Tag Archives: Muppets

In Memoriam: Jane Henson, Lover, Dreamer

Yesterday the Jim Henson Company announced the passing of Jane Henson, widow of Jim Henson and, perhaps more importantly, his longtime professional partner. We vividly recall as a third grader reading a biography of Jim Henson, a slim paperback with a green cover (naturally aimed at young readers, and being captivated by black-and-white photos of a fresh-faced, clean-shaven Jim Henson. At his side in many of these photos was another young puppeteer by the name of Jane Nebel, and it wasn’t long before the two began dating in addition to collaborating professionally. We still remember finding these photos particularly striking, something classic and timeless about their look, and something special in the way they turned their passion for their work into passion for each other. 

jane & Jim Henson

Jane worked with Jim on many commercials and helped him produce the local Washington, DC program Sam and Friends, which featured a very young, embryonic Kermit the Frog. Through their early work Jane assisted Jim in the creation of the Muppets, becoming a key architect in their development. Eventually Jim and Jane married and gave birth to five young Hensons, and Jane focused more on raising the brood while Jim found other professional partners like Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson, lovers and dreamers who shared the unique Henson vision. While Jane’s contribution could no longer tangibly be seen on-screen, her influence is undeniable and impact unquestionable. And even though she and Jim separated in 1986 she remained an important part of the Henson family, and continued to carry on the Henson spirit after Jim’s untimely death in 1993.

We always found it moving and significant he called her to his side when he fell ill, and she was with him in his last hours. It showed to us, even at ten-years-old, that Jane and Jim were bound by something other than romantic love for each other, perhaps something even greater than that. In that moment, and in her commitment to the Jim Henson Legacy, both literally and figuratively, she showed that whether or not they were in love she and Jim were eternally bound by a shared vision and a desire to bring good into the world. It wasn’t really Jim’s legacy that Jane had been working to preserve and promote all these years. It was their legacy.

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Filed under Brilliance, In Memoriam, Muppets

A Jumped the Snark “Shorty” – Predicting the 2014 Oscars

We’re unveiling a new feature on this blog today: Jumped the Snark Shorties, very brief thoughts and commentary on various topics and issues. Could be a follow-up to a previous post, an ad-hoc op-ed, or a random non-sequtiur. Opinions that are too short and partially formed to necessitate a full-length analysis, but too long for a tweet. Today we revisit our post from last week, our response to response to the Oscars and the outrage fired towards Seth MacFarlane. 

With all the bitter criticism and outcry following Seth MacFarlane’s Academy Awards hosting turn, it’s only natural to wonder who will take the stage next year. Likewise, it’s safe to assume that the Producers will be walking on glass with their next selection, aiming to pull in a host that can pull in the laughs (and ratings) while omitting the more the more offensive elements, effectively compensating for this year’s (alleged) disaster.

Our prediction: Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy

Why? Coming off the upcoming The Heat these will be two very bankable, very likable, very current commodities. And, unlike Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, these are movie stars, and, perhaps more importantly, actresses more than comedians. Their comedic reputation and integrity won’t be at risk; they’ll be more likely to be tame, to be good soldiers, and more amenable to it than the former SNL standouts,  neither of whom, it should be noted, have yet to truly break out on the big screen.

But Jumped the Snark, won’t the “Body Cops” be all over that with Melissa McCarthy’s size? 

No, the Body Cops themselves are handcuffed after this year’s show, nobody would dare say anything remotely misogynistic or negative towards women; it would instead be a celebration of the fairer sex, in all their shapes and forms. And, privately, the producers would feel comfortable tapping an overweight woman because they paired her with a thin, classic beauty, and they’ll pat themselves on the back for being so progressive.

Follow-up question: Is it a requirement that a human hosts the Oscars? I feel like everyone would approve of Kermit the Frog. 

While we would, of course, love a Muppet up there on that stage, but our understand is that non-humans can present, but not host. It’s like how non-native citizens can be Governor, but not President. And now that we say that we do like the sound of “Governor Kermit.” We’ve certainly done worse.

 

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Filed under Muppets, Saturday Night Live, Shorties, The Big Screen

Muppet Monday: Oscars the Grouch

If you had a chance (or the misfortune) to read our tweets from last night’s Oscars telecast, you’ll know that we were very sore that Bret McKenzie was not given a chance to perform his Oscar-nominated “Man or Muppet” (and one would assume a theoretical performance would include Jason Segel & Walter, if not the Muppet cast), and we took every opportunity to point out an uninspiring three minutes that could have been better spent with a Muppet musical interlude (which, basically, was any three minutes in the show, save for Tom Hanks’ presentation and Will Ferrell and Zack Galifianakis’s own musical interlude).  And, despite the hope that we foolishly granted ourselves in our most private moments, the Muppet contribution to the show was limited to a short bit with Kermit & Miss Piggy introducing Cirque Du Soleil (so you had time for those freaks and not the Muppets? C’mon).  So with that you could consider the chance to do something fun and different and special officially thwarted, in favor of the same old pabulum (and the new old Billy Crystal).

BUT, despite all that, the Muppets did deliver two of the night’s best moments.  First, of course, was Bret McKenzie’s triumph (although, let’s be honest, if the song from Rio won, we should just pack it in.  That would have been worse that Meryl Streep’s victory (which, by the way, was a win for lazy white people everywhere)), winning the Oscar for a film that deserved much more acclaim and recognition than it received.  The second moment was McKenzie’s gracious, earnest acceptance speech, and, more to the point, Jason Segel’s reaction when McKenzie offered his gratitude to Jim Henson.  That moment of pure joy could warm the coldest heart.

We can’t find that clip online (thanks a lot, the man!), but this almost approximates that joy and innocence:

On a related note, for the better part of the last year we’ve been slogging our way through Michael Davis’ Street Gang, the wonderfully detailed and thoroughly researched history of Sesame Street.  Not surprisingly, we found the most engaging excerpts to be those that touched on Jim Henson’s contribution to the show, and, in a macabre way, the description of his passing and his now legendary memorial service.  We finally came to this event towards the end of the book as we were riding along the E train yesterday; at one point the doors open, we look up and what should we see?  Jim Henson, surrounded by his greatest creations, a poster for their exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image.  It was a bit eerie, but even more it felt special, serendipitous.  And, then, mere hours later, McKenzie invokes Henson’s name, providing another fitting tribute to a man who remains an inspiration to so many of us.

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Filed under Bert-n-Ernie, Muppet Mondays, Muppets, Tyranasaurus Sex

On the Fifth Night of Hanukkah Jumped the Snark Gave to You…

…The Muppets & Jimmy Fallon &  Christmas!  Because it’s Christmas Eve AND Hanukkah and that calls for something special.

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That’s two years in a row.  Hopefully that means this is a holiday tradition.

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Filed under Lady Holiday, Muppets

Parting Shot: Ride of your Life

Pick me up

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Filed under Freak Out Control, Muppets, Parting Shot, Robots

Muppet Monday: We Finally Weigh-In on the Bert & Ernie Marriage Petition

However, that being said, they’re not gay.  At the very least, they’re not gay lovers.

Care to weigh-in, Greg Kelly?

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Well, that settles that.

[Video via HuffPo]

 

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Filed under Bert-n-Ernie, Makes You Think, Muppet Mondays, Weigh-in, What? Too fabulous?

Parting Shot: Not Your Mother’s Red Book

Jim Henson’s concepts for Muppet theme park rides, as indicated in the Red Book, his journal of single line entries. Genius. What should have been.

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Filed under Brilliance, Muppets, Parting Shot

‘SNL Backstage’: More Like ‘SNL Backstab’

There’s literally nothing we like more than Saturday Night Live retrospectives.  Okay, well, maybe we like pizza, beer, the Muppets, 1986 Mets retrospectives and maps more.  But really that’s about it.  And it’s close.  Which is why we were so extremely disappointed in last week’s “new” two-hour prime-time special SNL Backstage. We were eager for the broadcast all week, making sure to set our DVRs before heading out to Philadelphia for the weekend.  We were far more excited about it than any regular episode of SNL all season, save for Jim Carrey’s return.  And from those great expectations came a great letdown.

The show was billed as, or so it seemed to us, a look behind the scenes at SNL, which we thought meant going beyond the origin of sketches and past cast changes and instead delving further into the process of the show, bringing us stories and details not found in the previous behind the scenes specials (SNL in the 80s: Lost and Found, SNL in the 90s: Pop Culture Nation, SNL in the 00s: Time and Again). Indeed, judging from the promo, we were going to be treated to some new never heard before insights and, most intriguing to us, a glimpse at how they pull up a live show with so many set and costume changes.  What we thought we’d be getting was a truly illuminating look under the hood of SNL, an expose on all its moving parts.

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But, basically, we were lied to.

More on the betrayal, and the only three minutes of truly new and interesting material.

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Filed under Analysis, Be careful what you wish for, Matt Christopher Books, Saturday Night Live, The Roaring 10s!

Muppet Monday: We’d Like to Forget This

This doesn’t thrill us.  In fact, we don’t like this at all.  But we feel like we’re kind of obligated to acknowledge its existence.

But thank goodness Cee Lo wasn’t backed by Kermit or Fozzie or The Electric Mayhem or any other significant Muppet.  That would have been a bitter pill to swallow.  No bigtime Muppet of mine should ever collaborate with Gwyneth Paltrow.

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Filed under It's gross., Muppet Mondays, Muppets

Gratuitous Search Term Bait of the Day: Hail to the Chef

Well, after a Muppetless week, you’re going to get a second dose tonight, along with another helping of blog stalwart SNL, as today’s search term is “swedish chef andy samberg.”  But since we’ve already done a Swedish Chef post for this feature, and we sample enough Andy Samberg on this blog, we’re going to blend SNL and culinary expertise to bring you this little entree, one of our all-time favorites:

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And if you had your heart set on Andy Samberg as the Swedish Chef, here’s a little dessert.

 

 

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Filed under Good Humor, Gratuitous Search Term Bait, Muppets, Saturday Night Live, Top Scallop