Welcome to the Jim Henson anniversary edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!
It’s a big birthday celebration that was celebrated that past Friday the Henson company celebrated its 60th birthday. 6 decades of puppets from Sesame Street to ABC’s Muppets. There were a lot of innovations and achievements from movies, TV and holiday specials, and the unexpected arrival of Sesame Street on HBO. The reason for this, live action parodies such as FX’s Sons of Anarchy and Pay TV parodies such as Showtime’s Homeland and the network’s own originals of True Blood and the Emmy winning Game of Thrones. The Street also took cue from past blockbuster movies too.
There’s been a lot of changes since Jim Henson’s passing a few weeks back, but the mission was still the same. What’s changed since Henson kicked the bucket Dan?
Dan Barry (via Animation World)- In 1955, Jim Henson premiered his first show, Sam and Friends, a five-minute series that aired twice a day for six years — live — on Washington DC’s WRC-TV, forever changing puppetry, and launching a company that would become synonymous with innovation, creativity, engaging characters and quality family entertainment. The Jim Henson Company is honoring its founder, Jim Henson, by celebrating the 60th anniversary of the company he created, the timeless characters that have remained global favorites, and the newest members of the Company’s family of characters.
Over the last 60 years, the Company has established itself as a leader in family entertainment and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and digital animation. With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is currently headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and postproduction facilities. The Company is also home to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, a pre-eminent character-building and visual effects group, as well as Henson Recording Studios, one of the music industry’s top recording facilities. With thriving distribution, consumer products and licensing businesses, The Jim Henson Company continues to develop and produce top-rated, critically-acclaimed entertainment for audiences around the world. The Company is currently in production on the fourth season of Dinosaur Train, the Emmy-nominated PBS KIDS series, and Word Party, a new preschool series for Netflix set to premiere in 2016. Additionally, several new productions are on the way.
In the coming months, fans can expect fun opportunities to share in their appreciation of classic titles from The Jim Henson Company such as The Dark Crystal and Fraggle Rock. And parents and children alike will have new ways to enjoy current hit series, including the multiple Emmy Award-nominated Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid, Pajanimals, Doozers, Hi, Opie! and many more.
Some upcoming events celebrating the anniversary include:
•ToughPigs.com “Unboxing with The Jim Henson Company”
Premiering September 24, join the gang from fan site ToughPigs.com as they visit with Karen Falk, The Jim Henson Company’s archivist, to “unbox” treasures from the Company’s archives.
•The Dark Crystal Fan Film Competition
We know our fans cosplay, build creatures and write new scenes for the groundbreaking fantasy classic The Dark Crystal—and we want to give you a chance to show off your talents! Beginning September 24, fans of this groundbreaking fantasy classic can find details for our Dark Crystal Fan Film Competition, kicking off at darkcrystal.com.
•Jim Henson Family Screenings
Enjoy favorite titles from The Jim Henson Company at local family screening events around the country, beginning with New York’s Museum of the Moving Image Fall Family Day on Saturday September 26, featuring puppet making and screenings of Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid. Future screenings locations include the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and more.
•The Jim Henson Gallery
Beginning November 14, 2015, the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, the country’s premier destination for all things puppet, will open its new Worlds of Puppetry Museum featuring the world’s most comprehensive collection of Jim Henson’s puppets and artifacts donated by the Henson family.
•Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow
For fans of all ages comes Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow, the new movie premiering on Lifetime on November 21, 2015. Based on a never-produced story by Jim Henson and his longtime writing partner Jerry Juhl, and only recently re-discovered in the Company’s archives, this new holiday classic stars Mary Steenburgen, Jay Harrington and Chis “Ludacris” Bridges and features creatures from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
60 YEARS BY THE NUMBERS
Milestones and Trivia from The Jim Henson Company’s 60-Year History Compiled by the Company’s Archives
475 – Episodes of animated television produced by The Jim Henson Company in the last 60 years. Includes titles like the Fraggle Rock animated series (1987), Dog City (1992) and Dinosaur Train (2009).
375 – Approximate number of puppets donated by the Henson family to the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta to be part of the new permanent Jim Henson Collection Gallery set to open on November 14, 2015. The donation also includes more than 100 costumes, props, and masks.
350 – Hands seen in the Shaft of Hands sequence from Labyrinth (1986). (Only 200 hands were foam while the rest belonged to puppeteers.)
345 – Number of times the expletive “frell” was said on science fiction favorite Farscape (1999–2003).
237 – Songs sung on Fraggle Rock (1983–1987).
140 – Territories around the world that have aired the Emmy Award-nominated preschool science series Sid the Science Kid (2008).
121 – Dog puppets built by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in the last 60 years, including Sprocket from Fraggle Rock (1983), the Storyteller’s dog in The Storyteller (1987), and Princess from Henson Alternative’s No, You Shut Up!, currently airing on Fusion.
106 – Prehistoric creatures that Buddy the T. rex has met on Dinosaur Train since the series launched in 2009.
63 – Emmy wins.
50 – The wingspan, in feet, of Ultra-Gorgon, the biggest puppet made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, featured in Monster Maker (1989).
46 – Teeth in the mouth of Fizzgig, the popular character from classic fantasy film The Dark Crystal (1982).
46 – Television series produced by The Jim Henson Company since 1955.
19 – Vehicles and gadgets used by the Pod Squad in the animated series Doozers, available on Hulu.
2 – Academy Awards presented to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.
2 – The height, in inches, of the smallest puppets made by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, the animatronic mice created for The Witches (1990).
Back in our recent summer editions, we took a look at Genius Brands, like Shout Factory, it brings back shows from yesterday and from years past. The company first took 2 kid favorites, Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego and Dennis the Menace. This week, the company took another double shot. Who getting in this time Dan?
Dan Barry (via Animation World (continued)- Global content and brand management company Genius Brands International has acquired two series from distributor NCircle Entertainment — Gumby, the timeless, innovative, stop-motion Claymation series created by Art Clokey, which aired from the 1950s through 2001, and ABC Monsters, the magical adventure preschool series that makes learning fun and entertaining — to offer audiences on its new Kid Genius channel, debuting on Comcast’s Xfinity On Demand service this fall.
“NCircle shares Genius Brands’ commitment to bringing quality children’s entertainment, content that imparts knowledge, enhances learning skills, stimulates young imaginations and most of all, is fun and entertaining,” said Andrew Berman, GBI’s Senior Vice President of Global Distribution Sales. “Generations of viewers have delighted in watching Gumby and his pals engage in amazing adventures that typically require creative problem resolution, and we’re thrilled to be able to introduce this charming series to a whole new generation of fans. ABC Monsters also fulfills our ‘content with a purpose’ mandate by teaching preschools letter decoding with the help of innovative, animated letter characters, each with its own unique traits. Both series convey valuable learning skills and tools through clever, engaging storylines and appealing characters.”
“We believe Genius Brands’ Kid Genius channel is the ideal platform for both Gumby and ABC Monsters. Both series support the company’s ‘content with a purpose’ and will complement GBI’s original series as well as other potential acquisitions,” added Mary Flynn, Vice President of Sales, Content and Acquisitions, NCircle Entertainment. “We are very happy to be working with Genius Brands on its new channel and look forward to a successful launch this fall.”
The new Kid Genius channel is set to offer a variety of programming for young viewers (toddlers to 12-years-old) that align with the company’s mission to provide “content with a purpose.” The channel will feature GBI original programming, including Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab, Llama Llama and Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club, as well as Daytime Emmy Award-winning series Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, and Dennis the Menace, based on the classic comic strip created by Hank Ketcham. In addition to the classic Gumby and ABC Monsters series, GBI will continue to pursue series from program creators around the world.
Fully re-mastered, each of the 200+ episodes of Gumby will delight young viewers with its stop-motion Claymation and unusual characters, from the humanlike but green Gumby and his horse friend and sidekick Pokey, to Goo, the blue mermaid, Prickle, the yellow dinosaur, Nopey the dog, the Blockheads, who sometimes chased after Gumby and his pals, and Gumby’s parents, Gumbo and Gumba.
Having first appeared in Art Closkey’s film short Gumbasia, Gumby and his pals launched into television as short segments within The Howdy Doody Show in 1956. The segments became so popular that Gumby and his friends got their own show — The Gumby Show in 1957 on NBC. In 1967, creator Art Clokey, along with Gumby and his pals, took a break from television, returning to television with a new series entitled Gumby Adventures in 1988 that was followed by a movie in 1995. In the 1990s Gumby continued to air on Nickelodeon and subsequently on Cartoon Network. Most recently, the series has aired on Teletoon Retro in Canada.
ABC Monsters are big, hairy and not very scary. Twenty-six cuddly ABC Monsters live within the walls of Capital Castle. Each monster represents a letter of the alphabet, but should any of the monsters go missing for longer than a day, all the letters will be wiped clean from every book in Capital Town, so it’s very important to make sure that all the ABC Monsters are safely back in Alphabet Gardens before the sun goes down. However, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The ABC Monsters are always curious and happy creatures so they tend to wander off from Alphabet Gardens and get lost in the process. In each adventure, Alice and her good friends Brian and Cherry Berry must search high and low for one of the missing ABC Monsters. This spellbinding series of magical adventures engages preschoolers’ imaginations while making learning exciting and entertaining.
The PBS Kids series Arthur has been popular since the mid 1990’s. And for 19 seasons so far, it’s been bringing a lot of joy and laughter such as celebrity appearances, trials and tribulations, and like Sesame Street, TV parodies like WGBH Boston’s own Mystery!. Now, Arthur and friends enter the next level as the fun continues. Who’s doing this changeover Danny?
Danny Angelfish (via Animation World)- Oasis Animation has signed an agreement with the WGBH Educational Foundation to provide the production services on Seasons 20 and 21 of the animated PBS KIDS series Arthur. Oasis Animation will handle the pre-production, animation and post-production of 14 new 30-minute episodes plus two one-hour Specials. Production started in Montréal as of September 9th, 2015 and episodes will begin airing on PBS in 2016.
OASIS previously provided its pre-production services to WGBH on the 20 episodes from Seasons 14 and 15 of Arthur, but this time around will provide its services for the entire production, from pre-production to post-production. More than 75 people will be dedicated to the project in the Montréal-based animation studio, which has already produced many successful series.
Arthur, based on the bestselling books by Marc Brown, is television’s longest-running children’s animated series. Over the past 19 seasons, Arthur has remained one of the highest-rated weekday children’s series on PBS among children 4-8. Arthur has won numerous awards, including the George Foster Peabody Award, a BAFTA, and seven Daytime Emmys — four for Outstanding Children’s Animated Program.
1,537 fans are on the board on the Penguins tally as October is hours away.
Just a reminder Thunderman fans, you can now catch new episodes of The Thunderman’s on Nick every Wednesday night. As we blow ourselves into October, beware of suffering spooks, creepy surprises, and monstrous episodes. See you soon on the next edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Remember folks, get plenty of rest and prepare yourself for one spooktastic month! I’ll be waiting for you there…