frank oz on disney

We’ve seen The Muppets regularly on the small and big screen ever since Disney purchased the rights to the beloved puppet characters from the Jim Henson Company in 2004. So why is the old magic just not there?

It’s because Disney just doesn’t “get it,” master puppeteer and former Muppets performer Frank Oz says.
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Frank Oz

The Morning Watch is a recurring feature that highlights a handful of noteworthy videos from around the web. They could be video essays, fanmade productions, featurettes, short films, hilarious sketches, or just anything that has to do with our favorite movies and TV shows.

In this edition, check out a whole slew of Easter eggs and references you might have missed in the latest trailer for Avengers: Infinity War. Plus, watch an interview with Yoda puppeteer and voice actor Frank Oz and other puppeteers as they remember Jim Henson, and listen to director Joe Wright break down a scene from the Best Picture nominated Darkest Hour. Read More »

muppet guys talking trailer

What better way to pay homage to the legacy of Jim Henson than with the five original Muppets actors who knew him best?

Six years ago, five legendary voice actors/puppeteers sat down to speak about the early days of The Muppets, the beloved puppet show created by Henson. Last year, the lovely documentary Muppet Guys Talking depicting that conversation premiered at the South by Southwest Festival to rave reviews. But the movie wouldn’t see a wide release — until now.

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Yoda in The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is filled with surprises and one of them is the appearance of a character few of us expected to show up in this particular Skywalker saga episode. While talking with writer/director Rian Johnson, I learned the story behind this special moment.

Major spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi follow.

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Little Shop of Horrors Original Ending

Frank Oz‘s 1986 musical cult classic Little Shop of Horrors will be returning to movie theaters for a limited time event, as Fathom Events is hosting Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut, which includes a 23-minute ending cut from the film due to test audience reactions. Find out when you can see the Little Shop of Horrors original ending on the big screen.
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the muppets

ABC’s The Muppets television show revival was short-lived. While the series got favorable reviews, there was a sizable backlash from parents who didn’t think the adult-skewing humor was suitable for family viewing. After six episodes the network replaced showrunner Bob Kushell with Kristen Newman as part of their plans to creatively overhaul the series, but it was too little too late, and the ratings lead to the show being canceled at the conclusion of its debut season.

Frank Oz, who helped create and perform the Muppet characters of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam Eagle and more, has now chimed in to explain why he believed The Muppets failed. Hit the jump to read his comments.
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yoda in the last jedi

In addition to his work with the Muppets and directing a number of good films (including Little Shop of Horrors, What About Bob?, and BowfingerFrank Oz is probably best as the voice and puppeteer behind Jedi Master Yoda in the Star Wars movies. This week, Oz has been doing press for a new documentary that premiered at SXSW titled Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched…and that means Star Wars questions.

During an interview, Oz was asked about the rumors that he might reprise his role as Yoda as a force ghost in the upcoming Skywalker saga film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. His answer raises more questions than it does provide answers, but to me, it sounds like an inadvertent confirmation of Yoda in The Last Jedi. Let’s take a closer look.

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in & of itself - In and Of Itself

A couple years ago, two-time Close-Up Magician of the Year Derek DelGaudio and Helder Guimarães broke records at Los Angeles’ Geffen Theatre with their magic show Nothing To Hide. That production was extended to 144 performances, breaking daily and weekly box office sales, and grossing more than $1 million before moving to New York City. It was one of those little shows that became the thing to see in LA. When I saw it, the theater was filled with a who’s who of Hollywood, all there to see exactly what everyone was talking about. And the show itself, in many ways was about that — about having a special experience with a small group of people, untethered by technology, that couldn’t be taken in anywhere else.

So when Derek DelGaudio announced he would be returning to the Geffen with a new show called In & Of Itself, directed by Frank Oz (The Muppet Studio legend who voiced/performed Yoda and directed many great films in his own right) and featuring an original score by Mark Mothersbaugh (the Devo co-founder who has composed so many great film and television scores over the last three decades, but with notable contributions to Wes Anderson’s films), I knew I had to see it.

And in the months leading up to the show, there has been very little information revealed about what it would even entail. In place of a description, Geffen’s own programing magazine features a one page handwritten letter from Derek explaining why he was unable to write one for this show. Last night I saw the opening night performance, and I can tell you that In & Of Itself is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

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the force awakens yoda

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has its fair share of in-jokes and easter eggs referring to previous films in the series. You could even argue that the entire movie is just one big reference to the original films, but that is a topic you can discuss amongst yourselves for the time being because we have bigger Colo Claw Fish to fry. It turns out that one of those tiny easter eggs was almost a lot bigger. By now, you’re surely aware of Yoda’s brief vocal cameo, but at one point, he was considered for a larger role.

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forceawakens-dowutin-lady-cantina

JJ Abrams is one of those filmmakers who loves to hide easter eggs in his films and television shows. And we love to go on the easter egg hunt and find them. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is packed with inside jokes, cameos, fun references to past films, as well as some things that pay homage to the inspiration and fandom of the series.

How many Game of Thrones cameos did you spot? Is it possible the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark might be hidden in this movie somewhere? Find out this and over 50 other Star Wars: The Force Awakens easter eggs, after the jump.

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