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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. Muppet Master

    Muppet Master Well-Known Member

    Oh I forgot to ask, which guest star did Richard Hunt badmouth? I remember in the book it says that he said bad stuff about a TMS guest star, and that it was really bad for publicity, but Jim Henson forgave him anyways when Hunt came to see him, Jim just went all emotional.
  2. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    It might have been Rudolph Nureyev. There's a (non-Henson) book that mentions Nureyev making a pretty bold, tasteless remark toward Richard on set.
  3. Mario500

    Mario500 Active Member

    Hello, Brian. I have a few question about the way some people were usually referenced in "Jim Henson: The Biography". Why were Jim Henson and relatives of his usually referenced by only their first names and other folks usually referenced by only their last names after the first references to them?
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    By "correspond", I assume you mean he didn't send any notes, memos, or letters to the Children's Television Workshop, Warner Bros., the director, or anyone else involved with the creative aspects of the film, right? Though I remember seeing an interview with the films director, Ken Kwapis, where he said that he did meet with Jim Henson before the film, I haven't read the article in a long time but I think it was actually a job interview for him. I was actually surprised to learn that he had to meet with/be interviewed by Jim to direct a Sesame Street production.

    I think you've said somewhere that you got to look in the actual red book. Do you recall seeing Follow That Bird noted there in any way (I.E., "meet with potential directors for Sesame Street movie", "perform in S.S. film", etc.)? In the four years that the Red Book website has been around there have been no entries about that while seemingly everything else has been represented on the website, and the book Imagination Illustration (which is basically a book version of the website) doesn't show anything from the book about it, either (though it is listed in a timeline section at the end of the book).

    One bright side I thought about regarding the fact that not everything Jim did is mentioned in the book (though I saw one review that said it did talk about everything) is that there's still plenty of material to talk about the next time somebody does a book on Jim Henson. Though I'd like to see a book on The Jim Henson Company that heavily covers what the company did after Jim's death. Either as the main focus or with just as much focus on the post-1990 years as pre-1990.
  5. Oscarfan

    Oscarfan Well-Known Member

    That's usually the proper way of writing something.
  6. Mario500

    Mario500 Active Member

    If I were Brian, I would have not referred to folks by only their last names outside of direct quotations. I believe referring to people by either only their first names or both their first names and last names after the first references to them is more respectful toward and helpful toward readers who may not be very familiar with them.
  7. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    Ha! I KNEW that was gonna spark some conversation! Alas, while several people told the story, they would't go on the record as to WHO it was Richard was talking about, so I couldn't get it cleared for use. I now officially declare it a Muppet Fan Parlor Game.

    I made the decision early on to call him by his first name. It just seemed the right way of doing it, and certainly makes things much clearer if you're trying to talk about Jane and Jim and Lisa and Cheryl in the same sentence or same page. I certainly could have called him "Henson" every time, but it just seemed more fitting to call him "Jim," especially as everyone -- even his own kids -- calls him that.

    There's really no hard and fast rule on this. The writer just has to sorta decide what feels best and seems right. Neil Gabler, for instance, calls Disney "Walt" throughout his bio, while Robert Caro calls LBJ "Johnson." In my earlier book, I almost always called Washington Irving "Irving."

    That's correct. There was no paper trail -- that I could find -- in which Jim discussed FTB.

    I just reviewed the Red Book again to double-check this, and Jim did not reference FTB in the Red Book, either. (And yet, in a May 1983 entry, Jim did make a mention of the TV airing of "Big Bird in China," in which he performed exactly one character. Why one production and not the other, then? Beats me.)

    As I said earlier, perhaps a Mark Lewisohn-type scholar will come along at some point and write the 5,000 page, three-volume treatment. Heck, I know I'd buy it.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2014
    MikaelaMuppet and Muppet Master like this.
  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I have a fanzine titled "Richard Hunt, Gay Muppeteer," which includes a mention of something Nureyev supposedly said to Hunt. It didn't talk about the repercussions, but I figured that this was probably the, er, event.

    I can understand nobody wanting to go on record on this matter. I sure wouldn't!
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Not only one character, but also only one scene.

    So did they make you a special copy of the red book, or did they just give away the only one?
  10. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    One of the very first documents I ever received from Karen Falk was a color photocopy of the complete Red Book. The original is well protected and filed away in the Henson Company archives. (I saw it, and got to page through it, but never used it as my formal reference. I wore out my photocopy instead.)
    MikaelaMuppet and Muppet Master like this.
  11. Mario500

    Mario500 Active Member

    Thank you for responding to my first question, Brian. I have two more I hope you don't mind answering:

    How do you feel about referring to people by only their last names in general?

    Did you find phrases like "Jim and Juhl" and "Jim and Oz" odd while writing them and/or reading them since you could have used Jim and Jerry and Jim and Frank instead?
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  12. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    I have no issue with it whatsoever. In my first book, I referred to everyone, even my "main character," by their last names.

    Nah. Once you decide that's what you're gonna do, ya gotta own it. My decision was to call Jim by his first name, and everyone else (with the exception of family members) by their last--and once I made that call, editorially I had to stick with it, or it would've been really jarring to the reader if I kept moving back and forth (especially when, at times, there may have been two Jerrys in play -- it could have turned into a mouthful: "Jim, Frank, Jerry Juhl, and Jerry Nelson"). And I don't think I would ever have referred to David Lazer, for instance, by writing, "Jim and David." To me, that was just too informal for someone like Lazer.

    But again, that's just me. I could have called Jim "Henson" the entire time as well, though I actually think that would have changed the tenor of the narrative slightly ("Henson did this...Henson did that..." as opposed to, "Jim did this..."). But that's just my opinion; your mileage may vary.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Question for Brian:

    Was there anything about Jim Henson or his work that you were hoping to find out about when researching/interviewing for the book, even if it's something that you wouldn't have actually put in the book, that you were not able to find the answers you were looking for?
  14. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    I really had very few pre-conceived notions going into it. However, I did have people ask me to "find out about the drugs!" Some of the Muppet stuff is just SO crazy and weird and wonderfully bizarre, that people think that Jim and the gang had to be on drugs. So, I was at least on the lookout for that, and would ask about it, to really no avail ("a little grass," Jerry Nelson told me, but that was about it.)

    However, as I was reading through some archival material, I read an interview in which someone reported the story of Jim's LSD trip. But that person wasn't there -- it was a story they had only heard, but unless I could verify it with anyone who was there, I wasn't going to be able to use it. So I asked Oz about it. He laughed and said, "Oh yeah!" and then told me the story. It turned out Jerry Nelson was there, too, so when I saw Jerry, I asked him about it, and he told me the exact same story. So: bingo. I had it, and could use it.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
  15. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Wow welcome to Muppet Central Mr. Jones! I loved the book, it was very innerspring. I heard someone say that you where working on another Muppet/Henson related book, but they did not have any more information can you give us a little clue?
  16. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    Sure. It's the guy in this photo who's NOT Jim.

    CaseytheMuppet likes this.
  17. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Wow! that is awesome and what a wonderful tribute that book will be I'm sure.

    When you where doing Jim's book did you have access to all seasons of the Muppet Show. I'm trying to start a movement where fans contact Disney and beg them to release seasons four and five of the Muppet Show.
    Muppet Master likes this.
  18. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    While the Henson Company probably has them in their archives for their own internal use and reference, I relied on the three seasons that were already out on DVD, and then pulled the rest off YouTube. (If you're asking if I got copies of all the seasons of TMS from Disney, the answer is no.)
    dwayne1115 likes this.
  19. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    That's cool I know this may have been asked,but Was there annything you learned about Jim that shocked or surprised you?
  20. brianjayjones

    brianjayjones Member

    Sure. There were two big things.

    First, Jim was almost pathologically conflict-averse. You suspect it, sure, because Jim’s such a decent guy, but I had no idea the sheer extent of it. Jim wouldn’t resolve debates with his attorneys, couldn’t fire or discipline his staff, and wouldn’t even bicker with his wife, Jane. As Jane herself told me, “it was fight or flight, and Jim always chose flight.”

    Second, I was surprised and impressed with what a fantastic businessman he was. Again, it makes sense; you can’t own a company with workshops in London and New York without being good at what you do. But Jim was really good, even from a young age. He was seventeen when he started his company, and from day one, he knew his work had value. While still in his twenties, he was offered a very large sum of money to sell one of his characters outright, and Jim refused, telling his agent, “Bernie, never sell anything I own.”

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