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Your Thoughts: "Jim Henson: The Biography" by Brian Jay Jones

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by Phillip, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Cookie Chris

    Cookie Chris Member

    I believe in the "Mucking Fuppets" chapter, Brian misspelt the name of the SNL sketch, "Land of Gorch", as "Land of Gortch". Usually, everywhere I read about the sketch it's usually spelled as "Gorch". I may be wrong, though.

    Anyway, I checked the book out from my public library nearly three weeks ago, and it was a spectacularly-researched biography about the life of Jim Henson from beginning to end. It definitely provided me an insightful into his personality as well as deepen my knowledge about his flaws through Jones's writing made him more endearing, tragic, and yet human. It definitely took me away from the countless movies, television series, and television specials he and his colleagues created that I commonly associate him with. It was definitely a pleasure to enjoy the involvement and input from his friends and collaborators through reading the quotes and comments from Frank Oz, the late Jane Henson, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Jerry Juhl, Bernie Brillstein, and David Lazer among others. This goes without saying that I loved reading the behind-the-scenes production details of Sam and Friends, The Muppet Show, The Storyteller, and The Jim Henson Hour. I'm a sucker for that type of information.

    Towards the end, it was depressing reading the gruesome background surrounding his tragic death, but yet so inspiring with the mention of the "Just One Person" song and his enduring legacy. So, all in all, I highly recommend the biography. It's definitely one I've been hungry for quite some time. So, I tip my hat off to Brian Jay Jones for three fruitful years of research!
     
  2. MikaelaMuppet

    MikaelaMuppet Well-Known Member

    Is it a good book?
     
  3. Cookie Chris

    Cookie Chris Member

    Yes, it is.
     
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member


    Actually, it's kinda right. The original scripts and such spelled it as "Gortch" (and there is one segment where Scred gets a package which has that spelling written on it), but most of the official reference books and such have spelled it as "Gorch". I think the more common one is now considered correct due to the fact that that spelling has been used for so many years. I'd prefer the original spelling, but Muppet Wiki uses the spelling that's more commonly out there (while still acknowledging the original spelling).

    In fact, The Mighty Favog's name was originally spelled as "Fuvog", but nearly every reference spells it the other way. Though I think the original spelling is used in some Red Book articles as well as Imagination Illustrated.
     
  5. MikaelaMuppet

    MikaelaMuppet Well-Known Member

    Street Gang is also a great book.
     
  6. CanaceErinn

    CanaceErinn Member

    It's extremely good! Very thorough; not too many pictures, though if you want that, I recommend "Jim Henson: The Works," which is a very good coffee-table book. But still, I'm a die-hard Labyrinth fan, and even I learned new things in the chapter discussing the film. The book does not go into every single Henson project, but considering how much of that there is, it's understandable. I enjoyed learning about stuff I never knew much about before, like the initial deal with Disney and how that fell through, and the breakout of Sam and Friends.

    Btw, has anyone been able to find the Wonkins and Willkins puppets mentioned at the beginning? Can't imagine how much those would be worth today...
     
  7. bendpuppets

    bendpuppets New Member

    I've been listening to the audiobook version while building. Love Kirby Heyborne's read on the manuscript. The thing is 21 hours long. Haven't even gotten to the Muppet Movie yet.
     
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Some time ago the Tough Pigs people hosted a panel about the book, and now the event has been posted on YouTube by The Nerdist YouTube channel.

     
  9. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    I love that Prairie Dawn was there. She hasn't been on Sesame Street in so long.
     
    Bridget likes this.
  10. misspiggy5260

    misspiggy5260 Well-Known Member

    I just got it today. I'm gonna read it later.
     
  11. Bridget

    Bridget Well-Known Member

    Hahaha! "I've been in my box! I like it in there, it's dark. It's only me!"
    "What happened to her? Oh, she's in a box!"

    This is sweet, I love how the puppets can sorta freely be themselves and more open to the real world, in programs such as this. Prairie seriously opens herself up, as well as Fran. I adored the laugh! This book I shall be sending for soon.
     
  12. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I got it for Christmas. So throughout the day, I would go straight to particular parts I wanted to read, back and forth, and then a few hours ago started reading from the beginning (though I'm only a few pages in to the second chapter).

    As I was browsing, I did notice one mistake, which is one that many fans have made for years. It refers to the fifth episode of The Jim Henson Hour as "The Ratings Game", which for years we all made (due to Danny Horn making up titles for the MuppeTelevision episodes in a Muppetzine guide) and only earlier this year learned the actual titles for the episodes. As this was in the works for a few years, the author probably referenced Muppet Wiki or some other site before Muppet Wiki corrected the episode titles and he didn't think to double-check Henson Company Archives files for titles.

    Lots of cool stuff, especially in the chapter about the planned merger to Disney.
     
    muppetlover123 likes this.
  13. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Heh, turns out I was right, the book was under the tree this year.

    I know I'll never finish it in this lifetime, though, but it's still nice to have and read.
     
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I'm four chapters in and it's so great. There's a lot of interesting stuff I didn't know. All this time I thought that the entire run of Sam and Friends was two episodes a day, five days a week, but the book mentions there were times when the number of shows per week were different, as well as timeslot changes. And there were even at least two times when the show was canceled, only to be uncanceled a day later due to complaints from fans (I wonder how the station took it when Jim Henson decided to end it for good... The book does acknowledge that fans were unhappy, but also that Jim didn't notice too much).

    And there are some facts mentioned that are different from what I've read in interviews. Makes me wonder if those old sources were wrong or if this books sources were. Like it says that Jerry Nelson was hired for a bit before Frank Oz was drafted, while all other sources I've seen on the subject (including interviews with Jerry and Frank) say that he was hired because Frank was drafted.

    And it's interesting to know that Jim Henson first provided voices for his characters in 1957. Actually I had read in the old book The Story of Jim Henson: Creator of the Muppets that it took awhile for the Muppets to get their own voices, but I figured that it didn't take that long (and over time I thought that might have been a mistake, that the characters got voices shortly after starting but alternated between talking in their own voices and lip-synching). And I often wonder, in the days when the Muppets didn't have their own voices, did the audience know which character was which (did Jim care?)? Especially, did they know which character Sam was?

    It's also interesting to know that a few of the companies the Muppets did commercials for almost tried to retain or buy the rights to the characters in the commercials. And when it mentions that Jim and Jane didn't receive any money from sales of the Wilkins and Wontkins puppets, I wondered if those were done without permission. The Ideal Toys are often cited as the first official Muppet products, or first officially licensed ones, even though there were some Wilkins and Wontkins products out there. But then when the book gets to the Ideal toys, it says that Jim had approved of the Wilkins Coffee puppets.
     
  15. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    One thing that's kinda funny, and I should check other Henson biographies to see if this occurs in others as well, is that Jim Henson, as well as his family, is often referred to by first name, while other people are often referred to by last name. For example, if it talks about Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, it'll refer to them as "Jim and Juhl", or if it's Jim Henson and Richard Hunt, it'll call them "Jim and Hunt", and so on.
     
  16. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Usually in writing like articles or biographies, you'd use someone's last name after their first mention. I.E. they'd use "Richard Hunt" when they introduce him into the story, then use "Hunt" for the rest.

    I'm guessing since Jim is the main subject of the book, there's a rule saying you can use his first name, but I don't know it.
     
  17. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I am amazed by how long each chapter is. Not that it's a bad thing, but it feels like each chapter takes at least an hour to get through. Even if I don't stop reading to do something else like eat or go to the bathroom. I was reading one chapter while watching a two-hour movie (okay, I wasn't really paying attention to the movie) and it seems I got through the chapter when the movie was near over. A lot of times if I feel the need to stop reading and I'm not even done with a chapter I do my best to stop at a good point where I can remember where I was last.
     
  18. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    Someone on the TP Forum made this point, and I completely agree, which is that they love reading the book and then being find almost everything it mentions to watch. I've been doing that too; I just read the chapter with the Sex and Violence stuff and then watched it. And now that I've hit the MS chapter, I feel like watching some of season 1 again.
     
  19. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    I love how Jim had such a close family, and when it talks about his brother passing away made him dive into his work more. Sounds a lot like me when I have lost loved ones.
     
  20. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Well, I have a couple of chapters left before finishing. It's great.

    The Muppet Mindset review had said that this talks about every production Jim worked on, but it doesn't. There's a few I was curious about that aren't mentioned, at least according to the index (unless they are and just weren't noted there... After all, thePlay-Along Videos are briefly mentioned but not in the index). I wasn't expecting it to talk about every Sesame Street special Jim did, but it should have written about Follow That Bird (since that is a movie). It doesn't talk about any of the Muppet specials from 1979-1986 (I didn't even notice their lack of mention until after I'd gotten through those parts of the timeline). Surprisingly, it doesn't say anything about The Christmas Toy. I'm also surprised that, while it does mention most of The Jim Henson Hour specials, it doesn't talk about Lighthouse Island, Monster Maker, or The Secrets of the Muppets.

    The book also doesn't mention the Muppet Meeting Films, which I'm a little surprised by, though it does mention other industrial films (mainly the IBM films). I'm not too surprised that it doesn't talk about Little Muppet Monsters or The Ghost of Faffner Hall.

    After reading so much about how the critics reacted negatively towards the MuppeTelevison portions of The Jim Henson Hour, I now wonder if that format would have worked better as a made-for-video series (It probably would have worked better on MTV or Adult Swim). It says that Jim thought the show would be better with themed shows, but all of the episodes that don't revolve around a theme are my favorites (my favorite of the themed ones being the Fitness episode, the others being a little weak). It's also interesting how the boom refers to "two fifteen-minute Muppet segments"... Isn't it all just one half-hour of Muppets, counting commercial breaks? It's not like the fifteen minutes before or after the commercial break were completely separate episodes.
     

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