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Your Thoughts: "Jim Henson: The Biography" by Brian Jay Jones

Oscarfan

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I'm sure this was asked somewhere else before, but how much access to the Henson production archive were you given? Was it through Craig Shemin?
 

brianjayjones

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I'm sure this was asked somewhere else before, but how much access to the Henson production archive were you given? Was it through Craig Shemin?
Full, unlimited access, through Karen Falk, the Henson Company's crackerjack archivist. And she was (and is) the greatest.

ETA: For production archives -- if you mean video clips and the like -- I worked through the film archivists in the Henson Company in Hollywood, who provided me with access to raw video footage (meaning a lot of it still had the countdown reels on it and so on).
 

Muppet Master

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Full, unlimited access, through Karen Falk, the Henson Company's crackerjack archivist. And she was (and is) the greatest.

ETA: For production archives -- if you mean video clips and the like -- I worked through the film archivists in the Henson Company in Hollywood, who provided me with access to raw video footage (meaning a lot of it still had the countdown reels on it and so on).
Here's another question, did you get some of the opinions of the muppet performers or Jim Henson's former co-workers on the book?
 

brianjayjones

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Here's another question, did you get some of the opinions of the muppet performers or Jim Henson's former co-workers on the book?
Are you asking: "What do some of the Muppet performers or Jim's colleagues think of the book?" If so, then I'm pleased to say that I've spoken with many of Jim's co-workers and performers, all of whom have said really nice things about the book.

If you click here, it'll take you to my website where I've listed pretty much all the reviews, and you'll see comments from Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, and Fran Brill. (There are lots of others who've sent me nice messages in e-mail and so on, but those aren't cleared for public consumption.)

The book as published even used Oz's "blurb" on the inside cover jacket. That was a really big one for me, as I'm delighted that Oz -- who knew Jim probably better than anyone -- thought I'd "gotten" Jim.
 

Slackbot

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Mr. Jones,

Thanks for your answers to me and others. I know what it's like to have to cut out stuff you like to improve a book. After I finished what I thought was a really good draft my editor told me to chop off the first chapter; it just delayed the beginning of the real story. That ticked me off, but after I reread it I admitted, yeah, it wasn't needed, and out it went. As they say, to be a writer you have to be willing to kill your babies.

You've got me curious about that anecdote about meeting the Queen. Any chance we could see the cutting room sweepings?
 

Muppet Master

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Are you asking: "What do some of the Muppet performers or Jim's colleagues think of the book?" If so, then I'm pleased to say that I've spoken with many of Jim's co-workers and performers, all of whom have said really nice things about the book.

If you click here, it'll take you to my website where I've listed pretty much all the reviews, and you'll see comments from Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, and Fran Brill. (There are lots of others who've sent me nice messages in e-mail and so on, but those aren't cleared for public consumption.)

The book as published even used Oz's "blurb" on the inside cover jacket. That was a really big one for me, as I'm delighted that Oz -- who knew Jim probably better than anyone -- thought I'd "gotten" Jim.
Yes, that's what I meant, and thanks for answering, it's not often I get to talk to a real author. Here's one more question (sorry if you're getting annoyed), were you crying when you wrote the last chapter like I was when I was reading it?
 

minor muppetz

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That said, it was just impossible to get every project Jim ever touched into the book. As I've told many people (and I think you and I, minor, even corresponded over e-mail on this), that meant that someone's favorite project was bound to get left out or glossed over, and I'm always sorry when that happens. (As you'll see, it even happened to me.)
I don't remember e-mailing you at all about the book (though I know I did e-mail Michael Davis about Street Gang after that book came out).
 

minor muppetz

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Another thing I've wondered, which I have noted previously in this thread: The book does talk a lot about how ACC originally owned the distribution rights to a number of Jim Henson's productions before he purchased the rights, but it also mentions that when he purchased The Dark Crystal (and I assume the others) he still had to deal with Universal as the American distributor. From your research, did you learn anything about how Henson got the American rights from Universal (or would the American rights have eventually reverted to ACC if they still owned them)?

And with all the talk about Jim buying back all those productions, I am surprised there was no mention of Tri-Star distributing The Muppets Take Manhattan (and only a brief mention of the company as distributor of Labyrinth). During your research did you hear anything about Tri-Star's distribution (at that point I guess the Muppets were big enough that a big-name movie studio would be willing to finance a Muppet movie)? At one point it's mentioned that MTM was produced "independently", given the way it was written I'm not sure if that just meant it wasn't distributed by ACC (or was the movie actually produced before a distributor got involved?)
 

brianjayjones

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You've got me curious about that anecdote about meeting the Queen. Any chance we could see the cutting room sweepings?
Probably not, sorry! Posting unedited text is a bit like going about with no trousers on. And my editor was right about it: it was fun, but it didn't quite hang together.

Here's one more question (sorry if you're getting annoyed), were you crying when you wrote the last chapter like I was when I was reading it?
Not annoyed at all! This is the fun stuff!

I wasn't crying when I wrote the last chapter, but it WAS very emotional. I had Jim's medical records beside me, and I knew exactly what he had gone through, including what he told the doctors when he checked in (it's how I was able to track some of his condition in the days leading up to his death). It was a privilege to tell that story, and I took it very seriously.

I don't remember e-mailing you at all about the book (though I know I did e-mail Michael Davis about Street Gang after that book came out).
Ah, okay! I corresponded with someone who was a devoted FTB fan, who was disappointed it hadn't made it into the book. I thought perhaps that might have been you.

From your research, did you learn anything about how Henson got the American rights from Universal (or would the American rights have eventually reverted to ACC if they still owned them)?

And with all the talk about Jim buying back all those productions, I am surprised there was no mention of Tri-Star distributing The Muppets Take Manhattan (and only a brief mention of the company as distributor of Labyrinth). During your research did you hear anything about Tri-Star's distribution (at that point I guess the Muppets were big enough that a big-name movie studio would be willing to finance a Muppet movie)? At one point it's mentioned that MTM was produced "independently", given the way it was written I'm not sure if that just meant it wasn't distributed by ACC (or was the movie actually produced before a distributor got involved?)
I didn't come across anything that would help me give you much of an informed answer on this, sorry, and my conversations with Oz about MTM tended to lean more toward the production side than distribution.
 
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