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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. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member


    Most of the episodes are on YT right now.
     
  2. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    It says that the reason Kermit only had a small part in Sex and Violence is because Jim Henson was considering not performing on the show, or not performing often, but then he performed Nigel in that special, in addition to many other characters. I don't quite understand why he would perform the lead in a pilot for a show where he was considering not performing.
     
  3. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I agree, that did seem like a contradition that didn't quite make sense. Not to mention, even then, there was the Swedish Chef and such, so it's not like Jim wouldn't have not been performing regularly on the show in some capacity, or another.

    After having finished the book, I was so choked up during the last chapter that it didn't occur to me till now that I'm a little surprised there wasn't much detail about Steve taking on Kermit after Jim's death... come to think of it, I don't recall reading anything about THE MUPPETS CELEBRATE JIM HENSON either. But oh well.
     
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    It's also interesting how when talking about Saturday Night Live, Frank oz speculated the problem with the sketches was Vash's first performer, throwing the timing off from the other performers. Rhonda Hansen only performed Vash in the first sketch, and she wasn't really in that much of the sketch (pretty much just one scene), and of course she would be replaced with Fran Brill in Vash's next appearance.
     
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    One other thing that I find particularly interesting about Jim is how his mindset seem to have shifted over the years about certain aspects of his career.

    Like first and foremost, he never intended on pursuing a career in puppetry, and he only got involved with it as a means to an end (which we pretty much already knew), and aside from SAM AND FRIENDS, really had no intentions of even continuing to do more with puppets afterwards, but after his European vacation, and seeing what a viable artform puppetry really is, sparked his interest, and inspired him to not only continue doing things with the Muppets, but trying to reinvent puppetry for future generations of audiences (which he did perfectly).

    But even more interesting is we know Jim wanted to avoid the children's entertainer stigma as much as possible, between cringing at Ed Sullivan introducing the Muppets as, "Something for the kiddies," to being apprehensive about becoming a part of SST, to even flat-out telling people that puppets aren't just for kids and reminding people he's done adult stuff as well... though by the time we get to FR, he no longer seemed to be bothered by that, and even wanted to do projects specifically for children.
     
  6. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    It's interesting that Jim Henson chose not to be a director on Sesame Street because he thought it'd slow him down as a performer, because he had directed a lot of productions he performed in, both before and after. I assume he directed every episode of Sam and Friends (well, maybe not the ones made during his trip to Europe), Time Piece, The Cube, Hey Cinderella, The Frog Prince, The Muppet Musicians of Bremen, The Dark Crystal, The Great Muppet Caper, and others.

    Many performers (both puppeteers and actors) have also acted in the works they performed in, and I would think that it'd be easier to perform and direct the same thing when you're a puppeteer, since they can watch their performances on monitors (people can also watch their own performances on monitors if they use a web cam).

    Of course I also find it interesting when a director appears as an extra in a movie they direct. I think Alfred Hitchcock was an extra in most of his movies, and Frank Oz appeared as an extra in The Muppets Take Manhattan.
     
  7. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Jim surely must have done some directing on SST; if you look at some of these old home videos (The Best of Ernie and Bert, for example), you'll see his name listed under the directed by credits.
     
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member


    Yeah I had that on the back of my mind and was going to say that but forgot.
     
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    When the book talks about The Jim Henson Hour's time slot, it says that the show had no "real competition", mentioning that it was on opposite Beauty and the Beast (which I hadn't heard of, but afterwards learned that it had at least three seasons) and Perfect Strangers and Full House. So Perfect Strangers and Full House weren't real competition? I know those shows were successful for a number of years, both of which had been on the air for a few years before. I've seen people look down on those shows and (in the case of Full House at least) question their success, but they were successful shows.
     
    heralde likes this.
  10. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    It says that throughout post-production of The Muppets Take Manhattan, Frank Oz kept asking Jim to have the opening credits say "A Frank Oz Film", and Jim just saying "we'll see" before he finally got what he wanted. But most films have "A (directors name) Film" before the title. I wonder why that might not have. I know that The Muppet Movie didn't have "A James Frawlry Film" there (it said "A Jim Henson Production", but I don't think Jim Henson produced MTM), but that's one exception.
     
  11. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I've only read this part once, but it seems the book says that David Lazer talked Jim Henson into doing The Great Muppet Caper before The Dark Crystal, by convincing ITC to agree to fund The Dark Crystal if they did another Muppet movie.

    This gets me wondering if Jim Henson let Tri-Star distribute The Muppets Take Manhattan under similar terms. Though as I've said before, Tri-Star is only briefly mentioned in the book (as distributor for Labyrinth). And Warner Bros. distributed both Follow That Bird (though that film's not mentioned in the book) and The Witches, though I don't know whether Jim would have had any say in whether a Sesame Street movie was produced, and doubt that Jim would have had the power to only do that movie if the distributor agreed to distribute a fantasy film of Jim's (and maybe The Witches was a better sell than Dark Crystal or Labyrinth since it was based on an existing book).
     
  12. MJTaylor

    MJTaylor Member

    Well it took me long enough but I finally finished reading the book last Sunday. And what a great read! Jim may well have had feet of clay but I think we can all agree he did indeed leave the world a better place. Which is what he always wanted to do.
     
    heralde likes this.
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    One thing I find interesting: It says that Jim Henson had problems with the first script for The Great Muppet Caper, which longtime Muppet writer Jerry Juhl wrote, and hired Tom Patchet and Jay Tarse to rewrite the script. And then those two wrote the first draft of The Muppets Take Manhattan, while Juhl didn't work on the films writing at all, and yet Frank Oz had problems with that first script.

    That's a bit interesting to think about. I wonder if Frank would have had a problem with MTM script if Jerry Juhl had written it. Of course I assume the reason Juhl didn't write it was because he was busy with Fraggle Rock and not because of his original GMC script (and he did help write The Cheapest Muppet Movie script later on).
     
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member


    I meant that the book said he chose not to be a director on The Muppet Show. I listed the wrong series.

    It's interesting how sales of Muppet merchandise helped fund bigger projects like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and kept the company in business when it was struggling. In fact it was sales from Muppet merchandise that helped Jim get the distribution rights to The Dark Crystal. I wonder if sales of merchandise would have allowed Jim to distribute later films himself. Or was the company not a big enough company to distribute movies? Not sure whether that would have mattered or not, but years ago I read an autobiography by Hulk Hogan which said that No Holds Barred was originally going to be independently released, until they learned that the theaters wouldn't release it without a major distributor (not sure if that was a union thing or if the major distributors would have refused to let the theaters show their movies).
     
  15. SpookyMania

    SpookyMania Member

    I bought the book on the day it was released (working at a bookstore, I get great discounts). It came out a month before I was going on a trip to California, so I told myself I'd save it for the flight.
    Except that didn't happen and I practically devoured the book in about a week or two.
    I can't express enough how much I was moved by this biography. I've looked up to Jim Henson and his works since childhood, but the man himself had always been a mystery to me. And I never realized that there really hadn't been a biography about him in all these years. As another poster said, it was like you got to know Henson as a friend, and I really loved it. A great book. Can't wait to re-read it.
     
  16. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Sorry for not posting earlier, but I got the book on its release date, and I didn't come around to read it until like a bit after Halloween, but man was it good. Even though for me the first 50ish pages not about Jim is a bit slow, but after that the book is so good that really it didn't feel like a biography, it felt like a genius fictional novel. I learned so much I never knew! I finished it early-January (I didn't have time to read it everyday) and I loved it so much. I swear I was literally in TEARS after reading the last chapter, seriously, there have only been like 4 out of the millions of books I've read where I've cried, but it was so in-depth! My only complaints are
    1. slow beginning, but after passing pg 50 it's great
    2. no FTB mention (I know Jim wasn't that involved, but come on they could've put just a paragraph

    That basically it! I recommend this to anyone and everyone, and hey there's a Richard Hunt biography in the works so there's even more fun coming up.

    Question: Who was the TMS guest star Richard Hunt badmouthed?
     
  17. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    Bumping this thread after 2 months.

    I read this book at the beginning of my summer break, and I could not have asked for a better, more detailed, more poignant, more AMAZING biography of Jim Henson and his legacy. Brian Jay Jones has done a superb job with this one.
     
  18. antsamthompson9

    antsamthompson9 Well-Known Member

    I learned that Brian Jay Jones is a member here. And it's his birthday.
     
  19. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Come on, that could be anyone, I could make an account with Dave Goelz's name, and make my avatar a picture of him, as much as someone could do the same with brianjayjones.
     
  20. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones New Member

    Nah, it's really me. (Hi Guys!)
     

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