John Henson, son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson, died Friday after suffering a sudden heart attack. He was 48. The Jim Henson Company confirmed his passing today on their official Facebook page. The youngest son of puppeteers Jim and Jane Henson, John Henson was a shareholder and board member of The Jim Henson Company and was a longtime puppeteer and craftsman in the family biz who performed in voice and body suit as the nine-foot tall ogre Sweetums for many years. His credits in the Sweetums character include Muppets pics Muppet Treasure Island, It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, and The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz among other films, specials, and shorts.
BBC One has joined with The Jim Henson Company for That Puppet Game Show, a new comedy game series that has a few things in common with Henson’s original Muppet Show. The series is currently shooting and will occupy a primetime slot on Saturday nights beginning later this year. Each week, two celebrity guests – the only humans on the program – will compete head-to-head in a group of “madcap” games as they vie to win £10,000 for charity. Like The Muppet Show, which incorporated behind-the-scenes shenanigans along with the actual onstage goings-on, That Puppet Game Show will also feature a backstage sitcom. The new characters created for the program include Mancie the producer and show exec Udders McGhee. The host, Dougie Colon (above, and pronounced Cologne), bears a resemblance to Sesame Street character Guy Smiley, who was created and performed by the late Jim Henson. That Puppet Game Show is a co-production between BBC In-House Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company. The executive producers are Derek McLean and Brian Henson.
The Jim Henson Company has acquired rights to the Frog And Toad children’s books and is developing an animated feature. Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel in the 1970s, each of the four books include five short stories chronicling the exploits of a frog and his friend, a toad. Lisa Henson will produce for the Jim Henson Company, and Adam and Adrianne Lobel will executive produce. Craig Bartlett (Dinosaur Train, Hey Arnold!) will write the screenplay and Cory Edwards (Hoodwinked) is attached to direct. The deal is tied to a licensing and merchandising program signed with HarperCollins Children’s Books. The company is presenting Frog And Toad at the upcoming Licensing Expo in Las Vegas.
Deadline Comic-Con film correspondent Luke Y Thompson files:
In a small-yet-packed room, all the way across the convention center and up the stairs from Hollywood’s big Hall H stuff, significant bits of film history were coming to light. After Archaia Entertainment CEO P.J. Bickett warmed up the crowd with a joke about how their next project could be “New Kids on the Block meet Fraggle Rock,” it was revealed that Archaia’s partnership with the Jim Henson Company included material from the Henson vaults, some of which had never been seen before. A full page movie script written by Henson and longtime collaborator Jerry Juhl in 1968, A TALE OF SAND, has been found and will soon come to light in comic book form. As for a potential movie form – that went unmentioned.
Also never before seen, and screened, was a short piece of experimental animation set to the music of Chico Hamilton, all moving collages of squares, triangles, and lines. It ended with a shot of a beardless Henson manipulating every little cut-out element with tweezers.
While the plot of A TALE OF SAND is somewhat under wraps, the idea of the panel was to give a sense of the tone by showing some of Henson’s more experimental, Philip K. Dick-like shorts from the same period, including his stream-of-consciousness Oscar nominee “Time Piece,” a Bufferin commercial about how headaches affect fading memories, and a TV short from 1969 called The Cube, in which a man in the middle of a love scene gets interrupted by a …
EXCLUSIVE: Guillermo del Toro, The Jim Henson Company and Pathe are ready to go on Pinocchio, a 3D stop motion animated adaptation of the Carlo Collodi fairy tale that will be edgier than the 1940 animated Disney classic. Gris Grimly will co-direct with Mark Gustafson, and production will begin later this year. Grimly illustrated a 2002 book of Collodi’s tale that formed the basis for a project that is years in the making.
The storyline was hatched by Del Toro and Matthew Robbins, and the script was written by the latter, who has collaborated with del Toro on scripts for Mimic, the remake Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and del Toro’s next directing project At the Mountains of Madness. Del Toro will produce with Jim Henson Company’s Lisa Henson and Jason Lust, and Allison Abbate. Gary Ungar is exec producer along with Pathe’s Francois Ivernel and Cameron McCracken.
This version is aimed at an audience 10 years and up, and a bit scarier than the Disney film. Australian rock musician and film composer Nick Cave has signed on to be music consultant and the puppets and 3D elements will be developed with MacKinnon and Saunders, the UK-based facility that worked on The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, and the upcoming Frankenweenie. Del Toro supplied the accompanying photos to convey the feel of a film that shares a core theme from …