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

Mario500

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Thank you for responding to my first question, Brian. I have two more I hope you don't mind answering:

How do you feel about referring to people by only their last names in general?

Did you find phrases like "Jim and Juhl" and "Jim and Oz" odd while writing them and/or reading them since you could have used Jim and Jerry and Jim and Frank instead?
 
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brianjayjones

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How do you feel about referring to people by only their last names in general?
I have no issue with it whatsoever. In my first book, I referred to everyone, even my "main character," by their last names.

Did you find phrases like "Jim and Juhl" and "Jim and Oz" odd while writing them and/or reading them since you could have used Jim and Jerry and Jim and Frank instead?
Nah. Once you decide that's what you're gonna do, ya gotta own it. My decision was to call Jim by his first name, and everyone else (with the exception of family members) by their last--and once I made that call, editorially I had to stick with it, or it would've been really jarring to the reader if I kept moving back and forth (especially when, at times, there may have been two Jerrys in play -- it could have turned into a mouthful: "Jim, Frank, Jerry Juhl, and Jerry Nelson"). And I don't think I would ever have referred to David Lazer, for instance, by writing, "Jim and David." To me, that was just too informal for someone like Lazer.

But again, that's just me. I could have called Jim "Henson" the entire time as well, though I actually think that would have changed the tenor of the narrative slightly ("Henson did this...Henson did that..." as opposed to, "Jim did this..."). But that's just my opinion; your mileage may vary.
 
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minor muppetz

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Question for Brian:

Was there anything about Jim Henson or his work that you were hoping to find out about when researching/interviewing for the book, even if it's something that you wouldn't have actually put in the book, that you were not able to find the answers you were looking for?
 

brianjayjones

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I really had very few pre-conceived notions going into it. However, I did have people ask me to "find out about the drugs!" Some of the Muppet stuff is just SO crazy and weird and wonderfully bizarre, that people think that Jim and the gang had to be on drugs. So, I was at least on the lookout for that, and would ask about it, to really no avail ("a little grass," Jerry Nelson told me, but that was about it.)

However, as I was reading through some archival material, I read an interview in which someone reported the story of Jim's LSD trip. But that person wasn't there -- it was a story they had only heard, but unless I could verify it with anyone who was there, I wasn't going to be able to use it. So I asked Oz about it. He laughed and said, "Oh yeah!" and then told me the story. It turned out Jerry Nelson was there, too, so when I saw Jerry, I asked him about it, and he told me the exact same story. So: bingo. I had it, and could use it.
 
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dwayne1115

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really had very few pre-conceived notions going into it. However, I did have people ask me to "find out about the drugs!" Some of the Muppet stuff is just SO crazy and weird and wonderfully bizarre, that people think that Jim and the gang had to be on drugs. So, I was at least on the lookout for that, and would ask about it, to really no avail ("a little grass," Jerry Nelson told me, but that was about it.)

However, as I was reading through some archival material, I read an interview in which someone reported the story of Jim's LSD trip. But that person wasn't there -- it was a story they had only heard, but unless I could verify it with anyone who was there, I wasn't going to be able to use it. So I asked Oz about it. He laughed and said, "Oh yeah!" and then told me the story. It turned out Jerry Nelson was there, too, so when I saw Jerry, I asked him about it, and he told me the exact same story. So: bingo. I had it, and could use it.
Wow welcome to Muppet Central Mr. Jones! I loved the book, it was very innerspring. I heard someone say that you where working on another Muppet/Henson related book, but they did not have any more information can you give us a little clue?
 

brianjayjones

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Wow welcome to Muppet Central Mr. Jones! I loved the book, it was very innerspring. I heard someone say that you where working on another Muppet/Henson related book, but they did not have any more information can you give us a little clue?
Sure. It's the guy in this photo who's NOT Jim.

 

dwayne1115

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Wow! that is awesome and what a wonderful tribute that book will be I'm sure.

When you where doing Jim's book did you have access to all seasons of the Muppet Show. I'm trying to start a movement where fans contact Disney and beg them to release seasons four and five of the Muppet Show.
 

brianjayjones

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When you where doing Jim's book did you have access to all seasons of the Muppet Show. I'm trying to start a movement where fans contact Disney and beg them to release seasons four and five of the Muppet Show.
While the Henson Company probably has them in their archives for their own internal use and reference, I relied on the three seasons that were already out on DVD, and then pulled the rest off YouTube. (If you're asking if I got copies of all the seasons of TMS from Disney, the answer is no.)
 

dwayne1115

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That's cool I know this may have been asked,but Was there annything you learned about Jim that shocked or surprised you?
 

brianjayjones

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That's cool I know this may have been asked,but Was there annything you learned about Jim that shocked or surprised you?
Sure. There were two big things.

First, Jim was almost pathologically conflict-averse. You suspect it, sure, because Jim’s such a decent guy, but I had no idea the sheer extent of it. Jim wouldn’t resolve debates with his attorneys, couldn’t fire or discipline his staff, and wouldn’t even bicker with his wife, Jane. As Jane herself told me, “it was fight or flight, and Jim always chose flight.”

Second, I was surprised and impressed with what a fantastic businessman he was. Again, it makes sense; you can’t own a company with workshops in London and New York without being good at what you do. But Jim was really good, even from a young age. He was seventeen when he started his company, and from day one, he knew his work had value. While still in his twenties, he was offered a very large sum of money to sell one of his characters outright, and Jim refused, telling his agent, “Bernie, never sell anything I own.”
 
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