Muppets dump Chick-Fil-A for anti-gay stance

Bert & Ernie, together since 1969

The Jim Henson Company has severed their partnership with fast food chain Chick-Fil-A. The company’s “Creature Shop” toys are being given away with kid’s meals, but that’s coming to an end, due to Chick-Fil-A’s conservative Christian President-CEO Dan Cathy’s anti-gay public statements.

The Jim Henson Company posted this statement to their Facebook page:

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.

The comments are fascinating.

Meanwhile Boston mayor Tom Menino has publicly stated his opposition to a Chick-Fil-A opening in Beantown. It’s not like a mayor can single-handedly decree something like this, but Menino can make damn sure that opening the Boston branch of Chick-Fil-A is a very, very slow and expensive process for Dan Cathy and his crew.

Not eating at a Chick-Fil-A is an easy way to send a message that this kind of thing won’t be tolerated in your community, either. Why give Truett and Dan Cathy your money to fight marriage equality? Bigotry = bad business. It’s time Chick-Fil-A’s stockholders and franchise owners realize this and kick Dan Cathy to the curb. He’s a PR disaster.

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Jennifer Connelly auditions for ‘Labyrinth’, 1986
05:35 pm


Jim Henson
Jennifer Connelly

Another curio from the Jim Henson vaults, this time the audition tape of a 14-year-old Jennifer Connelly for the 1986 cult classic Labyrinth. You gotta admit Connelly totally nails this audition, selling the action with her own reactions when there is literally nothing there. When he speaks near the end, you can tell Jim Henson is impressed:


Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Sex & Violence: the first ever ‘Muppet Show,’ 1974

An interesting curio from the back catalog of the Jim Henson estate here - the first ever (pilot) episode of The Muppet Show, which was recorded late in 1974 for broadcast in 1975. From the Muppets wikia:

The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence aired on ABC on March 19, 1975, and was shot on December 10-16, 1974.

It was one of the two pilots produced for The Muppet Show. The other pilot, The Muppets Valentine Show, aired in 1974.

In this half-hour variety special, the Muppets parody the proliferation of sex and violence on television.

Subtitled “An End to Sex & Violence,” this first ever episode of the world’s favourite puppet theatre seems a bit racy for a supposed family audience. However, watching this pilot it’s clear that Henson and co. were aiming for a more adult-orientated, risqué edge to the material, akin to the sketches they provided in the very early years of Saturday Night Live (and which were deemed, in the end, not to work.)

Obviously some more fine tuning was needed on this material before it became the international hit we all know and love. Not least a honing of the format and pacing of the show. This early version is a lot more fast-moving, with quicker cuts between multiple sketches, which we return to numerous times. The show had also yet to make musical numbers its main focus, perhaps explaining the later decision to constrain the sketches to single slots allowed to play out in full.

That’s not the only thing that’s disconcertingly different though: the usual Muppet Show host Kermit is relegated to just a bit part, even though by this stage he had become well known through appearances on Sesame Street. Sam the Eagle has a lot of screen time, and an early variant on Miss Piggy makes a brief appearance.

The main presenting duties go to a humanoid Muppet called Nigel, who is backed up by right hand man by Floyd Pepper, better known as the bass player in Dr Teeth’s Electric Mayhem and the popular character Janice’s main squeeze. The main Muppets’ to-camera addresses are a lot more knowing and audience-literate than Kermit’s let’s-get-this-show-on-the-road style, again hinting at the influence of a more grown-up, hip comedy aesthetic influenced by Lorne Michaels and even Monty Python.

Still, flawed as it may be, this is well worth a watch for Muppet fans and even the more curious viewer. Below is part one, while parts two and three are after the jump:

The Muppet Show: Sex & Violence Parts 2 & 3 after the jump…

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
‘The Muppet Show’ without The Muppets

These two delightful behind the scenes videos from The Muppet Show were generously posted by an ATV cameraman who worked on the program named John O’Brien.

In the first clip, we see what The Muppet Show would have been like had they used real-life actors—well, at least the crew members—instead of puppets. Not quite the same, is it?

A little bit of fun by the crew recorded at the end of the first series/season of The Muppet Show in 1976 (I joined ATV in 1977 during Season 2) ... I am not sure who was responsible for putting this together (I suspect Peter Harris had an input) but I’m sure someone will tell me.

The cast includes Peter Harris, Richard Holloway, Jim O’Donnell, Brian Grant, Steve Springford, Jerry Hoare, Phil Hawkes, Gerry Elms, John Rook, Martin Baker, Sue Boyers, Francis Essex, Dennis Bassinger, David Chandler, Bryan Holgate, Peter Milic, Claude Walters and the ladies from the Canteen.


And then there’s the second video, which is also pretty amazing:

A behind the scenes glimpse of the Muppet Show on it’s last day of recording at the Elstree Television Studios in 1980 on which I was privileged to work as a Cameraman.

Featured is Jim Henson and Frank Oz who were the main inspiration and creative forces behind the show. Narrated by Peter Harris, one of the two directors on the show … it mostly reveals crew and cast having a very silly day as everyone said their final farewells. Richard Holloway (now Executive Producer on “The X Factor”) had been the Senior Floor Manager for the duration and it was probably inevitable that he became the victim of the flan flingers … he took it in great spirits.

This last day in Studio D was the culmination of 5 years work, fun and laughter on what was arguably the most successful Children’s Programme in the world at the time, having been sold to some 110 countries … it was the end of an era for many and the Muppets have gone on to become truly iconic.


Via Nerdcore

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Angry, flatulent robot stars in little-known Jim Henson film from 1963
10:23 am


Jim Henson

Seldom-seen short film by Jim Henson from the AT&T archives:

Jim Henson made this film in 1963 for The Bell System. Specifically, it was made for an elite seminar given for business owners, on the then-brand-new topic — Data Communications.


(via Nerdcore and Submitterator )

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Behind the scenes documentary about Jim Henson’s ‘The Dark Crystal’
09:36 am


Jim Henson
The Dark Crystal

Before there was CGI, there was Jim Henson’s animatronics masterpiece The Dark Crystal. I remember seeing this as a little kid and totally having my mind blown with all the fantastic creatures, detailed sets and elaborate costumes. This 1982 behind-the-scenes documentary on the film shows just how much hard work and dedication was used in making this cult classic.


Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cable gets synopsis of ‘The Dark Crystal’ very, very wrong

Parts II and III after the jump…

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Orson Welles’ creepy interview with Jim Henson and Frank Oz

Creepy is an understatement considering there’s a scene where Miss Piggy’s “lifeless” body is poked and prodded in a lake. Here’s little bit about the unaired pilot via Wikipedia:

The Orson Welles Show was an unsold television talk show pilot. It has never been broadcast or released. Filming began in September 1978 and the project was completed around February 1979. […] Welles interviewed Burt Reynolds (taking several questions from the audience,) Jim Henson and Frank Oz, and performed two magic tricks assisted by Angie Dickinson. Several of The Muppets were featured in taped segments, including Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo the Great and Animal.

Update: A Dangerous Minds reader points out the dead Muppet scenes are from a Late Night with Conan O’Brien sketch. Thanks for the heads-up, Meaning_of! 

(via Nerdcore)

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
Jim Henson’s seldom seen 1969 pilot for ‘The Wizard of Id’

Jim Henson’s test pilot of Johnny Hart’s Wizard of Id strip from 1969. If this was pitched again in 2011, the “class war” humor would be more in tune with the times, eh?

Via Classic Television Showbiz

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Jim Henson blows Middle America’s mind on Carson in 1974

Did Johnny Carson know what he was getting into when his producers asked Jim Henson to perform without Muppets on his show in February 1974?

By the time of the clip below, Henson and his Muppets Inc. crew were five years into what was becoming a hugely successful partnership with the Children’s Television Workshop on the show that would raise Generation X, Sesame Street.

What better time to do something like, say, adapt electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott’s highly trippy piece, “The Organized Mind” as a short live multimedia stage performance? (By the way, the film playing in the background is apparently Henson’s film adaptation of the same piece of music.)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cookie Monster helps train IBM sales staff (1967)
Jim Henson’s “Time Piece”

Bonus clip after the jump: “The Paperwork Explosion” another 1967 Henson/Scott collaborative film for IBM…

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Jim Henson’s “Time Piece”
01:57 pm


Jim Henson
Time Piece

Before there were Muppets, there was Jim Henson, experimental film maker:

Time Piece is nine very weird, sort of beatnik minutes of fast-paced, scattered imagery and sounds all set to the beat of a hi-hat.  He makes music out of everyday sounds.  So you get tapping, tick-tocks, footsteps, drumbeats, car zooms, whistles, screeches, pogo sticks, high heels, typewriters, on/off switches, dings, buzzes, bowling balls, elevators, champagne pops, zippers, dogs panting, rocking chairs, beers opening, tea kettles, crackers, coughing, and a shot of Henson painting an elephant pink.  The only word used in the whole thing is ?

Written by Bradley Novicoff | Discussion