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The Jim Henson Company: Misc

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Muppet

Up to date as of February 02, 2010

From Muppet Wiki

Current logo as seen on Company letterhead
Current owners: Cheryl, Brian, Lisa, John, and Heather Henson.

Jim Henson and Jane Nebel formed Muppets Inc. in 1958, three years after Sam and Friends debuted. Aside from Sam and Friends, the majority of work that the company had until 1969 was creating characters for various commercials, variety show appearances, and a few meeting films for various companies (the company would produce its own Muppet Meeting Films from 1975 through 1999). In 1969, the company started creating characters for the popular children's show Sesame Street.

One of the company's first characters to be seen regularly on national television was Rowlf the Dog, who was initially created for Purina Dog Chow commercials and soon became famous when he became a regular character on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963-1966. During this time, the show's host, Jimmy Dean, was given an opportunity to own forty percent of the company. However, Dean turned the offer down because he didn't feel that he had earned it. [1]

For many years, Jim Henson had tried to sell several different shows to the major networks, all of which turned them down. Some ideas (such as Tales of The Tinkerdee) were made as unaired pilots, and some (such as The Zoocus) were never produced. Then, in 1976, Jim Henson was able to produce The Muppet Show for syndication. The success of The Muppet Show led to many movies, specials, videos, and more. The Muppet Show was originally owned by the British company ITC, but Jim Henson later purchased the rights to the show.

In the early 1980s, Jim Henson also formed Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which produced characters for shows such as The StoryTeller, Farscape, and Dinosaurs; and movies such as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. It was also during the 1980s that Jim Henson produced new television series such as Fraggle Rock and The Jim Henson Hour.

In 1990, Jim Henson was in negotiations to sell the company to the Walt Disney Company, but Jim Henson died during the week that he was supposed to sign the contract, and his family decided to keep the company private.

In 1999, the Jim Henson Company had partial interests in two cable channels, The Kermit Channel (which was broadcast in Asia) and The Odyssey Channel (which was broadcast in the USA). Hallmark also co-owned these networks. The Odyssey Channel was later renamed the Hallmark Channel.

In 2000, Jim Henson’s children sold the company to the German media company, EM.TV. In early 2001, after EM.TV subsequently experienced major financial problems, the Jim Henson Company was put up for sale. That year, EM.TV sold the company's ownership of the Sesame Street Muppets to Sesame Workshop and sold the company's ownership of the Odyssey Channel and the Kermit Channel. The Walt Disney Company, HIT Entertainment, Haim Saban[2], Classic Media[3], Sesame Workshop, and Sony were among the companies who showed interested in owning the company. However, it was Henson's children who bought back the company in 2003.

In 2004, almost one year after ownership of the Henson company was returned to the family’s hands, the Jim Henson Company sold the rights to the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House characters to the Walt Disney Company, who control the Muppets through the wholly owned subsidiary Muppets Holding Company LLC. The Walt Disney Company now owns all Muppet-related trademarks, including the word “Muppet,” that The Jim Henson Company and Sesame Workshop do not own.

Contents

Former Company Titles

Certificate of Incorporation for Muppets, Inc.

According to documents retrieved from the District of Columbia Archives, Articles of Incorporation for Muppets, Inc. were filed September 10, 1958 in Washington, D.C. by agents acting for Jim Henson and Jane Nebel. The Certificate of Incorporation was granted November 20 of that year. Not until the corporation filed its first annual report in 1959 did the names of Jim Henson and Jane Nebel appear in the city's archives.
Following the Hensons' move to New York, a confusing array names were used for the company, including "Uppity Muppets Corp.," "Muppets Inc. (New York)," "Henson Associates, Inc.," "Jim Henson Productions," and "The Jim Henson Company." At times, two or more names seem to have been used concurrently, as evidenced by information retrieved from the New York State Division of Corporations. An approximate timeline for names of the company is as follows:

  • Muppets Inc. (1958-1974)
  • Henson Associates (1974–1990)
  • Henson International (Early 1980s–1990)
  • Jim Henson Productions (1987-1997)
  • The Jim Henson Company (1997-present)
Owned by EM.TV & Merchandising AG from March 2000 to May 2003

Current Projects

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Family Entertainment

Shortly after selling the Muppets to Disney, the Jim Henson Company made a special distribution deal with HIT Entertainment to have many of its family showcase programs released on DVD, video, and television. The current contract expires in 2009. With the assistance of HIT's distribution deal, Henson has been able to produce several behind the scenes documentaries and featurettes to accompany these releases, namely for the Fraggle Rock season box sets and the 2005 collector's edition release of Emmet Otter's Jug-band Christmas. Other home video releases to come out of the deal includes 2 volumes of Mother Goose Stories and 4 releases of Animal Jam.

Henson is currently developing new family productions as well. The company is working on developing several digital-puppetry series for home-video, television and the web. These productions include Sid the Science Kid Frances, The Skrumps and T.J. Bearytales. Additionally, the company is working with traditional computer animation to produce Unstable Fables and Dinosaur Train.

Henson is also working to revive some of their existing franchises with a feature-length Fraggle Rock movie also in development. Brian Henson has stated on several occasions that the company is also trying to develop a new puppet series that would appeal to both kids and adults—akin to The Muppet Show's audience in this respect.

Fantasy & Sci Fi

The Jim Henson Company is working on several fantasy and sci fi projects with the aid of Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Several of these projects are based on existing franchises, including a sequel to The Dark Crystal titled Power of the Dark Crystal, an animated Dark Crystal television series, and a series of Farscape webisodes. Additionally the company is producing several films with the Creature Shop, including The Boggart, The Doubtful Guest, and Monster Blood Tattoo. In March 2008, the company launched The Sam Plenty Cavalcade of Action! Show Plus Singing!, a comedic web series created by Puppet Up! performer Paul Rugg - the series is currently running on SamPlenty.com.

Henson Alternative

Main article: Henson Alternative

Since 2005, the company has developed more mature comedy content under the name Henson Alternative. The first of these projects included Puppet Up! - Uncensored, a live improv show which has toured the globe and performs monthly in Hollywood. The show has since been featured in television special, a web series on TBS.com, and an exclusive museum film. The company piloted a possible late night talk show titled Late Night Buffet for TBS; and a sitcom titled Tinseltown for the LOGO Network, which focuses on two gay puppets. Henson has partnered with Warner Bros to create several original web series, including The Simian Undercover Detective Squad and Alt/Reality. Henson is also developing a feature film, The Happytime Murders, for release under the Henson Alternative banner.

Distribution Labels

Home Video

Jim Henson Television

The Jim Henson Company started using the "Jim Henson Television" logo in its programming in 1997. This logo also replaced the ending "Henson Associates" and "Jim Henson Productions" logo cards in other productions. On The Muppet Show, it replaced the ending shot of Zoot, which originally had an in-credit notice over it saying "From ITC Entertainment," and was altered in the mid-'80s to feature the 1980s Henson Associates logo fly out from his sax in a bubble. (In the Time-Life video and DVD releases, Zoot's scenes were included in the first two episodes shown, but were replaced by this logo in the last episode in each release.)

Albums

Software

Logos and Logo Sequences

During the 1980s, Fraggle Rock, Muppet Babies, and other productions used a number of animated logo sequences for Henson Associates, and later Jim Henson Productions. A logo for Henson Associates featured the company's HA! initials, usually written in green on a white background. It had different animations depending on the show, usually either the "HA!" logo zooming out, or in another variation, the exclamation mark shining. One of the final logos made during the time when the company had its former title had "Jim Henson Productions" written in black letters and on a white background with a green "j" and "h," with an illustrated Kermit head appearing in place of the "i" in the word "Jim". However, there was a Henson Associates copyright notice underneath.

One of the earliest Jim Henson Productions logo sequences had an animated arm of Kermit putting up a sign that read "Jim Henson Productions", and after hanging the sign, the sign slid, causing all of the letters to fall off. In some cases, the sign would break off the string and crash to the ground. An alternate version had an arrow sticking the sign to the wall and Kermit pulling his arm out of the frame in shock, another version had the Jim Henson text on a window shade, and then the animated Kermit arm pulls up the window shade, and yet another had the Jim Henson text on a TV screen, with the animated Kermit arm shutting off the TV.

Eventually, the logo had "Jim Henson" written in green, with a red underline, with "productions" written in red underneath it, and in front of a black background. Some productions, such as The Jim Henson Hour, ended with this logo zooming into frame, with the background fading to black. In early 1990s productions such as The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island (and all Muppet Babies and other Jim Henson Video releases), an animated logo sequence was created in which a laser-like effect drew a Kermit face, which was then colored, and a spark from his eye turned the whole face into a tiny, flying spark, buzzing like a bumblebee, which produced the words "Jim Henson Productions", and the spark then became the dot on the "i". This logo has also been used without the logo sequence, sometimes with the spark becoming the dot of the "i" included. The same basic look of this logo card was also used for the Jim Henson Television logo card.

On Dinosaurs, the logo was accompanied by a pterodactyl who either flew past or sat on the logo.

Since the acquisition of the non-Sesame Street Muppets by the Walt Disney Company in 2004, the colors of the logo were changed to a red signature, with a gray underline and 'The Jim Henson Company' in gray underneath. This logo has been used as a static caption at the end of Disney-owned, Henson-produced Muppet productions since the Disney acquisition. It is not currently known whether an animated version exists.

See also

Sources

  1. Craig McDonald Interview with Jimmy Dean
  2. Yahoo News "Billionaire Saban wants to buy the Muppets" 10/8/02
  3. Reuters "Sesame Workshop and Sony join forces with Classic Media to acquire Henson" 5/6/03

External links

  • Henson.com - official website
  • The Jim Henson Company on Twitter
  • The Jim Henson Company on Facebook
  • the company's official youtube channel

This article uses material from the "The Jim Henson Company" article on the Muppet wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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