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.
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 tith 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. 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.
List of shows, commercials and movies 
- Pinocchio (2014) (co-production with ShadowMachine Films)
- Fraggle Rock: The Movie (2014) (co-production with Paramount Pictures, HBO Films and Regency Enterprises)
- Frog And Toad (2014)
- Ventrilocompany Studios Update (2013) (with Ventrilocompany Studios)
- The Doozers (2013)
- Reds Story (2013)
- Mad (selected segments) (2011)
- Me and My Monsters (2010)
- Late Night Liars (2010)
- Dinosaur Train (2009–present)
- The Sam Plenty Cavalcade of Action Show Plus Singing! (2008)
- Sid the Science Kid (2008–present)
- Unstable Fables (2008–09)
- Jim Henson's Pajanimals (2008, as music videos and 2011–present, as a regular series) (with Sixteen South)
- The Skrumps (2007) (with Yahoo! Kids)
- Five Minutes More (developing) (2006)
- Frances (2006)
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005) (with The Walt Disney Company)
- MirrorMask (2005)
- Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004)
- Animal Jam (2003–04)
- It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2002) (with NBC)
- Play with Me Sesame (2002–07)
- Kermit's Swamp Years (2002) (with Columbia Home Video)
- Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (2001)
- Telling Stories with Tomie dePaola (2001)
- The Hoobs (2000–02)
- Rat (2000) (with Universal Studios)
- Donna's Day (1999–2002)
- Construction Site (1999–2002)
- Farscape (1999–2003)
- Mopatop's Shop (1999–2002)
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999) (with Columbia Pictures)
- Muppets from Space (1999) (with Columbia Pictures)
- Brats of the Lost Nebula (1998)
- Ants in Your Pants (1997-2008)
- MTV promo (1997)
- Buddy (1997; co-production with American Zoetrope and Columbia Pictures)
- Bear in the Big Blue House (1997–99, 2002–06)
- Big Bag (1996–98)
- Muppets Tonight (1996–98)
- Muppet Treasure Island (1996) (with Walt Disney Pictures)
- The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1996–97)
- Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree (1995)
- Muppet Classic Theater (1994)
- Secret Life of Toys (1994)
- Jim Henson's Animal Show (1993–97)
- CityKids (1993–94)
- Dog City (1992–94) (with Nelvana)
- The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) (with Walt Disney Pictures)
- Dinosaurs (1991–93) (with Michael Jacobs Productions and Walt Disney Television)
- Sesam Stasjon (1991–99)
- Basil Hears A Noise (1990)
- Handmade Video (1990)
- The Witches (1990) (with Warner Bros. and Lorimar Film Entertainment)
- Big Bird in Japan (1989)
- The Ghost of Faffner Hall (1989)
- The Jim Henson Hour (1989–90)
- The Storyteller (1988, 1991)
- Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series (1987)
- Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories (1987–90)
- A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
- Sesame Park (1987–2002)
- Puppetman (1987)
- The Christmas Toy (1986)
- Labyrinth (1986; co-production with Lucasfilm, distributed by Tri-Star Pictures)
- The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986)
- The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years (1986)
- Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird (1985) (with Warner Bros.)
- Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters (1985)
- Muppet Babies (1984–1991)
- The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) (with TriStar Pictures)
- Big Bird in China (1983)
- Fraggle Rock (1983–87) (with Lionsgate Home Entertainment on Lionsgate releases)
- Rocky Mountain Holiday (1983)
- Don't Eat the Pictures (1983)
- The Dark Crystal (1982)
- The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
- John Denver & the Muppets (1979)
- The Muppet Movie (1979)
- Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (1977)
- The Muppet Show (1976–81)
- Saturday Night Live (1975) ("The Land of Gorch" segments)
- Sesame Street (1-2-3-4-5, 1975)
- Sesame Street (11 Cheer, 1973)
- Sesame Street (Number 3 Ball Film, 1972)
- The Frog Prince (1971)
- Sesame Street (Operatic Orange, 1971)
- Sesame Street (Nobody Counts To 10, 1971)
- Sesame Street (The Queen of 6, 1971)
- Sesame Street (The King of 8, 1971)
- Sesame Street (Doll House, 1970)
- The Great Santa Claus Switch (1970)
- Sesame Street (Number Songs 1-10, 1969)
- Sesame Street (Sam the Snake, 1969)
- Sesame Street (intro for Episode 1, 1969)
- Sesame Street (1969–)
- The Cube (1969)
- Hey, Cinderella! (1969)
- Munchos commercials (1969)
- Kenner Easy-Bake Oven commercial (1968)
- Linit Fabric Finish commercial (1967)
- Wheels, Crowns & Flutes commercial (1966)
- Wilson's Meats commercials (1966–68)
- La Choy commercials (1965–68)
- Kerns Bread commercials (1965–67)
- Time Piece (1965)
- Claussen's Bakery commercials (1964)
- Cat and Mouse (1963)
- Purina Dog Chow commercials (1962)
- Faygo commercials (1958–59)
- Wilkins Coffee commercials (1957–62)
- Sam and Friends (1955–61)
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.
See also 
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- James, Meg (2004-02-18). "Kermit Is Now Part of Magic Kingdom". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-18.