Jim Henson

June 14, 2014 | 9:00 a.m.

‘Gremlins’ director Joe Dante on puppetry, remake talk [video]

While “Gremlins” still has the power to delight audiences 30 years after its release, director Joe Dante said that the experience of making the film was anything but delightful. Particularly grueling? The days of shooting with just puppets and no human actors. “Nothing but puppets. A month and a half of just shooting puppets. I just don’t know how Jim Henson lived.” Dante spoke with Hero Complex’s Gina McIntyre after a screening of the beloved 1984’s film, during the Hero Complex Film Festival, which took place May 30-June 1 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. Despite the painful memories, he said he still recognizes the importance of what the arduous process brought to the movie. He noted that an advantage of using puppets was that the people manipulating them introduced a human expression into the equation, an increasing […]
July 23, 2012 | 3:46 p.m.

Frank Oz to ‘Star Wars’ fans: Do the Yoda impression I won’t

Frank Oz ((Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
Frank Oz was the voice of the wise and beloved Yoda and, more than 30 years after the character’s debut, not a month goes by without a fan approaching Oz with a simple request — but the answer is always the same: Do the impression he won’t. The 68-year-old Hollywood Renaissance man — Muppet puppeteer, movie director and the voice behind the pint-sized Jedi master — holds his characters too sacred for such tripe. “You wouldn’t parade your kids around like that, would you?” he said. “They’re part of me. I won’t use them as a party favor to impress people.” Oz, who lives in Manhattan, will return to Los Angeles on Thursday to accept a lifetime achievement honor at the 38th annual Saturn Awards, which are presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. He’ll don […]
Nov. 09, 2011 | 5:08 p.m.

Oscars controversy: Can Muppets save the day?

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Could Kermit the Frog host the Oscars? That’s what some Muppets fanatics are hoping. Thousands of Muppets fans on Facebook and Twitter are pushing for the popular characters to fill the Oscars telecast void left by the departure of Eddie Murphy, who stepped down from his hosting gig Wednesday. Murphy quit less than 24 hours after his creative partner Brett Ratner resigned as producer of the 2012 Oscar ceremony after making an anti-gay slur. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has tapped Brian Grazer — the producer of “24,” “Arrested Development” and “A Beautiful Mind” — to take Ratner’s place, but no announcement has been made concerning the hosting job yet. Enter Kermit and friends. Aside from adorable cuddliness, they have decades of stage experience, great comedic timing and plenty of cross-generational appeal — all things that the […]
Nov. 04, 2011 | 1:15 p.m.

‘Muppets’ director promises plenty of ‘anarchic stupidity’

(Scott Garfield / Disney Enterprises / D23)
After more than a decade away from the big screen, the Muppets are poised to return to the multiplex with the Nov. 23 release of their new self-titled movie musical. The film features the expected marquee names — Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear — but also introduces a newcomer, Walter. A sweet little guy from Smalltown U.S.A. who’s always sensed that there’s something a little bit different about him (especially growing up alongside his brother Gary, played by Jason Segel), Walter helps reunite the gang after he learns about a nefarious plot to tear down the old theater where they used to stage their variety show. Segel co-wrote “The Muppets'” screenplay with his “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller, and the pair, along with director James Bobin (HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords“), focused on capturing the same comic tone as […]
May 26, 2011 | 10:57 a.m.

‘Dark Crystal’ and ‘Labyrinth,’ a return to fantasy

labyrinth-crystal
The late Jim Henson’s most beloved creations, the Muppets, will be back in theaters in November, but on Memorial Day there’s a chance to revisit two of his vintage works that have a more complicated legacy. Two Henson films of epic fantasy, “The Dark Crystal” from 1982 and “Labyrinth” from 1986, haven’t been shown on television for the past decade, but on Monday you can watch them in a double-feature presentation on HDNet that begins at 5 p.m. It’s the broadcast premiere of the digitally remastered, high-definition prints of the films. Directed by Henson and Frank Oz (a.k.a. the voice of Yoda and Miss Piggy), “The Dark Crystal” was billed as the first-live action film without any human beings on screen. All the characters were puppets and the animatronics were considered cutting-edge for its day. “Dark Crystal,” was far darker than “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial,” another film […]
Dec. 14, 2009 | 1:35 p.m.

‘The Muppet Man’ script takes a gonzo approach to Jim Henson’s life

At Company Town, our sister blog on the business of show business, Stephen Zeitchik has an interesting report on a screenwriter named Christopher Weekes, whose script for a odd bio-pic called “The Muppet Man” was just named the best unproduced script in Hollywood by the tastemakers who compile the Black List rankings. Here’s an excerpt… “The Muppet Man,” which takes an almost fairy-tale view of the romance between the late Jim Henson and his longtime wife Jane, faces a far tougher climb. Weekes was discovered by managers Britton Rizzio and Kelly McCormack after they had seen an indie movie of his at a film festival in 2008. They soon found he had written, entirely on spec, a script about one of the most enigmatic and private of contemporary artists without having ever met or even read much about him (there exists […]
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