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Excellent Frank Oz Interview (2014)

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by MrBloogarFoobly, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. MrBloogarFoobly

    MrBloogarFoobly Well-Known Member



    Towards the end, he clarifies his feelings towards the current incarnation of the Muppets.

    The whole thing is very insightful.
     
  2. SpookyMania

    SpookyMania Member

    Wow, that was really great; especially his thoughts on Disney and the Muppets. I do sort of wish he'd come back and at least direct "The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made" but I'm not going to hold my breath.
     
    MikaelaMuppet and cahuenga like this.
  3. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Gosh, 42 minutes, I just do not have the time right now. I guess I will watch the full thing some other time. The parts I did watch were pretty neat. Frank Oz really threw some muppet movie logic by saying there is not enough conflict between the characters anymore, and that obviously Jerry Juhl knew how to write for the muppets. I also feel reassured that Frank Oz did love working with the muppets, but just wanted to have a diverse career, because I was under the false assumption that he did not really like it. Most of the other stuff was also great, and I am glad I got to see a recent Frank Oz interview.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014
  4. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    I think with MMW they did kind of say "Screw you Disney" In a more quite kind of way.
     
  5. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    I'm afraid to watch it for fear that he'll say nothing but unwarranted negative things about Disney owning the Muppets. :concern:
     
  6. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    A. He doesn't.

    B. He's an adult and so are you. He's allowed to have an opinion and you should be able to deal with it no matter what it may be.
     
  7. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Just watch it, Frank Oz just states the cold hard truth.
     
    cahuenga likes this.
  8. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Can I just say that I knew Frank was going to get a little upset when this guy started talking about doing voices?

    I think the most profound thing Frank said in this interview is that in this day and age, when people think of puppets, they automatically think of the Muppets (and to say Muppets are like Kleenex is a pretty accurate comparison), and when you see puppetry in film and television today, they're essentially Muppets. That's pretty much one of the main reasons I wanted to do my PUPPET POWER special to show that there's more to puppetry than Muppets, and like animation, puppetry can come in different styles as well.

    And as far as Disney's ownership of the Muppets, don't worry, Frank's opinion is hardly negative, he just voices the same thing that many of us have been saying all these years as far as the characters and their dynamics are concerned.
     
    JonnyBMuppetMan and jvcarroll like this.
  9. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    Since this interview was done before MMW came out, I'd like to hear Frank's thoughts on that.
     
    Yorick likes this.
  10. fuzzygobo

    fuzzygobo Well-Known Member

    I saw Frank interviewed live a few years back (didn't meet him, but was still awesome being in the same room with him) and then too he stressed how minor the voice is compared to the other 90% effort involved.

    This interview cleared up several misconceptions I had, whether he really enjoyed being a puppeteer. I always admired his honesty, even when he could be blunt.

    And his assessment of Disney says it all.
     
  11. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Well, everything Frank Oz says about the muppets and Disney is true. They are too safe and cute these days compared to the old days when they were those cool puppets who blew stuff up, were on prime time, and had dysfunctional relationships, as well as the best celebrities. Nowadays people think of them as those kid films with corporate synergy guest stars, I mean they are not lying, the muppets have been watered down a little too much, they have not done anything edgy since MWoO, though I think the last time they had good edgy material was VMX. Disney is playing the muppets way too safe which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I want the muppets more adult again.
     
    dwayne1115 likes this.
  12. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    Only if he is saying nice things about it and acknowledging that the Muppets being at Disney is what's best for them, especially since Henson wanted it that way anyway.
     
  13. jvcarroll

    jvcarroll Well-Known Member

    I think one of the most profound things Oz did was to kind of apologize for his gruffness. He seems to be mellowing out with age. He's a wonderful director and the loss of his direction in the Muppets is as profound a loss as Jim's.

    I think the main good influences now belong to Barretta and...actually now...Vogel. They seem to be more involved in creating a classic atmosphere of anarchy that had been watered-down in previous efforts.
     
    JonnyBMuppetMan likes this.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but when they were blowing things up on Prime Time, no other Puppet show really did what they did before, and it sparked things like Spitting Image. The Muppets are too far into the establishment to have that outsider wacko impact. It's like how The Flintstones was an edgy show that mentioned pregnancy and advertised cigarettes and oddly the former was the reason the latter stopped being true. Apparently having cartoon characters, even adult friendly ones, selling cigarettes is okay, but mentioning one being pregnant at the time was highly immoral. Or Looney Tunes... they did some pretty subversive stuff in the day, now they dump them on 5 dollar kiddy DVD's. That stuff happens over time. Even the Pythons felt that when kids/kids' shows were referencing them they were too far inside the establishment.

    That said, I don't think Henson's involvement with the characters would have made a difference or another. Best case scenario we'd have a Weinstine Brothers produced "edgy" Muppet movie... in the way that the Black Friday reel of Toy Story was "edgy" (or, might as well say MwOO!) Labored pop culture references, characters being mean to each other, forced innuendo... VMX was an edgy production, and it stands to be a very dated one. In fact, best thing about MMW was that it wasn't in your face edgy. They found as good as we're gonna get balance between Muppet Wackiness and sweetness. I mean, safe... LTS was safe. Too safe, a little schmaltzy. but, let's face it... you wanna talk about ultra-safe in terms of Muppet usage, the weird underuseage of Kermit from MCC-MFS was Henson self induced safeness. Frank definitely knows of some very intimate, intricate minutia of the Muppets, working with them, and that's lost, as to be expected. Something totally intimate and close that we haven't seen with the deaths of Jim and Jerry Juhl. When creative forces like that are lost, you can never get it back. And in some cases, even if you have the same people you can't get it back (George Lucas...cough cough).

    That said, Frank said the same exact thing about Sesame Street, if not even worse for them. And there he has more of a point. SS has gotten wayyyy too safe in the 90's due to the rise of the younger age format pre-preschool show. SS does manage to make some heavy zingers and take thats from time to time, but the whole organized schedule thing is much safer than the spontaneous, oddball segments the show doesn't quite have anymore. Then again, Sesame Street was an unprecedented thing that was like no other before it that became extremely mainstream.
     
  15. fuzzygobo

    fuzzygobo Well-Known Member

    The Evolution of Sesame Street. Frank nailed it. One thing that gave Sesame its edginess- Jim had no misgivings about scaring kids with his creations. In the early days we had monsters like Beautiful Day, even early Grover and Cookie, but they were SUPPOSED to scare you. They were ugly shades of brown blue and green, they had teeth (and weren't afraid to use them), they could give you nightmares, you could feel the menace when they showed up. (And looking back, I see how thrilling it was).

    Since Jim's death (even well before that) with having to compete with Barney, focusing on Elmo, Sesame becoming so well established and "safe", the monsters lost their bite. Now you have pastel colors, and the monsters have become babysitters and no parent or toddler feel the least bit threatened by them. Something's missing here.

    Same can be said about the current Muppet cast. When things are so " safe" and "sweet", everybody gets along, there's no tension in the dynamics, no conflict, how " edgy" can you be?
     
    heralde likes this.
  16. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    MFS was the safest thing there was. Kermit was essentially lobotomized through the entire movie, and he essentially existed with Piggy. There was quite a bit of tension between them TM, a lot of it in MMW... but watching MFS... that's just painful. It's Gonzo's movie and there's great stuff with the new characters, that's true. But Kermit and Piggy...heck, Fozzie... you could have had the entire film exactly the same without them.

    But to say that we don't have characters eating each other and blowing each other up... remember, a certain Muppet writer once said that Crazy Harry was (paraphrasing) no longer funny after...well, no need to repeat what, but no longer funny in the modern world. Guess who made his grand comeback in MMW and commercials? And it was glorious.

    The Muppets were safe and tension free long before Disney got them. Some of the first projects post-Jim were preschool oriented (sing-a-long and play-a-long videos to be sure). Meanwhile, we had a video where Big Mean Carl bashed bunnies on the head and ate them and one where Dr. Honeydew effectively killed Beaker (well, turned him into a ghost, but essentially the same deal). Worst, safest, tension free things were LTS and that Cooking Show series. I wouldn't mind them getting edgier, as long as edgy doesn't mean, make a dark, icky looking film with jokes about nipples and Kelly Osborne (Henson and Fox's fault).
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  17. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Yes, I agree with you on that: if there was one thing Frank was known for aside from his talent was his arrogant streak - he had a good little anecdote about essentially being a moody kid when he first joined the Muppets, but that Jim had such patience with people and saw good in everybody, and it really did lead to one of the greatest creative duos of all time. I do like that he apologize for his gruffness, but at the same time, I like how at the end he said he knows he does a great job with whatever the job is at hand, but, he also acknowledges that he wouldn't have gotten to where he is in his craft and skill if it wasn't for the people he had working with him, such as Jim.

    And I think in addition to the loss of Jim and the departure of Frank, our losing Jerry Juhl is also profound as far as where the Muppets are today.
    And again, I definitely agree with you there. It seems that with each "generation" of performers, there's one who picks up on the craft of the Muppets so much that they really bring something to the work as a whole with their talent and skill. Kevin was that performer in the 80s and 90s, Bill really picked up the torch in the Millenia, and now Matt seems to be carrying that torch as well in the New Tens.
     
    jvcarroll likes this.
  18. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Well, not everyone agrees that Disney is the best for the muppets, who knows, maybe Jim would have had regrets if he had sold the muppets back in the nineties, and it is his opinion.
     
  19. jvcarroll

    jvcarroll Well-Known Member

    Jim reportedly was having some reservations due to dealings with Eisner (and Disney's interest in Sesame Street), but I think the sale would have gone through. Oz was already off doing his own thing and Jim kind of wanted the ability to do the same without worrying how it all would get funded. People forget just how much he had to hustle the Muppets in the old days. Other studios probably had second thoughts greenlighting Henson's projects after Labyrinth's underwhelming performance at the box office. Giving Disney first bite would solve all of this and he wouldn't be bogged down with having to sell and market his ideas. And the Muppets would be taken care of without Jim's constant shepherding. In return, Disney would get an in-house innovator like Walt. It really was a dream deal. And with Jim there, Frank would have the peace of mind in the direction of the Muppets.

    I have no doubt there would have been more Muppet movies and other great things from the partnership.
     
    Duke Remington likes this.
  20. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Bottom line, when the leader and visionary of a franchise passes away, they aren't easily replaced. After Walt died, Disney was pretty much gone for two decades, and frankly, even after their comeback in the '90s, things were never quite the same. I watch Sword in the Stone or Sleeping Beauty, and I see atmospheric, moody yet touching films made for everyone, not just children. The '90s Disney films, yes some adults liked them (my Dad liked B&B at least), but they were decidedly more kid friendly than past films. Eisner's main priority was Happy Meals.

    Don't get me wrong, I was a big fan of the '90s Disney films at the time; but looking back they did end up pushing aside or ruining edgier, more thoughtful animation (i.e. Don Bluth). That was a crime and I'm sorry I was too young to realize it. This is why I never buy the argument "well it's not meant for you, it's mean for kids." Kids don't always know what's best for them, heh.

    Frank is very right about the Muppets representing anarchy. The current "creative" minds behind the Muppets translate that to mean "stupid." No further comment on that. There are clearly so many other artists who could have taken the Muppets on, with a much better grasp of their humor and style. Clearly they just didn't know the right people. Such is Hollywood.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2014
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