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Muppets 101 & Disney Muppet passholder event

Discussion in 'Muppet Appearances' started by KermiClown, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. KermiClown

    KermiClown Well-Known Member

    On Friday, March 6th, I attended the kick-off of the Muppets, Music & Magic film screening series at the Orange County Regional History Center. Hosted by Heather Henson (Jim Henson's youngest daughter) and Craig Shemin (former Jim Henson Company staff writer and vice-president of The Jim Henson Legacy), Muppets 101 was an overview of the history of the Muppets from their very beginnings up through The
    Muppet Show years.

    The presentation featured lots of film clips, many of which even I had never seen. The history lesson began with a couple of Sam and Friends segments and some Wilkins Coffee Commercials. These were followed by some of the Muppets' first national exposure on a number of television variety shows, including The Tonight Show with Steve Allen.

    The history lesson continued with Sesame Street. Since so many of the clips from Sesame Street are so readily available for viewing (and many are still even used on current episodes), Heather and Craig showed us the Sesame Street pitch reel with Rowlf and Kermit and a board room of Muppet "executives" trying to come up with a name for this new educational program.

    Finally, it was Muppet Show time. Again, rather than showing Muppet Show clips that are fairly easily found, we were shown the Muppet Show pitch reel, but with the ending segment that was edited out of the version on the Season One DVD box set of Kermit stepping in front of the CBS logo following the frantic sales pitch by Leo to say "What the **** was that all about?" Very funny, and very disappointing that scene is not on the DVD release.

    The pitch reel was then followed by a series of 15 and 30 second Muppet Show promos that were produced each week to promote the upcoming Muppet Show episode ("This week on The Muppet Show..."). These segments followed a standard format, but were mostly improvised, usually with Kermit doing the promo while Fozzie clowned around in the background or goofed off with some random prop or teased Kermit. A few of these can be seen on The Muppet Show Season One Bonus Feature disc, but it was a treat to see probably 20 of these promos back to back. Easily the funniest stuff I've ever seen the Muppets do. I had tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard! Hopefully, more of these promos will find their way onto future DVD releases.

    These were followed by some of the Muppet Show UK spots. Craig explained that they had very little time and money for these short spots, and they were usually filmed in one take. In one of the segments we were shown, Craig pointed out that one of the background characters had lost one of the pupils in his eyes, but there wasn't time to do a second take of the song, so the song appears as is, pupil-less Muppet and all.

    Following the film presentations, Heather and Craig were joined by former creative director Michael Frith and former Muppeteer Kathryn Mullen for a questions and answers segment.

    The following night, I attended a special Muppet event for Walt Disney World passholders at Disney's Hollywood Studios. After checking in in front of the Backlot Tours attraction, we were escorted backstage to the screening room in the Feature Animation building.

    About 10 minutes before the presentation began, we were treated to a viewing of the pre-show video from the old Here Come the Muppets live show featuring Rowlf playing the piano and singing, with interruptions from Sam the Eagle.

    Craig Shemin once again hosted this event, which began as another brief overview of Muppet history. However, it was a treat to get to see a different set of film clips rather than a repeat of the screening from the previous night.

    The history lesson again began with the Sam and Friends era, but this time we were shown clips of Sam and Friends sketches that were performed on The Today Show with Dave Garroway in 1961: "Yes, We Have No Bananas" and "Old Black Magic." These were followed by some Wilkins Coffee Commercials.

    As an example of the Muppets' appearances on variety shows, we were shown the "Glow Worm" sketch, but a unique edit that combined different "Glow Worm" performances from sources like The Jack Paar Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace and, finally, The Muppet Show into one presentation, allowing us to see how the sketch evolved over the years.

    Craig was then joined by a very special guest, Dave Goelz. Dave shared some of his memories of working with Jim Henson and the fun of filming The Muppet Show. They showed some of the behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the "In The Navy" viking musical number from the Of Muppets and Men documentary. As an example of how much fun they used to have playing around, Dave pointed out a scene where you can see a
    pig operated by Steve Whitmire with a piece of styrofoam stuck in his nostril that Dave placed there when Steve wasn't paying attention.

    We were then treated to a different set of the Muppet Show promos - still the funniest stuff I think I have ever seen the Muppets do!

    Since the event was a Disney event, it was only natural that they talk about some of the Muppet projects for Disney, starting with MuppetVision 3D. Since the actual film itself was available for viewing just inside the theme park, we got to see some behind-the-scenes footage of the making of MuppetVision 3D. Dave Goelz explained that the cameras necessary for filming the 3D effects were so loud that all of the dialogue had to be re-recorded later. He also talked about the scene where Bean Bunny is blowing bubbles. Dave operated Bean's hand that held the bubble wand. It took so many takes to correctly line up the hand with the bubble wand in front of the air hose through Bean's mouth correctly that Dave was covered in bubble soap by the end of the day.

    The final set of film clips we were shown were outtakes and bloopers from The Muppets at Walt Disney World TV special.

    Craig and Dave were then joined by another special guest: The Great Gonzo! Dave and Gonzo fielded questions from the audience, and then they stepped out into the lobby for photo ops.

    As the guests were taken one row at a time into the lobby to take pictures with Gonzo, the rest of us engaged in a Muppet trivia contest led by Disney Chief Magic Officer Justin Muchoney. I really became aware of what a Muppet geek I was as I answered several questions that nobody else knew the answers to(and even I'm not sure why I knew the answer to some of them, but there the answers were filed away in my Muppet-obsessed head). The questions I answered were:

    "Who were the only father and daughter to appear on different Muppet Show episodes?"

    "What performer from 'The Lady and the Tramp" was the inspiration for Miss Piggy's original name?"

    "How many points on Kermit's collar?"

    The answers:
    Candice Bergen and Edgar Bergen
    Peggy Lee

    There were prizes galore, and I went home with a 50th Anniversary Kermit pin and a Kermit tie.

    All in all, it was a delightfully Muppety weekend with some wonderful rare Muppet footage and some unforgettable Muppet guests.
  2. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Wow You tell it so well, it was almost like I was there myself!
  3. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    WOW! Wish I would have been there!

    Me and the family are going to Florida on April 6th for Vacation. Too bad we didn't plan our Vacation before March 6th. :sympathy:

    But at least I'll get to go to the Muppet Vision 3D movie. ;)
  4. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    Did you take any pictures of the event?
  5. zns

    zns Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you had an excellent time David. This is only a suggestion, but this would make a good article for your website. Again that's only a suggetstion. Anyway, glad you had fun. Forgive me if this sounds too personal, but did anyone else go with you? (you don't have to answer that :o)
  6. KermiClown

    KermiClown Well-Known Member

    They did not allow pictures at the events, but following the Disney event, Dave Goelz and Gonzo went out to the lobby to pose for pictures. I did not have my camera and was going to just use my phone, but someone else at the event offered to take a picture of me with Gonzo and Dave and email it to me. Very nice of them!

    I was by myself at the event. My wife had to work that evening, although I am not sure she would have wanted to be there with me anyway. I think she would have been pretty embarassed at the depth of my Muppet geekiness. I even surprised myself at how geeky I could be and how many trivial facts about the Muppets I know. Of course, I know everyone here at Muppet Central understands and can appreciate it! Muppet geeks rule!
  7. zns

    zns Well-Known Member

    Yeah I understand. Sometimes when I explain to people how big of a Muppet fan I am, I feel as if they're saying to themselves that I'm some kind of weirdo (eat your heart out Gonzon :concern:). For example, my bedroom is filled with dozens of Henson memoribilia. People sometimes think I'm obssessed, and they're probably right, but I'm not ashamed of it at all. Anyway, I hope the event comes closer to where I live next time. Glad you had fun though.

    Hope to do a trade with you again in the future.
  8. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    They showed bloopers and outtakes from The Muppets at Walt Disney World? Did they show any bloopers from either scene where that bucket falls on Beaker's head? I'd imagine that to have been a little hard to pull off.
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Do you remember what was asked-and-answered in the question-and-answer session? Or was it pretty much stuff we already knew?

    And regarding the outtakes and bloopers from M@WDW, were there any outtakes of the bucket falling on Beaker's head?
  10. Blinky_Fish

    Blinky_Fish Well-Known Member

    Okay - one thing is missing here - How many people attended the event - not from here just in total? - I think it's important because we as fans need to be able to make sure we show up for our felt-laden friends and the people down below.

    Save Roosevelt Franklin!
  11. KermiClown

    KermiClown Well-Known Member

    Muppets 101 at the Orange County Regional History Center was a full-house event... probably 200 people (it wasn't a particularly large space and I'm not sure how many people it actually held).

    The passholder event at Disney was actually presented three times that day. The first two events were sold-out and they added the third. I was at the third event at 7:00 that evening. It wasn't quite a full house, put it was pretty close. I'd guess a couple hundred, probably.

    I don't believe they had outtakes of the bucket dropping on Beaker's head. A lot of flubbed lines bloopers. A lot of re-takes of the final musical number (I remember one take where some oblivious guests walked right through the camera shot despite a gaggle of Muppets singing and dancing right in front of them).

    Nothing really notable or enlightening from the question and answer session. Several people asked about the possible DVD release of specials like John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together and The Muppet Musicians of Bremen. Craig Shemin explained that releasing something like John Denver and the Muppets was complicated (although not impossible) due to the different folks who have ownership of the project (I guess it is part owned by John Denver's estate and partially by Disney). He did say that Muppet Musicians was certainly possible as a release but that there were no current plans that he knew of.

    Someone asked about future Muppet projects, and following the success of Letters to Santa, a possible Halloween special might be in the works. They also alluded to the new Muppet movie.

    Someone asked what Gonzo was, and apparently she had never seen Muppets from Space because she seemed very surprised when Gonzo said that in that movie he was discovered to be an alien. Although he did say that that was just a movie and there was still no definite answer as to what he was.

    I actually asked about Gonzo's evolution from his beginnings on the Muppet Show to the type of character he is now. Dave Goelz said that after the first season, Jim Henson asked him to make Gonzo less sad and depressing, so he made a new Gonzo with eyes that could open wider and seemed happier. He also said that A Muppet Christmas Carol was a big turning point for Gonzo, allowing him to be more soul-searching and serious. Also, Dave said around that time he was going through a lot of life changes and writer Jerry Juhl was very attuned to that and worked some of those changes into Gonzo's character. So, basically, Gonzo grew up along with Dave.

    Wish I could remember even more details about the two nights' events, but it was a bit of an overload at times and a lot to retain.
  12. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    Too Bad I wasn't there. I would have love to have been there. I've always wanted to see the 1961 Muppet appearance on The Today Show (Yes, We Have No Bananas & Old Black Magic)!
  13. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    Heh heh heh, a lot of people didn't see Muppets From Space. ;) But I did!
  14. zns

    zns Well-Known Member

    Sounds like it was a fun filled event. I must say that I envy you David. Glad you had a good time though. :)
  15. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    No matter how envious I am of you, I wouldn't take away your experience for anything in the world! That sounded great! Did you get your picture with Gonzo and Dave, and when will you post it?
  16. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    So amazing to hear! I love hearing about actual live Muppets performed in front of people.(Caroll with Oscar at the book signings, Steve with Kermit in New York openings, PRell with Red Fraggle at Comic Con, and Gonzo by himself or with Elmo and Zoe back east)

    Anyways, sounds like an amazing two days! You're own private Muppetfest:)

    Makes me think how awesome a Muppetfest type event put on by Disney would be, at say Anaheim Disneyland or WDW. I guess, akin to the 90's era Star Wars Weekends?
  17. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    Check out what I found!


    When ya get there just click on Muppet Passholder Speaker Event!

    If it's not getting you there just type the in that website and you'll find it.
  18. ploobis

    ploobis Well-Known Member

    If you are not having luck on the link I sent ya, Heres what else you can do.

    Just go to Google and type in Disney Muppet Passholder event then click search then go to the link that sez "The Muppets Annual Passholder Speaker Event Disney's Hollywood. It's a link from studiocentral.com.

    Maybe that will help. When ya get there you,ll see some photos of the event and also a short clip of a Muppet Clip playing on the screen. It's a clip of Rowlf singing "You and I and George" from the video show from the "Here Come The Muppets" show that use to be at Disney World.

    Still wish that I could have been there. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the link I share with you.

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