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The Jim Henson Company (formerly known as Muppets, Inc., Henson Associates, Inc., and Jim Henson Productions, Inc.; colloquial: Henson) is an American entertainment company located in Los Angeles, California. The company is known for its innovations in the field of puppetry, particularly though the creation of the renowned Muppets characters; and is a leading producer of children’s and family entertainment.[1]

The Jim Henson Company
Private
IndustryPuppetry, Animation, Computer graphics, Digital puppetry, Entertainment
FoundedNovember 20, 1958; 60 years ago (1958-11-20)
FoundersJim and Jane Henson
HeadquartersJim Henson Company Lot, Los Angeles, California,
U.S.
Key people
Brian Henson
(Chairman)
Lisa Henson
(President & CEO)
OwnerHenson family
ParentIndependent
(1958–2000, 2003–present)
EM.TV & Merchandising AG
(2000–2003)
DivisionsJim Henson's Creature Shop
Henson Recording Studios
Henson Alternative
Websitewww.henson.com

The company was established in 1958 by puppeteers Jim and Jane Henson,[2] and is presently independently owned and operated by their children. Henson has produced many successful television series, including The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Farscape; as well, the company designed the Muppet characters for the long-running Sesame Street.

The company has also produced theatrical films, including The Muppet Movie (1979), The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986). Henson also operates Jim Henson's Creature Shop, an animatronics and visual effects studio which has created characters and effects for both Henson productions and outside projects.[3] In 1989, the company entered merger negotiations with The Walt Disney Company, which were dropped following Jim Henson's death in 1990.

Subsequently, control of the company was assumed by Henson's children: Lisa, Cheryl, Brian, John, and Heather. In 2000, Henson was sold to EM.TV & Merchandising AG, a German media company; by the end of that year, however, EM.TV's stock collapsed, and Henson family re-acquired the company in 2003. EM.TV had in the interim sold the rights to the Sesame Street Muppets to Sesame Workshop in 2001.[4]

In 2004, Henson sold the rights to The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House to The Walt Disney Company, but retains the remainder of its characters, program library, and assets. As of 2014, Brian, Lisa, Cheryl, and Heather Henson run the company (sibling and fellow co-owner John Henson died in February 2014).

Brian Henson serves as chairman, while Lisa Henson serves as CEO. Since 2000, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered at the Jim Henson Company Lot, the historic former Charlie Chaplin Studios, in Hollywood.

Contents

HistoryEdit

1958 to 1990Edit

Jim and Jane Henson officially founded Muppets, Inc. on November 20, 1958, three years after Sam and Friends debuted on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C. Aside from Sam and Friends, the majority of work that the company had until 1969 involved creating characters for various commercials, variety-show appearances, and a few meeting films for various companies (the company would produce its own meeting films from 1965 to 1996). In 1968, the company began creating characters and more than 20 short films for the fledgling Sesame Street, which premiered on NET (succeeded by PBS) in November 1969.

One of the company's first characters to appear regularly on television, Rowlf the Dog, originated in commercials for Purina Dog Chow and soon became a regular character on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963 to 1966. During this time the show’s host, Jimmy Dean, turned down the opportunity to own 40% of the company because he believed that he never earned it. Jim Henson also pitched several different projects to the major American television networks, to no avail. Some ideas were made as unaired pilots, while others were never produced.

In 1976, producer Lew Grade approached Henson to produce a weekly series in Grade’s native United Kingdom; this series became The Muppet Show, produced by Associated Television (ATV) for the ITV network. The success of The Muppet Show led to the Muppets becoming an enduring media franchise. Another company controlled by Grade, ITC Entertainment, originally owned The Muppet Show, among other Henson productions, but Henson acquired the rights to these productions in the 1980s. During this time, Henson formed Jim Henson's Creature Shop, a special effects studio partially responsible for the films The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth; and television series The Storyteller, Farscape, and Dinosaurs.

Later in his life, Henson produced the series Fraggle Rock and The Jim Henson Hour. In August 1989, Henson and Disney CEO Michael Eisner began merger discussions reportedly valued at $150 million, which also included a fifteen-year contract for Henson's personal "creative services."[5] However, the deal did not include the rights to the Sesame Street characters, which were owned by Henson, although merchandising revenue was split between Henson and the Children's Television Workshop.

Also during the negotiations, management of the company's Henson International Television distribution unit based in the UK purchased their unit from the company, leading to the establishment of HIT Entertainment.[6] On May 16, 1990, as negotiations with Disney continued, Jim Henson died of toxic shock syndrome. Following Henson’s death, neither Disney nor Jim Henson Productions could come to an accord. Negotiations officially ended in December 1990, and Henson remained an independent company.[7][8]

1991 to 1999Edit

The Henson family assumed management of the company, and Brian Henson was named president, chairman, and CEO in January 1991.[9] Over the next few years, Henson signed deals with several companies, including television rights to the Henson library with Disney Channel and Nickelodeon; a record label with BMG Kidz; and a label with Buena Vista Home Video.[10] In 1995, Henson entered into a deal with ABC to produce primetime television series, leading to Muppets Tonight and Aliens in the Family.

Following the releases of The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island by Walt Disney Pictures, Henson formed Jim Henson Pictures with Sony Pictures Entertainment. By 1999, Henson held partial interests in two cable channels: The Kermit Channel (broadcasting in Asia) and Odyssey Network (broadcasting in the United States), both jointly owned with Hallmark Entertainment. After Hallmark (through Crown Media Holdings) assumed full ownership of these networks, the Kermit Channel was discontinued and Odyssey was renamed The Hallmark Channel.

2000 to 2004Edit

In 2000, the Henson family sold the company to the German media company, EM.TV & Merchandising AG, for $680 million.[11][12] That summer, EM.TV sold Henson's stakes in the Odyssey and Kermit cable channels in exchange for an 8.2% stake in Hallmark-controlled Crown Media Holdings.[13] By the end of 2000, after EM.TV subsequently experienced major financial problems, EM.TV sold the company's ownership of the Sesame Street Muppets and Henson's small interest in the Noggin television network to Sesame Workshop,[14] and by early 2001, Henson itself was marked for sale.[15] The Walt Disney Company,[16] Viacom,[17] HIT Entertainment,[18] AOL Time Warner,[19] Haim Saban,[20] Classic Media,[21] as well as Henson management, among others, were all parties reportedly interested in acquiring the company.

In December 2002, a deal was announced in which EM.TV would sell a 49.9% stake in Henson to an investment group led by Dean Valentine, a former executive at Disney and UPN.[22] However, in March 2003, the deal was canceled, citing financing issues on Valentine's part.[23] In May 2003, EM.TV was reportedly nearing an agreement to sell Henson to a consortium between Classic Media and Sesame Workshop (with financing from Sony Pictures Entertainment),[24] until the Henson family re-acquired the company for a closing price of $84 million.[25]

In February 2004, Henson sold the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House to The Walt Disney Company,[26] who subsequently formed The Muppets Studio (known at that time as The Muppets Holding Company). The term “Muppet” subsequently became a legal trademark of Disney; Sesame Workshop retains permission to use the term for its Sesame Street characters under license.

2004 to presentEdit

On April 1, 2004, Henson and HIT Entertainment agreed to a five-year global distribution and production deal which included distribution of 440 hours of the company's remaining library include Fraggle Rock, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Hoobs and Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories.[27] After that deal expired, Henson entered similar agreements with Lionsgate Home Entertainment and Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment. As well, the company became involved with computer animated projects, including the direct-to-video Unstable Fables series; Sid the Science Kid; Dinosaur Train; and Splash and Bubbles, as well as the traditional puppetry series, Pajanimals.

Henson later formed Henson Alternative, which specializes in adult content, including the live puppet improv shows known alternatively as Puppet Improv, Puppet Up!, and Stuffed and Unstrung. Current projects in development include The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a prequel to The Dark Crystal; and a Fraggle Rock film. In recent years, the Fraggle Rock characters have made several appearances, usually at special events. The Fraggles appeared with Ben Folds Five in the music video "Do It Anyway"; and in 2013, Gobo and Red Fraggle hosted a Fraggle Rock marathon on the Hub Network.

StaffEdit

Henson FamilyEdit

LeadershipEdit

  • Peter Schube – President and COO of The Jim Henson Company.
  • Lori Don – Executive Vice President and CFO of The Jim Henson Company.
  • Richard Goldsmith – Executive Vice President, Global Distribution, and International Consumer Projects.
  • Joe Henderson – Executive Vice President, Worldwide Administration.
  • Stephanie Schroeder – Executive Vice President, Business Affairs & Legal.
  • Halle Stanford – Executive Vice President of Children's Entertainment.
  • Nicole Goldman – Senior Vice President, Marketing and Publicity.
  • Karen Lee Arbeeny – Vice President, Business Operations, Global Distribution.
  • Faryal Ganjehei – Vice President and Studio Operations at the Henson Recording Studio.
  • Anna Jordan Douglass – Vice President, Digital Development & Interactive Media.
  • Howard Sharp – Vice President of Administration.
  • Peter Brooke – Creative Supervisor at Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

Other staff membersEdit

FilmographyEdit

FilmEdit

TelevisionEdit

From 1969 to 2001, Henson was contracted to design and create Muppet characters for Sesame Street. With the exception of occasional appearances in the Muppets franchise, the characters were used exclusively for Sesame Street, but Henson legally owned these characters prior to their acquisition by Sesame Workshop. The only exception was Kermit the Frog, who was featured in other projects prior to Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop retains the rights to use any Sesame Street footage featuring the character.

The sale ended any direct affiliation between The Muppets and Sesame Street, although the series retains use of the term "Muppet" under license from The Walt Disney Comapny. Many of the puppeteers continue to perform with both The Muppets and Sesame Street franchises. While no longer owning the Sesame Street characters, Henson continues to design them.[29] This list excludes pre-2001 Sesame Street co-productions outside the United States.

Direct to videoEdit

  • Jim Henson Play-Along Video (1988)
    • Hey, You're As Funny as Fozzie Bear: A Comedy Show Starring Fozzie Bear and You.
    • Sing-Along, Dance-Along, Do-Along: Rowlf teaches kids about musical styles.
    • Wow, You're a Cartoonist!
    • Neat Stuff... To Know and Do
    • Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories (1987–90)
    • Peek-A-Boo, A Big Surprise for Little People[33]
  • Muppet Sing Alongs
  • Muppet Classic Theater (1994)
  • "Jim Henson's Preschool Collection"
    • "Muppets on Wheels" (1995)
    • "Yes, I Can Learn" (1995)
    • "Yes, I Can Help" (1995)[36]
  • Kermit's Swamp Years (2002)
  • Unstable Fables trilogy (2008)

Theme parksEdit

Web contentEdit

Henson AlternativeEdit

The following list contains projects of The Jim Henson Company under its Henson Alternative banner:

Other productionsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Gritten, David (1990-08-19). "The Next Muppetmeister?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  2. ^ Jones, Jim Henson: The Biography (2013). p. 75.
  3. ^ Eller, Claudia; Philips, Chuck (1995-05-12). "Sony Nears Deal With Jim Henson Productions". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-15. Retrieved 2014-05-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Swansburg, John (December 6, 2013). "Muppet Man". The New York Times. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  6. ^ "HIT Entertainment PLC History". Company Profiles. fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
  7. ^ Zonana, Victor F. (1991-04-18). "Henson Heirs Allege Disney Is Illegally Using Muppets". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  8. ^ Citron, Alan (1990-12-14). "Miss Piggy and Friends Won't Get Together With Mickey and Minnie". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  9. ^ Willman, David (1992-07-26). "Jim Henson's Children Put Together a String of Big Deals to Keep Alive". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  10. ^ Stevenson, Richard W. (December 19, 1991). COMPANY NEWS; In Thaw, Henson and Disney Strike Deal on Home Videos. New York Times.
  11. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2000/022100.shtml
  12. ^ Hofmeister, Sallie (2000-02-22). "German Firm to Buy Henson for $680 Million". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  13. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2000/072600.shtml
  14. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2000/120400.shtml
  15. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2001/031301.shtml
  16. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2001/013001.shtml
  17. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2001/013101.shtml
  18. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2001/020101.shtml
  19. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2001/031201.shtml
  20. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2002/100802.shtml
  21. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2002/120602.shtml
  22. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2002/122402.shtml
  23. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2003/030703.shtml
  24. ^ http://www.muppetcentral.com/news/2003/050903.shtml
  25. ^ Verrier, Richard (2003-05-08). "Muppets Returning to Hensons' Hands". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  26. ^ Barnes, Brooks (18 September 2008). "Fuzzy Renaissance". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
  27. ^ Rossingh, Danielle (April 2, 2004). "HIT seals deal for Henson catalogue". Telegraph. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  28. ^ Lang, Brent (October 22, 2018). "Guillermo del Toro Directing 'Pinocchio' for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  29. ^ James, Meg (February 18, 2004). "Kermit Is Now Part of Magic Kingdom". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 18, 2010.
  30. ^ Petski, Denise. "'The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance': Jim Henson Prequel Series Set At Netflix". Deadline.com. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  31. ^ Hibberd, James (17 December 2018). "Netflix's The Dark Crystal prequel reveals first photos, huge voice cast". Entertainment Weekly.
  32. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "'Top Puppet': NBC Orders Reality Special From 'The Voice' Producers, Muppet Creators & Craig Ferguson". Deadline.com. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  33. ^ Videos. Muppet Collectibles . Muppet Central.com. Accessed on November 25, 2013.
  34. ^ Zad, Martie. "Muppet Group Offers Eight New Songs." The Washington Post. 1993. HighBeam Research. (November 25, 2013).
  35. ^ Maes, Nancy. (March 7, 1996) Tish Hinojosa's Music Bridges Two Cultures. Chicago Tribune. Accessed on November 26, 2013.
  36. ^ Martie Zad. (July 2, 1995) "Muppets, Kids Join in Series For Preschoolers." The Washington Post. 1995. HighBeam Research. Accessed on November 26, 2013.
  37. ^ Knapp, JD (July 1, 2017). "STX Sets Dates for 'Molly's Game' and 'Happytime Murders'". Variety. Retrieved July 10, 2017.

External linksEdit