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Which performer should get a documentary next?

Discussion in 'Henson People' started by minor muppetz, Feb 10, 2011.

  1. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Over the years, there have been many Jim Henson documentaries, and Kevin Clash just recently got his own documentary. Which performers do you think would be best to get the documentary treatment next? We'll just assume that rights regarding characters and clips won't be a problem.

    I think that Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Dave Goelz, Caroll Spinney, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta, Brian Henson, Fran Brill, and Martin Robinson all deserve their own documentaries. But I think the best choices would be Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Caroll Spinney.

    A Frank Oz documentary would probably be the best choice for mass market. He is one of the few Muppet performers whose name is recognizable to casual fans, and it'd not only appeal to Muppet fans, but also Star Wars fans (assuming Yoda clips are included) and maybe also movie fans, since he directed so many. I know that at the "Sesame Street at 40" even he said that he's been thinking about not writing his autobiography, but hopefully he wouldn't veto a documentary. I could live with the focus being half about his performing career and half about his director career.

    A Jerry Nelson documentary would be great because he's done so many characters, and in The Muppet Mindset interview he seemed to hint at wanting to do an autobiography. I'd be satysfied if such a documentary was just him talking about each character, one at a time, followed by clip montages of the characters and such (okay, so there's not much else I'd expect aside from him talking about how he got started and maybe his recent health issues and Turo Daydreams album).

    A Richard Hunt documentary would be really interesting. Again, I'd expect and hope for most of the focus to be on his career as a Muppet performer (when it comes to docuementaries and autobiographies I generally expect and hope for the majority of content to be about the subjects careers over their personal life). Most of Hunt's characters are pretty much supporting, and he was a major performer for such a short period of time... The main points of interest is that such a documentary could very well potentially FINALLY give us video and audio footage of Aristotle (one of the rarest Sesame Street characters ever, yet he seems to be brought up quite a bit). It'd also be interesting to show clips of Richard Hunt's Elmo (though I hear the Kevin Clash documentary has some footage).

    And a Caroll Spinney documentary would be intersting, due to the majority of his career being on Sesame Street and him not having too many characters. Sesame Workshop would be the only company needed to get clips from (though I'd hope that clips from some Big Bird and Oscar guest appearances would be shown, as well as clips from Follow That Bird). It would be intersting to see clips from Spinney's performances on Bozo's Big Top, and also Rascal Rabbit (if the show still exists). It'd be great if it showcased clips from his rare performances as Anything Muppets, and I'd like it to have some clips of his rare character Shivers the Penguin and one of his Elmo performances. But I'd be really shocked if there was no section on Bruno (Spinney rarely talks about the character in interviews, even in fan interviews, but Bruno is often the only other Spinney character mentioned in articles and such that talk about Spinney, he's the only other Spinney character mentioned in his autobiography, and of course there is behind-the-scenes footage of Spinney performing Bruno).
  2. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Hmm, I must not have been paying attention, because I don't remember hearing/reading anything about a Kevin Clash documentary, though it doesn't surprise me, lol.

    I agree, a Frank Oz documentary would be more successful to the masses, and not just to Muppet and Star Wars fans, like you say, but also because Frank has been a bit of a prolific director for the past few decades, and some of his films have become cult favorites (Little Shop of Horrors, What About Bob?, Housesitter, etc). Plus, he was a HUGE part of the Muppet world, as he was essentially Jim's number two guy.

    Likewise, I feel Caroll Spinney really deserves a documentary himself, because not only has he created a legacy for himself simply by being Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, but he was also noted cartoonist for much of his career, and still draws, sketches, cartoons, etc to this day. Not only that, but his was one of those typical "Hollywood Success" stories, coming from meager roots and becoming a household name.
  3. beakerboy12 Well-Known Member

    Hmmm.... good question! All these performers have wonderful stories to their life. Dave Goelz would be my choice. Not just because he's my favorite, but also because his story is quite interesting.

    Dave is the only Muppeteer with no previous performing expierence. But he became one of the principal Muppeteers. And with the directing hiatus Frank had, Gonzo became Kermit's sidekick. At least for that era. Then Fozzie was recast. But he is quite an interesting fellow!
  4. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Here's the info http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Being_Elmo
  5. Puckrox Well-Known Member

    Here's what I think.

    Most likely to get a documentary = Frank Oz. After Jim, Frank's the most well known Muppeteer. Whether you're a fan of his Muppet work, his portrayal of the great little green jedi master, or you enjoy his bit parts/directing gigs, there's a lot that can be put into a documentary about this man. If not documentary gets made of him, I at least hope he'll change his mind and write an autobiography.

    Who deserves to get a documentary = Jerry Nelson. Not that say that I don't think other Muppeteers deserve documentaries (because they all do), but Jerry has done so much Muppet/puppet work in his life time. His life is fascinating. Plus he is getting up there in years, so if they were to make a documentary on him sometime in the near future, that'd be brilliant.

    Who I'd really like to get a documentary = Dave Goelz. He's my absolute favorite Muppeteer. I love watching interviews of him on youtube. I very much hope he gets a documentary someday. It would make me so very very happy.

    I'd also love to see Richard Hunt get one as well. That would be amazing and lovely and I'm sure I'd cry a lot.
    Emilia likes this.
  6. SOTTH New Member

    I second beakerboy12's comments on Dave Goelz.

    There's a great story there. Not just that he wasn't a performer originally, but that he was a design/technical guy. I think there's a great story to be told about finding character not through the typical "right brain" methods, but through the actual function of the puppet, through the "left-brain" design of it.

    When Jim designed, it seemed to be based in the performance first. He knew what feeling he wanted to express through puppetry, so he created various foam-and-fleece puppets who could function to convey those feelings. From what I've read of Dave Goelz's development of Gonzo, it was the opposite. Gonzo looked sad and pathetic, so Dave changed his eye functions, and after he did that, he discovered Gonzo's true nature.

    Gonzo is as fully-realized a character as any Muppet (moreso than almost all other, I would - and have - argued); I would love to learn more about that unique process to get there. I think it could be a real inspiration, and a great insight into a seldom-walked path within the overall creative process.
    Borples likes this.
  7. I think Richard Hunt next, or maybe Frank Oz.

    Frank seems more likely, I guess, but I'm still holding out on Richard.
  8. MelissaY1 Well-Known Member

    I'd vote for Frank Oz or Carroll Spinney. Spinney's autobiography was amazing and I have to honestly say, I enjoyed it more than Kevin Clash's book. I love Kevin too, don't get me wrong, but Spinney's got so much artistic background, etc. that I think it would be great.

    Though I do agree with everyone that Frank Oz would be the most logical, "appealing" choice for the public. And actually aside from what we've read on him in every Muppet book, etc. we dont' know as much about his personal background as some of the other puppeteers. I'd also like to see something on Steve too just cause he's a personal favorite and also has an interesting background/story...I mean the guy shares his birthday with Jim! Tell me there wasn't some master plan for his life? :)
    Emilia likes this.
  9. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I completely agree.

    On the subject of Richard Hunt, it would be nice if a documentary was done on him too; I can't remember exactly, but didn't some kind of gay webmagazine do a really nice spread about him not too many months ago?
  10. dwmckim Well-Known Member

    It was a limited run 'zine by Max Stein which is in the process of being developed into a full-blown book.

    I support the book and i can't wait til it's done but i'm torn on a screen documentary. Richard's bio works better in book form. When you put something on screen in documentary form, it should have a filmatic feel - meaning some level of entertainment/feel-good value. As much as Richard is my fave Muppeteer and the one i wish i could have met/known, i think there were also darker elements to his character that wouldn't work well in a screen telling of his life story and would not serve such a project well if they were ignored or left out. Note i'm NOT referring to his being gay (though granted, that may be a turn-off to some people - those who don't want to know or hear about a "gay Muppeteer" and to those who believe Richard's too talented to be sound-bited down to an identity, headline, or hook of "gay Muppeteer") - but rather some other character flaws/darker sides of his character not connected with sexuality.

    Could a good documentary on Richard be done? Sure - but i wouldn't want to see one before and instead of say, Frank, Carroll, or Steve.
  11. heralde Well-Known Member

    I heard about the book project for Richard Hunt, definitely sounds interesting! I personally don't mind when screen documentaries address darker issues, as long as it's balanced. Neither a white wash, nor tabloid, somewhere in between, since that's where we all are as people. ;)
  12. minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    When I started this thread I was thinking in terms of a typical TV documentary, not a biopic. More along the lines of the people he knew best talking about him, narraration of how he came to the company, behind-the-scenes footage of him performing (and clips of him from Of Muppets and Men and Down at Fraggle Rock), and focus on all of his main characters. I'm sure Jerry Nelson would have a lot to say, as well as David Rudman. And many of his characters tend to get overlooked, yet quite a few seem like cult favorites. And I'd like to see the performers talk about Gladys (the one from The Muppet Show), Aristotle (it'd be a way to finally see footage of that character in action), and Leo. I do wonder how such a documentary would handle details on his death.

    A Steve Whitmire documentary would be great. I would especially be disapointed if there were no sections on Lips. Seems Whitmire rarely talks about that character in interviews, even fan interviews (he did talk about the character in the 1999 Muppet Central interview, but did not speak of him in the Tough Pigs or MuppetCast interviews). Hopefully they'd at least represent Lips (and Foo-Foo) when talking about his early characters. I'd also like to see him talk about Waldo (unlike Lips, I've never seen Whitmire talk about that character anywhere, even when discussing The Jim Henson Hour).
  13. heralde Well-Known Member

    Exactly, I think such a documentary would be fascinating.

    Like I say, neither as a white wash nor as a tabloid, just balanced. :)
  14. Canadian Fan Member

    All of your suggestions are excellent. I'd personally love to see either Eric Jacobson, David Rudman, or Matt Vogel featured just for the fact that I don't know much about them outside of Muppets. I know that Matt has a band and David has produced some kid's show and that Eric has performed on some other puppet shows, but other than that, I'm not sure about how they got interested in puppetry.
  15. Muppet fan 123 Well-Known Member

    I'm actually hoping for a Richard Hunt
  16. Puckrox Well-Known Member

    Ditto. As much as I'd like to see Dave Goelz get a documentary, purely because he's my favorite, I think Richard really deserves one.
  17. DannyRWW Well-Known Member

    I think it would be neat to see a Dave Goelz/steve Whitmire documentary about the two of them.... It could be geared towards the fact that those two kind of carried the flame after Jim Henson died and really have developed a chemistry together as performers. In fact if there was one beef I had with the new movie is that Dave didn't seem to be in it much. And you can say what you want about qa very merry Muppet Christmas, but the song with Gonzo and Kermit is one of my favorite Muppet moments ever.
  18. Puckrox Well-Known Member

    That would be the best.
  19. Borples Active Member

    I would pay ever so much money for that. :) Actually, I was thinking that what we need is a documentary about the history of the Muppets after Jim Henson's passing. There's been a lot written and filmed about Jim's life and the Muppets under him (er...over him?). But the way they carried on after he died so unexpectedly is a GREAT story. It would focus heavily on Dave and Steve, for the reasons DannyRWW said. Special attention given to the story of Steve taking over Kermit, because the man needs more credit for that. It could foucs on the late nineties for a while, with Bill Baretta arriving, and Brian Henson and Kevin Clash as main Muppeteers (I LOVE that period of Muppet history. Anyone else?). Then they could talk about Frank's role in keeping things going, and his eventual decision to leave. Jerry's illness and departure. And that would lead them in to talking about Eric Jacobson, and the shaky 2000s, and how things came together so brilliantly around 2008-9. The wonderful viral vids and Muppets.com bits (we need some making-of info on those. Wonder if anyone has footage?). And it would all culminate in the making, release, and success of the latest movie.

    Darn, now I REALLY want this to happen. All the talk surrounding the movie about how the Muppets have been "gone" for years has really been raising my hackles. Part of that can be blamed on the (wonderful, I loved it, don't get me wrong) movie itself, with its comeback plot. But, as Kermit says, it's only a movie. Mostly, I think people just weren't paying much attention while the Muppets were doing wonderful things for 20 years. Somebody needs to bring all their hard work to the world's attention. Anyone know any good filmmakers who need ideas? ;)
    Chopped Liver and Puckrox like this.
  20. DannyRWW Well-Known Member

    You've got a nice pitch....ever think about making a documentary :)

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