Jim Henson Company
From Disney's Hollywood Studios Wiki
The Jim Henson Company is a puppet-based entertainment company, most famous for the creation of the characters of Sesame Street, The Jim Henson's Creature Shop, and of Course, The Muppets.
Muppets are the Puppet characters created by the Jim Henson Company. While the term is most often used for the characters of The Muppet Show, such as Kermit the Frog, and Fozzie Bear, the term also refers to the characters of Seaseme Street, such as Big Bird and Elmo, or any other puppet made by, preformed by, and seen in a Jim Henson Production. However, These characters are not to be confused with Creatures, which are puppet Characters made by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. All attractions pertaining to either are mentioned here.
Characters from this company have also been included in, but not the absolute star of, 4 more attractions, Including:
Jim Henson 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. 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.
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 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, Classic Media, 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 Muppet Studios. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Since 2005, the company has started developing more mature comedy content. Using the name Henson Alternative, these puppet shows are developed for adults. Such projects include Puppet Up! - Uncensored, a live improv show which led to a television special and a web series on TBS.com. The company piloted a possible late night talk show titled Late Night Buffet for TBS; and it is working on a sitcom titled Tinseltown for the LOGO Network, which focuses on two homosexual puppets. Henson has partnered with Warner Bros to create three original web series—including The Simian Undercover Detective Squad, a reality-show spoof, and a series adaptation of the Puppet Up! stage show.
Former Company Titles
- Muppets Inc. (1955-1974)
- Henson Associates (1974–1990)
- Henson International (Early 1980s–1990)
- Jim Henson Productions (1987-1997)
- The Jim Henson Company (1997-present)
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.)
Other Disney References
Besides previously mentioned attractions, Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland also feature "Muppet Mobile Lab," which uses technology similar to other walk around Animatronics, like Push the Trashcan. Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker drive around the park, and get guests involved in their experiments.