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Welcome to the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational blog since Kermit left just a little bit of the swamp in his pants.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Muppet Question # 13 Answered

On Thursday, 27th April, 2006 at 3:58:05 AM, SBR emailed me and said ...

I thought I'd play the Muppet question game. So here it is: What are your views on the Disney corporation's purchase of the muppets?




I know it's been a long time since you asked this question, but I never intended to let it slide. I hope you'll agree that I've been doing my research.

When I first heard the news (so many years ago now) that after many, many failed attempts to buy The Muppets, the Walt Disney Corporation had finally been successful in bidding for the franchise, my blood ran cold for a second. I knew that the potential for Disney to simply 'bury' The Muppets once they had them in their possession was very real. But I also heard that Brian Henson (Jim's son and Chairman of the company) was assuring Muppet fans that the sale wasn't going to spell the end for The Muppets ... but, rather, a new beginning.

I got a lot of encouragement from reading this article:

TV.com: Do you collaborate with Disney very closely, or do they completely decide how to use the Muppets?

Brian Henson: We transferred control because they are a much bigger company; we mainly wanted to keep the characters alive in the theme park area. They are very slow and choosy, and right now they are kind of working on what they want to see the Muppets do. Right now nothing is in production.

TV.com: Do you still do the actual puppetry if there is a production?

Brian Henson: There is actually no "us and them." We trained all of the puppeteers, and some work here and some work there. So there really is no us and them. ... I have tried to bring the Jim Henson Company back to creating new and original characters and allow Sesame Workshop to be the franchise supporters for the Sesame characters and Disney for the Muppets, so Henson can get back to creating new and cool stuff.

So there you go. If Brian's not too concerned, I'm happy enough to trust that he knows what he's doing.

Not to sound patronising (because it's a good question), but I guess I don't want to be one of those people who rabbits on and on about their favourite show long after it's wrapped up permanently, whinging and complaining like some sort of geeky loser.

*looks around self-consciously*

*coughs*


But the thing is, Disney has already made new things possible, even if it's just releasing two Muppet TV movies that went straight to DVD in Australia (Kermit's Swamp Years and Muppets Wizard Of Oz). But at least they were produced! New Muppet merchandise has been scheduled (although details are sketchy at best), certain characters have made appearances on various American TV shows (such as Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, and the US version of Renovation Rescue; Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - in addition to landing lucrative and high-profile sponsorship deals such as a series of TV ads for Pizza Hut during the Superbowl) to re-introduce them to the public eye (Miss Piggy even conducted a live-via-satellite interview on Rove Live in Australia), a regular comical film-reviewing video file began airing online featuring critics Statler and Waldorf discussing the week's cinematic releases (in their own special style), and a new six-part Muppet series parodying America's Next Top Model (entitled America's Next Muppet) has now been in pre-production for over a year - but has yet to surface. While this might sound like it amounts to a hill of beans in practical terms, at least things are being discussed, floated, and - sometimes - eventually made.

I'm not at all 'anti-Disney' (I know it's not cool to like Disney these days, but I do), although I'm aware of the dangers inherit in such a gigantic corporation buying out these relatively small characters so they can possibly 'warehouse' them and continue to plug their own stock characters, having effectively eliminated some of their competition. But I know that the Henson family was adamant that certain requirements were drawn into the contract to ensure that The Muppets didn't simply dissolve into 'retirement'.

And anyway, once Disney paid for The Muppets (and they paid a goodly price!), they then had a vested interest in revitalising the characters' careers and making them stars again ... for Disney's own benefit!

The fact that there's been a Muppets 3D show in Disney theme parks for years now hasn't hurt, either.

It all looks good to me, and The Muppets have been given a new lease on life by Disney's attempts (whether or not each attempt has been successful) at bringing them back.

I say it was a great day for diehard fans like me when Disney bought The Muppets. It meant that new stuff was produced and they got out there in the media again. Let's not forget that Kermit turned 50 last year, and a big fuss was made of this event (particularly in America). The frog even travelled the globe, making 50 stops around the world (sadly none were in Australia), and the US Postal Service released a set of commemorative stamps to mark the contribution Jim Henson and The Muppets have made to popular culture.

I'd say that it's been a good thing, and until I see evidence that Disney is deliberately (or carelessly) 'shelving' the characters for some reason, I'll continue to expect that even more good stuff is to come.


.

3 Comments:

At Thursday, December 28, 2006 11:48:00 pm, Anonymous sbr said...

Nicely answered.

And I, of all people, am not about to be a thoughtless Disney knocker. Whatever else you can say about Disney (the person, rather than the corporation he founded) what he did for animation as an art form is just amazing.

 
At Friday, December 29, 2006 12:42:00 pm, Blogger Riss said...

I was just typing to Boo on Skype and she said she was just watching a documentary on TV - Best Ever Muppet Moments. Have to watch out for that one...

 
At Tuesday, January 02, 2007 12:28:00 pm, Blogger John Surname said...

this disney association will probably mean more muppets on ABC and the Disney Channel, at least that is the hope. disney buying anything make me deeply sceptical. Disney bought Romoin and have completely buried him. They couldn't handle the competition, you see.

 

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