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Wisecracking Puppets Make a Comeback i.e. Alf, Kermit

Discussion in 'On the Web' started by Chad Kermit, Jun 28, 2002.

  1. Chad Kermit

    Chad Kermit Well-Known Member

    address for article

    Wisecracking Puppets Make a Comeback

    James Di Liberto/FNC-Alien Prod.
    Paul Fusco, Alf's human half, says puppets provide lighthearted humor in grim times.
    Friday, June 28, 2002
    By Michael Y. Park

    NEW YORK — If there's anything sadder than an out-of-work actor, it's an out-of-work puppet.

    So while everyone's glad to see a human thespian make a comeback, when a puppet icon returns to the big time, you really have to give it a hand.

    Alf on Fox & Friends

    Whether they're hawking automobile insurance on TV, hobnobbing with Mets catchers or being honored with Hollywood's most famous ceremonial introduction to living-legend status, the puppets of yesteryear have seemingly invaded the media after a long absence.

    "I've been working as a bartender in Connecticut," the alien life-form known as Alf said in an interview in New York.

    After starring in a successful four-year show on NBC in the 1980s, the sassy, orange-furred creature had almost disappeared from public view, with only the occasional appearance on The Cindy Margolis Show, Talk Soup or The Love Boat: The Next Wave to remind television viewers that he hadn't returned to his home planet of Melmac.

    "He's been an out-of-work actor since the show," Alf's creator, voice and puppeteer Paul Fusco said. "He lived with Gary Coleman for a while. And they didn't give him a part for Men in Black II. He should've at least been a technical advisor."


    Kermit the Frog is as popular as ever.

    But lately it's been hard to avoid Alf, who's been the star of a series of commercials for 1-800-COLLECT and rubbing elbows with celebrities such as Mets favorite Mike Piazza. Now Alf's trying to get his own half-hour talk show on Comedy Central, where he'd interview the kind of people who think they've been abducted by aliens or who grow squashes that look like Elvis Presley.

    "He's popular again because of what he has to say," Fusco said. "He definitely has a skewed perspective."

    For example, when asked if Alf gave up eating cats because of pressure from PETA, the furry alien answered:

    "PETA? I love cats on pita. With mayo."

    Similarly, a wiseass attitude is why the dog-like Sock Puppet, formerly the Pets.com mascot, is selling car insurance, according to Brian Hakan, whose Kansas-based company represents both the puppet and Gidgey, the Chihuahua made famous in Taco Bell advertisements.

    "The public has already registered that they love this little character," Hakan said. "The question is now, how is it fed to the public?"

    The public might get a heaping helping of the microphone-wielding puppy thanks to an Emmy-winning producer who wants to develop a Sock Puppet sitcom, Hakan said.

    Brian P. Hakan Associates

    The Sock Puppet is hawking second chances for an auto-loan company.

    And for those who didn't get enough of the Spanish-spouting Chihuahua, Hakan added, she's got a possible sitcom deal too.

    Then there are the puppets that never really went away. Kermit the Frog may not have found it easy being green, but the gentle amphibian's popularity easily won him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last week.

    He will also be in a Muppets Christmas movie on NBC, and would certainly play a major role in a new Muppet show that Fox Television has in development. The Muppets are even starring in the video for the new Weezer single.

    "People love the Muppets because they were so well-loved and they cross generational lines," Juliet Blake, president of Jim Henson Television, said. "The thing about puppets is that you can get to know them quickly, because with franchise puppets like Kermit or Miss Piggy, people know who they are and have a certain expectation from these characters."

    Shows starring puppets, Blake added, also cost much less than star-powered television programs.

    Besides simple nostalgia and the bottom line, the puppet comeback also reflects a change in the American attitude, Blake said in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

    "Post Sept. 11, television has become a lot less cynical," she said.

    That's why the public appreciates the funny but honest observations that an alien like Alf makes, Fusco said.

    "In today's world, things are stranger and stranger," he said. "His comments are even more poignant today than in the '80s. People want an escape. He's a way to say, 'Hey, take it easy, people.'"
  2. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member


    Thanks for sharing the story with us. Very good read.
  3. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Cool stuff Chad - there is loads of ALF stuff coming up too, not just the new show. Theres going to be quite a bit of new merchandise and more possible shows and things.

    I'm really glad this is all happening - i kinda have to go finish my website now though cos of all this sudden spurt of activity.
  4. Foreignman

    Foreignman Well-Known Member

    Oh great, that's all the world needs right now, Alf cofee mugs, Alf ties, Alf hair gel, *Alf*abet soup, etc... I can't wait... :o
  5. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    ..... better than Gonzo thongs though !
  6. radionate

    radionate Well-Known Member

    Enough with the Gonzo thongs! LOL:p
  7. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Are Muppet programs really cheaper to make than regular ones? I doubt it because it has been a major talking point at the guild meetings that shows like Fraggle Rock could not be made today because of the expense while every member of Seinfeld has been given millions of dollars for a failed show.:confused:
  8. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Shows like Fraggle Rock or ALF, ie :- ones with specially designed sets, special equipment and a cast of lots of puppeteers would probably not be all that cheap. Thing about puppets though is that if it's just a couple of puppets performing and you use a normal TV stage it's very cheap, so something like the new ALF talk show, or the new Fox Muppet Show (where they will likely block record sketches) won't be all that more expensive.
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member


    This reminds me of a line I use alot. When I have Muley out doing things with the Ronald McDonald House events, someone will say: "Cute puppet!"

    Muley begins looking all around then saying, "Puppets?! Where, I love puppets! They're so funny and life-like..."

    Kinda dull to read, but fun in real-life.

  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    It's such a shame that classic characters like them have to go forgotten in the TV world except for gameshows and commercials. It's like OOH!! ALF!!! (substitute any muppet if you perfer) I love him!!! Just not enough to see him in his own TV show. (The same can be said, as Frogboy pointed out, with Seinfeld characters).

    Have any of you got the ALF bobbing head yet?
  11. Janice & Mokey's Man

    Janice & Mokey's Man Well-Known Member

    Yep, but if Janice or Mokey appeared in a commercial or a game show, that'd keep me happy for a while! :D
  12. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    I have seen the new ALF bobbing head doll and it is fantastic - probably the best vinyl likeness ever of him.

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