Tagged: Muppets

Kermit, Ricky Gervais Begin Shooting The Muppets…Again!

The-Muppets-Again_450BURBANK, Calif. (January 30, 2013) – The filmmaking team behind 2011’s celebrated film The Muppets reunites as Disney’s The Muppets … Again! kicked off production last week in London. The all-new global Muppets adventure welcomes Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey to the mayhem, along with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Walter and rest of the Muppets. The film is directed by James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords, Da Ali G Show), who was just nominated for a BAFTA for The Muppets (Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer), and produced by the Academy Award®-nominated team of David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman (The Fighter, The Proposal). With a screenplay by Bobin and Nicholas Stoller (The Five-Year Engagement), who is also executive producer with John Scotti, The Muppets … Again! will feature music from Academy Award®-winning songwriter Bret McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords), who won an Oscar® for best original song for “The Muppets” (“Man or Muppet”). The new film will hit the big screen March 21, 2014.

“It’s great to be back working with the Muppets,” said Bobin, “some of them even remember my name occasionally now. As for the movie, it’s a tip of the hat to the old-school crime capers of the ’60s, but featuring a frog, a pig, a bear and a dog—no panthers, even pink ones—along with the usual Muppet-y mix of mayhem, music and laughs.”

Disney’s The Muppets … Again! takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine—the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit—and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two, portrayed by Ricky Gervais, creator of “Derek” and the Golden Globe®- and Emmy®-winning series The Office and Extras. The film stars Golden Globe-, Emmy- and SAG Award®-winning actress and writer Tina Fey (30 Rock, Mean Girls, Date Night) as Nadya, a feisty prison guard, and Emmy Award winner Ty Burrell (Modern Family) as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon.

Said Kermit the Frog, “This movie takes us places we’ve never been before. And trust me—this frog has never seen so much international flavor. I think audiences will eat it up—the entertainment, that is.”

Featuring a slew of surprising celebrity cameos, Disney’s The Muppets … Again! will shoot on location in London and in Hollywood, as well as in the famed Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, just outside of London.

Steve Ditko – Creativity Just Beyond Reality

The Creativity of Steve Ditko  • Craig Yoe • With essays by Mykal Banta, Mike Gold, Jack C. Harris, Paul Levitz, and Amber Stanton • IDW/Yoe Books • $39.99 retail

It’s only fitting that I start a review of a book about Steve Ditko by raising an ethical question. Is it proper for a critic to review a book in which he has an essay, no matter how brilliant, poignant and vital that essay might be?

I don’t care. The latest tome from YoeBooks, The Creativity of Steve Ditko is so magnificent such petty concerns such as objectivity do not matter. Anything I can do to help direct the masses towards this effort is in service to a greater cause and, besides, I don’t get royalties.

There have been a number of books about Ditko, one of America’s most important comics creators who is as reclusive as he is gifted. In fact, this one is a sequel to Yoe’s The Art of Ditko, which I haven’t read – not because I’m not in it, but because I’m a cheap bastard. Creativity runs over 200 over-sized pages and weighs over three and one-half pounds, supporting my argument for electronic publishing as I suspect the majority of its audience consists of aging baby boomers who can only keep the book on our laps for a short period before reaching for Depends. I’m hard-pressed to suggest what Yoe could have cut.

There’s tons of artwork, including lots of large reprints of Ditko’s work including many full-length reprints of sundry horror and mystery stories. Steve always said he wants his work to speak for itself; here, it doesn’t speak – it screams. Loudly. The photographs are particularly interesting, as Steve hasn’t been seen in public since roughly the time we crawled out of the sea.

As one would expect from the man who ran one of America’s foremost design studios after his stint as creative director, vice president and general manager of Jim Henson’s Muppets with enough awards, honors, yadda yadda yadda, to sink the Titanic, The Creativity of Steve Ditko is as exquisitely designed as a fifth dimensional cathedral. I particularly admire Craig’s patience: it must have taken him forever to find so many top-shelf Ditko stories from Charlton that were actually printed on-register.

I don’t know if Steve would like this book. My feeling is, probably not. He simply doesn’t like the attention, although I’m unlikely to debate the right to privacy issue with him. But whether he likes it or not, Ditko deserves that attention – and he deserves all of the effort that Craig Yoe has lavished upon him.

And those essays are great.


Jerry Nelson: 1934-2012

This is a Muppet News Flash: Puppeteer Jerry Nelson, the man behind Sesame Street muppet Count von Count, died yesterday at age 78. Nelson, a cast member of the show for over 40 years, also brought to life the characters Herry Monster, Fat Blue, Sherlock Hemlock and the Amazing Mumford.


Nelson’s first job with the Muppets was The Jimmy Dean Show in 1965 as Rowlf the Dog’s right hand man, literally. After learning that the Muppets were used on Sesame Street, he rejoined Henson and Oz as a puppeteer, beginning in the second season. He received a number of his major characters early in the show’s run, including the Sherlock Holmes parody Sherlock Hemlock, a hapless magician named The Amazing Mumford, and the overly strong but sensitive Herry Monster (1970–2012). His most famous character is the arithmomaniac vampire Count von Count, which he voiced until his death. He was also the first puppeteer to perform Mr. Snuffleupagus. Jerry Nelson also made a cameo appearance as the giant in the “Sesame Street News” story of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Nelson also performed many characters on The Muppet Show, including Sgt. Floyd Pepper (the bassist of the Electric Mayhem band), Pigs in Space star Dr. Julius Strangepork, the boomerang fish-throwing Lew Zealand, Kermit the Frog’s nephew Robin the Frog, Gonzo’s girlfriend Camilla the Chicken, and the Phantom of the Muppet Show, Uncle Deadly. On Fraggle Rock he performed Gobo Fraggle, Pa Gorg and Marjory the Trash Heap.

Nelson has also performed character voices in Sesame Street cartoons and Private Public from Sheep in the Big City.

He reprised the role of the announcer in [[[The Muppets]]]. His final performance as the said announcer was part of the Jim Henson’s Musical World concert at Carnegie Hall.

Our condolences to his family, friends and fans.


REVIEW: The Muppets

When The Muppets opened in November, I wrote the following on my blog and it holds up now that the film is out this week on home video from Walt Disney.

There has been a tremendous amount of talk in our world about reboots, successful or not, and I just got back from experiencing the year’s single best relaunch of a tired property. Deb, Kate, her guy Mike, and I saw The Muppets and pretty much smiled all the way through, guffawing with pleasantly regularity and wiping away a tear every now and then.

Ladies and gentlemen, please pay attention, because this is how it’s done.

It starts with understanding the property, what has worked in the past and what has not. More than that, though, it is loving the property and all it is about. No one at Disney had the first clue what to do with the property since buying the characters from Jim Henson’s heirs. Yes, Henson wanted the House of Mouse to take care of his people after he was gone, and they’ve held on to them without really having anyone loving them. (more…)

The Muppets Send Up The Hunger Games

The Muppets Send Up The Hunger Games

Exemplifying brilliant timing, Walt Disney has released a new parody trailer, this time skewering the eagerly awaited The Hunger Games, opening March 23. Meantime, it reminds us how funny the Muppets can be, just in time for their recent film, The Muppets, to come out on home video on March 20.

The Muppets will be available in a variety of formats including The Wocka Wocka Value Pack, containing the movie on Blu-ray high-definition, DVD and Digital Copy (3 discs) plus a download card for the film’s soundtrack from Walt Disney Records.

The Muppets Comes to DVD on March 20

If you missed seeing the return of The Muppets in, well, The Muppets, then you get another chance when the movie is released on video this March.

Director James Bobin revealed all the Easter Egg inspirations found throughout the delightful film in an interview and it’s worth a look.

Here’s the press release:

BURBANK, Calif., January 20, 2012 –– One of the year’s best-loved family comedies and among the best reviewed films of 2011, Disney’s The Muppets, starring Jason Segel, Academy Award®-nominee Amy Adams, and favorite celebrity couple Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy — debuts March 20 on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and On-Demand formats. A must-own movie the entire family can enjoy, Disney’s The Muppets in-home release includes the DVD and music soundtrack packaged together and also offered as the ultimate Muppets experience, a ‘Wocka-Wocka Value Pack,’ which contains the movie on Blu-ray high definition, DVD and Digital Copy (three discs), plus a download card which allows fans to own all the songs from the film’s hugely popular soundtrack.

Disney’s The Muppets Blu-ray Combo Pack, with its flawless picture and pitch perfect sound, comes with a fantastic slate of bonus content including the laugh out loud “The Longest Blooper Reel Ever Made (In Muppet History––We Think).” The exciting release also includes the hilarious featurette “A Little Screen Test on the Way to the Read Through,” which follows Jason Segel, Kermit, The Great Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and others as they get ready for the first day of production, and much more fun. (more…)

JOHN OSTRANDER: Seeing Movies As Movies

I read an article in Entertainment Weekly about the collective failure of the Christmas movie season overall. Some, like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, did well and some, such as The Adventures of Tintin, did much better overseas (where Tintin is a better known commodity) than domestically. EW opined a variety of possible reasons, including the economy and the concept that there wasn’t a real “tent-pole” movie. However, there were some really good films out – Hugo (which I loved), for one, and The Muppets. I have a thought on another possible contributing factor.

I know a number of people who will wait for the DVD of a movie or to see it on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. It seems to me a whole generation would almost prefer to see it that way now. And I can’t help thinking that’s a mistake.

Mind you, I’ve seen many movies that I missed in the theater via DVD, Sometimes, it doesn’t matter. A smaller intimate film can work just as well on a small screen. I probably won’t get to see Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy until it gets to my TV screen and I think that will be alright. However, I know other films suffer.

For example, I’d seen John Ford’s The Searchers for years on the small screen and loved it. One of John Wayne’s best performances (and, yes, folks, the man could act). Several years ago, I got a chance to see it in a movie theater in a restored print. The impact was startling. Yes, I knew about John Wayne’s charisma but you don’t really feel it until you’ve seen a close up of Wayne in this movie and the image is the size of a house. And the final shot – Wayne with his back to us, framed by a door that slowly shuts – well, until you’ve seen it on the big screen, you haven’t really experienced it.

Seeing the climax of Casablanca, with those big head shots of Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, and Paul Heinreid cross cut from one to the other, has far greater emotional impact on the big screen.

It’s not just the images, either. With the surround sound you get in the theaters today, you’re really enveloped in the movie. Think of the opening of Star Wars, the original one (a.k.a. Episode IV, a.k.a. A New Hope) – the blast of the initial theme, the crawl that recedes into infinite horizon, and then the first space ship darting out and it seems forever only to be followed with an even bigger space ship, and the sound and the music and all sucking you in. Magic. The first time I experienced that, I was hooked.

I don’t see how you can get that on a smaller screen. When I watch movies on DVD that I’ve seen in the theaters, I bring with me the memories of what that theater experience was and it enriches the viewing that I’m having with on the smaller screen. If it comes to a choice to seeing a movie only on DVD or a movie channel or not to see it at all, I’ll take the small screen experience and do it happily. It gives me an experience of the movie – but I know that it’s not the same as seeing it in the movie theater where it was intended to be seen in the first place.

There’s one final aspect of the theater experience for movies and I’ll be the first to say it’s not always positive – it’s a communal experience. It’s a shared experience with others. Yes, some of those others can be boorish morons. I’ve had the people near me who continue to chat through the film, having a running commentary about the film or about some imbecilic portion of their daily life that could just as easily wait until they were outside. It’s become a good reason why I should never be allowed to carry a gun. Yes, I’ve had people who forget or refuse to turn off their cel phones and who chat or text through the film, oblivious and/or indifferent to the fact there are other people in the theater. Maybe if they could pull their heads out of their digital asses, we’d all be happier.

But I’ve also been with audiences that add immeasurably to the experience. We laugh, gasp, cry, cheer and so on together. The film finds bonds in common between us and that is something devoutly to be wished in this day and age when so many things around us keep tearing us apart, putting up walls, and suggesting we are all enemies.

The people making the movies meant for us to see it in a theater. That’s where its truest experience lies. I’ve heard of so many people today who simply shrug that off and all I’m saying is that I think that’s a mistake and they’re shortchanging themselves.

Treat yourself if you can. Go out to the movies.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

Review: ‘The Muppets’

muppets_group_master_v5flat_r-300x229-4252206There has been a tremendous amount of talk in our world about reboots, successful or not, and I just got back from experiencing the year’s single best relaunch of a tired property. Deb, Kate, her guy Mike, and I saw The Muppets and pretty much smiled all the way through, guffawing with pleasantly regularity and wiping away a tear every now and then.

Ladies and gentlemen, please pay attention, because this is how it’s done.