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  1. #1

    • Micronaut Muppet Mouse
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    The new Disney Muppets.

    Hello everyone. My first post. I wish I was happier about it than I am.

    I'm very happy to be joined up, but the main reason I joined was to get folk's impressions of what the Dis is doing with (or is that TO) the Muppets.

    I gotta tell ya, so far, I'm not so impressed. And isn't their "lease" running out?

    Please... talk with me.

    -Gordon

  2. #2

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    hrm... I don't think it's a lease. I think they bought them out completely.

    Frankly, I'm just happy that ANYTHING is being done with th Muppets. While The OZ movie wasn't my favorite it's better than the horrific swamp years movie from before.

    PLUS the release of the first season of The Muppet Show, and many other Muppet movies, on DVD is a fantastic move.

    So, while I'm not blown over the moon by everything so far I am happy that, 1. Disney owns them and, 2. They look at least willing to do something with them.


    I think the main problem lies in the fact that Disney doesn't really get the whole Muppet "thing". What makes the Muppets lovable is the fact that no matter how hard they try their dreams always seem to fall a bit short, but as long as they are together and trying then they are happy.
    St. Elizabeth, Patron Saint of Themed parks. Protect us from break downs, long lines, and used gum. Amen.

    "Dance like it hurts, love like you need money, and work when people are watching" - Dogbert





  3. #3

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Yep... bought them lock, shock, and barrel.

    It's hard to say what to think about what's happened to them so far because, well, not much *has* happened yet...
    -Tim

  4. #4

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    I miss the mayhem of the old Muppet Show. I saw maybe one episode of their "Arsenio"-like show and was not impressed.

    HOWEVER,

    One new character is perfectly in line with the classic Muppets-like persona - the prawn. I freaking LOVE that character! "I am not a shrimp, I am a king prawn, okay?"

    I'm sure somewhere some executive thinks American audiences won't "get" the old Vaudeville format of the original Muppet show, but I think that's a load of bunk. Clearly the "late night" format didn't do it.

    The important thing is that they stay edgy without losing their charm. That means biting wit, not creating the Muppet equivalent of "Poochie".

    Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe...



  5. #5

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    I second the thought that Disney just doesn't "get" the Muppets.

    Check out my podcast: www.drunkondisney.com

  6. #6

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morrigoon
    I saw maybe one episode of their "Arsenio"-like show and was not impressed.
    How could you not love the Penn & Teller or the Cindy Crawford episodes?

    Especially when Rizzo was feeding lines to Bobo to help him talk to Cindy and a bunch of rats with balloons walked in. "Hey, those are some nice balloons you've got there! Maybe after the show we can go play with them...."
    -Tim

  7. #7

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    The problem with the Muppets as a franchise is 3 fold.

    1. It is predominantly excells as a Television concept, rather than a film concept.

    2. The success was dependant on the comedic team of Jim Henson (deceased) and Frank Oz (Not on contract).

    3. The Muppets Holding Company bungled bringing the francise up to speed with integrating them into Disney, so Iger had to take over management by firing their chief officer and installing someone else...

    What was bungled? 1. Kermit's 50th marketing strategy... 2. Disney has been very quiet regarding America's Next Muppet (which is a mini-series that parodies reality shows)... It was scheduled to be released this summer according reports in Variety... Again this was announced prior to removal of the head of Muppet Holding Company... So far there has been no word on production, so it may have been nixed or delayed... 3. Full integration of Muppet Holding Company with Disney was delayed several years thus keeping the Muppets independant property, this kept projects from being developed. It did however allow the characters to be used indepenantly for advertising perposes with Ford and other companies.
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  8. #8

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    As long as they do not screw up Stadler, Waldorf, & Swedish Chef I am happy .

  9. #9

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    Talking Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Quote Originally Posted by cellarhound
    The problem with the Muppets as a franchise is 3 fold.

    1. It is predominantly excells as a Television concept, rather than a film concept.
    Agreed. To the Nth degree. The Muppets were developed FOR television. That is their genesis. The Muppet Movie was lightning in a bottle as far as I'm concerned. It was some GREAT lightning... but the follow-ups failed to excite or entertain as the first did. Why not recognize that fact?

    When the Muppets were owned by their German distributor, there were great plans to resurrect the classic Muppet Show format. We all know how far that got, but the fact remains, not only does the television viewing public want to see the old shows (as evidenced by the boffo sales of Season 1 on DVD), but they want MORE OF THE SAME.

    2. The success was dependant on the comedic team of Jim Henson (deceased) and Frank Oz (Not on contract).
    I think you're selling short the other highly important members of that group, particularly Jerry Juhl, who wrote basically every episode and was their head writer since they got one. But you do have the point, which is the Muppets were very much a function of their creators. They aren't like animated characters that can simply have a new voice added behind them and most people don't notice. In the case of these characters, the performer WAS the character. Please note the relative drop in Fozzie's character from Frank Oz to the new guy (don't know the name). He does great as Miss Piggy (in an "I'm impersonating Frank's Piggy" mode), but his Fozzie and his Animal suck rocks. Fozzie has been lobotomized or something and is essentially a dithering idiot now. Like he never left his moron character from Muppet Treasure Island behind.

    3. The Muppets Holding Company bungled bringing the franchise up to speed with integrating them into Disney, so Iger had to take over management by firing their chief officer and installing someone else...
    I understand he fired all but two or three staff members of MHC... not just the head of the division. But all new CEO's do that... its a way of laying claim to a territory. I was particularly satisfied that it happened two days after the Los Angeles auditions. I can elucidate later. It also happened the day after Jerry Juhl passed away from an amazingly short bout with cancer. Like less than a week. That short.

    What was bungled? 1. Kermit's 50th marketing strategy... 2. Disney has been very quiet regarding America's Next Muppet (which is a mini-series that parodies reality shows)... It was scheduled to be released this summer according reports in Variety... Again this was announced prior to removal of the head of Muppet Holding Company... So far there has been no word on production, so it may have been nixed or delayed... 3. Full integration of Muppet Holding Company with Disney was delayed several years thus keeping the Muppets independant property, this kept projects from being developed. It did however allow the characters to be used indepenantly for advertising perposes with Ford and other companies.
    Yeah... and Jim spins at lightspeed in his grave every time Kermit sings "Being Green" for a freaking SUV commercial. There's a HUGE difference between the Muppets property being served by the commercial work that they do and prostituting their nostalgia collateral for profit.

    Yes, Jim used to do commercials. But every move he made, every commercial spot, every licensing deal, every Muppet promotion was carefully geared to serving, above all, the image and reputation of the Muppet brand. These new spots aren't.

    It pains me to hear people simply say, "whatever the Muppets do is okay by me". I find that kind-of pathetic (no offense folks). As consumers, if we're willing to accept poor quality entertainment, what impetus will the makers EVER have to create GOOD entertainment? Our duty and our RIGHT as consumers is to tell them when they aren't up to snuff. Otherwise they'll just keep on making sub-standard doo-doo like Kermit's Swamp Years.

    I'm also very concerned about the fact that the term "muppet" (small m) has become a derogatory. I've seen it used in some sitcoms, but most recently it was evidenced in an airing of "Hell's Kitchen". The progressive radio talk show host often uses the phrase "human muppet Newt Gingrich". Why is being a Muppet suddenly being perceived as a bad thing? This wasn't the case when the old guard was in charge.

    I am a puppeteer. Like many others, I grew up watching the Muppets... literally. I know the property like the back of my hand.

    I find great potential in the installment of John Lassiter (sp?) at Disney. If there's anybody who might "get" the Muppets, it would be him and his gang of ne'er-do-wells at PIXAR. They know whow to tell a story (a GOOD story), keep it entertaining, make it family fare, and NOT insult the intelligence of an audience. They know just how much to keep in for grown-ups and how much to have available to the kids. I admire them greatly.

    Whether or not Mr. Lassiter is even remotely interested in directing the Muppet franchise (or becoming involved on any level) is up in the air. But last I heard, he was highly energetic about Disney Imagineering as well as the Disney traditional animation functions.

    Here's to hope.

    -Gordon
    Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain, dark and red
    Turned the stone and looked beneath it... "peace on Earth" was all it said.
    -Legend of Billy Jack

  10. #10

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Disney Wrassler
    As long as they do not screw up Stadler, Waldorf, & Swedish Chef I am happy .
    Well hate to break the bad news to you but in my opinion they already have. You see i follow up with who does what with all muppet stuff right!? Well Jim Henson(waldorf and swedish chef) and Richard Hunt (sweetums, beaker, statler and many other voices) are deceased and they replaced them with steve whitmire who does kermit nowadays and dave goelz who plays gonzo. And honestly they do not sound that great and there comedy is just not the same.

  11. #11

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Quote Originally Posted by sillycrazygoof
    Well hate to break the bad news to you but in my opinion they already have. You see i follow up with who does what with all muppet stuff right!? Well Jim Henson(waldorf and swedish chef) and Richard Hunt (sweetums, beaker, statler and many other voices) are deceased and they replaced them with steve whitmire who does kermit nowadays and dave goelz who plays gonzo. And honestly they do not sound that great and there comedy is just not the same.
    Well, the Swedish Chef was truly a function of Jim and Frank working together. As you may have guessed, it would be impossible to actually script the Chef's dialogue, so all of that blather in "mock Swedish" was right off the top of Jim's head.

    I truly admire and respect both Steve Whitmire and Dave Goelz, but I have to agree with you about S&W... its quite shocking to hear the vastly different voices and oddly different comedic nature of the two old men. The performances aren't "bad"... just unfamiliar and different.

    At the national Puppetry Festival last year, it was announced (and this is a QUOTE) that "Disney (was) looking to cast UNDERSTUDIES for all the major Muppet characters". So auditions would be held in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. I attended the LA auditions when it looked like the Toronto auditions might not occur.

    Upon filling the green-room with hopeful puppteers (81 in all), the assembled throng was adressed by Martin Baker (started his career as a stage-hand on The Muppet Show). At which time it was revealed that they were ACTUALLY holding auditions for spots doing live shows across the country and on the Big Red Boat. NOT actually casting understudies for any upcoming production...

    I wasn't thrilled.

    In the end, they were looking for puppeteers beween the ages of 19 and 26 who would work like dogs doing live shows for the next 8-10 years and would EVENTUALLY make their way to being cast as Muppet performers in major roles.

    I'm 40. I have a successful career in special effects. I have a wife and a home.

    I didn't qualify.

    Scratch one trip to LA.

    The bright side? I was number 53. The same number as my favorite Love Bug, Herbie. But that's about it. I got to hang with some effects industry friends and hit the "Land" with a real Disney Fanatic and met a slew of terrific puppeteers (none of whom made it through the audition), but that was about it. if you ever have the opportunity to dine with a table full of puppeteers, do it. Its a gas.

    And yes, I'm bitter. But that doesn't color my view of what Disney (MHC) has or has failed to do with the Muppets since the buy-out. Their effort stinks, if you can call it an effort. They need help.

    I talk strongly about this. And I realize that I'm new to your community and I may be coming off like a loud jerk. But I ask you to understand the passion I have for this particular property. I think alot of people have the same passion. Its difficult to watch something that you're so fond of flounder and threaten to capsize. I don't think I am alone in feeling that the Muppets brand deserves better leadership than this.

    -Gordon
    Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain, dark and red
    Turned the stone and looked beneath it... "peace on Earth" was all it said.
    -Legend of Billy Jack

  12. #12

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the biggest screw-up lies at the feet of Brian Henson and his siblings. They're the ones that screwed up the muppets, breaking it into pieces so that the Sesame Street characters belong to one group (CTW), the Fraggle and Storyteller and misc. characters belong to another group (Henson Company), and the traditional Muppet characters belong to another one (Disney).

    Disney inherited the mess and they haven't done much to fix their piece of it, but its not entirely their fault. Remember that before he died Jim Henson was on the verge of selling the entire muppet operation to Disney. When the kids took over after he died they sold it to the German company and then once the property was completely run into the ground and lost its value, the kids bought it back and continued to screw the franchise up.

    If I was Iger, I would beg Frank Oz to join MHC, even if it was just in a special advisory capacity, and see if he can provide some guidance on what to do with these characters. I know Oz has moved on and has his directing career, but I think he has too much history with the Muppets to abandon them in their time of need.
    "I'm working on changing Hollywood...at the studio that fired me twice."
    --John Lasseter


  13. #13

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Quote Originally Posted by Doopey1
    Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the biggest screw-up lies at the feet of Brian Henson and his siblings. They're the ones that screwed up the muppets, breaking it into pieces so that the Sesame Street characters belong to one group (CTW), the Fraggle and Storyteller and misc. characters belong to another group (Henson Company), and the traditional Muppet characters belong to another one (Disney).

    Disney inherited the mess and they haven't done much to fix their piece of it, but its not entirely their fault. Remember that before he died Jim Henson was on the verge of selling the entire muppet operation to Disney. When the kids took over after he died they sold it to the German company and then once the property was completely run into the ground and lost its value, the kids bought it back and continued to screw the franchise up.

    If I was Iger, I would beg Frank Oz to join MHC, even if it was just in a special advisory capacity, and see if he can provide some guidance on what to do with these characters. I know Oz has moved on and has his directing career, but I think he has too much history with the Muppets to abandon them in their time of need.
    I see your point. And agree.

    I don't fault the Henson sibs for wanting to have their own careers apart from their father's creations. Its a huge shadow to grow up in.

    But the way the Muppets have languished at their hands (and the hands of MHC) is abominable. There's a load of responsibility to lay at the feet of all involved, even the fans.

    Frank Oz, however, would be coming into an alien world not of his creation. In many conversations with Jerry Juhl, who was asked on occasion to "advise", I was told outright, "It is OVER". Meaning that the world of the Muppets as envisioned by Jim was no more. He lamented the corporatization of the property. When I mentioned that I was going to audition, he almost took it personally. He cautioned me about it heavily.

    Unless an inordinate amount of power were given to Frank. I don't think he'd be up for it. Maybe he wouldn't even then.
    -Gordon
    Now they stood beside the treasure on the mountain, dark and red
    Turned the stone and looked beneath it... "peace on Earth" was all it said.
    -Legend of Billy Jack

  14. #14

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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    Quote Originally Posted by spcglider
    Meaning that the world of the Muppets as envisioned by Jim was no more. He lamented the corporatization of the property. When I mentioned that I was going to audition, he almost took it personally. He cautioned me about it heavily.
    To be honest... I don't think the corporatization of the property really is linked to what Jim envisioned... Jim was interested in the comercialization of the Muppets from the very begining...

    But I think Jim was limited in what he could do, as he as well as Frank had their fingers in multiple projects film project... And this ment that the Muppets where under utilized as a property... The underutilsation showed why MHC was doing so poorly...

    Sadly these characters are difficult to separate from their creaters... Kermit is clearly the alterego of who ever plays him... The has lost some of that "wonder" Jim had, and Kermit appears just as an actor in a job...

    I don't know if that makes any sense...
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    Re: The new Disney Muppets.

    If Eisner was still in the company, the Muppet would be doing more projects. Some think that Iger fired the Muppet Holding company's head because of his connections to Michael Eisner.

    I am surprised that Disney had not done, Disney's "Animal" Kindgdom merchandise with Animal in the center of the logo at that park.

    I hear that the Muppet Show Season 2 coming out in 2007. Here hoping for a Muppet Babies Season one box set.

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