Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Kermit Hosts a Block of Classic Films

According to a recent TCM press release, Turner Classic Movies’s "Guest Programmer" series, which regularly airs one night each month on TCM, is going to take over the entire month of November. The series, in which celebrities present a block of their favorite films, will run all November and give 29 celebrities the chance to introduce and discuss their favorite movies with TCM’s Robert Osborne. Among the star-studded list of celebrities sitting down with Osborne to present their favorite films are Whoopi Goldberg, Rose McGowan, Donald Trump, Danny DeVito, Matt Groening, Tracy Ullman, Alec Baldwin, Harvey Fierstein, Martha Stewart, and Kermit the Frog.

Kermit the Frog will host a collection of films on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 on TCM. The event begins at 8:00 pm and lasts until 3:45am – with Kermit presenting four classic films. Kermit’s selections include "Singin' in the Rain" (8pm), "The Band Wagon" (10pm), "Cyrano de Bergerac" (12am) and "Lassie Come Home" (2am).

So be sure to mark those calendars and catch Kermit as he presents and discusses these classic films on TCM.

A special thanks to Heather Lawrence for sending us the press release.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

History of the American Puppet on DVD

Howdy Doody, Charlie McCarthy, Lamb Chop, Kermit, Jerry Mahoney, and Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. These are some of the most notable names in entertainment; they are some of the most endearing characters, beloved by millions - and they are all puppets! Now you can rediscover the fascinating and colorful history of puppetry in America in the wonderful documentary "Stories of The American Puppet," available on DVD everywhere on October 16, 2007.

"Stories of The American Puppet" traces the evolution and popularity of puppets in America entertainment. The hour-long program was originally broadcast on PBS in 2001 and won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing. Now the special is being presented on DVD along with some exclusive added features.

"Stories of The American Puppet" brings the story of American puppetry to life through archival film, rare photographs, historical reenactments, insightful interviews, and in depth profiles of some of the most influential puppeteers of the 20th century, including Jim Henson, Shari Lewis, Paul Winchell and Edgar Bergen. This documentary chronicles puppetry evolution from the 18th-century street puppets of Punch & Judy to the modern television Muppets, highlighting many of the puppeteer masters and classic characters that have shaped American culture.

But even if you caught the special when it first aired in 2001, you’ll still want to check out this release as the DVD holds over 41-minutes of extra footage not shown in the documentary. The DVD presents many of the archival puppet performances in their entirety, plus extended interviews and other extra footage in the bonus features section.

If you are interested in the history or puppetry in America, you definitely want to check out this DVD. You can order your copy right now from Amazon.com for only $17.99.

A special thanks to Chris Stulz for alerting us of this release.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sesame Street Launches Official Video Podcast!

Sesame Workshop launched a brand-new video podcast today, appropriately titled "The Sesame Street Podcast". The weekly video podcast is now available via iTunes or Sesame Workshop’s website.

"The Sesame Street Podcast" is a series of free 5-minute episodes focusing on listening, reading comprehension, vocabulary building and problem solving. Each 5-minute video features content newly created and assembled for the podcast and are said to feature scenes from current and past Sesame Street seasons, as well as animation, live action films and other inserts.

In keeping with Sesame Street’s focus on literacy and vocabulary, the first batch of podcast episodes are set to feature new extended versions of the "What's the Word on the Street?" segments in which people and animals introduce and define the week’s "Word on the Street." The first episode is all about "squids".

The podcast exemplifies how Sesame Workshop continues to use the power of modern media as a way to enhance a child’s learning experience and bring education and entertainment to people around the world. You can watch the first episode of the podcast, and subscribe to get future episodes at the iTune store (for free) or via Sesame Workshop’s official podcast website. And be sure to check next week for another exciting installment of the official Sesame Street video podcast.

Visit The Sesame Street Podcast website

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Skrumps Shed Light on the Cheeseburger Incident!

The Skrumps are back with three new video-blog entries on Yahoo! Kids. Now you can find out exactly what happened last night at Scrap’s Deli as all three Skrumps – Raisins, Skrumpy and Wishbone - each present their side of the story. The three new videos explaining the now-infamous "Cheeseburge Incident" were posted yesterday on Yahoo! Kids. Be sure to check out The Skrumps on Yahoo! Kids and enjoy all of the great Skrump videos (there are 14 exclusive clips currently available). I’ll keep you posted with all the news from Skrumpland as things develop.

Visit The Skrumps on Yahoo! Kids

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Henson to Produce More Webshows

As I reported yesterday, The Jim Henson Company is teaming up with Warner Bros. to launch a new webseries named "S.U.D.S." (or "The Simian Undercover Detective Squad"). Along with this project, I said Henson was also developing other series for Warner Bros., and now details have surfaced on what we can expect to see with these two other series.

Henson is also developing a comedy series in the vein of "Big Brother" or "The Real World". The mock-reality show would feature an all-puppet casts in various reality TV spoofs.

The third web show Henson is planning to produce is a series presentation of the campany’s “Puppet Up! Uncensored” improv show. The company is working to translate the stage show into a full-fledged series for online audiences.

All three of these projects are being created exclusively for Warner Bros and will distributed using the RealNetworks' SuperPass service – a subscription based service that provides premium programming, full-length movies, music downloads and other exclusive media.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated as more information these three exciting new webshows surface.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Henson Dispatches a Squad of Monkey Detectives to the Web

Warner Bros. announced big plans today to launch a service to provide original video programming on the web. The studio is lined up to create 24 new web productions – including mini-movies, talk shows, comedies series, science fiction programs and original animation. The productions on this slate of web shows are already entering production and are expected to hit the web in the coming year. Some of these original productions are coming from the creative minds of the Jim Henson Company.

A puppet comedy series for adults called "S.U.D.S." (which stands for "The Simian Undercover Detective Squad")" will follow a group of ape investigators. The comedic and irreverent detective series is being produced by the Jim Henson Company as a part of their new “Henson Alternative” brand of adult comedy productions. "S.U.D.S." is just one of the new webseries that Warner Bros. will be using to launch their new digital entertainment - rumor has it that Henson is also working to develop two other projects for the studio (however details have surfaced on these yet). RealNetworks has already agreed to distribute the Jim Henson projects on the web for Warner Bros.

No other details have been released on this project yet, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Henson Podcasts Shares Comic-Con Q&A

The Jim Henson Company has released yet great another installment of the Henson.com podcast today. This episode shares 15-minutes of audio from the Jim Henson Company’s question-and-answer session at the 2007 Comic Con International convention held in San Diego in July. The pane talk about "The Skrumps", the Henson Digital Performance Studio, "Puppet Up!", the future of puppets and animatronics in the face of computer animation, "Power of the Dark Crystal" and even poop. Brian Henson, Lisa Henson, John Chandler, Halle Stanford, Patrick Bristow, Julianne Buescher and Piddles answered questions asked by select members of the audience. There was one question answered by Henson that hinted at an exciting Muppet project and gave a reassuring update on "Power of the Dark Crystal" (which, after several production delays, is now set for release in 2009).

"...All of this is cloaked in secrecy. Actually the Disney team that is working on the Muppets does have a really great project that we can’t talk about. So there is something good coming along, but we can’t tell you. And the same thing is true with 'The Dark Crystal'. Fans of 'The Dark Crystal' did detect that we were moving a little slowly, and it’s kind of true - we had a little setback but are back on track. The movie will not be coming out until 2009 so we’re not going to be showing anything for a while..."

Fans may be excited to hear more hinting at a big Muppet project in the works. Back in June Muppeteer Dave Goelz (with the help of Gonzo) also hinted at "a really cool project" coming sometime in the next year. And while Henson has confirmed that the release of "Power of the Dark Crystal" has been delayed since their initial announcement, it’s reassuring to hear the company let us know it’s still coming.

You can listen to the entire podcast by clicking here. And I’ll be sure to keep you updated as things develop on all the exciting projects.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Henson's Fantastic World Opens in Arkansas

"Jim Henson’s Fantastic World", an exciting new traveling exhibit, opened today at the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. The exhibit gives an in-depth look at the imagination and creations of Jim Henson. Assembled by The Jim Henson Legacy and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, "Jim Henson’s Fantastic World" is making the Arkansas Arts Center its initial stop before continuing on a four-year national tour.

"Jim Henson’s Fantastic World" is the most comprehensive Henson exhibit to date. The exhibit is filled with original puppets, drawings, props, artwork, storyboards, photographs, videos and other rare artifacts from the Jim Henson archives.

After exploring the "Jim Henson’s Fantastic World" exhibit, visitors of the Arkansas Arts Center will also get a chance to try puppetry first hand. On Saturdays and Sundays during the stay of "Jim Henson’s Fantastic World’s", professional puppeteers will be on site teaching performance techniques and leading impromptu puppet shows.

Also in conjunction with the "Jim Henson’s Fantastic World" display, Little Rock’s Market Street Cinema is hosting a Jim Henson Film Festival. Three films are to be shown on the big screen throughout October: "The Dark Crystal" (on October 11th at 7pm), "The Muppet Movie" (on October 18th at 7pm) and "Labyrinth" (on October 25th at 7pm).

The "Jim Henson’s Fantastic World" exhibit will be in Arkansas until November 25th, before heading to the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, Arizona (where it will open on December 15th). For more information on the Arkansas Arts Center visit their website at ArkArts.com; and be sure to check out this page for the exhibit’s complete tour schedule.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Fraggle Rockin' CD Details

Last month I told you about "The Fraggle Rockin’ Collection", an upcoming CD set filled with the best music from Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock. Well, I got an exclusive scoop with all the details you're looking for. This 3-Disc collector’s edition set will contains all three original "Fraggle Rock" albums - wonderfully restored, remastered and packed into a single box set. The set includes more than 50 song from the series along with special liner notes featuring rarely seen photos, contributions from the original composers and even sheet music for select songs.

"The Fraggle Rockin’ Collection" will be released on October 30, 2007, but it's already available to pre-order online. Below is a copy of the complete track listing for the collection as provided to me by KOCH Records. You won't want to miss this collection (as there's no better way to dance your cares away).

Disc 1: Fraggle Rock
1. Fraggle Rock Theme
2. Follow Me
3. Convincing John
4. Doozer Knitting Song
5. Do It On My Own
6. Wemblin’ Fool
7. Why?
8. Lost and Found
9. Catch the Tail by the Tiger
10. Brave Boy, Jump Up
11. Muck and Goo
12. Friendship Song
13. Fraggle Rock Rock
14. Beetle Song
15. Easy is the Only Way to Go
16. Our Melody

Disc 2: Perfect Harmony
1. Fraggle Rock Theme
2. Go with the Flow
3. Perfect Harmony
4. Without a Hat
5. Music Box
6. Here to There
7. Sail Away
8. Workin’
9. Dum De Dum
10. Ragtime Queen
11. I Seen Troubles
12. Dreaming of Someone
13. Pantry Chant
14. Helping Hand
15. Time to Live as One
16. Closing Theme

Disc 3: Music & Magic
1. Fraggle Rock Theme
2. Pukka, Pukka, Pukka Squeetily Boink
3. Let Me Be Your Song
4. Wemblin’ Fool
5. Yes, We Can
6. Catch the Tail by the Tiger
7. There’s a Lot I Want to Know
8. Follow Me
9. Friends Till the End
10. Is It True?
11. The Rock Goes On
12. Pass It On
13. Just Don’t Know What Time It Is
14. Convincing John
15. Get Goin’
16. Doozer Knitting Song
17. The Way I’ve Got To Go
18. Only Way Home
19. Stuff Samba
20. Sweet, Sweet Little Treat
21. Closing Theme

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Henson Prepares to Ask "What's the Big Idea?"

Continuing their long line of successful preschool and family programming, The Jim Henson Company has announced a partnership with PBS’ KCET to produce a new educational television series entitled "What's the Big Idea?". The digital-puppetry series, which is set to debut on PBS KIDS in 2008, is designed to promote science readiness by building on kids' instinctive curiosity about the world around them.

"What's the Big Idea?" will use a sketch-comedy format to teach lessons in science and discovery. The program will feature the adventures of Josh, an inquisitive youngster who tackles the everyday ideas that preschoolers find fascinating (like where garbage goes, how does a drinking straw works, why bananas go bad, how birds fly and even why we sneeze).

Forty half-hour episodes of the series have been ordered. Production is said to begin later this fall, and the show is already scheduled to premiere on PBS KIDS in 2008. The program will be created using the Henson Digital Performance Studio, a revolutionary system that allows puppeteers to perform digital characters in real time. "What's the Big Idea?" will be executive produced by Brian Henson, Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford of The Jim Henson Company along with Mary Mazur of KCET. Additionally, the Jim Henson Company will be handling all supplementary development of the property including licensing, video distribution and merchandising.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated with the development and release of this exciting new Henson series.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dreaming Skrumps

The Jim Henson Company just released a third batch of Skrumps videos on Yahoo! Kids last week. The videos, three new video blogs from Wishbone, Skrumpy and Raisins, showcase the characters as they discuss their goals and dreams. Henson showcased the first videos of The Skrumps back in January; and they followed-up with the release of several more videos in July. This is the third installment of Skrump videos, and Henson says more are on the way. So be sure to surf on over to The Skrumps on Yahoo! Kids and enjoy all 11 videos (plus check out the e-cards, wallpapers and other Skrump-tastic goodies). As always, I’ll be sure to keep you updated as things develop with the Skrumps and other Henson projects.

Visit The Skrumps on Yahoo! Kids

Sunday, September 02, 2007

"Legends of the Dark Crystal" Details

As reported earlier, the first installment in the highly anticipated "Legends of the Dark Crystal" series will be released later this year. The graphic novel, entitled "Legends of the Dark Crystal #1: The Garthim Wars", is expected to hit store shelves on November 13, 2007.

The story takes place nearly 100 years before "The Dark Crystal", at a time when the gentle Gelflings and wise Mystics are still thriving - and so, unfortunately, are the evil Skekses.

The 192-page graphic novel is already available to pre-order from many online retailers, with a list price of $9.99. I also have the updated cover art for the release here (which differs from the original temporary artwork shown last year).

Details on the second and third volumes have not been released yet, however two more installments are planned to follow. I’ll keep you posted with details on the future of "Legends of the Dark Crystal" as information is released.

"Return to Labyrinth: Volume 2" Details

As many of you may be aware, the second installment in the "Return to Labyrinth" series is expected to hit store shelves on October 9, 2007. Aside from just sharing the cover art for “Volume 2” with you, I've also been given a copy of the official book summary for volume 2 (spoiler warning!).

Return to Labyrinth: Volume 2
Still reeling from the announcement that Jareth has handed over control of the Labyrinth to Toby, the Goblin Kingdom is in an uproar. Panjan Spittledrum, the Goblin Mayor, had assumed that he would be Jareth's successor, as had the coldly beautiful Mizumi, Queen of the Moraine Kingdom. Both vow to assist Toby in his preparation for assuming the Goblin throne, but can such a power-hungry pair be trusted?

The 192-page graphic novel is already available to pre-order from many online retailers, with a list price of only $9.99. Details on the third, and final, volume have not been released yet, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted as I get more information.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Henson.com Gets a Makeover

It looks like The Muppet Newsflash isn’t the only Henson-related web site to get a face-lift this weekend. The Jim Henson Company’s official website, located at Henson.com, also got a major overhaul. Check out the brand new design and features over at Henson.com.

There is information on many Henson project – Puppet Up!, The Skrumps, Tinseltown, Jim Henson Designs, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth mangas and Anniversary Edition DVDs, and more. The Jim Henson podcast is also still up and running (and now you can send in your questions to be answered in future installments). Be sure to check out all the fun over at the new and improved Henson.com – and it looks like even more things will be coming to the site soon.

Visit Henson.com Now!