Tag Archives: sesame street

Jim Lee Knows How to Get to Sesame Street

Jim Lee has revealed that he’ll be appearing on Sesame Street his Thanksgiving. He’ll be one of the individuals welcoming the newest resident to Sesame Street, a 7-year-old Korean-American girl named Ji-Young.

Lee wrote on Facebook:

It’s crazy and surreal to even write these words but as a young immigrant boy who literally learned English from reading comic books AND watching Sesame Street—I can say this is a dream I hadn’t ever imagined even possible. Who would have guessed back when I started my comics career as a 21 year old artist that I would get the opportunity decades later to hang with Tamir, Ji-Young, @alanathoopers, @elmo and Abby Cadabby as part of #SeeUsComingTogether, a star-studded TV special celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander identities and the power of community!?!

He described the opportunity as a “career high”.

The celebration takes place Thanksgiving day, November 25th, on HBO Max and PBS.

Jim Lee Sesame Street

Goodbye Arts? Thanks Trump!

President Trump has unveiled his proposed budget plan, named “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” and it calls for a sharp increase in military spending with sharp cuts across the rest of the government.

Those cuts include eliminating future federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Sorry Big Bird, looks like you’re flipping burgers.

While Winston Churchill is often quoted as saying “then, what are we fighting for?” when asked about cutting funding for the arts during World War II (he didn’t say it), he actually did say the below in 1938:

The arts are essential to any complete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them…. Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the reverence and delight which are their due.

The National Endowment for the Arts was started in 1965 by President Johnson, it’s dedicated to “supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and provided leadership in arts education. The organization has made over 128,000 grants totaling over $5 billion. Its funding makes up just 0.004% of the federal budget. 40% of its funding goes to state arts agencies and regional arts organizations. With a budget of about $150 million that’s about two months of comic sales at local comic shops. The NEA generates more than $600 million annually in additional matching funds and helps to shape a $730 billion arts and culture industry that represents 4.2% of the nation’s GDP and supports 4.8 million jobs.

National Endowment for the Humanities also began in 1965 and is an independent federal agency. It too has a similar budget as that of the National Endowment for the Arts. It provides grants for humanities projects to cultural institutions such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. The “Treasures of Tutankhamen” and Ken Burn’s The Civil War documentary were both funded by this. Its also sponsored 15 Pulitzer Prize-winning books.

Both organizations have funded research and spotlighted comic books at times bringing an academic perspective to the entertainment we love. Check out this podcast with Mike Mignola or essay by Gene Luen Yang for examples.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was founded in 1967 and is an American Private non-profit corporation whose mission is to provide non-commercial, high-quality content. 70% of its funding goes to 1,400 locally owned stations. Its budget is about $445.5 million (in 2014) which is about 0.012% of the federal budget. It helps supports television like PBS and radio programming. Series like NOVA and Sesame Street are available and accessible because of this. Programming that might not be commercially viable, but provides quality and educational entertainment to Americans and programming where you’re not bombarded by advertisements. If you’ve watched Sesame Street, you’ve benefited from this.

This isn’t the final budget that we will eventually get. Congress needs to still pass it, reach a separate agreement over a temporary funding bill, and raise the debt ceiling. But, what this does is lay out the Trump administration’s priorities, and the arts is not a part of that.

This is a wake-up call that we must defend the arts. March 20-21 is an Arts Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. If you’re unable to participate you need to call your Congressman and tell them to support the arts and not defund these three vital organizations.

Fashion Spotlight: Kirby Monster, Tiny VS The Old, Water Waker

Ript Apparel has three new designs! Kirby Monster, Tiny VS The Old, and Water Waker, by alex.pawlicki, PrimePremne, and ursulalopez are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

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Tiny VS The Old

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Water Waker

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Fashion Spotlight: Grouch Life, Grand Theft Muppet, Our Lady of Mystery

Ript Apparel has three new designs! Grouch Life, Grand Theft Muppet, and Our Lady of Mystery, by alex.pawlicki and Obvian are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

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Our Lady of Mystery

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Fashion Spotlight: Virtruvian Buddies, Me Want To Believe, Master Peanuts

Ript Apparel has three new designs! Virtruvian Buddies, Me Want To Believe, and Master Peanuts, by alex.pawlicki and byhqartwrk are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

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Me Want To Believe

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Master Peanuts

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Fashion Spotlight: One Punch Bat, Just One Bad Cookie, Bruce or Clark

Ript Apparel has three new designs! One Punch Bat, Just One Bad Cookie, and Bruce or Clark, by krisren28, boltfromtheblue, and Hard Decora are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

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Bruce or Clark

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Fashion Spotlight: Galactic BFFs, Everything is Awful, X-Four

Ript Apparel has three new designs! Galactic BFFs, Everything is Awful, and X-Four, by BoggsNicolas, Obvian, and albertocubatas, are on sale today only! Get them before they’re gone!

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X-Four

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Muppets Gone Missing: Muppet Mystery Solved!

Roger Langridge - Muppets Gone Missing

clueless morganThe Clueless Morgan puppet is lost no more!

Clueless Morgan is the Muppet that inspired this wonderful column that you are reading! He was only used briefly, mostly as a memorable character in Muppet Treasure Island and in a recurring bit on Muppets Tonight. He was performed by Bill Barretta, who is also the puppeteer for Pepe the King Prawn, Bobo the Bear and Rowlf the Dog.

According to Muppet Wiki, Clueless Morgan’s puppeteer Bill Barretta said that, “part of the reason that Clueless has not been used in any productions since Muppets Tonight is that the puppet has gone missing. If anyone out there has seen him, please ask him to call home. His family misses him.”

The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta has opened a new museum that holds a large collection of Jim Henson puppets. While watching a CNN report of the exhibit, I nearly jumped out of my seat when I got to the 40-second-mark! There he is! They found Clueless!

Click here for the video of the CNN report or watch it directly below!

Will this discovery lead to Clueless’ return to The Muppets? We’ll let you know any updates here on “Muppets Gone Missing”!

Clueless Morgan in Muppets Treasure Island

At the 1:17 mark, Clueless Morgan promotes Muppets Treasure Island

Clueless Morgan and Polly Lobster on Muppets Tonight

 

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josh-lauren-caroll-spinney-and-oscar-the-grouchJosh Green lives in Philadelphia, PA with his lovely wife Lauren. Having worked at Dynamite Entertainment and TV Guide, Josh is now a freelance writer for Graphic Policy and the creator of the “Muppets Gone Missing” column, so that he can still dabble in pop culture. While he is not dabbling, Josh lives a simple life, where his main enjoyment is spending as much time possible with his wife, whose very existence gives Josh purpose for everything.

Muppets Gone Missing: Matthew Furtado

Roger Langridge - Muppets Gone Missing

Matthew Furtado Headshot High Res with name 5089653489Josh Green: Welcome back to “Muppets Gone Missing”. This column focuses on the hidden treasures of The Muppets, Sesame Street, as well as any projects involving Jim Henson. Examples of this will consist of segments or characters that wound up on the cutting room floor, or were used, but not to their fullest extent. I had the pleasure of interviewing puppeteer, Matthew Furtado!

Josh Green: Can you please tell me about your career and how you got involved with Henson productions? Was it Jim Henson himself who gave you your big break into showbiz?

Matthew Furtado: I was never fortunate enough to meet Mr. Henson but grew up loving his work. I was really into puppetry, magic and acting from a very early age, putting on my own shows, performing with the educational puppet troupe, Kids on the Block throughout middle school and later getting hired to play a character who could only speak through a puppet in a regional production of the play Red Noses. I always dreamed about working with the Muppets.

After I graduated with a BA in Musical Theater from Rhode Island College, I was cast in VEE Corporation’s production of Sesame Street LIVE: Elmo’s Coloring Book, also having the opportunity to be involved with the puppetry for their Dragon Tales tour. I was the live-mic human character in Sesame Street LIVE and we got to perform all over the world, on NBC’s Today Show and at Madison Square Garden where Jane and Cheryl Henson came to see us and gave us the opportunity to visit the Henson Workshop. It was a great experience.

Jug Band Read Through

Jug Band Read Through

After 600 shows on the road with VEE, I auditioned in New York for Martin Robinson and the creative team of the world premiere stage production of Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas at Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. I had the opportunity to work closely with a terrific group of people including director Christopher Gattelli, composer Paul Williams and veteran Muppet performer Tyler Bunch who, along with Martin, have been so supportive of me as a puppeteer. I was invited back for the following year’s revamped production of the show too. The Emmet Otter experience had so many “pinch-yourself” moments: Jane, Heather and Cheryl popping into rehearsals; Jerry Nelson surprising us with a visit on opening night and holding court afterwards; getting to meet Pam Arciero, Fran Brill, Robert Lopez and Jennifer Barnhart, who later joined the show; co-producer Brian Henson at the cast party saying that his dad was smiling down on us… Everyone was so kind and generous and fun to work with. It was just a dream-job.

Goodspeed Musicals' 9th Annual Gala Honoring: Paul Williams June 12, 2010 Goodspeed Musicals (860)873-8664

Goodspeed Musicals’ 9th Annual Gala
Honoring: Paul Williams
June 12, 2010
Goodspeed Musicals (860)873-8664

After the show closed, Goodspeed announced an awards banquet honoring Paul Williams. I sent an email to the producer pitching the idea of having the four scene-stealing squirrels from Emmet Otter there as part of the event and she invited us to perform a sketch and song in the show, which was hosted by Alan Kalter from Late Night with David Letterman. Now, improvisation with the characters was always encouraged during the development of Emmet Otter. It’s a Henson-tradition and that night, Peter Linz, Anney Ozar, James Silson and I were really in a groove. When I realized from behind our puppet stage that Mr. Kalter’s hair was exactly the same color as the squirrels’ fur, I couldn’t help but have my character, Skippy (originally developed by David Stephens), point it out. I also referred to Mr. Williams’ Oscar-winning “Evergreen” as “the song he wrote with Streisand about the pine tree” which really got a roar from the crowd and remains one of my favorite moments on stage. Part of the magic of working with great puppet characters and great people is that it pulls things out of you that you didn’t know you had, particularly in a live show…things you’d be hesitant to say as yourself or even as a human character.

After that show I was thrilled to be invited by Brian Henson to participate in an initial one-night workshop for Stuffed and Unstrung, Henson Alternative’s Off-Broadway version of their improv show, Puppet Up and later, attend the taping of their episode of The Apprentice to see the veteran performers at work. When your phone rings and someone says, “Hi Matt, I’m calling on behalf of Brian Henson…” your jaw just kind of drops. It’s such a privilege to meet your heroes and then to be asked to join in the fun of working with them.

Matt Sesame Street Puppeteer GreenJG: Can you tell me about any obscure characters that you performed that weren’t used as much as you would have liked?

MF: The characters in Emmet Otter still have a lot of life left in them. It’s a timeless story and the music is terrific. Christmas of 2017 will be the 40th anniversary of the special and it would be great to get it on stage again. Our son was born the day after Christmas and I’d really love for him to see it.

JG: What would you have done with these characters if you had gotten more of a chance to work with them?

MF: I had the opportunity to perform several of the squirrel characters over the course of the two seasons that Emmet Otter ran and there was always the feeling that they could have their own spinoff show. They got big laughs from all ages. It would be interesting to develop those characters further and find out what the rest of their family is like…send them out into the world and see what kind of trouble they could get into.

Also, our director, Christopher Gattelli always talked about adding more puppet characters to the show… more citizens of Waterville, birds in the trees, more acts in the talent show etc. That would be fun. I never got to work with Jim Henson but I felt like I got close to it by working with Christopher. He really embodies that quiet, creative vision and gentle approach that Jim was known for. Jim did things with puppetry that had never been done before and that is what Christopher is doing now with musical theater and dance. It’s exciting to be around someone who is pushing their art form forward; someone who thinks differently.

Matt and Tom Small

Matt and Tom Small

JG: What projects are you working on these days with The Muppets?

MF: I’m not working on anything with them at the moment. Last year, I was thrilled to be invited by Matt Vogel and Martin Robinson to a puppeteer workshop at Sesame Workshop. It was a great experience working with them and with Peter Linz and a talented small group of other performers. I learned a lot and have gotten so much encouragement and support from those guys. True to tradition, each group of main characters (Sesame, Henson & Disney’s Muppets) is performed by a really capable and versatile small repertory company; as it should be. They are really doing a great job keeping the legacy of all of those characters alive. They are in good hands. Going forward, when they need extra hands or additional characters, I’d be thrilled to join in.

JG: What else do you do professionally?

Matt Magic Auto FixMF: I’m fortunate to have never had a non-performing job. Puppeteers are really actors and I’ve gotten to do a lot of voiceover work and on-camera work in commercials (like this improvised spot: https://vimeo.com/74231382), and even had the privilege of hosting and co-producing a series that Newman’s Own Foundation sponsored on Connecticut Public Television called, The Power of Giving, which received two New England Emmy nominations. Running parallel to my interests in puppetry and acting, since I was a kid I’ve performed and seriously studied magic. I have a one-man comedy magic and illusion show that I perform at corporate events, resorts and as a fundraising program for organizations. My favorite project is an annual concert experience combing magic and music that I write, direct and perform in conjunction with a 100-piece orchestra. It is going on its seventh year, with a new program each spring. Being able to work in several branches of show business that I really enjoy has allowed me to achieve my goal of being a full-time performer.

MF: is there anything else you would like to talk about?

BL: If anyone has any other questions, I can be reached at ProPuppeteer@gmail.com or www.MatthewFurtado.com Thanks for inviting me to be part of your Muppets Gone Missing series!

Photo: "Fantastic Mr Fox "; Artspace Shreveport; by Arthur Mintz, Rene and Jacques Duffourc; Puppeteers: Sara Elsberg, Cazes Verbois, Allison Jetton, Noah Scruggs. Additional puppet people: Kelly Mills, Desmond Ellington, Elizabeth Jackson, Chris Armand. Video by Jamal Lahham; photographed: Sunday, December 11, 2011; 3:30 PM at Artspace Shreveport; Shreveport, LA. Photograph: © 2011 Richard Termine PHOTO CREDIT - Richard Termine

Photo: “Fantastic Mr Fox “; Artspace Shreveport; by Arthur Mintz, Rene and Jacques Duffourc; Puppeteers: Sara Elsberg, Cazes Verbois, Allison Jetton, Noah Scruggs.
Additional puppet people: Kelly Mills, Desmond Ellington, Elizabeth Jackson, Chris Armand.
Video by Jamal Lahham; photographed: Sunday, December 11, 2011; 3:30 PM at Artspace Shreveport; Shreveport, LA. Photograph: © 2011 Richard Termine
PHOTO CREDIT – Richard Termine

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josh-lauren-caroll-spinney-and-oscar-the-grouchJosh Green lives in Philadelphia, PA with his lovely wife Lauren. Having worked at Dynamite Entertainment and TV Guide, Josh is now a freelance writer for Graphic Policy and the creator of the “Muppets Gone Missing” column, so that he can still dabble in pop culture. While he is not dabbling, Josh lives a simple life, where his main enjoyment is spending as much time possible with his wife, whose very existence gives Josh purpose for everything.

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