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Old 09-24-2008, 09:15 AM   #1
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Post Muppet Re-launch & Jim Henson's name off the DHS Balloon

I love the muppets - based on usernames here, I think others do too. I read some interesting stuff on screamscape.com about Jim Henson's name being removed from the balloon by MuppetVision 3D (http://www.screamscape.com/html/wdw_..._studios.htm):

While I haven’t heard an official story yet, I was given a good theory about why Jim Henson’s name has been removed from the attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. According to this older news article from when Disney purchased the Muppets, they simply bought the Muppets characters along with Bear and the Big Blue House from The Jim Henson Company back in 2004. It’s a common mistaken believe that Disney bought the entire company, but they did not. However part of that deal also included a four-year consulting contract with the Jim Henson Co., as well as a three-year production deal to make new films or TV shows. It’s thought that The Jim Henson Company may have even requested that Disney remove and stop using the Jim Henson name in an effort to clear up some of this confusion how that the consulting deal is over that they have cut their ties with Disney.

Meanwhile, just in time for the end earlier this year, Disney launched an all new version of the Muppets.com website that also has no mention of Jim Henson’s name (that I can see at least...). Not long afterwards, Disney also announced a deal with writer Jason Segel and helmer Nick Stoller to produce the next Muppet film for them by 2010.

Clearly Disney is taking ownership of the Muppets for this all new generation. It seems this is just the start of Disney’s efforts to ramp up public awareness of the Muppets all over again for their next big marketing push, which will include a new Christmas special to be broadcast on NBC this December. It’s taken a few years for Disney to figure out how to fit the Muppets in to the mix with the rest of the Disney characters, but it seems clear now that they have a plan and it is being put into action.

So far the early efforts, including all new viral videos on YouTube have been a huge success. There are all new YouTube videos being posted by actual Muppets who have made their own channels such as Sam the Eagle posting as PatrioticEagle, Statler & Waldof posting as HeckleU247, The Swedish Chef posting as Deumnborkborkbork, Beeker posting as MeepMeepMeepow, and Gonzo posting as WeirdoWhatever.
Here is a direct link to the recent NY Times article about what is upcoming for the Muppets (http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2008/091808.shtml) and a blurb below:

Poor Miss Piggy. Like most aging stars in Hollywood, that prima donna pig, along with most of her Muppet pals, has struggled to find substantial roles. Almost nobody under the age of 30 remembers “Pigs in Space.” All everyone wants to talk about is this Hannah Montana person. What’s a down-on-her-luck puppet to do?

Disney will be releasing two new Muppet books, "It's Hard Out Here For A Shrimp" by Pepe and "The Diva Code" by Miss Piggy.
The Walt Disney Company feels her pain. Since it bought Miss Piggy, Kermit and crew in 2004, executives have struggled to figure out how to put them to work. Efforts in 2005 to rejuvenate the furry creatures created by Jim Henson sputtered as the Muppets got lobbed between corporate divisions, and a new television series — a parody of “America’s Next Top Model” called “America’s Next Muppet” — died in the planning stages.

Now Disney is giving it another go by revving up the full power of its culture-creating engines. Instead of the take-it-slow approach, this time the Muppets are getting the “Hannah Montana” treatment, being blasted into every pop-culture nook and cranny that the company owns or can dream up. The balcony blowhards Statler and Waldorf would be impressed with the ambitiousness of the plan — even if it does come with equally outsize challenges.

“We think there is a Muppet gene in everybody,” said Lylle Breier, a Disney executive who is the new general manager of Muppets Studio.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:28 AM   #2
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Removing Jim Henson's name = Blasphemy in my book. I'm surprised the Jim Henson Company wanted his name removed, but looking at what Disney is and wants to do with the characters, it's not surprising. It's sad...

While I love the Muppets, blasting them into "every nook and cranny of pop culture" is probably making Mr. Henson spin in his grave.
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Old 09-24-2008, 09:29 AM   #3
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Default Mmmm Bork Bork Bork

DH is at work, but I can't wait for him to see this!

"The Swedish Chef posting as Deumnborkborkbork" - looks like he was pretty close at speaking Swedish Chef!
Shelli (AKA Mrs. Bork Bork)

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Old 09-24-2008, 09:36 AM   #4
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I am actually all for more Muppet promotion. The characters are great, as the movies have been (our fav is still Muppets' Wizard of Oz, tho the originals are great too). A few Muppet specials on TV? Bring 'em on! Re-releasing compilations of the MUppet Show? We now own the first three seasons. It's time to re-introduce the Muppets to the current generation, complete with their wry wit and wacky antics.

Removing the Henson name is purely cosmetic, since the characters have his stamp all over them. So long as Disney remains true to the Henson vision of the Muppets, I think generations to come can enjoy them as much as those of us who remember "Pigs in Space" in its first airing do.

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Old 09-24-2008, 09:53 AM   #5
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Can't wait to check out the Christmas special!

Walt Disney World visits: 37 since 1986
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Old 09-24-2008, 10:14 AM   #6
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Default Muppet Treasure Island

We just borrowed this from the library - we all loved it!!

I think incorporating the muppets can be tastefully done. We don't have cable TV *gasp! I know!!* but my daughter knows about jojo and goliath, the blue bear, and the little einsteins from kids at daycare. Once there is more of the muppets media around, it will be easy to get into.

The other thing is, the Muppets might appeal to families that have boy children. My sister inlaw was a little put off by all the princess girlie-ness of WDW and lamented that there wasn't enough for her son but Cars, nemo and Pirates.

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Old 09-24-2008, 11:03 AM   #7
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Jim Henson was an amazingly talented guy. Whatever the reason, I'm disappointed his name won't be directly associated with the show any more. And as for a new movie at the theater, I can see why after 20 years it may be needed. But I still appreciate knowing the current show was actually made by Jim Henson (although he didn't live to finish the post-production work).

I really, really have to buy the original Muppet Show DVD sets as soon as I save up some money. I've been meaning to, but it's been a bit of a tough year.
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:42 AM   #8
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I'm sad to see his name removed. It was more of a tribute thing to me because Jim Henson will always BE the muppets to me. It is kind of like erasing his legacy a bit. Silly, I know because he is in every character.

Just finally found copy of The Muppets Christmas for my kids last year. I guess I should mention that they are 25 and 18. Two things Disney and Muppets have in common; you never outgrow them.
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Old 09-24-2008, 01:41 PM   #9
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Removing the name makes sense - the Jim Henson company (if it still exists in any named form) wouldn't want it's name on an asset it no longer owned or controlled. It would be the same if Disney sold of a character (like Oswald Rabbit).

My fear is that Disney will tame down the muppets, just as the modern Mickey is far less interesting than his quirky, impish, get-into-trouble self of the '30s & '40s.


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Old 09-24-2008, 01:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by HauntedPirate View Post
Removing Jim Henson's name = Blasphemy in my book. I'm surprised the Jim Henson Company wanted his name removed, but looking at what Disney is and wants to do with the characters, it's not surprising. It's sad...

While I love the Muppets, blasting them into "every nook and cranny of pop culture" is probably making Mr. Henson spin in his grave.
Couldn't have said it better!!

imho, they should start by bringing back The Muppet Show for today's generation of kids instead of whatever the heck it is they're doing
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