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Behind the Scenes of "The Muppet Movie"

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Was Once Ernie, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    *leads the female members of Swaehb back out the thread*

    I told you there was no need to be excited...

    lol

    Cool stries! Keep them coming!!!
     
  2. TogetherAgain

    TogetherAgain Well-Known Member

    <following Beau out of thread> Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Man, why can't I ever be right about this kind of thing? :p

    <ahem> anyway, love getting these stories from you, Was Once Ernie. Very much appreciated.
     
  3. Docnzhoss

    Docnzhoss Active Member

    Yes, not only do you have an awesome story to tell, you are telling it very well. I'm looking forward to part four!
     
  4. unclematt

    unclematt Active Member

    I wish I had all the connections you have.
     
  5. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    Hi Gang!

    Just wanted to let you know that I'm going to the San Diego Comic-Con International this week, so Part Four won't be posted until next week.

    By the way, (and this is probably the wrong place for this, but anyway...) there are two panels that Muppet fans will want to see. Here are the official descriptions. First, on Friday:

    5:30-7:00 The Jim Henson Company’s 50th Anniversary: Retrospective and Sneak Peek at MirrorMask. JHC was founded in 1955 by prolific artist and puppeteer Jim Henson. Leaders of the company will take a look back at some rare footage of Jim’s early performances. Also see the recent achievements of the company’s newest performed animation technology and a sneak peek at upcoming projects, including this fall’s MirrorMask. Room 6B

    Then, later that evening:

    7:00-11:00 The Jim Henson Company’s 50th Anniversary: Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal—The Jim Henson Company continues its 50th anniversary celebration with screenings of Jim Henson’s classic fantasy features, Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal, with a special introduction by co-CEO and performer Brian Henson. Room 6B

    Also, on Saturday, I'll be co-hosting a spotlight panel on announcer and voice-artist extraordinaire Gary Owens.

    Come out and say hi if you can!

    :p

    P.S. You must register to attend Comic-Con, but you don't need to pre-register. You can register on-site, however, the show is very likely to sell-out this year for the first time. For more info about the con:
    Comic-Con International
     
  6. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Hey, that's all awesome information! That, coupled with the Charles Schulz Museum presentation, is everything I could dream of!!

    Have a safe trip, and we look forward to your safe return and Part 4!
     
  7. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I am not going to attend the event, but you said for anybody who sees you to ay hi. I don't think you have even told us who you are, so people could see you without knowing.
     
  8. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    Ah, but if they come to the Gary Owens panel, they'll figure it out. (HINT: I'll be the one that's NOT Gary or Mark) ;)

    :p
     
  9. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    I'm leaving for Comic-Con this morning, but I just remembered something funny that I forgot to include earlier.

    You'll recall that I ducked out on getting one of the Emmett Otter characters. Later in the day, I was thrilled to have Ernie, but I was also happy for another reason. All the Emmett Otter people were complaining how itchy the puppets were! Several other people were really disappointed because all they got to be were lobsters. I was then doubly thrilled to be Ernie.

    Talk to you all next week!

    :p
     
  10. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but as a lobster you get a cool sombrero and pistola, AND you get to take over the Chef's kitchen...

    :zany:
     
  11. That Announcer

    That Announcer New Member

    "¡Dona maria! ¡Ole bandana! ¡Manabanana! ¡Caliente el dente! ¡Steeck 'em op! ¡Madre mia! ¡Padre pia! ¡Arriba, arriba! ¡Santa santa claus! ¡Hay donna maria, vamoos!"
    "Dey sjoot der chopper-chopper!"

    (All quotes taken directly from The Muppet Show Book.)
     
  12. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    Part Four

    When we came back to the stage, the rainbow scrim was down. Which basically means, we were back to square one, starting all over again. Take after take after... well, you get the idea! Not only did the puppeteers have to turn in an acceptable performance, but there was an elaborate camera move on a crane that had to be right.

    Now fatigue began setting in... for others. There were so many people complaining around me about their arms being tired and aching. In fact, I think the girl doing Oscar didn't even have him up in the take that was used. I've never been able to find him in the movie and he was right behind me. (You can just barely see him in that picture that was posted recently from the Art of the Muppets book.) I, however, came prepared. I knew it would be a grueling day and I rehearsed ahead of time. For days, I held a puppet over my head to build up my arms and stamina. You might have noticed the character next to my name. That's my own puppet, Davey Simpson (Yes, he had that name at least ten years before the yellow cartoon family), and he's as close to a Muppet as you can get without being sued for copyright infringement. My friend and I built him after watching a show on NET (That was National Educational Television, which was the predecessor to PBS) called "The Muppets on Puppets" in which Jim, Frank Oz and Don Sahlin showed exactly how their puppets were built. We performed Davey on television in New Jersey and Philadelphia. Anyway, because of my preparation, my arms weren't tired at all.

    At some point, the Viewmaster photographer came in and we had to pose for him. Or rather, the puppets had to pose for him. I can't recall if there were any pictures taken of the group of puppeteers other than the one where you can see some people walking onto the numbered stage. If there were pictures of us, I'd love to see one.

    When Jim and Frank were happy, we were wrapped. We all had to go back to the first stage and turn in our puppets. Richard Hunt was one of the people helping to collect puppets, so I took the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes. I told him how I used to visit Sesame Street and he apologized for not remembering me. I told him I didn't expect him to as I kept a pretty low profile when I was there. But I asked him how he came to be one of the core group of main Mupeteers. When I first went to Sesame Street, he was Ernie's right arm and the back half of the Snuffleupagus! He said he realized at one point that if he was ever going to get anywhere, he'd have to get more aggressive... and that's what he did.

    And that was it. It took an entire day to film that one short scene. But one person I did become more friendly with was John Lovelady. He remembered me from Sesame Street. John was the keeper of the puppets on the set. He would fix any ripped seams or noses that fell off, make costume changes and make sure the proper characters were camera ready. He performed the same duties on The Muppet Movie. It was shortly after the Muppet Movie wrapped that John left the Muppets and stayed out here in Hollywood. I stayed in touch with him for awhile and we even talked about doing a project together, but it never happened. Then I lost touch with him. If anyone knows where he is today, I'd love to know.

    Through John, I went back and watched them film again. That was how I got to go to dailies. I just asked Jim at the end of the day if I could tag along and he said sure. We watched the scene of Kermit from the beginning of "The Magic Store" song. When he sang the line "... making faces at friends", there are two beats of music after that and Kermit made two faces in time to the music. There was a big laugh from the audience. At the end of dailies, Jim apologized to Frank, saying the he (Frank) was right. I guess it was Frank's idea to have Kermit make the faces, but Jim didn't think it worked. They ended up using a take without him making the faces, even though Jim conceded that the take with the faces worked better. It was probably because at that point, they didn't have a take with funny faces that was useable and they didn't think it was worth it to go back and reshoot it.

    That's pretty much my story. I only saw Jim Henson one more time after that. Some years later, he spoke at the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills (They're the people that give out the Oscars). I went to see him and got to speak to him for a few moments afterward.

    And now I'm honored to say that Phillip Chapman has asked me to put all the parts of the story together so he can post it permanently to the articles area.

    I hope you all enjoyed it and I'd be happy to answer any more questions that I can.

    Muppetly Yours,
    Was Once Ernie

    :p
     
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Do you happen to know whether John Lovelady performed on Sesame Street, or if he just did behind the scenes work? do you know why he stopped working for henson?
     
  14. AndyWan Kenobi

    AndyWan Kenobi Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the rest of the story, and the neat tidbit about Richard Hunt. I really didn't know that he worked his way up from being Snuffleupagus's hind quarters. Do you know what he meant be being more aggressive? Does that mean that he had to go after bigger parts, or that he had to stand out more as a performer?
     
  15. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the story, Was Once Ernie!! It's cool to live vicariously through your experiences in this performance bio!

    Phil, proud you jumped on this for the articles section. Worth every second of the read!!
     
  16. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    In the very early days of Sesame Street, he did perform and then would lend a hand (pun intended) as needed. For the most part, though, he worked behind the scenes.

    I do know why he left, but as it's very personal, I would rather not discuss it without his permission.


    :p
     
  17. Was Once Ernie

    Was Once Ernie New Member

    I think it was a little of each. He had to make it known to Jim that he was interested in doing more than being a utility man, and then proving that he could do it.


    :p
     
  18. unclematt

    unclematt Active Member

    Thank you very much for your story. There has been alot of talk of maybe getting a second Mupptfest together or maybe even just getting alot of MC posters togethe for some type of fan weekend. If this were to ever appen I am sure everyone would love to have you there as much a I would.
     
  19. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Ditto that, Uncle Matt!
     
  20. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Did John Landis only perform grover, or did he perform another character as well?

    I know that I have already asked about whether certain performers (like jerry Juhl and carroll Spinney) performed at the end, but do you know if Jim Hensons wife, Jane Henson, performed in that scene? I am not really sure if Jim Hensons family was around during filming muhc or not.
     

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