Jim Henson’s The Storyteller was a series that retold various European folk tales, particularly ones considered obscure in the U.S. Henson combined a cast of actors and puppets for the story retellings. The series featured John Hurt in prosthetics and make-up telling these old folk tales to his puppet dog that acted as the point of view of the audience at home. The series had 1 season of 9 episodes and a spin-off of Greek Myths that had 4 episodes. But why is everyone talking about a puppet show that aired on the BBC in 1987? And what does Neil Gaiman have to do with it? If you guessed reboot, you’re absolutely right.
ALF was a sci-fi comedy series starring a puppet alien named ALF (Alien Life Form) that premiered in 1986. For years people have referenced the show, used the title character as an easter egg, and its become a strange icon of pop culture. There’s an emphasis on strange because a lot of people know of it, but few really know what it is. Surely this writer didn’t.
This week, Warner Brothers Television announced a reboot of the series. The new ALF is currently in development. It’s been discussed that the new ALF might follow the alien leaving Area 51 (where fans last left him) and interacting with the new world around him.
The Dark Crystal fans have waited 25 years for a sequel, but the long wait is over as Netflix commits to a 10 episode prequel series from The Jim Henson Company titled The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance. Louis Leterrier (Now You See Me, The Incredible Hulk) will produce and direct the series with creatures created by Brian Froud (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth). More details below. (more…)
The world lost one of its finest creators when Terry Pratchett died in March 2015. His final book, which had been completed before his death, was published five months later. Though he left enough notes for at least ten more novels in his famous Discworld series, there are no plans for anyone to take over where he left off and continue producing them. His estate – including all these notes – has been passed down to his daughter, Rhianna Pratchett, who is in herself an accomplished writer, though she has declared that she has no intention of taking up such a precious mantle. (more…)
In an age where thousands of films are produced per year, it is sometimes difficult to imagine the many that barely scratch the surface of popular culture. Plenty of others have their moment in the spotlight and then disappear. Only the rare few can truly stand the test of time. David Bowie’s Labyrinth is one of those special few. But what makes the 1986 cult classic so well-loved that not only one generation, but now three, call it a favorite? Why is this film so different from the Hollywood standard? It’s not just nostalgia for a time before CGI, and it’s not just because a legend passed and so many want to remember him. It’s so much more than that. (more…)
The last time you saw The Muppets, was on the big screen in 2014 in Muppets Most Wanted. It was another standard Muppets adventure and comedy you could remember, but now ABC has promised fans a new “grown-up” take on The Muppets. Now it’s plain as day that fans of The Muppets would have to be ready to handle the now-knotty personal lives of these internationally renowned felt creations. With the mockumentary format used by well-known comedies such as: Modern Family, The Office and Parks & Rec; we get to jump into the lives of The Muppets. The following is a review of the show, which means it contains SPOILERS. You have been warned.
Just when you thought it was safe to let your baby brother take a nap, news has come out that the Goblin King will be back on the big screen! That’s right, Labyrinth is getting a sequel from the only people in the world that could do it justice, the Jim Henson Company. Variety buried this golden sequel nugget at the bottom of an announcement concerning Billy Crystal‘s involvement in another Henson project, Which Witch. (more…)
When J.J. Abrams, everyone’s favorite genre director, posted online yesterday a video inviting fans to enter an auction to win a role in Star Wars Episode VII, it offered a tantalizing look at the Abu Dhabi set of the film, and then some weird look ostrich man carrying a bunch of cages walked out behind Abrams, and everyone said, “Hey, that looks cool.” Cool-looking aliens are no stranger to the Star Wars set, but they usually only look cool after several months of post production, since during the prequels it seemed like George Lucas had abandoned practical effects completely. But inquiring fans want to know, did Abrams go pro with his ostrich man? Did he recruit the fine people at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to bring these new alien creations to life? The answer comes right after the break… (more…)
When you think of some of the iconic muppets, monsters and other worldly creatures that have graced the big and small screen, chances are they were created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop – the legendary makers of movie magic. Founded in 1979 by the late Jim Henson, carried on by his son Brian Henson, the shop has earned its esteemed reputation with its creations appearing in such classics as Labyrinth, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dinosaurs (the TV show) and, of course, The Muppets. So what’s up with the venerable fabricators of fiction nowadays? The only sensible thing, of course. They’re getting their own reality based TV show…
This is not a typical NerdBastards article, but this is something that we wanted to tell you about: a group of former Jim Henson Company puppeteers, people behind The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock, who have come together to educate children in refugee camps through puppetry. They are No Strings International and they need a hand right now.
According to a report by NBC News, there are one million Syrian children living in refugee camps, displaced from their homes by a situation that may get worse before it gets better… if it ever gets better. 75% of those children are under the age of 11.
Some call them “The Lost Generation”. To borrow and contort a phrase, I can’t visualize what one million of anything looks like, but I can imagine the darkness caused by one million extinguished lights.
To save these kids from slipping away, there are certain things that they need: warmth, love, and food. These are basic things and there are living saints, aid workers, who are providing them, but they also need help coping with the shocking loss of everything that they have ever known.
Enter No Strings International, a not-for-profit organization with the ability to cut through language and cultural barriers while delivering a different kind of aid.
Comprised of puppeteers and aid workers, the people at No Strings are using puppets as a teaching tool in a way that should be familiar to anyone who grew up watching Sesame Street and similar shows. The difference is, these lessons are being taught in refugee camps all over the world and they are about land mine awareness, hygiene, HIV/AIDS, gender equality, natural disaster preparedness, and how to deal with trauma.
Created by former Muppet Show puppeteers Kathy Mullen and Michael Frith , and Johnie McGlade, an aid worker who stumbled onto the idea while using a puppet named Seamuss at a camp in the Sudan to communicate with both children and adults, No Strings International has made 13 short films in 24 languages for 14 countries.
Here is a look at some of their campaigns.
I had a chance to talk with Rosie Waller, the Programs Manager for No Strings via email as they try to secure financing for their work in the Syrian camps. Here’s Ms. Waller on what happens after these films are completed and ready to go to refugee camps in places like Afghanistan, Haiti, and Syria.
The next step is to host workshops in that part of the world, where we invite delegates from organisations dealing directly with children and young people, either in Syria, or living as part of the refugee community, so we can share best practice ideas about how to target the films and follow them up.
Our trauma-healing film in particular is very sensitive: children can respond on a profoundly emotional level because it deals with very difficult issues like loss and grief. It’s therefore vital that facilitators showing this film have the right additional tools so that it’s ultimately a very positive experience for those children. In addition, the No Strings workshop is co-led by a small team of exceptionally talented puppeteers, who share a range of techniques that local facilitators can use to help children explore feelings together in small groups.
With our peace-building film, puppetry is a tool young people can use to challenge the film’s inherent messages, and work through new ideas. These are techniques that we’ve shared in many parts of the world, and they’re a lot of fun as well as very effective.
As you can tell, No Strings goes above and beyond to craft these projects in a way that makes them as accessible as possible, and that extends to the look of the puppets that are used to reach the affected children. Here’s Ms. Waller on that process.
Working with a designer like Michael Frith, our puppets have a certain signature look. It’s important [that] they’re instantly appealing to children and full of character. There’s always a little whimsy to them, a charm, which draw audiences in. What’s also important is that they fully reflect the audience they’re designed for, and that they’re culturally appropriate, so we work closely with our partners in the field throughout the design stage.
To finish their latest batch of films and fully launch their program in those Syrian refugee camps, No Strings has taken to the internet and IndieGoGo.
With a little more than one day left and less than half of their $50,000 goal met, though, Ms. Waller is realistic when I ask her what will happen if they fall short of their goal.
We’re hoping to reach our IndieGoGo target, but we’ll be shooting the films whatever happens because we’re committed to them.
If you have an interest in checking out the No Strings International IndieGoGo, go here. To go to the No Strings website and read up on what they’ve done and why they do it, click here. You can also follow them on twitter.
Source: NBC News, h/t to Gerry Duggan