then start saving your pennies, and be sure to get your Animal (or Kermit) photo puppet while you can.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Henson Podcasting Update

The latest episode of the Podcast was posted today. In this installment of the official Jim Henson Company's podcast listeners are treated to exclusive interviews with Michael Polis, Colleen Nuskey and Mel Horan who give the inside scoop on Jim Henson Designs, the exciting new design oriented merchandise inspired by the work and sketches of Jim Henson. The merchandise line is in development and expected to his store shelves soon. The 14-minute audio experience also features several songs and interludes from Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas. You can listen to the podcast (and see some of the Jim Henson Design Sketches) by clicking here, or you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. Be sure to check it out and take a listen!

But that's not all, folks! Here is some more news from the podcasting front: The MuppetCast, an outstanding fan-made podcast that focuses on everything Muppets, has posted their latest episode today as well. This very special 6th episode of the weekly podcast is a loving fan tribute to the life and memory of Jim Henson. Today markes 17 years since Jim's passing, and in this episode the Muppet community is able to gather in rememberance of Jim, and to celebrate his life with stories, music, laughter, and a few tears. You can listen to the latest episode right here. The MuppetCast a magnificant podcast and a great addition to the Muppet community; so be sure to listen to the MuppetCast this week, and (if you haven't already done so) you should check out the first five wonderful episodes Steve has already assembled.

Enjoy and keep on listening!

In Celebration of Jim

We Remember Jim Henson
September 24, 1936 - May 16, 1990

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Muppets, Music & Magic Tour

In November of 2004, The Jim Henson Legacy and the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) held a program at BAM Rose Cinemas, entitled "Muppets, Music & Magic: Jim Henson's Legacy". This series, focusing on the film and video work of Jim Henson, quickly became one of the most successful series in BAM's history, selling out nearly every program. The program included not only classic Henson films but also rare video excerpts, commercials, and experimental work from the private Henson archives. Due to the success of this series and the tremendous interest in it from around the world, the Jim Henson Legacy and BAM have joined forces to produce a traveling version of this immensely popular series.

The "Muppets, Music & Magic" tour has since traveled around the country making recent stops in Cleveland, OH and Boston, MA. The tour features rare films and short programs from the Henson archives, many of which are unavailable anywhere else – films include "The Dark Crystal", "The Muppet Movie", "Labyrinth", "Timepiece" and other television specials and episodes; plus excerpts from early television appearances, videos of Henson's experimental puppetry and animation work, rare commercials, and behind-the-scenes footage.

The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco is set to run "Muppets, Music & Magic" screenings and events from June 21-July 1 with very special guest Dave Goelz. The Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington Long Island will be hosting the tour on August 10-12 with a huge slate of special guests. There are also plans for a smaller presentation at the George Eastman House in Rochester to follow.

More information on the specific screenings, events, film schedules and programs, can be found by contacting the particular show venue. There are many additional venues (in such locations as Austin, Houston, Cleveland, Ithaca, and Los Angles, among others) that are considering hosting event screenings in the near future. I will keep informing you about booked venues as they are locked in and confirmed. If you are nearby any of these tour locations you might want to mark your calendars, round up a group of friends and prepare to go and check out some great Muppet films and presentations.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Disney Adventures is Getting The Muppets!

Disney Adventures Magazine is a children's entertainment magazine published monthly by The Walt Disney Company. Now it has been revealed that future issues of Disney Adventures will be just a bit more Muppety! Apparently DA Magazine is planning to start printing a series of brand-new, and exclusive, Muppet comic strips in their comic section. The series is being drawn and written by the wonderful Roger Langridge (who is known for such works as "Fred the Clown" and "The Straitjacket Fits").

Langridge published this comment on his blog yesterday:

"Currently working on: The Muppets! Disney Adventures Magazine is about to start a regular Muppets comic strip, written and drawn by yours truly. I have to admit this is a bit of a thrill - I realized only a few years ago how much of an influence the original, 1970s Muppet Show was on my comics work. So to be actually doing it is quite a weird feeling."

The first strip is set to run in the August 2007 issue, and according to Langridge it'll be a two-page Pigs In Space adventure. The idea is to run full one or two page strips in the regular magazine, and then include bigger chunks of ten to twelve page stories in the Disney Adventures Comic Zone specials. I will keep you posted as soon as any more information or news on this very exciting comic strip surfaces. So you may want to consider subscribing to Disney Adventures (or at least locating a local newsstand or vendor that carries the publication) so you don't miss out on this upcoming Muppet comic experiance.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Full "Muppet Show: Season Two" Details!

Mark your calendars Muppet-fans!

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has finally released all the details on the highly-anticipated and long-awaited release of "The Muppet Show: Season Two" on DVD. The four-disc "special edition" set will include all 24 episodes from the second season of "The Muppet Show" along with a nice collection of bonus features and extras. The fully-loaded DVD box set of the complete second season is planned to hit store shelves on August 7, 2007...that's less than 95 days away!

Below is the list of the DVD features (as given to me by Disney) which include the other Muppet Show pilot, all new Muppet interviews and Weezer's "Muppet Show" music video. Disney has also released new cover art for the DVD (which is different from the preliminary cover shown in the DVD trailer found on the Dinosaurs DVD set and that reported about earlier; but they do say this art is also "subject to change" as well). I've also been told that there will be collectible packaging (similar to the fuzzy boxes released for the season one set).

Well, hopefully you are all planning to rush out and set up camp infront of your local DVD retailer so you can be the first in line to get the set when it comes out on August 7th. I will keep you posted with any more details on the release as I get them.

Episode Listing:
• Don Knotts
• Zero Mostel
• Milton Berle
• Rich Little
• Judy Collins
• Nancy Walker
• Edgar Bergen
• Steve Martin
• Madeline Kahn
• George Burns
• Dom DeLuise
• Bernadette Peters
• Rudolf Nureyev
• Elton John
• Lou Rawls
• Cleo Laine
• Julie Andrews
• Jaye P. Morgan
• Peter Sellers
• Petula Clark
• Bob Hope
• Teresa Brewer
• John Cleese
• Cloris Leachman

Bonus Features:

• Original Pilot: "The Muppets Valentine Show"
• The Muppets on Muppets: Kermit, Gonzo, Rizzo and others sit down for all-new exclusive interviews
• Weezer & The Muppets: More than just a music video
• ...and much more!

Retail Specifications:
4-disc DVD collection
$39.99 suggested retail price
Release date: August 7, 2007

Sesame Place Opens for 2007 Season

Sesame Place, located near Philadelphia, in Langhorne, PA, is the nation's only theme park based on the television show Sesame Street. It's that time of year again and Sesame Place is gearing up for the summer season.

Sesame Place has a batch of new surprises for the 2007 season. The park is getting ready for the arrival of its newest neighbor, Abby Cadabby - the sweet, inquisitive fairy-in-training from Sesame Street. Not only will Abby be walking around the park and participating in the festivities, but Abby is also headlining in her own musical show called "Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Hunt". Another addition to the line up of shows at Sesame Place is a brand new "Elmo’s World Live" show with a fantastic fish theme. Also new for 2007 is a thrilling Sesame Street themed fireworks show (to be shown on Memorial Day and Independents day). Additionally the 2007 season is set to feature some special in-park stars such as Sesame Street's Bob McGrath and Disney Channel's Christy Carlson Romano.

Sesame Place offers stimulating activities and attractions – including exhilarating water attractions such as the gigantic Sky Splash located in "Tweedlebug land", the thrilling Super Grover's Vapor Trail rollercoaster, live stage shows featuring the Muppets, the daily "Rock Around the Block" parade, personal Sesame Street character greetings, Sesame Street themed shops and stall, and a life-size replica of the one and only Sesame Street that visitors can actually explore and experience firsthand. Park guests can also enjoy the new 21,000 sq. ft. "Elmo’s World" playland that was introduced last summer. The area features three new rides - the Flyin’ Fish, Peek-A-Bug and Blast Off.

Sesame Place opens for their 27th summer season tomorrow, May 5, 2007! The park is open Friday through Sunday until May 25 when the park switches to being open daily until Labor Day when Sesame Place switches back to weekends only until October 27. To learn more about park visit or call 1-866-GO-4-ELMO.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Statler & Waldorf Win the Webby

Last month, it was reported that the Muppet web-series "Statler & Waldorf: from the Balcony" was nominated for a Webby Award and need fans to make their voices heard by voting among the 2007 Webby nominees. Well the fans of "From the Balcony" united and really rocked the vote over the past month. Due to all the support "From the Balcony" won the People's Voice 2007 Webby for Best Comedy Long Form or Series!

Hailed as the "Oscars of the Internet" by the New York Times, the Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including Websites, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video, and Mobile Websites. This was and the Muppets first-ever Webby award. Congratulations Statler and Waldorf (and everyone else involved in the show), and thanks to everyone who voted and made the show #1.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Enjoy the Comedy of Rowlf and Jimmy on DVD!

Muppet fans, Jim Henson historians, country music enthusiast, comedy lovers, dog lovers, puppet lovers and/or pun aficionados -- here's a DVD you won't want to miss.

As you may know, The Jimmy Dean Show was an hour-long variety show hosted by country music star Jimmy Dean which ran from 1963 to 1966 on ABC. And you may also recall that it was on The Jimmy Dean Show that Jim Henson got his first national television exposure with the character Rowlf the Dog. Rowlf was a regular on the show, appearing in every show alongside Jimmy in a special 7-15 minute comedy sketch. Jimmy Dean's show was a success for ABC and Jim Henson's budding career. Dean stated in his autobiography that the sketches with Rowlf were the most popular part of the show, and it has even been said that Rowlf drew over two-thousand fan letters a week (which was more than even Jimmy Dean). Rowlf was brought to life through the puppeteering, writing and craftsmanship of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, Jerry Nelson and Don Sahlin. The sketches of Rowlf and Jimmy Dean are comedy gold and real Muppet treasures. Sadly copies of these bits have been elusive, rare and sparsely seen in the past – however thanks to Time-Life that's changing.

Last week Time-Life quietly released their first DVD in their "The Best of The Jimmy Dean Show" series. The single disc "volume 1" features some of the best comedy sketches and performances from The Jimmy Dean Show – showcasing such names as Buck Owens, Charlie Rich, the Chuck Cassey Singers and, of course, Rowlf the Dog. In fact the disc holds almost 20-minutes of Rowlf and Jimmy material. You can see Rowlf sing and dance; praise the one any only Lassie; sling puns; ham it up; and even showcase an admirable impersonation of Winston Churchill. This DVD is sure worth your time, and your money, to check out (and with the average retail price coming in under $10, how can you pass it up?)

This is the first DVD release of The Jimmy Dean Show; and this also marks the first commercial release of this rare Muppet material. I will keep you posted on the release of future volumes in "The Best of The Jimmy Dean Show" series that feature Rowlf the Dog. I'm told more volumes are in the works, but ultimately the fate of series all depends on the success of the earlier releases. So pick up this DVD and enjoy a look at classic comedy from legendary comedy pair – Jimmy Dean and Rowlf the Dog.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

"The Muppet Show: Season Two" Cover Art

The preliminary cover art of the highly-anticipated and long-awaited release of "The Muppet Show - Season Two" DVD set has arrived! The four-disc "special edition" set will include all 24 episodes from the second season of "The Muppet Show", beautifully restored and remastered (along with a nice sampling of bonus features).

Last year fans had a chance to vote for their favorite choice of cover art from a selection of three unique designs, the cover that was selected by Disney (possibly based on the voting at features Miss Piggy glamorously dressed in black and set against a blue backdrop (see below). Also the preliminary disc-art has been shown which features Kermit & Piggy (disc 1), Statler & Waldorf (disc 2), Bunsen & Beaker (disc 3) and Fozzie & Gonzo (disc 4).

Although Disney has not officially confirmed the exact release date for the set, it is said to be "coming soon" and I'm told that fans should expect the release before the end of the year. Rumors of a "late summer" release have been circulating and seem quite possible. I will, of course, let you know as soon as I hear anything more on the release date, disc details or features of this highly-anticipated DVD set.

Two New Sesame DVDs this Summer

Howdy, partners! Sesame Workshop is planning on releasing a new direct-to-DVD video entitled "Sesame Street: Kids Favorite Country Songs" on June 5, 2007. In this hour-long special viewers will join Elmo and his country cousin Elmer in a festive Country Jamboree. The special is packed with more than 20 songs (both new songs and beloved classics) and will feature many great country moments the Sesame Street cast. This special also features several celebrity country stars, including: Garth Brooks, Lee Ann Womack, John Mceuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), John Popper (Blues Traveler), Allison Krauss and Johnny Cash. The DVD is already up for pre-ordering around the web as it will hit stores in just 36 days.

Also on the Sesame DVD front is another direct-to-DVD feature entitled " Sesame Street: Ready for School!" This hour-long video follows Elmo and friends as they get ready for their first day of school. You can look for this title to hit stores shelves on July 24, 2007 (but you can pre-order your copy already from many online retailers).

I'll keep you posted with more information on Sesame Street DVDs as I get it.