Things are looking good for the art of puppetry. At the AFI Fest premiere of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Lisa Henson spoke with People about a certain project currently in the works. That project is an upcoming biopic about her beloved father, Jim Henson.
“I have been in a slow-motion development deal with [Disney] about Muppet Man, which is a sort fantastical biopic of my father.”
Lisa Henson, who served as producer of Pinocchio, was asked about upcoming future collaborations. This prompted the discussion on Muppet Man, which would tell the story of Jim Henson. According to Lisa, the project is coming along slowly and is still in early development. But notes that there is already a particular direction that the team is hoping to bring to the finished project.
“It’s only in development and we don’t have a director, so I feel I can’t really say exactly what it will be like, but it does have a dream-like quality where the puppets are coming to life and mixing that with a true story.”
What to Expect from Muppet Man
The Jim Henson Company
Muppet Man was initially announced earlier this year, with Michael Mitnick on board as writer. According to Deadline, the movie will follow Jim Henson as he wages an uphill battle with broadcasters to get The Muppet Show on air. This was a notoriously frustrating time in Henson’s career. At this point, he was already successful after establishing himself by bringing the timeless characters of Sesame Street to life. But the success proved to be a double-edged sword. Because of Sesame Street’s infamy, broadcasters were convinced that puppets were a kid’s medium and not something worthy of primetime. It wasn’t until Lew Grade stepped into the picture and offered a contract that worked with Jim.
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The show that resulted in the deal was The Muppet Show, and it was a hit. Winning numerous awards, lasting for four seasons, and expanding the Muppet brand, The Muppet Show was a turning point in Henson’s career and everyone in his crew. The characters would become household names, and numerous spinoffs would release over the years featuring them, including Muppet Babies, Little Muppet Monsters, and multiple movies and specials.
No matter how big his career had grown, Jim Henson continued to wonder how else he could push his own boundaries. Soon after the end of The Muppet Show, and after gaining experience in film production on 1979’s The Muppet Movie, he decided to break into filmmaking. These steps would result in 1982’s The Dark Crystal and 1986’s Labyrinth. Two more Muppet movies would also be released around this time, 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper and 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan.
Jim Henson passed away in 1990 from an illness; he was 53. During that time, Henson was in negotiations with Disney in the hopes of the company purchasing The Muppets. That deal finally came through in 2004 after fourteen years of negotiation. Lisa Henson comments on the legacy of her father’s life and what his story could tell future generations of creative minds.
“My father was so overwhelmingly creative, with ideas just flowing out of him all the time, I’ve really met so few people in my life that have that fountain of creativity that just never stops flowing. I think kids should be encouraged to be as ambitious as possible with their creative dreams because they might not do just one famous thing. They might go on to do hundreds of things.”