Jim Henson‘s short film Robot was recently discovered in the AT&T Archives. In 1963, a then-27-year-old Henson was commissioned to create the film for a Bell System seminar for business owners on the then-brand-new topic of Data Communications. According to AT&T:

The seminar itself involved a lot of films and multimedia presentations, and took place in Chicago. … The organizers of the seminar, Inpro, actually set the tone for the film in a three-page memo from one of Inpro’s principals, Ted Mills to Henson. Mills outlined the nascent, but growing relationship between man and machine: a relationship not without tension and resentment: “He [the robot] is sure that All Men Basically Want to Play Golf, and not run businesses — if he can do it better.” (Mills also later designed the ride for the Bell System at the 1964 World’s Fair.) Henson’s execution is not only true to Mills’ vision, but he also puts his own unique, irreverent spin on the material. The robot narrator used in this film had previously starred in a skit for a food fair in Germany, in 1961. It also may be the same robot that appeared on the Mike Douglas Show in 1966. Henson created a different — but similar — robot for the SKF Industries pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair.

Watch it now embedded after the jump.
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There’s nothing earth-shattering in this edition of Sequel Bits, but hey, that’s why they’re Bits and not separate stories. At least it seems like mostly good news. After the jump:

  • Jim Henson’s Labyrinth is getting a prequel — but not in movie form
  • Now Bridesmaids star Wendi McLendon-Covey says Wiig isn’t entirely out of the sequel after all
  • Alice Eve talks about working with Benedict Cumberbatch and not disappointing Star Trek fans

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NBC Buys Puppet Sitcom from Jim Henson Co.

The upcoming film The Muppets unfolds around a world that’s moved on and forgotten all about the once-famous gang — but between that film, the documentary Being Elmo, and the enduring popularity of Sesame Street‘s parodies, it’s clear that puppets in the real world are actually coming back in a big way.

The latest company to jump on the trend is NBC, which has just closed a deal on a human-puppet hybrid script from the Jim Henson Co. called The New Nabors. While it won’t feature Kermit and his pals, with the Jim Henson Co. on board it seems like a project worth keeping an eye on all the same. More details after the jump.

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When Jim Henson passed away, a few unproduced projects were left on his desk. One was an early project called Tale of Sand, a script written with frequent Muppet co-writer Jerry Juhl.

The script has been adapted into a graphic novel, by Ramón Perez and comic publisher Archaia. A twenty-page preview is now online, so you can get a taste of how one of Henson’s unrealized projects has been translated to the comic page. Read More »

What is Page 2? Page 2 is a compilation of stories and news tidbits, which for whatever reason, didn’t make the front page of /Film. After the jump we’ve included 30 different items, fun images, videos, casting tidbits, articles of interest and more. It’s like a mystery grab bag of movie web related goodness. If you have any interesting items that we might’ve missed that you think should go in /Film’s Page 2 – email us!

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Even though Christopher Weekes‘ script The Muppet Man ‘won’ last year’s Black List poll of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood, there was every chance it would never make it to the screen. Essentially a biopic of Jim Henson peppered with fantastical scenes starring The Muppets, it would require the involvement somehow of both the Henson company, who hold the right to his life story and Walt Disney, who hold the rights to his famous felt creations.

Luckily, the two companies appear to have come to an agreement and seem to be pressing ahead with the picture together. They have reportedly even agreed on the director they’d most like for the job. His name is Michael Gracey and this would be his debut feature after a slate of music videos and commercials, most famously the Evian spot with somewhat off-looking roller-babies that went atomic as a viral video.

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Last night was the one thousandth episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, but evidently interns backstage failed to inform the ever-emo Dracula of the celebration. And not helping to curb his Transylmania-prolonged depression was the fact that Ferguson’s Wavy the Alligator attempted to chomp his hand-puppet thunder as the ep’s defacto host. The upside? Drac was there alongside beanied actor/songwriter Jason Segel to perform “Dracula’s Lament,their hit moody ballad that first appeared in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Watch the concert and more, below.

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Christopher Weekes’ Muppet Man is an innovative and often surprising screenplay for a possible biopic of Jim Henson and when it was last week named the top pick of the Black List, I was certainly very pleased. Having said that, as much as I enjoyed the script, it was obvious from page one when reading it that actually getting the thing made would be something of an ordeal.

Problem one lies in the occasionally challenging imagery. The first scene, for example, sees Kermit wake up from a “drunken nightmare” to find an empty whisky bottle on the bed stand and “a three day growth giving his felt chin a strongly pronounced six o’clock shadow”. Kid’s fare? Maybe not – well, not unless cleverly and sensitively handled.

Problem two lies in the legal issues surrounding who owns the rights to what. Simply put, Disney owns the Muppets, but not the Man. The script was snapped up pretty much as soon as it hit the market by The Jim Henson Co. but, of course, they’re powerless to make anything with The Muppets in without somehow brokering a deal with Disney.

Add to this, then, the fact that Weekes hasn’t based his biopic on facts at all but – reportedly – a few things he scraped together off of Wikipedia, some photographs and a whole lot of imagination and it’s starting to sound an awful lot like Muppet Man could never see the light of day…

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The latest trailers for Symbol (or Shinboru) hint at an odd film that mixes the claustrophobia of Cube, the asylum-like paranoia of Jim Henson’s The Cube, and the random, colorful Japanese itemization of a Turbo Grafx 16 game import. Needless to say, I’m interested, and buzz on the latest film from Hitoshi Matsumoto, the Japanese star and writer/director of cult-fave Big Man Japan, has it delivering on the promising, pristine imagery below. Nice pajamas, guy.

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