The Muppets Studio
|Type||Limited liability company
|Founded||February 17, 2004
(as The Muppets Holding Company)
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, U.S.|
|Key people||Lylle Breier (GM)
Bear in the Big Blue House
|Parent||The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)
The Muppets Studio, LLC, formerly Muppets Holding Company, LLC, is a wholly owned entertainment subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, formed in 2004 through the acquisition of The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House assets from The Jim Henson Company.
In the late-1980s, Jim Henson had been in talks with Disney CEO Michael Eisner to sell Disney the Muppets. In August 1989, the two announced a deal for Disney to buy Henson Associates. The deal fell through several months after Jim Henson's death in 1990.
Despite the collapse of the merger deal by 1992, Disney and Jim Henson Productions had already struck a number of deals:
- Exclusive domestic rights to Henson theme park attractions in the western U.S. until May 1994, including the design of two Muppet attractions at Walt Disney World
- Buena Vista licensed worldwide distribution rights to Henson's 300 hours of programming and a financing deal for up to 3 home video projects
- Certain cable television distribution rights for Disney Channel until 1997
- International distribution rights for existing TV programming in free broadcast, cable or pay-per-view markets
- Theatrical distribution for The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Dinosaurs co-production
Muppets Holding Company
Eisner, still interested in the Muppet properties, re-opened negotiations with the Hensons and announced the purchase of The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House assets from The Jim Henson Company for $75 million on February 17, 2004. The acquired Muppet assets were then placed into The Muppets Holding Company with Chris Curtin as general manager within Disney Consumer Products. A new website was launched in November 2004 and the Muppets made an appearance on the 2004 Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live. The first Muppet production under complete Disney control, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, went into production immediately and aired on ABC in May 2005. While Bear first appeared under Disney's control in the reality show, Breakfast With Bear in 2005.
A Fifth birthday tour for Kermit, "Kermit's World Tour" was planned with the leadership changes made just days before the tour began. The tour made its initial three stops before being canceled: Kermit, Texas, Johnson Space Center tour and cake with The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, NYC.
Following Eisner's exit from the Disney company, new CEO Robert Iger removed the head of the Muppets Holding Company and several senior staff members hand-picked by Eisner. Since that time, the Company has been attempting to define the role of The Muppets within the Disney corporate structure. ABC in October 2005 order for “America’s Next Muppet,” a script and five script outlines. ABC was reluctant to green light America's Next Muppet in early 2006, but never got out of the planning stage. Muppet Holding's new general manager instead licensed the Muppets out to TF1, a French television network, to produce Muppet TV in September 2006.
In 2006, the Muppets Holding Company was transferred from the Disney Consumer Products unit to The Walt Disney Studios with studio executives passing on oversight, the unit was placed in the special events group. In April 2007, the Muppets Holding Company changed its name to The Muppets Studio under new leadership by Special Events Group SVP Lylle Breier.
- Chris Curtin, 2004–2005
- Russell Hampton, 2005–May 2006
- Lylle Breier, Fall 2006–present
- Breakfast with Bear, 2005 reality show on Disney Channel
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, 2005
- Best of the Muppets CD, 2005
- Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony, 2005–2006
- The Muppet Show: Season One DVD, 2005
- Muppets Ahoy! stage show, 2005
- The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas CD, 2006
- Before You Leap, 2006
- Muppet Mobile Lab, Audio-animatronic figures at Disney theme parks, 2006–present
- The Muppet Show: Season Two DVD, 2007
- America's Next Muppet, a parody of reality TV shows (America's Next Top Model) to select the next Muppet, never got out of planning
- Muppet TV, a French 2006 hour long show on TF1 showing the Muppets run a TV station similar to the The Jim Henson Hour MuppeTelevision segment
- Studio DC: Almost Live, 2 specials, August 3, 2008 & October 2008, Disney Channel special featuring the Muppets and Disney Channel stars: Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale and Jonas Brothers
- The Muppet Show: Season Three DVD, 2008
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, 2008
- special skits on some ABC DVD releases (“Desperate Housepigs” on “Desperate Housewives” DVD)
- Muppet YouTube videos, 2008-2010
- "Muppet Show Theme Song" music video from Muppets: The Green Album, 2011
- The Muppets, 2011
- Midship Detective Agency, 2012
- Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular, 2013
- Muppisodes, (Co-Production with WWE) 2013
- Muppets Most Wanted, 2014
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- Burr, Ty (1997-05-16). "The Death of Jim Henson". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
- 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.
- Masters, Kim (20 October 2011). "Kermit as Mogul, Farting Fozzie Bear: How Disney's Muppets Movie Has Purists Rattled". The Hollywood Reporter. pp. 3 of 4. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
- Jim, Hill (April 29, 2007). "Monday MouseWatch : Will the third time be the charm with Disney's Muppet revival project?". jimhillmedia.com. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Disney's plan to relaunch the Muppets". Muppet Central.com. AP. May 19, 2005. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Crosby, Sherry Joe. (November 25, 2013) "When a Bear Comes to Breakfast". Daily News (Los Angeles, CA). 2005. HighBeam Research.
- Schneider, Michael (2005-10-25). "Muppets pull strings at ABC". Variety. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- James, Alison (September 17, 2006). "Les Muppets on a French roll". Variety. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- (July 25, 2008) Miley Cyrus meets the Muppets in Disney Channel special. Variety. Variety Media, LLC.
- Grow, Kory. (October 18, 2013) Lady Gaga to Celebrate Thanksgiving With the Muppets. Rolling Stone (Wenner Media).