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The Brand New Ask Jim Lewis Thread

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by dwayne1115, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Some fun Questions form Jim

    I have here on my computer some answers from Jim. I always send him a little note with the questions, and i told him today about how all the fans(You all) seem to really be geting on a presonal levle with this. He said he felt great about this, and though it was a great idea the way i sent the questions today. So insteed of hearing me go on and on here are the questions enjoy. Oh if you didn't see your question let me know cause the next batch will be like a catch up one.



    Some fun Questions form Jim






    1. From forum member jimhensonhour: First time reader and question askerer.
    I'm just wondering if there are plans to bring back other great muppet characters such as ones like digit or leon from the jim henson hour, I really miss them..
    Are there any plans to have Dr. Teeth, and most of the members of the Electeric Mayhem to make some type of come back?
    Thanks for your time.


    First of all, let me say that I really like the term “question askerer”. It’s perfect and if you don’t mind, I may borrow it and try to put it into a future sketch. Seriously. I love it.
    Second, I can only guess as to Digit and Leon. My suspicions are that they will not be back anytime soon, but if you suspect differently, then let’s go with what you think since that’s more fun. Right now, I’d say the goal is to reintroduce and further reinvigorate the core group of characters. And I’d certainly include Dr. Teeth & the band in that number. They got a lot of mileage still in ‘em, you dig?





    2. From Beauregard: I recently read a report about the Muppet Mockumentary, which said that the idea had been around since before the Muppet Movie and before such movies as Spinal Tap and the TV series The Office. The concept itself is amazing, and I think its playing well on the new website. For example, the clip of Piggy giving herself a pep-talk in the mirror is simply amazing. Is there any news on that pilot and do you think the concept could work as a whole show, rather than webisodes?

    You never know. And neither do I.
    …In all honesty, I think more of this “real world Muppet” approach is great. A chance to let the characters be themselves (as in that Piggy pep talk). The performers love it. I love it. And if you love it, then maybe we can and should do more. As for a pilot or series of this type – see the first line of my answer.




    3. From Minor Muppetz: Did you write any of the video material on the main menus of the Muppet Show DVD’s

    Yes. And since you bring it up, I assume you don’t hate it, so thank you. It’s one of those “found” bits of business we’ve done for the DVDs. And, as always, while it was all scripted out, the performers messed around, played around, made it better and their own.





    4. From our good friend Ryan: Last year Dave Goelz (and Gonzo) hinted at a new "really exciting" Muppet project being in the works. Was this project the new Muppet site? Or is it something bigger in the works that you can only hint about? Also, can you tell us how much the writer's strike (thanks GOODNESS it's finally over!) affected anything the Muppets had planned?


    I must talk to Dave about this. Perhaps he knows something I don’t. (Which is not at all difficult.) I can guess at what he meant, but if I told you then I’d have to kill myself. (It’s in the contract I signed.) As for the writer’s strike – I too am so glad it’s over. It held everything up all over town, so yes it impacted us. But now we’re fired up and ready to go and….that means I gotta write faster and funnier.






    5. From Mrs.Pepper : Hi Jim! On Muppet Central I go by MrsPepper (Floyd's wife! ) and I am really glad to hear of your involvement on the new Muppets Disney XD website, which is fantastic. I love the new material, it's really fresh and so much fun to watch. I was wondering, because the videos on the website have such a relaxed and on-the-spot vibe, how much is actually scripted and how much is improvised?

    They were scripted. Every single word. Every motion and movement and nuance was there on the page…..Yeah, right. As I always say, all Muppet stuff is usually scripted to some extent—but then it takes on a life of its own as the characters explore, inhabit, react and play with the material and each other. As the great writer George S. Kaufman once said while watching the Marx Bros. rehearse his play “Cocoanuts”:
    "Excuse me for interrupting, but I thought for a minute I actually heard a line I wrote" I’ve said the same. But if it gets a laugh, I take the credit.
  2. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Once again, great questions all, and even better answers from Jim! I think I still have one more question I asked earlier waiting to be asked, so I won't ask anymore, just thought I'd post a personal thank you to Jim. :)

    Oh, and by the way, are those suicidal contracts negotiable? Sheesh, no wonder you guys went on strike... :wisdom:
  3. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    HA HA HA thats funny!
  4. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    Hehe, just make sure you send that joke off to Jim, I'd love to hear his response. ;)
  5. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    *points* I see that little reference there...He really IS Fozzie Bear.

    Thanks for the answers, my friend. I was just playing with my Kermit Replica and it made me long to read Before You Leap again (Oh, Before You Leap Again...catchy title...) so I'll be popping that off the shelf again later! Has there ever been talk of Steve recording an audio version of the book?
  6. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Wow before you leap on audio know that sounds cool, no that sounds very cool! I want to know about that myself.
  7. MrsPepper

    MrsPepper Active Member

    Oops, I feel bad because I guess Jim gets alot of questions like the one I asked! :o Sorry. I do appreciate your patience in answering it one more time.
  8. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    hey don't worry about it Mrs.P it was your frist time asking a question wasnt it? You will come up with some good ones just keep asking and you will never know what kind of answer you get.
  9. MrsPepper

    MrsPepper Active Member

    Yeah I think I asked only one other question in the old thread. If I come up with a burning question :search: then I will post it :) Thanks Dwayne!
  10. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    No problem Mrs. P any time.


    I'm going to more then likly type up the questions today or tonight and send them tomorow (Sings: Tomorow Tomrow I'll love you Tomorow Your only a Day Away) oh sorry for a second there i thought this was the ask ANNEY Thread!
  11. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I haven't seen Billy Buny's Animal Songs, but I once read an article from somebody who worked on the video back in 1990 (three years before it was released) who mentioned that it did not feature any well-known Muppets. However, I'd always thought that Kermit did appear in it, and at Mupet Wiki it's said that Kermit is in the special, in scenes that were probably shot later. I've read that you were one of the writers for that, so I was wondering if Kermit was originally in the script, or even if he was originally planned to be in it, or if he could have been a later addition to the video, perhaps as a way to get it released, or if perhaps the release was delayed until Steve Whitmire got more experience as Kermit. Hmm, I didn't ask this in the form of a question, but can you answer what you think I was trying to ask?
  12. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Interesting...I've seen an advert for it, which definatly included Kermit.
  13. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    I have never even heard of this, what is it like? Are you talking about the tails of bunny picnic? Was it one of those Disney/Henson home videos that if your lucky you can find them in a thrift store.
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I already stated that I haven't seen it, but Billy Bunny's Animal Songs was the first of five Muppet Sing-Along Videos released by Jim Henson Video in the 1990s. It featured a new character, Bily Bunny, who would go on to appear in the second Mupet Sing-Along video, It's Not Easy Being Green, and a Muppet Time segment.

    And if it's not too late, I'd like to reword my question.

    I haven't seen Billy Bunny's Animal Songs, but I've read at Muppet Wiki that you wrote it. I've also seen an article by Chris Barry, who worked on that project back in 1990, and he mentioned that the special didn't feature any main Muppet characters, though I know that Kermit the Frog does appear in the special. Considering that it was shot in 1990 and released in 1993, either Kermit's scenes were added later on, or Chris Barry wasn't on the set when Kermit's scenes were made (or he could have been lying about working on the special). Was Kermit always intended to be in that video, or was he a later addition?

    There. That reworded question sounds much more like a question.
  15. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Just dropping by to say that I was browsing the Muppets site again, and that I think the new clips I hadn't caught yet are adorable! The one with Animal, Beaker and Chef had such a classic feel to it. The one with Pepe and Animal had great interaction between the two! All the elevator clips are fun to watch, and remind me of the Muppet News Roundup pilot that was around on Youtube a while back (shhh!). But dispite the fact they all remind me of the classic feel, they are so original and catchy and, most of all, funny. Not sure which specific ones you were involved in...but they were great. Thought I'd share!
  16. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Okay - i'm joining in the fun now. I had held off for a while since i've been away from the forums for a time and wanted to get a bit caught up before i posted anything to be sure i wasn't asking stuff that's well been covered previously...first of all, thanks for doing this - it's one in several great examples about how the Henson Company and the people involved with it are very hands on and accessible in terms of their relationships with the fans.

    (1) Part of writing for television/movie characters is that along with all the stuff that eventually gets seen, there's a lot of stuff that doesn't - either entire scripts/projects/concepts/ideas or stuff that ends up getting cut from final edits. Could you please share with us some of your favorite stuff that you wrote that ultimately never got used?

    (2) I know you've answered some questions that touch on performer availability issues previously, but to more finely tune an area that i'm interested in hearing about, when you write a script, do you just start off your first draft with a "dream cast" in mind and then later write around characters if it turns out they can't be used due to performer availability or do you have an idea when you're starting to write a script what kind of cast you have to work with and write around them? To expand on that a little more, has this process changed in time? From a viewer's perspective, it seemed like most of the stuff in the 90's was quite noticably written around certain charaters - deliberately avoiding giving Rowlf or half the members of the Electric Mayhem lines (and of course having issues with Frank Oz's fleeting availability). These days with Eric Jacobson being able to carry on Frank's characters and several other successful recasts that have taken place and could still potentially occur, do you allow yourself more freedom when you're choosing which characters to write for or do you still face restrictions (from higher-up or self-imposed)?

    (3) You've written extensively for The Muppets in both printed material to be read and scripted material to be performed. How would you describe the differences - is one form harder than the other, do you prefer one over the other, what was it like making a transition when you first started, etc.

    (4) Returning to the subject of unseen Muppet material, now that we're in an age of extensive DVD bonus material and advanced ability to put video material on the web, is there any chance fans may actually get to finally see things like various pilots and pitches for Muppet projects taped in the past sometime on the new Muppet site or as dvd bonuses?

    (5) The Muppets have been blessed with many talented writers over the years. As one of the current main Muppet writers, i would love to hear you share some of your thoughts and memories of working with Jerry Juhl.
    ----
    Feel free to hold on to this list and ask different questions in different emails or "rounds"!
  17. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Wow ok well know I have some work to do!
  18. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    One more for my list (i KNEW i'd think of another after i hit send):

    - Deep Introspection Time (cue Derek Scott-type music cue): Thinking about your place among the staff of Muppet writers, all of whom have their own individual strengths and weaknesses, what do you feel are your greatest strengths; what special qualities in particular do you bring to the writers' table (throw all humility out the window and feel free to toot your own horn) and then what do you feel are the qualities that you'd most like to be able to improve in comparison with the rest of the team?
  19. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    I'm sending some great questions to Jim right now!
  20. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    And Now some Answers!




    Questions for Jim Lewis
    Now with answers!



    1. Ryan (prawn) asked this. When writing a script, and you want to write a scene that includes a Muppet that (a) doesn't have a performer currently (such as Robin) or (b) hasn't been seen in years (such as Uncle Deadly), what do you do? Do you just keep writing it and leave it to the production team to find performers/puppets? Or do you scrap the idea and come up with something different?

    Usually, we just write…and let someone else figure out how it will happen. Then, when we’re told that a performer or puppet is not available, we rewrite the script to fit the situation. The script is always flexible, so to speak.


    He also commented on the last answer to his last question with this: Oh, and by the way, are those suicidal contracts negotiable? Sheesh, no wonder you guys went on strike...


    2. Beauregard said, and asked this: Thanks for the answers, my friend. I was just playing with my Kermit Replica and it made me long to read Before You Leap again (Oh, Before You Leap Again...catchy title...) so I'll be popping that off the shelf again later! Has there ever been talk of Steve recording an audio version of the book?


    Say, that’s a great idea. I’ll mention it…One thing I can tell you is that Steve gave the book as a present for the holidays. And if folks wanted to believe he wrote it, that was fine with me. As long as he didn’t mind that they thought I performed the frog.



    3. From Minor Muppetz : I haven't seen Billy Bunny's Animal Songs, but I once read an article from somebody who worked on the video back in 1990 (three years before it was released) who mentioned that it did not feature any well-known Muppets. However, I'd always thought that Kermit did appear in it, and at Muppet Wiki it's said that Kermit is in the special, in scenes that were probably shot later. I've read that you were one of the writers for that, so I was wondering if Kermit was originally in the script, or even if he was originally planned to be in it, or if he could have been a later addition to the video, perhaps as a way to get it released, or if perhaps the release was delayed until Steve Whitmire got more experience as Kermit. Hmm, I didn't ask this in the form of a question, but can you answer what you think I was trying to ask?
    I remember shooting parts of this video, and I know that I still can’t get the bunny song out of my head (“I am a happy hippity-hoppity bunny kid!...”) I also remember that Kermit was always part of the story (he presents and narrates the action), and that some time passed between the original shoot and when we shot the Kermit wraparound. Other than that, I can’t recall any details of why there was a delay. It’s a fine video, with Kevin Clash doing a classic Billy Bunny.


    4. From new question asker dwmckim: Part of writing for television/movie characters is that along with all the stuff that eventually gets seen, there's a lot of stuff that doesn't - either entire scripts/projects/concepts/ideas or stuff that ends up getting cut from final edits. Could you please share with us some of your favorite stuff that you wrote that ultimately never got used?

    That’s a tough one, not because they’ve shot every script and idea I’ve ever come up with, but because I forget stuff almost as soon as we complete a project. (My brain has limited storage capacity.) As you might imagine, lots and lots of ideas—appropriate, inappropriate, bizarre and just plain foolish—get pitched and written along the way. I never throw anything away, because sooner or later someone might like it. (I learned this from Fozzie.) Sorry I can’t be more specific.



    5. From Dwayne (Me) : Having the Muppet news man on the new Muppets.com is great. Is it ever a challenge to write for him, because it has all been done before, or does have in the green screen background open up a whole new world for him so to speak.

    Watch Muppets.com for more Newsman in the coming months. And expect to be surprised…..Although if you expect to be surprised, can you really be surprised? Or does that kind of defeat the whole “surprised” concept? Hmmm. Anyway, keep checking Muppets.com


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