The Jim Henson Company
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2008)|
|Founded||1958 (as Muppets, Inc.)|
|Headquarters||Jim Henson Company Lot, Los Angeles, California; offices and production facilities in New York City and London|
|Key people||Brian Henson
(President and COO)
The Jim Henson Company, which is an American entertainment organization, traces its origins to the founding of Muppets, Inc. in 1958 by puppeteer Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets. The Muppets helped the company gain worldwide acclaim in family entertainment for more than four decades. The company's units include Jim Henson's Creature Shop, a renowned animatronics and visual-effects workshop.
The Jim Henson Company was previously named: Uppity-Muppets Corp. (1965), Henson Associates, Inc. (1967), Jim Henson Productions, Inc. (1991-1997). As of 2011[update], Jim Henson's children Brian, Lisa, Cheryl, John and Heather run the company: Brian serves as Chairman, while Lisa serves as CEO.
Jim and Jane Henson formed Muppets Inc. in 1958, three years after Sam and Friends debuted. Aside from Sam and Friends, the majority of work that the company had until 1969 involved creating characters for various commercials, variety-show appearances, and a few meeting films for various companies (the company would produce its own meeting films from 1965 to 1996).
In 1969, the company started creating characters and more than 20 short films for the popular children's show Sesame Street.
One of the company's first characters to appear regularly on television, Rowlf the Dog, originated with commercials for Purina Dog Chow and soon became famous when he became a regular character on The Jimmy Dean Show from 1963 to 1966. During this time the show's host, Jimmy Dean, turned down the opportunity to own forty percent of the company because he didn't feel that he had earned it.
For many years, Jim Henson had tried to sell several different shows to the major American networks, all of which turned them down. Some ideas (such as "Tales of The Tinkerdee") were made as unaired pilots, and some (such as "The Zoocus") were never produced. Then, in 1976, British media-mogul Lew Grade approached Jim Henson to produce a weekly show based in England, which became The Muppet Show broadcast on ATV. The success of The Muppet Show led to many movies, specials, videos, and more. The British company ITC originally owned The Muppet Show, but Jim Henson later purchased the rights to the show.
In the early 1980s, Jim Henson also formed Jim Henson's Creature Shop, which produced characters for shows such as The Storyteller, Farscape, and Dinosaurs; and movies such as The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. During the 1980s Jim Henson produced new television series such as Fraggle Rock and The Jim Henson Hour.
In 1989, Jim Henson started negotiations with The Walt Disney Company regarding a possible purchase of the company. Due to these negotiations, management of Henson International Television based in the UK purchased their unit from the company. In 1990, while still negotiating with Disney, Jim Henson died during the week scheduled for signing the contract, and his family decided to have the company keep the rights to the characters. However, on December 18, 1991, the Walt Disney Company bought the distribution rights to the entire Jim Henson Company library up to that time. In 1999 the Jim Henson Company had partial interests in two cable channels: The Kermit Channel (broadcasting in Asia) and Odyssey Network (broadcasting in the USA). Hallmark also co-owned these networks. Both networks were later renamed to the Hallmark Channel.
In 2000, Jim Henson’s children sold the company to the German media company, EM.TV. In early 2001, after EM.TV subsequently experienced major financial problems, the Jim Henson Company was put up for sale. That year, EM.TV sold the company's ownership of the Sesame Street Muppets to Sesame Workshop and sold the company's ownership of the Odyssey Channel and the Kermit Channel. The Walt Disney Company, HIT Entertainment, Haim Saban, Classic Media, Sesame Workshop, and Sony (among others) all showed interested in owning the company.
In December 2002 a deal was announced in which EM.TV would sell a 49.9% stake in Henson to an investment group led by Dean Valentine, a former executive at Disney and UPN. However in March 2003, the deal fell through, and it was Henson's children who bought back the company in May 2003. In 2004, almost one year after ownership of the Henson company was returned to the family’s hands, the Jim Henson Company sold the rights to The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House characters to The Walt Disney Company, who control the Muppets through the wholly owned subsidiary The Muppets Studio, LLC. The Walt Disney Company now owns all Muppet-related trademarks, including the word “Muppet”. In the teaser for "Stuffed and Unstrung", the characters of Bobby Vegan and Samson Knight made it clear that they weren't Muppets.
While the company no longer owns any of The Muppets characters, the scenes featuring the fictional "Muppet Studios" in The Muppets were filmed at Jim Henson Studios.
- Frog And Toad (2014)
- Ventrilocompany Studios Update (2013) (with Ventrilocompany Studios)
- Jim Henson's Muppet*Vision 3D (1991)
- Frances (2006; 2008)
- The Sam Plenty Cavalcade of Action Show Plus Singing! (2008)
- Unstable Fables (2008–2009)
- The Skrumps (2007) (with Yahoo! Kids)
- Time Piece (1965)
- The Cube (1969)
- The Muppet Movie (1979)
- The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
- The Dark Crystal (1982)
- The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) (with TriStar Pictures)
- Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird (1985) (with Warner Bros.)
- The Witches (1990) (with Warner Bros. and Lorimar Film Entertainment)
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) (with Walt Disney Pictures)
- Muppet Treasure Island (1996) (with Walt Disney Pictures)
- Labyrinth (1986; co-production with Lucasfilm)
- Buddy (1997; co-production with American Zoetrope and Columbia Pictures)
- Muppets from Space (1999) (with Columbia Pictures)
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999) (with Columbia Pictures)
- Rat (2000) (with Universal Studios)
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) (with NBC Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
- Good Boy! (2003)
- Five Children and It (2004) puppet work only
- MirrorMask (2005)
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (with Walt Disney Pictures)
- Fraggle Rock: The Movie (2014) (co-production with Paramount Pictures, HBO Films and Regency Enterprises)
- Pinocchio (2014) (co-production with ShadowMachine Films)
- Sam and Friends (1955-1961)
- Hey, Cinderella! (1969)
- Sesame Street (1969–present)
- The Great Santa Claus Switch (1970)
- The Frog Prince (1971)
- "The Land of Gorch" segments on Saturday Night Live (1975)
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
- John Denver & the Muppets (1979)
- The Muppet Show (1976–1981)
- Rocky Mountain Holiday (1983)
- Fraggle Rock (1983–1987)
- Jim Henson's Muppet Babies (1984–1991)
- Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters (1985)
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years (1986)
- The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986)
- The Christmas Toy (1986)
- Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series (1987)
- A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
- The Jim Henson Hour (1989–1990)
- Living with Dinosaurs (1989)
- The Ghost of Faffner Hall (1989)
- Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World (1990)
- Dinosaurs (1991–1993) (with Michael Jacobs Productions and Walt Disney Television)
- Dog City (1992-1995)
- CityKids (1993–1994)
- The Secret Life of Toys (1993)
- Jim Henson's Animal Show (1993–1997)
- Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (1995)
- Muppets Tonight (1996–1998)
- The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1996–1998)
- Big Bag (1996–1998)
- Bear in the Big Blue House (1997–2003)
- Brats of the Lost Nebula (1998)
- Construction Site (1999–2002)
- Donna's Day (1999–2002)
- Mopatop's Shop (1999–2002)
- Farscape (1999–2003)
- The Fearing Mind (2000-2001)
- The Hoobs (2000–2002)
- Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001) mini-series
- Telling Stories with Tomie dePaola (2001)
- Animal Jam (2002)
- Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004)
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) TV movie (with Touchstone Television, The Muppets Studio and Fox Television Studios)
- Five Minutes More (development) (2006)
- Sid the Science Kid (2008–present)
- Jim Henson's Pajanimals (2008, as music videos and 2011–present, as a regular series) (with Sixteen South)
- Dinosaur Train (2009–present)
- Jim Henson's The Possibility Shop (2009-present)
- Me and My Monsters (2010)
- Wilson & Ditch: Dinning America (2010)
- Mad (selected segments) (2011)
- The Doozers (2013-)
Direct to video
- "Tales of Muppetland" series with Silver Eagle Records (1983) video VHS, Beta, and also RCA SelectaVision CED discs releases of "Hey Cinderella!", "The Frog Prince", "The Muppet Musicians of Bremen" and "Emmet-Otter's Jug-band Christmas"
- Jim Henson Play-Along Video (1988) with Lorimar
- Muppett Sing Alongs
- Muppet Classic Theater (1994)
- "Jim Henson's Preschool Collection"
- "Muppets on Wheels" (1995)
- "Yes, I Can Learn" (1995)
- "Yes, I Can Help" (1995)
- Kermit's Swamp Years (2002) (with Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment)
- Wilkins Coffee (1957–1962)
- Faygo commercials (1958–1959)
- Purina Dog Chow (1962)
- Claussen's Bakery (1964)
- Kerns Bread (1965–1967)
- La Choy (1965–1968)
- Wheels, Crowns & Flutes commercial (1966)
- Wilson's Meats commercials (1966–1968)
- Linit Fabric Finish commercial (1967)
- Kenner Easy-Bake Oven commercial (1968)
- Munchos commercials (1969)
- Puppet Up! (2006–present)
- Late Night Buffet with Augie and Del (2006)
- Tinseltown (2007)
- Alt/Reality (2008)
- Late Night Liars (2010)
- Simian Undercover Detective Squad (2012–present)
- Neil's Puppet Dreams (2012–present)
- No, You Shut Up! (2013-Present)
- Good Morning Today (2013-Present)
This list excludes pre-2001 Sesame Street co-productions outside the United States.
From 1969 to 2001, Jim Henson Productions contracted to create and provide Muppet characters for Sesame Street. With the exception of occasional appearances in The Muppets franchise, the characters were used exclusively for Sesame Workshop, but The Jim Henson Company technically owned the characters they created. In 2001, Sesame Workshop bought the rights to all Muppets used on Sesame Street, except Kermit the Frog.
After Jim Henson's death, Kermit rarely featured. Because Henson had not created Kermit for the exclusive use of Sesame Workshop and Kermit was the main character of Muppets as well, his case would have required a special agreement. Sesame Workshop owns all footage of Kermit on Sesame Street, and new and previous episodes of Sesame Street can continue to use that footage. This deal ended any affiliation between the Jim Henson Company and Sesame Street.
The deal also ended any direct affiliation between The Muppets and Sesame Street with two exceptions: using many of the same puppeteers, and the agreement that Sesame Street may still use the term "Muppet" from Disney, who holds the trademark to the term. Also, The Jim Henson Company can continue to design and build newer Muppet characters for Sesame Street.
- Willman, David (1992-07-26). "Jim Henson's Children Put Together a String of Big Deals to Keep Alive". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Gritten, David (1990-08-19). "The Next Muppetmeister?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Eller, Claudia; Philips, Chuck (1995-05-12). "Sony Nears Deal With Jim Henson Productions". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- The Jim Henson Company Entity Information. Corporation & Business Entity Database. Division of Corporations, State Records and Uniform Commercial Code. New York State Department of State. Accessed on November 11, 2013.
- "HIT Entertainment PLC History". Company Profiles. fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Zonana, Victor F. (1991-04-18). "Henson Heirs Allege Disney Is Illegally Using Muppets". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Citron, Alan (1990-12-14). "Miss Piggy and Friends Won't Get Together With Mickey and Minnie". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Stevenson, Richard W. (December 19, 1991). COMPANY NEWS; In Thaw, Henson and Disney Strike Deal on Home Videos. New York Times.
- Hofmeister, Sallie (2000-02-22). "German Firm to Buy Henson for $680 Million". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Verrier, Richard (2003-05-08). "Muppets Returning to Hensons' Hands". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- Videos. Muppet Collectibles . Muppet Central.com. Accessed on November 25, 2013.
- Zad, Martie. "Muppet Group Offers Eight New Songs]." The Washington Post. 1993. HighBeam Research. (November 25, 2013).
- Maes, Nancy. (March 07, 1996) Tish Hinojosa's Music Bridges Two Cultures. Chicago Tribune. Accessed on November 26, 2013.
- Martie Zad. (July 2, 1995) "[ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-841969.html Muppets, Kids Join in Series For Preschoolers]." The Washington Post. 1995. HighBeam Research. Accessed on November 26, 2013.
- James, Meg (2004-02-18). "Kermit Is Now Part of Magic Kingdom". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.