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The Mouse is Wooing Miss Piggy

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Phillip, Jun 5, 2002.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    As mentioned yesterday, Jim Hill's "Movin' Right Along" series of articles are still in the works. They've just been slowed down due to the Henson sale.

    In the meantime, Jim is assisting with writing some supplemental stories about the current status of the Henson buyout. The first of these is now on-line. It's entitled, Forget about "Froggy Went A 'Courting." Check out how the Mouse is wooing Miss Piggy!

    Let us know your thoughts on this interesting perspective of the Disney-Henson relationship.
  2. DrummerMan

    DrummerMan New Member

    Disney rules... well that is Walt Disney

    You know what... I'm a die hard Disney fan... not the company, but the man, and what he stood for. Sadly, the company has done almost a complete 180 from that. As much as I believe Disney could funnel tons of money into the Muppet franchise, I also believe that their management style and money first attitude would absolutely kill what makes the Muppets great.

    I say that Pixar should buy out the Muppets. Then together, they could become bigger than Disney and buy them out, returning them to their former glory.

    Just a thought. :D
  3. radionate

    radionate New Member

    I don't honestly know what to think anymore. I've always been a huge fan of Disney, but I really don't know what to think about ownership anymore.

    Disney seems like a logically choice, just because of their sheer power, financial position, visibility, and vast resources available at their disposal. Unfortunately though, they are at a very dry point creatively (which we discussed to no extent on the board). However, all things are cyclical, and things might begin to swing upward in the near future. If that happens, then we might see some wonderful things with the Muppets, including their own section of the park in Florida, and in California Adventures. But, I feel we'll also see an influx of crap in the Disney stores. Is lots of crap better then no crap at all? Dunno.

    And what about CTW? I seem to remember that Disney was trying to strong arm JHC with regards to merchandise from Sesame Street. Will this happen again? Will our beloved Big Bird be the newest Bean Bag in the Disney store, with no money from its sale going to CTW or Sesame Workshop? I haven't kept up with that all that much. Perhaps someone can elaborate.

    Is a company buyback a good thing? Dunno either. Will Rivkin have enough capital to make projects happen? What happens if they have a couple of big flops on their hands? Will they go back on the selling block?

    AOL/Time Warner. No can do. Don't think they'd be able to do what needs to be done with Kermit and Co. Look at the crap Hanna Barbara is pumping out now.

    Universal. Nah. They’d be reduced to kid's fare. Need I remind everyone of the hundreds of direct to video sequels for "Land Before Time" and "All Dogs Go To Heaven"!!!! (Universal is the one that started all this direct to video sequel nonsense stuff.)

    So Regis, my final answer is....well I still don't know!!!!

    Let the debate begin!!!!!!:confused:
  4. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    EM.TV sold the rights to the Sesame Street characters for 180 million to Sesame Workshop in December 2000.

    No matter who ends up with JHC, it's good to know that the Sesame characters should be in capable hands (so to speak) with the Sesame Workshop.
  5. radionate

    radionate New Member

    Phillip,

    Thanks, first off, for the link! But I have questions that I'm hoping you or someone else could answer.

    Does the JHC have any control over the Sesame Characters now? What’s to stop S.W. from hiring new performers not affiliated with JHC to perform Elmo or Cookie Monster. The whole press release seemed a little vague.

    All merchandising revenue goes directly to S.W. correct?

    JHC has no input on product development, correct?

    Would new owners of the JHC allow whatever partnership that is there to continue? Would new characters be created from the Muppet Workshop?

    I'm confused (story of my life)
  6. statnwaldorf

    statnwaldorf New Member

    Firstly to answer the SS Q's.

    Henson's do have a contract or such like with CTW (sesame workshop) but there is nothing stopping them hiring other puppeteers or makers and from what I have heard (and witnessed) this has actually started to happen.

    All revenue goes to Sesame Workshop.

    JHC does have input through the artists, performers etc that work for Sesame via them.

    There is no doubt that the partnership that Henson has with Sesame is extremely important and also fantastic publicity however it may not be Henson's (or its new owners) choice to sever or change some of the working relationships.

    Now to Jim Hill's article. First off great, well done. I enjoyed it and I like Jim's style. However he is rather crafty, and talented, in that he's taken a few quite separate and generic crossovers between Henson's and Disney and tried to make rather more out of them than there really is.

    Obviously there is no doubt Disney is the largest player in the bidding for Henson, you'd have to have your head in the sand if you didn't think that. However I really don't think the examples that Jim has given prove that they are any more or any less interested than if these things hadn't happened.

    We begin with the fact that Dave Goelz voices the new Figment. Most of us knew this already, but is the fact that he is doing it really such a surprise? Henson have great voice talents everyone knows that, Dave clearly spent a lot of time at Disney over the years and I'm sure they are very aware of the talent that he has for voices. Just like Pixar used Frank Oz in Monsters Inc, does this also mean that Pixar are clearly ready to pounce? No it basically means that within this field they are using recognised talent, who at the moment lets face it have very little else to do apart from a couple of Denny's commercials.

    The reference that they are now wooing Dave Goelz because Brian Henson resigned as Chairman is a little far fetched. Obviously Disney if they were to buy the company would want the talent to remain. But do you think they are really that scared that they have to start bribing them with jobs? Of course not they know that if they bought the Muppets and proposed new shows for them to be in, the vast majority of the time the puppeteers would be right there with their hands in the air. In one sense Disney are reported to have this hardened attitude to their home-grown talent such as their animators, then according to some people the next thing they are meant to be is extremely worried that the voice of a puppet, from a company that they "might" one day buy, may not work for them........it just ain't like that. All they are doing is using talent that is there for a project that became available.

    Despite the history between the companies Disney and Henson have generally had a good working relationship. The Creature Shop is well known as the leaders in its field when it comes to animatronics and therefore when creating a film such as Snowdogs or Dinotopia they chose Henson's to create the animatronics for them. just as they have so many times over the years with such films as 101 Dalmatians or George of the Jungle to name but two. This is nothing new, it has happened for a very long time and probably always will. To make out it is another form of Disney helping out and keeping the Henson team busy ready for a takeover, really is clutching at straws. Remember they are providing revenue for EMTV when doing this, not just Henson.

    And finally renting, and I emphasise the word RENTING, the studio space out to Henson for Kermit's Swamp Years, was more of a coup for Disney than it was a "deal" to keep the Henson team happy. The Henson Company were filming in the Florida swaps what better place than Walt Disney World to have the studio, especially with the added bonus for WDW that those little tour guides with the fake grins could tell the kids who were hanging on every word that Kermit filmed his latest film here. It works for both companies Henson get good studio space close to their location filming and Disney get an extra attraction on their backlot tour. Its no conspiracy, no wooing, as Jim hill seems to be making out, just good business sense.

    Overall I really like Jim's style, I loved his work for LaughingPlace.com - but don't patronise us! We all know its a possibility that Disney may buy Henson, we don't need the evidence of a few mildly related incidents to prove it. If that were the case we might as well say NASCAR or Denny's were in with a chance.

    Michael.
  7. ZootandDingo

    ZootandDingo Member

    Although I cannot stand most of Cartoon Network's new productions, how can one deny that The Powerpuff Girls are unbelievably popular right now?

    And also, look at it this way....in 1997 Warner Bros. took a 30-year-old low budget lackluster Saturday morning cartoon and turned it into one of the hottest kids properties of the 90's. And that was something that had virtually zero audience for several years, unlike the Muppets that have always maintained a strong fanbase.

    Likewise, Viacom has taken properties such as Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-Head, and SpongeBob SquarePants and have made them cult hits with both kids and adults.

    No matter which studio (if any) acquires Henson, each one is going to have its faults in the past for whatever reasons. But honestly, it's not as bleak as some seem to make it. Disney is NOT the only viable option.

    I have very little confidence in Disney myself, so I would be happy with almost any other solution. If I may use their most popular acquired franchise as an example, the corporation is currently being sued over due profits made from the billions of Winnie the Pooh products worldwide. Plus, a few years ago they decided to whittle down the cast by firing thirty-year Tigger voice Paul Winchell and replacing him with Pooh's voice artist Jim Cummings. Granted those are just individual examples in a whole nigh-century of the company's existance, but when I hear stuff like that happen with their most successful property it makes me leery of what could happen to another franchise that they're looking for a dirt cheap deal on.
  8. radionate

    radionate New Member

    Look at it this way....in 1997 Warner Bros. took a 30-year-old low budget lackluster Saturday morning cartoon and turned it into one of the hottest kids properties of the 90's. And that was something that had virtually zero audience for several years, unlike the Muppets that have always maintained a strong fanbase.

    Which series are you talking about?

    Likewise, Viacom has taken properties such as Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butt-Head, and SpongeBob SquarePants and have made them cult hits with both kids and adults.

    I credit that to excellent writing, not production quality. But you have a point, they are fun shows, but will they stand up to the test of time? Ren and Stimpy and B & BH are already starting to disappear from the collective conscious of the public.

    Plus, a few years ago they decided to whittle down the cast by firing thirty-year Tigger voice Paul Winchell and replacing him with Pooh's voice artist Jim Cummings.

    Did he get fired or did he retire? Or did he "retire" at the request of Disney. He is getting up there in years you know.
  9. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    Phillip,

    I basically agree with what Michael says, but i'm going to be a litle less forgiving, basically because i haven't really read Jim Hill's work before, and i also don't know his background.

    I just found the whole article very badly put together, and as Michael implies, it just basically picks at straws which support the argument, and ignores other things that would prove it wrong - thats no way to build a hypotheses.

    You can't SERIOUSLY make a connection between Dave Goelz voicing a character for a ride, and Disney aquiring Henson. Thats just TOTAL rubbish. The whole process of aquiring a company would be dealt with at top management level - the producers involved with hiring voice talent wouldn't even be in the loop. I also think any relationship between Brian Henson stepping down and Disney wooing Muppeteers is total fantasy as is any connection with the Treasure Island DVD - it clearly isn't happening. As for pointing out and linking to press releases where it's speculated that Disney are interested in aquiring Henson then fine, but what about the press releases and articles that say Disney aren't interested (especially at the asking price) and also the recent one that says Rivkin is the current sole bidder, and pretty much implies Disney is no longer interested. I'm not saying that either version is true or false but if you focus on both of them rather than just quickly gloss over one then it becomes a more accurate and structured article.

    Apparently the 'big dogs' are circling the Henson deal, hoping against hope that the price tags for the Muppets will hit basement level. Is this person serious ? It's probably been one of the longest sales in history, with fairly lacklustre interest, and Allen & Co are having to seek out a second round of bids. I know theres been a fair amount of interest, but please !

    I know that Jim Hill has a fairly nice writing style and it has obviously worked well for the Disney site, and all kudos to him for taking the time to write an article for 'Muppet Central'. I do though think that the content was pretty laughable and contains nothing more than an uninformed fan opinion that could have been posted on the forum. If you want someone to give media industry insight into this kind of sale process then it's probably a good idea to find people who really know what they're talking about and have experience of it professionally rather than getting a fairly well known writer to look at the press releases and make some guesses that are just total twaddle. I know it's his own personal opinion but it's so way off course and just so untrue - i would have expected something more accurate for the main site. If this kind of thing can get published are you gonna give everyone a page on the main site to air their conspiracy theories ?

    I'm beginning to dread to think what the 'Movin Right Along' articles contain, and i hope that you have a little think about publishing total inaccuracies about Henson people on a site that they come and read for themselves. I also think you should consider removing the references to Dave Goelz or at least seeking permission for them - its very offensive to him to imply that by accepting professional work from Disney he is somehow being kept happy by them and may be being 'sweet-talked' into accepting any aqusition by Disney - if that was me i would be absolutely furious !
  10. danielromens

    danielromens Member

    Luke, isn't it you who has posted a lot of "conspiricy theories" yourself. Not only that but your buddies at Toughpigs aren't exactly A-1 writers of fact either. It's opinion, and though I also think it to be far fetched, lets watch for the hypocracy dude.
  11. radionate

    radionate New Member

    Luke,

    I'm not backing the article by Jim Hill at all, in fact I believe that in many instances he is indeed grasping at straws, but in regards to Figment being voiced by Dave, I find it a little interesting.

    Disney has a stable full of voice talent that they use on a regular basis. Add to that the vast number of voice over artists out there, it seems odd that they would hire a muppeteer.

    Now I'm not saying that its a causal relationship between Disney and Henson, but it does raise eyebrows when you seriously think about it. Has Dave done much independent voice work in the past? No. He's a Muppeteer. Period.

    Perhapes the WDI execs met Dave while he was in Florida for Kermit's Swamp Years (if he even worked on the show). But then again....
  12. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    Daniel,

    The point is that these 'conspiracy theories' are in a professional article about the Henson sale on the main internet site, and i'd also like to think i've spent a little more time studying this. Anything i've said has been on the forum and i have the same amount of airspace as you or Frogboy, or Boyrasin etc etc. As you've said before, you don't like reading in-between the lines but this is just what this article is doing, but it's presented as more than that and still coming to the wrong conclusions. I don't feel like the statements made in this article deserve any special treatment on the main site above what other people have already said.

    Seeing as you brought Toughpigs into it - the article i recently wrote for Toughpigs was seen by the production team of the show, and also had input from a Henson puppeteer working on the show - it was written in a humorous way but it was accurate.

    I also find it totally offensive to Dave Goelz using both his name and image without persmission to imply things about his professional work. He's a very nice and honest guy, and i'd hate people to think he is in some way being 'bought' into accepting Disney - thats totally unfair !!!!! As someone else has pointed out, yes it might be 1% interesting that they used him, but at the end of the day they can use whoever the heck they like. I didn't like the way that by the end of the article it kind of sums up in a kind of 'now we know this is whats really going on' tone - and that just simply is NOT the case.
  13. statnwaldorf

    statnwaldorf New Member

    I have to agree with Luke on the point about Dave Goelz, that was the impression I got and intimated to in my response earlier.

    To almost blatantly say (along side a photograph of Dave Goelz from Muppetfest) that Dave is being given jobs by Disney just to keep him "sweet" and in order to make sure that he stays on whenever a possible buyout takes place, is pretty disgraceful. I am sure, without attempting to speak for him, that Dave was given the job of voicing Figment on his own merit and his past record and not some "bung" from Disney to ensure that he's happy.

    This clearly is Jim Hill's own opinion which is fine, but when it relies on supposition then it is right to think that it belongs more here on the forum than as a hyped up article on the main site. Unless of course there is some actual evidence that Dave really was given the job as a favour from Disney, if not its probably best not said.

    As I said before I have read Jim Hill's articles on Laughingplace, more than once and found them to be great, really informative with an easy style and great content. However I fear that either in a rush to achieve something quickly or with a lack of actual content this time he's scored an own goal.

    Michael.
  14. Muppets1985

    Muppets1985 Member

    Go Disney Go Disney Gooo...

    Well all I can say is that Disney has my vote 100% all the way!. And I think way deep down EVERY one here knows that Disney WILL end up with the Muppets. YES! You can tell that Disney IS sucking up, but hey thats HollyWood for you. and I don't think Disney is really "luering" Dave in, well... maybe.
  15. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I enjoyed the article though I do think it takes the examples a little too far. I do feel that they should be examined and I am glad somebody did so. I guess articles like anything else are like Rorschach tests. Reactions often reflect our own perspectives rather than what is on the page. This may not be the case, but it is food for thought. It seems sometimes that negative themes can be read into anything. I personally think everybody has gone a little overboard in this analysis including Jim too, but it made for an interesting column. Isn't that what columnists do - analyze information to a conclusion? :)
  16. ZootandDingo

    ZootandDingo Member

    My error. I was referring to Scooby-Doo.

    Of course, it is apples and oranges when you look at the actual quality and styles of the shows, but I was moreso referring to how effectively Viacom has marketed them. They have taken otherwise overlooked programs and had launched them into the forefronts. My point is simply can one imagine if that kind of corporate drive was applied to something with an already built-in fanbase as The Muppets?

    And veering off the topic slightly, Ren and Stimpy are coming back courtesy of their creator, so we'll see if lightning can strike twice.

    I'm not exactly sure what the proper terminology would be. They invited Paul Winchell to audition for whatever the next production was, and then they went ahead with Jim Cummings. So whether or not it was a "firing" in the legal sense is open to debate.

    From what I have learned about voice artists (particularly the old school gang that contained Mel Blanc, Daws Butler, and Paul), they will pretty much keep doing it until they drop. So, I would doubt it if he was willing to retire just yet.

    And I forgot to mention this before, but do we need to discuss how Fox handles their properties such as The Simpsons or Planet of the Apes? I'm just reiterating my point that all of the studios have had successes as big as Disney's with handling characters and marketing.

    And as far as I know, every major studio has the same odds of lasting as long as Disney, so I hardly see how that needs to be factored in. I don't think anybody is really worrying about Universal or Warner Bros. going away anytime soon.

    Every one of the studios has their strong points (likewise their weak points, as well), so I'm just not going to write Disney off as the victor just yet....especially since there has yet to have been a public offer made by them.

    My prediction is that Disney is going to sit on its thumbs for too long waiting for a good deal, and someone else is going to grab the company in the meantime. Eisner can make all of the public love letters he wants to, but if another studio calls his bluff and makes a bid, then we will really see how serious he is in owning Henson.
  17. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Active Member

    Well, at least now I have a nice picture of my favorite Muppet with my favorite cartoon character (not to mention Ozzy Osbourne).

    Is it me or are Mickey and Kermit looking at each other funny?
  18. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    You are correct. I wanted Mickey and Kermit's expressions to be ambiguous to reflect the varietly of opinions on the topic. Glad you like the pic (pssst - drew the Mickey myself). ;)
  19. radionate

    radionate New Member

    Way to go Frogboy!!!!! Awesome job!:D
  20. BoyRaisin2

    BoyRaisin2 Active Member

    Oh that was you Frogboy! Awesome pic! Got any more? :)


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