The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson
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|The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson|
|Written by||Jerry Juhl|
|Directed by||Don Mischer|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Ritamarie Peruggi|
Martin G. Baker
David J. Goldberg
|Running time||48 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Jim Henson Productions|
Walt Disney Television
Don Mischer Productions
|Distributor||Disney–ABC Domestic Television|
|Original release||November 21, 1990|
The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson is a one-hour special that aired on CBS on November 21, 1990. The program was a tribute to Muppet creator Jim Henson, who had died earlier in 1990 due to toxic shock syndrome caused by a streptococcus infection, and featured characters from The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and Sesame Street.
Kermit the Frog is away traveling, leaving Fozzie Bear and the other Muppets in charge of the week's production number. On the day of the show, the Muppets receive a letter from Kermit informing them the production number is meant to pay tribute to Jim Henson. However, the group is unfamiliar with who Henson is. The rest of the special depicts the Muppets figuring out Jim Henson's relation to them, while simultaneously creating the production number.
Through the course of the special, interviews of several special guests are shown (including Carol Burnett, Ray Charles, John Denver, Steven Spielberg, Harry Belafonte and Frank Oz), where each guest recounts their personal experiences with Henson and his contributions to film, television, puppetry and philanthropy.
As the Muppets are nearing the presentation of their tribute number, Fozzie discovers some of Jim Henson's fan mail. One letter addressed to Kermit initially starts out cheerfully, but then turns to sorrow when the letter reveals that Henson has since died. Shocked, the Muppets take turns reading different letters from fans. Finally, Fozzie decides to cancel the production number, deeming it improper for the occasion. Kermit's nephew Robin tries to convince Fozzie otherwise by breaking into "Just One Person" (which was composed for Snoopy: The Musical in 1975 and featured in the Bernadette Peters episode of The Muppet Show in 1977). Eventually the song becomes a large musical number with characters from Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock joining in. As the Muppets finish singing, Kermit arrives and congratulates the group on finding the proper way of honoring Jim Henson. Kermit decides to enact Fozzie's original production number and addresses the audience, ensuring that the Muppets will continue to perform because "that's the way the boss would want it."
- Harry Belafonte - himself
- Carol Burnett - herself
- Ray Charles - himself
- John Denver - himself
- Jim Henson - himself (archive footage)
- Frank Oz - himself
- Steven Spielberg - himself
- Frank Oz - Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Animal
- Jerry Nelson - Robin the Frog, Lew Zealand, Announcer, and Floyd Pepper
- Richard Hunt - Scooter and Janice
- Dave Goelz - Gonzo the Great, Beauregard and Zoot
- Steve Whitmire - Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, Kermit the Frog, and Whoopie Cushion
- Kevin Clash - Clifford and Elmo
- Kathryn Mullen - Joy Buzzer and Mokey Fraggle
- Caroll Spinney - Big Bird
- Pam Arciero - Grundgetta
- The set used for this special intentionally combines elements from the backstage set used in The Muppet Show and the control room set used in The Jim Henson Hour.
- Later syndicated alongside The Muppet Show.
- This would be one of the last Productions Richard Hunt performed Scooter and Janice before his death in 1992.
- The logo for the special incorporated characters from all three of Henson's most widely known productions, with Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie joined by Gobo Fraggle, a Doozer, and Cookie Monster.