1. Welcome to the Muppet Central Forum!
    You are viewing our forum as a guest. Join our free community to post topics and start private conversations. Please contact us if you need help with registration or your account login.

  2. Sesame Street Season 45
    Sesame Street's 45th season officially begins Monday September 15. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

  3. "Muppets Most Wanted" Fan Reactions
    After you see "Muppets Most Wanted", read fan reactions and let us know your thoughts on the Muppets eighth theatrical film.

The ask Jim Lewis thread is now open

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by dwayne1115, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    hey yall i just sent the questins to Jim, I for one can't wait to hear the answers to some of these qusetions. So lets hope we hear from him soon.
  2. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Hey everyone, here they are the answers to the qustions you asked. I was super shocked with getting the answers this quick.(A FEW HOURS)!!!


    More Questions For Jim Lewis




    1. I've got another question now. Can you describe the infamous cut Snoop Dog scene from It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie? I've seen a promotional picture (not sure if it was actually a still or taken when he was on the set) of Snoop Dog backstage (The Muppet Show's backstage, not an actual backstage) with Dr. Teeth, Floyd, and Janice, so I guess he was with the Electric Mayhem. So I'd like to know if he was with the whole Electric Mayhem (I didn't see Animal, Zoot or Lips (the trumpet player from the last season and The Great Muppet Caper, if you're not sure off-hand who he is) in the picture), and if any other characters were in the scene, and I'd like to know what happened during the scene (I'm not asking for a transcript of the scene, but a basic summary), and when it was supposed to happen in the film (my guess would be either at the beginning of the film or before Kermit went looking for Fozzie).

    To be honest, I can’t remember when it was supposed to happen in the picture, though your guess is probably right. Here’s how I remember it. (I wasn’t there, but I did help put the scene together.) We come upon Kermit and Snoop backstage talking in that patented Snoop patois (e.g. “Off the hizzle f’shizzle….etc”). Surprisingly, Kermit is fluent in this lingo and has his own Frogg Pound. We then see the Electric Mayhem band sitting nearby. Floyd Pepper asks a typically insightful question, something along the lines of: “Didja ever think that maybe the whole world is a molecule on the big toe of some giant in the cosmos?” To which Snoop gives a long (and to me) totally confusing answer just brimming with “hizzles” and “f’shizzles”. Floyd, Animal, and the rest of the band nod sagely and then Zoot says a line that was ad libbed on the spot: “Man, that’s the first thing around here I’ve understood in 30 years”.



    2. I was wondering, about VMC, was The Boss written with Whoopi Goldberg in mind? And/or Rachel Bitterman with Joan in mind?

    No. Drawing up a list of who you want to play which part is a game you play when you really should be writing or doing other work. It’s always a matter of availability and other factors. Once someone is cast, you look at the script and look for ways to make it work better for whomever is in the part. And, of course, the performer has their input and insight. (After all, we’re not talking Shakespeare here. He’s got a no-change clause on his contract, we Muppet writers don’t.) I thought both Whoopi and Joan did a fantastic job, as did the joyfully talented David Arquette. (Who’s character—Daniel—was named after my son, by the way. Ergo Whoopi saying: “Danny L”)







    3. Is lack of puppeteers the real reason for characters like Rowlf and the Electric Mayhem's disappearances? Or was it a writing decission, did the characters sort of "fizzle" out? If it was puppeteers, why not try and find the puppeteers?

    Certainly the characters didn’t fizzle out. But, as you know, Muppets are performed and usually created by a single performer. When that performer is not there, it’s not a matter of merely finding a new voice or puppeteering talent, it’s a matter of literally re-creating the soul of the character so you believe it’s the same character. A daunting task. It can be done, but it takes time and opportunity. And funny scripts, which is what I should be writing right now, but would much rather be doing this.





    4. On Muppets Tonight there where some New Muppets,. Did you help in the creation of them, and if so how did you find what would work and would not work?

    Trial and error. The characters come to life in workshop (where performers try out different ideas with input from the writers), then when the few and the proud have been chosen, we try to write scenes that explore the character and how he/she interacts with existing characters. Sometimes it works beautifully (Pepe) and sometimes it doesn’t quite hit the mark (Mr. Poodlepants…whom I still love.)




    5. What advice would you give for people interested in a career in writing for Television?

    Write. Try writing a spec (i.e. speculative) script of a show you like. If you want to write comedy, this is difficult since there are so few comedies on the air right now. If you’re truly inspired, write something original. Come up with the story and characters, write an outline, work on it until it is as tight as you can make it, then write it up as a script….and throw it over some transoms to anyone (e.g. agents, friends of friends of friends). The other way is to write something and make it with friends. Put it up on Youtube. It’s there for everyone to see. It’s a calling card that people can watch, not have to sit down and read. They don’t have to imagine what it will look like because they can see it. Of course, my own entry into this world has nothing to do with any of the above: I got into writing for TV and the Muppets by working at Muppet Magazine—a strange route to a strange career.






    6. What can we fans do to facilitate the creative/availability of more muppet stuff? Are letters better than emails? Do they look how fast things sell, or how steadily? Does anyone want our input on what we'd buy--including pre-ordering stuff?

    I’m all in favor of popular uprisings. A few placards, a torch or two and some clever chants outside the gates always seems to me the best way to get thing happening in this town…..Seriously, it’s all of the things you say: sending e-mails, writing letters, pre-ordering stuff is all good. When sites like this get excited about a project, it makes everyone feel that we’re headed in the right direction. That said, there is no secret way to make it happen; if there was, I’d be writing chants and penning placards even as we speak. Got a match?
  3. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    I'd actually be up for that more than the emails. It'd get a lot of TV coverage - "Muppet Maniacs Bait Traps To Rouse The Mouse!". Infact the Muppet Studios would probably even appreciate the publicity at the moment!

    ... and that Snoop scene sounds brilliant!
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Okay, time for another question...

    Whenever you or the other writers work on a one-time project with the cast of The Muppet Show, like a special or movie (I would only count a few one-time guest apearances on other TV shows, like the Muppets appearance on The Cosby Show), do you and the other writers need to know which performers will be available for the production before you write, or do you just write in whatever characters you want to have included, and then rewrite the part if the performer of that character isn't available (I don't know if I worded that right, so I'll just give an example... If, back when Jerry Nelson was still performing with the Mupets, you wrote a script that featured a scene with Floyd, and then Jerry Nelson ended up not being available to perform in that scene or production... would you have rewrote itt o include another character, or would you have kept it in and prayed that Jerry Nelson would loop the voice later)?
  5. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Thanks again for the replies, Jim!
  6. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Considering that Dave Goelz would normally give Zoot's scripted lines away to other characters whenever he could, it's interesting that Goelz would improvise a line for Zoot.
  7. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    yea i really can't think of that Snoop scene not being in the movie. That sounds real cool. I also have another qustion, and here it is.


    Have you ever worked on other Henson shows such as Sesmae Street Fragle Rock or even Muppet Babies? If not did you ever have any ideas for storys for any of thouse shows?
  8. Ilikemuppets

    Ilikemuppets New Member

    That Snoop Dog scene sounds pretty funny. But I have to agree that by the sounds of it, it really did not futher advance the plot of the movie just as many others delieted scenes in the movie didn't. Plus there is only so much space with something that runs two houns on television. There is so much to consider when making final decisions about what gose into a movie. Ultimately, you have do what in the best intrest for that movie to get the best possible results. It's not always about it being a really great scene, but that's just the way the business gose. It would have been great if that was included into the movie, but I think that they nailed it and got it right.
  9. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Question for Jim...
    Do you have your own copies of the final completed scripts you've written? Or are all copies kept by the respective companies exclusively?
  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I was actually wonderign that myself after Jim's response of not remembering the name of the Muppets Tonight band. I would expect/ hope that most writers would be allowed to keep their scripts. I expect that several copies of the scripts would be printed, and it would be odd if everybody who got a copy of the same script (actors and so on) had to give their copies of the scripts back to the production company. It's great that you beat me to asking this question. I had a few other questions planned before that one.
  11. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    alright my children i have once again sent some questions to Jim hey when you think of a question go ahead and put it down that way i can kind of shuffle them up now i will only use one from that person to make it even and fair but go ahead and post any qustion when you come up with one. I love seeing what ya'll are thinking about and it gives me some kind of idea of what kind of mi of questions i want to send. Im still comming up with great qustions but im going to try and step back and see if some of you all ask them. I will Post jim answers as soon as i Get them. So lets get real creative with the questions and i will say the one who has the most creative question the next time around there question will be the frist one asked on the next bach of questions. Let the creativeity begin!!!!!
  12. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Well here are the answers to the bach of questions Jim worte me and said he is having a really fun time answering these questions. So keep them comming.
    Love
    Dwayne








    Even More Questions for Jim Lewis

    Even more ANSWERS from Jim Lewis



    1. What creative muppet mind or minds are behind the posed muppet art pieces--things like the Plump Fiction or Kermit Cline pictures? Who brings these poseable figures to such glorious photographic life, and how do they get the credit/kudos that are their due?

    This is an excellent question. Several great minds have been involved with this over the years, beginning with former creative director and my mentor, Michael Frith, who is responsible for so many of the classic pieces (e.g. The Kermitage, Piggy Calendars). John Barrett, the great photographer, is equally to be feted for his ability to capture just the right look. And then, of course, there are the former workshop people like Danielle Obinger, the late costume designer Barbara Davis, as well as art director extraordinaire Lauren Attinello. (And so many others who I am offending by failing to mention their names. Forgive me all who I have failed to acknowledge.) The fact is, it is a real talent—not only to choose the right image to parody—but also to capture the essence of the original with the Muppet twist. Furthermore, it is true genius to bring the characters to life in still images. These aforementioned folk and many others like them deserve credit, kudos and more for capturing the soul of the Muppets and and creating very funny images on film.






    2. Whenever you or the other writers work on a one-time project with the cast of The Muppet Show, like a special or movie (I would only count a few one-time guest apearances on other TV shows, like the Muppets appearance on The Cosby Show), do you and the other writers need to know which performers will be available for the production before you write, or do you just write in whatever characters you want to have included, and then rewrite the part if the performer of that character isn't available (I don't know if I worded that right, so I'll just give an example... If, back when Jerry Nelson was still performing with the Muppets, you wrote a script that featured a scene with Floyd, and then Jerry Nelson ended up not being available to perform in that scene or production... would you have rewrote itt o include another character, or would you have kept it in and prayed that Jerry Nelson would loop the voice later)?

    The answer is yes….Next question. Actually you got it right. First, we try to write for whatever character works best in a scene or opposite a particular guest star. Ideally, every performer is available, but that’s not always the case. Using your example, if Floyd was perfect for a scene, we’d likely write for him and then have Jerry loop the scene later. But we’d also do our best to make sure that Floyd wasn’t carrying the whole scene, so that the looping could be kept to a minimum. In other words, we make it up as we go along.



    3. Have you ever worked on other Henson shows such as Sesame Street Fraggle Rock or even Muppet Babies? If not did you ever have any ideas for storys for any of thouse shows?

    Oddly enough, no. When I first joined the company in the 1980s, “Muppet Babies” was still on the air, and I used to give notes on scripts, but I never wrote a script. I wasn’t around for “Fraggle Rock” and I’ve never had the pleasure of writing for “Sesame Street”. Nor have I given them ideas or stories. I guess you might say I’m exclusive to Gags Beasley.



    4. Do you have your own copies of the final completed scripts you've written? Or are all copies kept by the respective companies exclusively?

    By the time a script is shot, it’s a rainbow of different colors (each color representing a change on that page and the day/draft of that version). And even then, changes are made on the fly as performers improvise or writers come up with something better on the spot. So, the short answer is: no. I don’t have copies of the completed scripts. I usually have the final draft that I originally submitted. There is also very dog-eared, scribbled-upon, smudged, coffee-&-tear-stained shooting draft. But I usually toss this away page by page as we triumphantly shoot another page. Posterity suffers, but why should it be the exception?
  13. RKUNKLER

    RKUNKLER New Member

    Hey Jim were there any sketches that you wanted to do but never made it To The Muppet Show and are there any songs rights issues that came up ?
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I've read that you recieved storywriting credit on The Cosby Show episode Cliff's Nightmare, which featured the Muppets. Can you tell me what the process was like when writing that episode? I would like to know if it was meant to promote The Jim Henson Hour (which, like The Cosby Show, was broadcast on NBC, though it aired after The Jim Henson Hour was cancled), or if it was done as a favor in exchange for Bill Cosby hosting Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting (or vice versa), why Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Jerry Nelson didn't perform in the episode (which sort of limited the amount of well-known characters who could have been in the episode, though I find it a bit odd that Scooter, Bunsen, and Beaker weren't in it), and if there were any ideas you had that weren't used in the finished version of the episode.
  15. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Ok i know i said i wanted to step back and not but an answer for this batch of questions but i just can't help myself. This question i thought about putting in the intervew when i did it but also thought it was to much like a fan question.


    Is there a Muppet that is harder for you to write for then say one that is easy for you like Fozzie?

    Now my question will not be entered into the contest and will be at the last of the next batch of Questions.

    i wish i had more contacts with people to do more ask threads but im really busy working on things for this one that i think one is really all i can handle right now.

    I am also glad to see so many new people keep asking questuions.

    Thanks everyone because this tread is truly for the fans and the interviews done here are done by the fans.

    Also i am thinking of putting the interviws i have done on paper and maybe one day in book from what do you all think about that?
  16. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Question for Jim...

    When writing for Gonzo, is it hard to keep his personality as the deranged lunatic obsessed with self-harm and in love with chickens? It seems that Gonzo's personality has "toned down" a bit over the years. But I thought the "old" Gonzo personality really shone thorugh in "Before You Leap". So I'm just wondering what sort of talk has gone on about Gonzo.
  17. jeremyactor

    jeremyactor New Member

    How different is it writing for The Muppets from before Disney and since Disney?
  18. Speed Tracer

    Speed Tracer Well-Known Member

    Dear Jim. Hi, how are you? That's good. My question is this - are there any guest stars that were scheduled to be on Muppets Tonight before it was canceled? Who were some guest stars you desperately want(ed) to write for, but didn't get a chance to?
  19. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    ok yall i sent the questions in to jim and i have to say the winner is the pawnkraker for her question about the writing of Gonzo. Now i have to say that we had some great questions but that one was a reall good question. Keep trying and maybe your next question will be frist next time.
  20. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    heres the answers jim is having a blast.



    The Best Question To Jim Lewis Contest



    I was trying to get some people to really be creative, and I went to Muppet Centerel
    And posted that the winner of the most creative question would get to have there question first. So here it is the winner of the question came up with a wonderful question that I can’t wait to hear the answer to.



    1. When writing for Gonzo, is it hard to keep his personality as the deranged lunatic obsessed with self-harm and in love with chickens? It seems that Gonzo's personality has "toned down" a bit over the years. But I thought the "old" Gonzo personality really shone through in "Before You Leap". So I'm just wondering what sort of talk has gone on about Gonzo?

    I don’t think there’s a definitive answer as to why Gonzo seemed “toned down” a bit over the years. Here’s my best guess. I think some of it has to do with Gonzo taking on more of a hosting role (“Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Muppet Classic Theater,” etc), especially after Jim’s death and before Steve was fully up to speed on Kermit. Gonzo, with Rizzo as a perfect foil, could hold the steady center. He had the wit and the personality to fill the role. When Kermit again started to fill the host spot on a regular basis, Gonzo seems to have retained some of the gravitas he gained during his guest hosting time. Well, I’ll do my best to put an end to that! Glad you think that “Before You Leap” was a push in that direction. (Fortunately, deranged lunatics with a chicken and self-injury obsession are my specialty.) At the same time, and I think Gonzo’s creator/performer Dave Goelz would agree with this, it’s a pleasure to push longtime characters into new situations. We grow. They grow.




    2. How different is it writing for The Muppets from before Disney and since Disney?

    The process of writing for the Muppets has always been collaborative, with everyone involved devotedly engaged in trying to make the next thing the best thing--to make it funnier, stranger, more appealing and to give you, the viewing public, more chewing satisfaction. Since Disney, that cast of “everyone involved” has changed somewhat, though not completely by any means. But the process remains the same.










    3. Are there any guest stars that were scheduled to be on Muppets Tonight before it was canceled? Who were some guest stars you desperately want(ed) to write for, but didn't get a chance to?

    Memory fails, but I can’t think of anyone we had scheduled but didn’t get a chance to shoot. As for guest stars we wanted, but couldn’t get: I’m also happy to say we were fortunate in getting so many stars, especially ones like Prince and Garth Brooks and Tony Bennett who don’t normally do this sort of thing. That said, my favorite shooting day remains the one where we had Star Trek’s George Takei, Don Rickles (in a frog suit) and the one and only Captain Kangaroo, Bob Keeshan on set at the same time. This is magic. Weird magic, but magic nonetheless.





    4. I've read that you recieved storywriting credit on The Cosby Show episode Cliff's Nightmare, which featured the Muppets. Can you tell me what the process was like when writing that episode? I would like to know if it was meant to promote The Jim Henson Hour (which, like The Cosby Show, was broadcast on NBC, though it aired after The Jim Henson Hour was cancled), or if it was done as a favor in exchange for Bill Cosby hosting Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting (or vice versa), why Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Jerry Nelson didn't perform in the episode (which sort of limited the amount of well-known characters who could have been in the episode, though I find it a bit odd that Scooter, Bunsen, and Beaker weren't in it), and if there were any ideas you had that weren't used in the finished version of the episode.

    Long time ago. The “story by” was credited to distinguished Muppet writer emeritus Bill Prady and myself. We didn’t actually write the episode, which was penned by the writing staff of the show (They actually turn up in the episode around the dining room table. Doing what, I don’t remember.) I can’t recall how it came about, but I think it’s safe to say Mr. Cosby was a fan of the Muppets and thought they’d add a unique flavor to an episode of his show. (For this, I am forever grateful.) As for why certain performers and characters weren’t involved, I suspect this was all a matter of availability, but again, it was a long time ago, so let’s let it remain a mystery.





    5. Were there any sketches that you wanted to do but never made it To The Muppets Tonight and are there any songs rights issues that came up ?

    Can’t recall. Though I’m personally a big fan of some short bits that we wrote for the UK version of the show (the added 2 minutes for their commercial-less network). It involved Clueless and Polly from “Muppet Treasure Island” and a large monster who’s hands we saw, but nothing else. Can’t really describe much more, but it was out there. Hope to see those again someday.


    6. Is there a Muppet that is harder for you to write for then say one that is easy for you like Fozzie?

    Fozzie isn’t easy, but I understand him since I’m usually trying to tell jokes that don’t get laughs….Kermit is difficult because he is so darn nice. You want him to be that way, but you don’t want him to be bland. He’s not. He’s a feisty, spirited frog, pushed to the limit and surrounded by crazies. It’s important to keep that in mind when you’re writing for him….Piggy is fun beyond words. She can say almost anything, but it is easy to make her one-dimensional, a mere series of eccentricities and peccadilloes (e.g. karate, food, shopping, frog, etc.) She is that, but she is more, with great depth thanks to Mr. Oz…..Oh heck, it’s not easy writing for any of them. It’s work, but I love it and am blessed (so far) to be able to do it. If writing was easy, I’d be doing it now instead of answering this question and stalling until I can quit for the day.


Share This Page

Buy the Muppets Most Wanted Blu-ray and Save 43%!