Preview: Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge

Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

As a child, I grew up on the creations of Jim Henson and his famous creature shop. We live in a world of completely digital creature creations, but I still believe practical puppets can sometimes produce better results (especially when used in tandem with cg, augmenting the practical with the impossible). A new Syfy television series Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge will give us a look behind the magic.

Syfy has teamed with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop for the new reality competition series which will air starting March 25th 2014. More information of the television series can be found after the jump alongside a series of video previews for those interested in a sneak peek.

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Thanks no doubt to the success of The Muppets, the Jim Henson Co. is going back to television with a new puppet-based show. No Strings Attached will be a lot like the old Muppet Show — picture a puppet-populated world, with guest celebrities showing up each week to take part in sketches and games. There’s more of a competitive aspect in this show, however, as the word ‘games’ there implies.

But the celebs might mostly be Brits this time out, because the Jim Henson Co. is partnering with the BBC to make the show. Get some more info straight from the BBC, after the break. Read More »

It’s been some four years now since we first heard about The Happytime Murders, the Jim Henson Co.’s puppet-centric noir satire, but perhaps spurred on by the success of last year’s The Muppets, the project seems to finally be coming together for real. Katherine Heigl signed on for a starring role sometime last month, and now IM Global has released the first pieces of concept art from the film as well as an official synopsis. Check them out after the jump.

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There is a staggering amount of casting news today thanks in part to the in-progress European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, where producers take projects to gather foreign distribution deals and financing. So let’s get right to it.

First up, the Princess Diana film Caught in Flight, which will be directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (The Invasion, Downfall) has found a new Princess. Last year Jessica Chastain was in talks for the role — there was a moment where she was in talks for every big female role, it seems — but now Diana will be played by Naomi Watts. Losing Chastain is unfortunate, but if Watts is the replacement I can’t see too many complaints being aired.

Written by Stephen Jeffreys, the film will shoot later this year with an emphasis on the last two years of Diana’s life; that is, after her 1995 divorce, and through her relationship with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan. “It charts how finding true personal happiness for the first time allowed her to achieve her defining successes evolving into a major international campaigner and humanitarian.” [Deadline]

After the break, Haley Joel Osment goes back to science fiction, and we catch up with two new roles for Katherine Heigl that were announced not long ago. Read More »


Jim Henson’s Muppets have always have a little subversion to them be it Miss Piggy’s sexual innuendo or their more recent viral videos. Well, Lionsgate seems to be on board with that idea as they’ve just acquired Happytime Murders, a dark, comedic murder mystery set in a world where Muppets and humans co-exist. It’s written by Todd Berger with Brian Henson, son of Jim, set to direct. Read more about the film after the jump. Read More »


Brian Henson is out promoting Stuffed and Unstrung, formerly Puppet Up!, the live adults-only puppet improv show with undeniably Muppety stars. Of course, they can’t call them Muppets – the name now belongs to Disney – but there’s a recognisable style, and quality, to every foam face the Henson craftsmen make. If you want to know more about Stuffed and Unstrung, there’s a nifty video ad embedded below the break.

During his promotional interviews, Henson has also been pressed to discuss the in-development Muppet Man, a fictionalised biopic of his father Jim that we’ve written about a few times before, as well as a The Happytime Murders,  a balls-out comedy” that’s also “a gritty crime thriller and a satire of the genre”.

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In a chat with MTV, Kermit-heir Brian Henson has given the world an update on the long promised Dark Crystal sequel and Fraggle Rock spin off movie. Both, he tells us, are progressing nicely and could be entering pre-production soon. Blimey. I’m not too disbelieving about the Fraggle picture but the perennially on-off Dark Crystal sequel… well, I’m hopeful anyway. We can say that.

The plan with the Fraggle film is to net a broader audience than the TV show. Here’s Henson:

It’ll have a strong musical component. It’ll be expanded to an older audience. Fraggle Rock’ [the TV show] was presented… for a pretty exclusively children’s audience. The feature film does expand it to be more accessible to a wider audience.

Adding songs to make it accessible to a wider audience? That’s a new one on me.

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Happytime Murders – A Muppet Noir

The Jim Henson Co has begun to develop a puppet film noir detective comedy titled Happytime Murders. If we knew nothing else about this project, I would still spend $10 on a movie ticket. The story follows a puppet detective who is hired to solve a string of murders around a popular children’s television show called the Happytime Gang. The film will be populated with a mixture of human and puppet characters (to clarify, not “muppets”), and will be released under an alternative label “for content created specifically and exclusively for adult audiences.” Sounds promising. But here are two reasons why the film could suck:

1. Unfortunately, Brian Henson, the guy behind some of the worst of the Muppet movies (Treasure Island, Christmas Carol) is helming the project. To be fair, Henson directed episode of Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes titled Battleground. It was filmed entirely without dialogue, and told the story of toy soldiers who come to life and kill a hit man played by William Hurt. Could be that children films just aren’t Henson’s area of expertise?

2. The film is being scripted by Todd Berger, the screenwriter behind the horrible 2005 Tom Arnold television movie Chasing Christmas. Berger most recently penned the direct to dvd Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five short film for Dreamworks Animation.

source: Variety