Monday, July 31, 2017

Pre-order McFarlane Toys' Jareth!

McFarlane Toys' Labyrinth Jareth action figure is now available to pre-order!



The figure comes with 12 points of articulation and iconic accessories like his masquerade mask and crystal orb. For those that like their collectibles MIP, Jareth will come in window box packaging.

While thins can change, Entertainment Earth's listing says it will be released in November, while Amazon's (much more expensive) link says the end of December. 

You can pre-order you own Golblin King at Entertainment Earth.

Friday, July 28, 2017

MuppetVision 3-D Gets New Entry!

If the more recent Muppet news isn't enough change for you, check out the latest updates to the entrance to Muppet-Vision 3D!



This isn't the first (or last) update though. The entire "Muppet Courtyard" at Disney Hollywood Studios has undergone some major revisions lately at it looks like the exterior to Muppet-Vision 3D is just the latest update.

Below is how the entrance, sign, and balloon originally looked:



A few years after Disney bought the Muppets, they removed Jim Henson's name, and "Muppets" from the balloon.


Original Kermit balloon with
" JIm Henson's Muppets"
Kermit balloon as it appears now 



In addition to removing " JIm Henson's Muppets", Kermit's face was replaced with a larger, yet more squashed version to fill up more space. 



Above is how it's looked the last few years.


With the plumbing being working on for the upcoming Star Wars land, the fountain has now been turned off as well. Miss Piggy as the statue of Liberty has remained, but Fozzie, Animal Gonzo and the rest of the fountains has been replaced (hopefully only temporarily) with plants. 

We heard rumors that the Kermit balloon was on the chopping block, now unfortunately for good, so that it didn't interfere with the view from Star Wars land.


As you can see from the photo above, the balloon is now gone, as well as the main Muppet 3D logo sign and the small "Presented by Kodak"below it. The Kodak sign was presumably removed since Kodak no longer sponsors any of the rides due to teh company going into bankruptcy a few years ago.  

You can still see the outline of the old sign, but next to it are now two large banners featuring the Muppets new Kermit "M" logo and "3D" surrounded by stock photos of many of the Muppets who appear in the film, plus Animal. 


They then installed a new sign inbetween the banners and renamed it the "Grand Arts Theater."






The new look adds both a modern / retro vide to the entrance, yet also feels that the name of the attraction inside could change at any moment.


Perhaps Disney is readying a new Muppet 3D movie to replace the 26 years old Muppet Vision.

What do you think of Muppet Vision's new look?

Current photos courtesy of the WDWmagic.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

First Look At Power of the Dark Crystal #5!

The fifth issue of The Power of the Dark Crystal hit comic shops yesterday.



This issue was written by Simon Spurrier, with art by Kelly and Nichole Matthew. The main cover was done by Mike Huddleston, while Sana Takeda provided the subscription cover.

Separated from Kensho, Thurma journeys out into the wilds of Thra to find her way home, alone and unaware of the wonders that stand before her and the dangers on her trail.






And yes, there appears to be ONLY two covers this time.

The Power of the Dark Crystal #3 is available now at comic stores and through Amazon.

Friday, July 21, 2017

New WE Day Promo Featuring Rowlf and Alicia Keys!

A new promo featuring Rowlf and Alicia Keys hit the web promoting this year's youth empowerment WE Day.


The special was filmed back in April and will feature Fozzie Bear performing stand-up with with Josh Gad while with Statler and Waldorf learn "an important lesson about bullying." 

Other Muppets appearing include Miss Piggy, Animal, and The Swedish Chef who will be appearing along with such celebrities as Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Lilly Singh, Rowan Blanchard, Laverne Cox, Bryan Cranston, Jessie J, and aforementioned Alicia Keys.

You can lean more about WE Day at We.org

The WE Day special will air August 4th 8/7c on CBS.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Steve Whitmire and Cheryl Henson on Today Show!

The Disney/Henson/ Whitmire feud hit the Today show this morning.

For some reason we're having trouble embedding the clips directly into the post you, but watch them at the links below.


FirstToday interviewed Cheryl Henson at the Museum Of The Moving Image's new Jim Henson exhibit

In part two, Steve was there in studio to comment in person about in his firing.





Even More Muppet Thoughts of The Week!


While we wait for the premiere of Matt Vogel's Kermit, join us again for some recent Muppet "Thoughts of The Week."









Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Adorkable Rachel Reacts to Steve Whitmire's Departure!

Our friend Rachel is back with a tribute to Steve Whitmire's work with The Muppets.


Archaia's Labyrinth 2017 Special Coming in November!

BOOM! Studios' Archaia label announced a new special Labyrinth comic will be coming later this year. 

Main cover by Derek Kirk Kim

So far this special comic is creatively titled Jim Henson’s Labyrinth 2017 Special. But, don't let the title fool you though, it looks like a lot of great artists will be contributing to the anthology book. 


The diverse assembly of artists include Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show), Adam Smith (Jim Henson’s Labyrinth), Katie Cook (Fraggle Rock), Jeff Stokely, Delilah S. Dawson, Ryan Sook, Derek Kirk Ki, and more.

Subscription cover by Jeff Stokely

“Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is home to some of the most memorable characters in pop culture,” said Sierra Hahn, Senior Editor. “Through our partnership with The Jim Henson Company, Archaia has been able to expand this world in meaningful and innovative ways. This Special is the first of a few projects that will excite longtime fans of the film and reveal to newcomers the magic and wonder of this singular world.”
Variant cover by Ryan Sook

This second annual special is an all-new collection of short stories that celebrates the various characters and creatures from the world of Labyrinth (1986). This includes the never-before-told story of how Sir Didymus met his trusted steed Ambrosius, and the story of a goblin running late to the famous “Dance Magic Dance” sequence from the iconic film.

Look for it in comic shops this November!

Song of The Dark Crystal Now Available!

J.M. Lee's second original Dark Crystal companion novel, Song of The Dark Crystal is now available. 

The second original companion novel to Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal follows Naia and Kylan as they seek help from the Gelfling clans to prevent the Skeksis from implementing the next stage of their sinister plan.
Kylan of Sami Thicket is a skilled song teller, but singing the tales of long-gone heroes won’t help his friends as they journey into dangerous, unknown lands. After uncovering the betrayal of the Skeksis Lords, he and his friend Naia are on the run, pursued by the Skeksis’s underlings and outcast even among their fellow Gelfling. But Kylan knows the truth must be told, no matter how difficult the telling. Maybe there’s use for a song teller after all . . .

 The book also features illustrations by Cory Godbey.

You can get your copy now wherever books are sold and on Amazon where you can also read a few sample pages!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Sesame Street Slings for Chrysler!

The Muppets have always been known for making commercials. Since the very beginning, Jim Henson financed his company by using his characters to sell products. You can see many of these early commercials here



The Sesame Street characters, however, were mostly shielded from this practice. They were used to sell numbers and letters, not actual commercial products. Even when they did stray into shilling for products they usually featured a Sesame product whose sale fed back into Sesame Street itself. 

That doesn't seem to be the case of these new Sesame Street spots for the Chrysler Pacifica. Their very clever just like the old school Henson commercials were (minus the carton violence) and the characters and relationships are all intact. It just feels odd seeing these characters hawk a product that's not directly aimed at children. 









More Details Emerge in The Rift Between Disney/Henson and Whitmire!

Last night The New York Times posted an article on the ongoing war between Disney, The Henson Family, and Steve Whitmire over his firing.


The executives gave two reasons for the decision, Mr. Whitmire recalled.
“They were uncomfortable with the way I had handled giving notes to one of the top creative executives on the series,” Mr. Whitmire said, referring to “The Muppets,” the most recent television revival of the franchise, which aired on ABC for one season, ending in March 2016.
“Nobody was yelling and screaming or using inappropriate language or typing in capitals,” he said. “It was strictly that I was sending detailed notes. I don’t feel that I was, in any way, disrespectful by doing that.”
The second reason, he said, had to do with a small video shoot involving Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and an outside company, which Mr. Whitmire declined to name, that took place more than a year before the phone call. There was a contract dispute between the Screen Actors Guild, of which Mr. Whitmire is a member, and Disney over how much the performers behind the puppets should be paid. Eventually, the union advised Mr. Whitmire not to do the project. Mr. Whitmire agreed.
After the phone call with the Muppets Studio executives, Mr. Whitmire said he had a lawyer approach Disney executives afterward to propose adding a provision to future contracts saying he would never give creative feedback again or talk to the union again while a deal was being negotiated. Disney declined the offer, Mr. Whitmire said, and he soon found himself separated from his life’s work.
Henson’s family, which still runs the Jim Henson Company, chose Mr. Whitmire to replace Henson as Kermit in 1990 after Henson unexpectedlydied of pneumonia at the age of 53. Some of those same family members say they supported the decision to replace Mr. Whitmire, though they are no longer involved with the Muppets.
“He played brinkmanship very aggressively in contract negotiations,” Lisa Henson, president of the Jim Henson Company, and Jim Henson’s daughter, said in a telephone interview.
Ms. Henson said Mr. Whitmire was adamantly opposed to having an understudy for his role, which presented problems when it came to what she called “B-level performances, such as a ribbon-cutting.” She said he was unwilling to appear on some of these occasions but also refused to develop an understudy and that he “blackballed young performers” by refusing to appear on the show with them.
Brian Henson, the company’s chairman and Jim Henson’s son, said that while Mr. Whitmire’s Kermit was “sometimes excellent, and always pretty good,” things changed when he was off set.
“He’d send emails and letters attacking everyone, attacking the writing and attacking the director,” he said.
You can read the full article here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Muppets Studio and Cheryl Henson Release Statements!

While Steve Whitmire is making his case on his personal blogboth Disney's Muppets Studio and now Cheryl Henson have released statements of their own regarding his firing.


Our friends at Tough Pigs received this statement from The Muppets Studio:



The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously. We raised concerns about Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support.

That support from the Henson family seems to be confirmed with this Facebook post from Cheryl Henson:
 

Steve Whitmire: "The Muppet Performers are not Interchangeable"

Steve Whitmire continued to use his new social media platform over the weekend, posted two new blog posts. 


First he address some fan questions:


The Latenight Double Feature ‘Post’ Show
Second Show
Website Woes: Notifying all of you who have asked is not quite working, but I’m trying to figure it out…
Having read literally every comment left on the first post, I want to point out one left by Peter A. Cancilla. If you’re interested here are the answers to the questions he poses:
Are you burnt-out and disillusioned?
Burnt-out, no. Disillusioned, yes. Or maybe a better term is disappointed. I firmly stand by my belief that the needs of a large corporation can indeed be balanced with the creative needs of an anomalous franchise like the Muppets. In my opinion, this relationship should be the very definition of symbiosis, and though these two factors have often appeared to be seemingly irreconcilable, the integration of Jim Henson’s essentials with doing business progressively and effectively has been my primary goal for the Muppets over the last dozen years within Disney.

At this point what is your desire? Do you feel taking an indefinite break from a ‘Muppets’ you possibly no longer recognize may be the only option for your peace of mind? Or, if given the chance would you jump back into the work and continue pushing for the tone and personality you know to be appropriate for these sacred characters even if you cannot win every battle?
You’re correct that the Muppets are fast becoming something I no longer recognize, but my desire stays the same: to continue doing what I think is best for the Muppets to whatever extent and on whatever level I am asked. If that means doing nothing more than performing Kermit and the other characters in which I am established and forsaking the offering of unsolicited input, then so be it.
For the record, I officially offered to do exactly that within that first telephone call, a second time by communicating it through my attorney, and I committed to memorializing it in writing. It was flatly refused. Do with that what you will
…More tomorrow. Best to you all!

But it was his later post that really got people's attention.
The Muppet Performers are not Interchangeable.
Muppet Performers are not created equal, and that’s a good thing! We all bring unique strengths to the ensemble. That’s why we never switch around characters between us (except to stand in) because, despite all the conjecture, there is actually no such thing as Jim’s Kermit and Steve’s Kermit – There is only Kermit.
He either shows up intact with all his historical mental faculties at his disposal, or it isn’t him. This is true for each of the Muppets. Anything else is manufactured, and the Muppets haven’t lasted for all these years without fully showing up. When they haven’t, you’re not shy about pointing that out. Neither am I, and we’ll talk more about that soon.
For discussion purposes, lets split the present-day core Muppet Performers into two broad categories. We’ll call them the ‘Jim-Era Performers’ and the ‘Post-Jim Performers’, those Jim chose to bring in himself, and those who were chosen in a variety of ways after his death.
It’s a real blessing that the Post-Jim performers are brilliant and devoted to doing the best they can to preserve Jim’s legacy by carrying on classic characters as faithfully as they know how. At the same time, they never knew Jim or Richard, and barely worked with Frank if at all, so when it comes to those characters, the starting point in assuming the roles is often limited to their observations as fans. Now, it’s not that fans don’t know who the characters are, they do; you do. It’s just that our job as the linear souls of the Muppets is different than your job as the impassioned viewers.
As fans, you can interpret the characters however you please in whatever way you relate to them. When you sense that something is off, you don’t have to fix it, but I do. It’s up to the Muppet Performers to be purposely maintaining the consistency of the characters they perform. That’s because beyond owners, producers, directors, and writers, that singular performer will be the ongoing thread in the life of a character indefinitely. 
Once even the most educated and devoted fan is charged with inhabiting one of the core characters that has its origins in another performer, it becomes necessary to gain as much knowledge of the interior depth of that character and that original performer as possible. 
The point is that there is so much vital and significant knowledge that was gained by the dwindling few of us who consistently stood next to Jim. From his characters to his methods and philosophies, it’s stuff you can never fully intuit from watching the Muppets. I know that to be true because I, too, was a completely obsessive Muppet fan with preconceived notions of my own that had to be unlearned when Jim hired me in 1978. 
I approach The Muppets as a lineage tradition. For the inside knowledge-base steeped in its origins to survive and be passed down, there has to be a line of transmission, or you had to be there. For the Post-Jim performers to really understand enough about the Muppets to carry on the lineage they need to continue to be around the core performers Jim mentored as long as any of those people are willing and able to share. 
None of this is a value judgement of any individual, it is a pointing out of the value of historical perspective so long as that perspective is used progressively. Having had the opportunity to spend the last 27 years cultivating knowledge of Jim along with feeling his presence through Kermit, I find myself at a place where evolving Jim’s vision has begun coming from a deep empathetic connection to him. 
So, I see my most important task as providing a taste of the atmosphere created by Jim Henson to those Post-Jim core performers who will never otherwise come by it. My hope was to install it directly into their hearts and minds so that they could, in turn, be inspired to do the same for the next generation of performers instead of the characters becoming stale copies of their former selves. But, as I look around at what is presently transpiring it’s clear to me that the job is far from done.

The takeaways from both are that Steve is not only reading and really hearing your  your questions and concerns, he was/ is trying to make the Muppets the best they can be, he's not liking the way things are headed.  The very headline of his second post "The Muppet Performers are not Interchangeable" is eerily similar to the "One frog one voice" campaign fans circulated when Disney first bought the franchise. Back then they planned to have different "Muppet" performers in the parks, cruise ships and other meet-and greet areas.


The campaign worked and Disney struck a compromise with the recently unveiled live show at Walt Disney World "The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History!" Local puppeteers not only do the show to pre-recorded tracks, but are also trained by the Muppet performers themselves.

This time around someone has created a Change.org petition asking Disney to reverse its decision. Who knows. It's worked before!

Friday, July 14, 2017

New Deluxe Labyrinth Game Pieces On The Way!

River Horse announced this week that in addition to their Labyrinth goblin expansion pack, they will now also be offering deluxe game pieces of the main set of characters.



Each of the "deluxe" figures is three times the size of the regular game pieces and are the same size of the original sculpts. River Horse is touting these as "copies of the originals."




You can see the human scale of them above and below you can see how they compare to the original game pieces:







Here's how they will look in the packaging!
The set is currently only available for pre-order through River Horse and no street date (other than late 2017) for a general release has been given at this time.