1 The Muppet Mindset: Eric Jacobson
Showing posts with label Eric Jacobson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eric Jacobson. Show all posts

Jul 28, 2014

Comic Con Street

San Diego Comic Con was held over the weekend, and as we noted in our News Updates, Sesame Street and The Jim Henson Company both held panels at the world's biggest fan convention. Updates on the Henson panel are still coming in, but the Sesame Street panels were a major success.

Our friends at Nerdist.com have a great recap of the main Sesame Street panel, which featured Eric Jacobson and Grover, Joey Mazzarino and Murray, David Rudman and Cookie Monster, and Carol-Lynn Parente (and hosted by Nerdist's own Chris Hardwick).

The first panel held for Sesame Street was a conversation with the Muppet performers and Muppets, hosted by the amazing Zachary Levi. Lucky for us non-Comic Con attendees, NerdHQ filmed the entire panel for us. It's half an hour long, and 100% delightful. I highly, highly recommend watching it. Joey Mazzarino and Murray steals the show.

Earlier that day, Sesame Street took to Vine to show off Bert's new cosplay costume. Is he Bertman? Batbert? The world may never know.

Then, Murray presented a special edition of "Word on the Street."

And finally, Cookie Monster found his favorite Comic Con costume.

Sesame Street also shared a lot on Instragram from the photo shoot available with Grover, Murray, and Cookie Monster later in the day. Check out some of the great photos below!

Chris Hardwick with his furry friends.

The Nerdist panel.

Zachary Levi with the gang.

Bertman scales the building.

Chris Hardwick with Grover.

Our friend Gina Selim with Bert!

We'll be back with more Comic Con coverage as it comes down the pipeline!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

May 13, 2014

The Muppet Mindset Most Wanted, Part 3

Ryan Dosier - Hi-ho, Muppet fans! Ready for more of my storied trip visiting the set of Muppets Most Wanted last May? If you're not, read Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up with what happened so far! To recap: I spent an amazing day on set at Los Angeles Union Station with ToughPigs' Matt Wilkie where we met Walter, watched the Muppet film, were treated to a private rehearsal of "We're Doing a Sequel," and spent the entire day with all of the Muppet performers. Yeah. All of that.

The day after my first day on set, I had lunch with huge Muppet fan and now great friend of mine Rachel Herrick. You know Rachel from her great Muppet movie video reviews that she did for The Muppet Mindset. This was my first time meeting Rachel and it was wonderful! After that, I went to Disneyland with my awesome, awesome friend Raymond Persi (story artist at Disney Animation Studios and voice artist in Wreck-It Ralph). Ray told me he was probably getting on set the next day as well through his Disney connections. I was excited.

The next day, Peter Linz texted me telling me Disney would be sending me a call sheet for filming that day with information about where to park, when to show up, etc. The call sheet is an amazing little souvenir and I'll always treasure it. This is the first time I found out that they would be shooting on Hollywood Boulevard with 200 extras. I was floored. Peter told me to show up around 7pm and prepare to be there all night for shooting if I wanted to stay. Obviously I did. Eventually I worked it out with Raymond to ride with him to set and I was on my way--again.

When we arrived on set, we found that the entire block in front of the El Capitan Theater was shut down for filming. The crew was setting up huge shots, there was a crane, tons of lighting, and a whole lot of union workers. It was amazing. When we got there, we were greeted by Tracy Gilbert, who works at the Muppets Studio. Tracy led us into the El Capitan, through the main lobby, into the basement, into a room they use for kid's birthday parties. Tracy told us there would be press interviews with some of the cast and crew, but we were absolutely not there as press--which is a round about way of saying, "If you tweet about this, you die." We had no idea what to expect, but we were thrilled. Eventually, Matt Wilkie and Rachel joined us in the basement. I'm still not positive how Rachel got on set, but I'm still impressed.

Anyway! The press interviews got underway, and we saw the costume designer, producer Todd Lieberman, and Peter Linz and Walter answer questions from the crowd. I was just so blown away, I really don't remember asking any questions. I don't think I did. But it was crazy awesome. Afterwards, Peter and Walter took pictures with everyone again. Matt and I got in line for pictures, but the Disney people who were there when we took pictures with Walter the other day glared at us, so we stepped out. Here's Rachel's awesome picture with Walter, though!

After the interviews, the press (and all of us) were led outside to watch some filming. The scene we saw is actually the very first scene of Muppets Most Wanted, with Kermit, Piggy, and Walter standing in front of Jason Segel and Amy Adams lookalikes. It was really weird to see two unknown actors that vaguely look like Jason and Amy wearing their exact costumes from the end of The Muppets. But, it was amazing to see Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, and Peter Linz work. They were ad-libbing quite a lot, since the scene didn't really have any specific dialogue. It was awesome.

While we were watching them film, I ran into one of my favorite people: Cristina Barretta. Cristina is Bill's wife and we've been friends since 2010. Anyone who has read any of my stories about getting to do awesome stuff with the Muppets knows that 90% of the time, it's because of Cristina Barretta that I have such an unbelievably great time. Cristina had brought her son Jackson, her dad, and some friends to the filming and introduced me around to everybody. Then she wrangled Bill and Peter to take a picture with me (that she insisted she take). That picture is at right. Once again, I owe Cristina the world.

After that, we were brought back inside for more interviews. This one was with Kermit the Frog. After the interview, they announced Kermit would take pictures with us, and I nearly passed out. I was the last one in line, so when it was my turn to go up to Kermit for my picture, I was the only one. It took me a minute to realize what was happening, but before I knew it, Kermit the Frog was looking at me, smiling, and waving. Kermit said, "Hey, Ryan!" and I floated over. Kermit saw my t-shirt and said, "Wow, I love that shirt." He pointed at himself on the shirt and I felt Kermit touching me. Again, nearly passed out. All this time I completely forgot that Steve Whitmire was literally right there. It didn't even register with me, because KERMIT THE FROG was right there taking a picture with me. Here is that picture.
I really can't describe that feeling of meeting Kermit the Frog. So I won't even try, just know it happened and it was perhaps the highlight of my career. After our froggy photos, they brought us back outside again to watch more filming. But this didn't last long before we were taken back inside again, this time for Miss Piggy's interview. Again, they allowed us all to get pictures taken, and again I was the last one in line. What happened when I met Miss Piggy is still my favorite thing. I walked up to her, waved briefly to Eric, and I said, "Hello, Miss Piggy." Miss Piggy rolled her eyes and grumbled "Hello, Ryan..." I had no idea what to do, so I laughed and said, "Did I do something wrong?" At this point I should mention that the entire Los Angeles press corp was standing there watching this interaction. Miss Piggy looked at me, then looked at the press corp and said, "No, no. This is Ryan, one of moi's many stalkers!" I was literally stunned silent and that's when they took the picture. Sheesh.
So after Miss Piggy nearly killed me, we went back outside for even more filming. It was around this time that the press members started to leave, so the whole shoot became a lot more informal. We got to talk to Eric Jacobson for a long, long time. The lot of us stood in a circle, in the middle of the road on Hollywood Boulevard, and just talked and talked to Eric for at least half an hour. He is the nicest, funniest, most intelligent guy and I really can't get over that fact. He's such a delight and I love every second I get to spend hanging out with him. After we talked, we took a picture.

By this time it was at least midnight and the production showed no signs of slowing down. Rob Corddry came in and filmed his cameo. David Rudman performed Scooter. Thog walked down Hollywood Boulevard. It was amazing. At about 1:00 am, the production paused for dinner (at least I think it was dinner) and everyone walked over to the adjacent Hollywood High School to have craft services in their cafeteria. I think it was probably Matt Vogel or Bill Barretta that invited me, Matt, and Rachel to come eat (Raymond had already left at this point), so obviously we did. Once again, the food was amazing, but the company was even better. Dave Goelz invited Matt and I to sit at his table with him, so we talked to Dave for quite a bit. Later I got to talk for awhile with Debbie McClellan, which is always wonderful, and John Bernstein, who works on DVD/Blu-ray content for Disney and who oddly enough went to my college. We bonded over pizza places and crappy dorm rooms.

After the food, everybody returned for more filming. We saw Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Walter, Rowlf, and Scooter shooting the opening group scene from Muppets Most Wanted ("Those were paid dancers"). During this scene, Dave Goelz was dismissed and went out of his way to come say goodbye to us--insane. The scene was so funny, and went over so well. The best part was Fozzie/Eric never being able to nail his line when the tumbleweed blows through the background. Every time he would flub it, the tumbleweed wrangler would have to run across the street, grab the tumbleweed, and run back. Movie making at its finest.

They shot different coverage for each character, so during some shots Matt Vogel wasn't needed and he came over to talk to us. Again, I can't reiterate how freaking cool Matt Vogel is. He treated me like family and was always so interested in talking to me. He's really the best. We took a picture in front of the Disney Soda Fountain store, so it looks like we're cross-promoting Iron Man 3.

Not too much more happened between then and the end of filming. But when they were finally ready to rap, James Bobin called out, "Martini shot!" and we realized that we were watching them film the final shot of Muppets Most Wanted. It was incredible. They shot it, got it in that one take, and Bobin yelled cut. The entire street started applauding and cheering and hugging each other and we got to be there in the middle of it all. Truly magical and a moment I'll never forget. Eventually everyone started leaving, so I said my goodbyes to the performers. Bill, Matt, and Peter all hugged me and Steve, Eric, and David were so happy to have me there. Me. I still can't get over it.

By the time I got back to my hotel, it was 4:30 am. I had spent literally all night with the Muppets and I could not have been happier. And that's my story, Muppet fans. The story of how I met Walter, Kermit, and Miss Piggy, hung out with the Muppet performers, ate lots of craft services, and saw the final shot of Muppets Most Wanted filmed. Thanks for reading, believing, and supporting. I couldn't have done any of it without your support! I also have to say an endless amount of thank yous to Peter Linz, Debbie McClellan, Bill Barretta, Matt Vogel, and everyone who was so freaking kind to me.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

May 9, 2014

The Muppet Mindset Most Wanted, Part 2

Ryan Dosier - Greetings, Muppet fans! When we last spoke about my journey to the set of Muppets Most Wanted last May, I had just gotten my picture taken with Walter and I had just watched a dozen Muppets shoot a scene in front of an Amtrak train. (To recap fully, just read Part 1.)

So! Where could we possibly go from there? Well, after getting our pictures with Walter, Matt Wilkie and I returned to the main hub where all the cast, crew, and extras were having lunch. It was a fully catered craft services lunch that you hear about. Honestly there was everything. Pasta, chicken, fish, cookies (more on those later), ice cream... everything. It was awesome. And Matt and I got to eat it for free and no one said anything to us. Very strange, wonderful times.

And yet the times got even stranger and wonderfuller. Matt and I sat down at one of the few empty tables and started eating. We were only a few bites in when Peter Linz and Matt Vogel came to sit with us. I don't know if this was because there was nowhere else to sit... but I doubt it. Almost immediately after sitting down, Peter and Matt whipped out their iPhones and started showing us pictures on-set pictures they had taken. I distinctly remember shots of Louise Gold and Annie Sue, Walter and Ricky Gervais in their trench coats, Peter and Bill Barretta performing the flamingos, the Muppet performers freezing at the gulag set, and so much more. It was unreal.
And yet it got more unreal. After lunch, the producers dismissed all of the extras, background puppeteers, and 90% of the crew, but somehow Matt and I got to stick around. At that point, things got crazy, as all of the Muppet performers--Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, and David Rudman--came to sit at our table. There we were, me and Matt, just casually hanging out with our heroes. No one questioned it, no one asked why we were still there... everyone was just so happy to sit and talk to us. Unbelievable.

Honestly, I can't think of any words to describe that moment. It completely blew me away to be in the presence of these people that I adore--and to be with them all at one time? I was stunned. I can't recall what we talked about, but I do remember lots and lots of laughter. I know that I was a part of something special there and I'm thankful for every single thing that led to that moment. Out of everything I've gotten to do because of The Muppet Mindset, I think that one moment, sitting with seven of my heroes as just one of the guys, is the culmination of it all.

And yet, it didn't stop there. While we were waiting (and at that point I wasn't even sure what we were waiting for), I asked to take a picture with Peter. Of course he said yes, so we posed for the picture... and then Dave Goelz wanders in because he was jealous he wasn't in the picture. Ridiculous. Here's that glorious picture:
After that, I noticed David Rudman was eating a cookie... and obviously I had to get a picture of that. The performer of Cookie Monster eating a cookie? Come on. Anyway, here's that picture:
At one point after that, the Union Station crew was putting away the tables, so we had to get up. I grabbed my backpack to move it out of the way. Dave Goelz saw me do this and said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Are you leaving?! You can't leave!" I said, "No, no I'm just grabbing my backpack." He was relieved. I was confused. And enthralled. The day just kept getting better.

And then the day turned into the best. We finally found out what we were waiting around for when some of the performers went into a back room to do some on-set ADR (automated dialogue replacement, aka dubbing). Steve, Eric, Bill, and Dave stayed behind for a rehearsal with James Bobin. There, in the grand hall of Union Station, Steve Whitmire pulled out Kermit, Eric Jacobson pulled out Fozzie, Bill took Statler, and Dave took Waldorf, and the four of them rehearsed the lines leading up to "We're Doing a Sequel" and the first few bars of the song.

So Matt and I sat there, watching our own private Muppet rehearsal and hearing the start of "We're Doing a Sequel" nearly a year before the film's release. I'm not kidding when I say that those lines of the song did not leave my head for 10 months until I heard the whole thing. I knew then and there that Muppets Most Wanted would be a hysterical, incredible experience. They must've rehearsed that opening a dozen times, because the lyrics were ingrained in my brain. Again, I could not believe I was there experiencing this.

After the rehearsal wrapped, everyone was finished and the day was over. At this point it was probably about 5 in the evening, making for a long, hugely fulfilling day. As we were leaving, Peter and Debbie McClellan told Matt and I that they would be filming another scene--this one on Hollywood Boulevard--two days from then. They said we could come and they would be in touch... so my trip was clearly just beginning. Hard to believe that after the day I had just had, there would be another day on set with the Muppets. But... more on that later.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

May 6, 2014

The Muppet Mindset Most Wanted, Part 1

Ryan Dosier - Isn't life funny? One minute, it's 2013, the next, it's 2014, then it's May 2014 and you realize it's been literally an entire year since you had one of the greatest experiences of your life. What's worse, you realize it's been a year and you haven't written anything about one of the greatest experiences of your life. I can attribute this to many things... lack of approval from Disney, not wanting to spread spoilers--but mostly it's just me forgetting to sit down and write. But that's being fixed right now!

One year ago today, May 6, 2013, I was on a a bus headed for Los Angeles Union Station. I had been invited by my amazing friend Peter Linz to be his guest on the set of Muppets Most Wanted while they filmed a few scenes in LA after months of filming in London. It was (and still is) an unbelievable gift for Peter to invite me and a really, truly can never thank him enough or repay him for what I got to experience over the few days I was there.

I arrived at Union Station around 9:00am. Peter had told me to get there at 10, but I wanted to make sure I was there early enough. Getting there at 9 happened to work out extremely well, because as I was walking through the station trying to get my bearings, I just happened to run into Bill Barretta. Bill and I go back almost five years. He was the first Muppet performer I ever interviewed and met in person so it's oddly fitting that he became my guide through my first on-set Muppet experience. Bill swept me up and walked me around, showing me the train platform where they would be filming.

As we were walking out onto the platform, a security guard stopped us (obviously, since he was guarding a big-budget film set) and Bill simply told him, "We're with the Muppets" and we got through. Me. I was with the Muppets. It was unbelievable just to hear those words... and then we went out to the train platform. There were large black crates, obviously holding the Muppets themselves. There were animatronic rats sitting on boxes that Bill was delighted to show off. Thog's head was sitting on the ground and Bill said, "Go ahead and touch him. Take a picture if you want." So obviously I did. Then I nearly fainted.

Somewhere in here, I ran into my buddy Matt Wilkie, who was on set as a correspondent for ToughPigs. I can't express how glad I was to have Matt on set with me. Not only is he a fantastic person to have around anytime, anywhere, but he was just as geeked out and freaked out as me. The number of times Matt and I turned to each other and mouthed "Oh. My. God." or audibly gasped together is too many for me to count. We had a blast and there's no one I would've rather had alongside me on set that day.

After Bill walked us around the set, he took Matt and I to the main hub where the extras, puppeteers, and crew would wait in-between and after takes. The first person we ran into was Steve Whitmire. Steve, who I had met a handful of times before, lit up immediately when he saw us. We talked for a little bit about the movie, he signed a photo of Kermit I brought, and took photos with Matt and I. Then I believe he said, "I've gotta go out front and film something. Will you guys be around later?" Matt and I, stars in our eyes, nodded, and Steve said, "Great! We'll talk more" and went off to be Kermit the Frog. Nuts.

After our Steve encounter, Matt and I discovered the bounties of craft services (thanks to Muppets Studio chief Debbie McClellan, who assured us it was fine that we eat something) and had some coffee (bad idea, considering how jittery I already was) and breakfast. We sat down with the group of extra hands--the background Muppet performers. It was such a treat to talk with hugely fun and talented folks like Nathan Danforth (my awesome friend), Michael Oosterom, Bruce Lanoil, and Mike Quinn. Mike, especially, was incredible to talk to, with more than 30 years of history with the Muppets, plus credits in Star Wars (he's Nien Nunb!!) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Mike and all of the puppeteers treated us so well and I'm so glad to call them friends.

After awhile, Bill came back and assigned each of the puppeteers a character to perform. He sat down and rattled off names such as Wayne, Lips, Lew Zealand, Janice... I'm pretty sure I sat slack-jawed just hearing the Muppets I'd get to see in person. After he was done, Bill told Matt and I we could follow him out onto the platform. When we got there, we saw Kermit the Frog and I had to stop for a second. I had seen Kermit in person a few other times before, but I was never this close. I was six feet from the frog and he was on camera working his magic. The scene he was filming was unfortunately cut from the final film, but every take there was a line that required Kermit to turn and point. Each time he did, he looked directly at me and pointed, and each time my heart skipped a beat.

The scene they were filming also featured lines from Scooter and Beauregard, so David Rudman and Dave Goelz were standing off camera feeding the lines to Kermit. In between takes they both came over to talk to me and Matt. They were incredible as always (duh). During one conversation with David, he was so into our talk that he actually missed his cue. It was hilarious and probably my fault entirely... but everyone got a good laugh out of it. Eventually we were found by Matt Vogel and Peter Linz, who are two of the greatest people I know. They took us to more craft services and then talked to us for what felt like an hour chatting about the movie. Matt said, "Your the fans, ask us anything!" and they answered. It was crazy. It was here I first found out Matt was performing Constantine, found about about a helicopter scene, Walter jumping from a moving train, and more.

While we were talking with Matt and Peter, one of the puppet wranglers walked by carrying no fewer than six Muppets--including Dr. Teeth and Janice--and asked Peter if he wanted to take Walter now. He gave Matt and I a sly grin and said yes. Then he put on Walter and he came to life. Walter talked to Matt and I for a little bit and I seriously felt like a kid in a candy store. It was one of the coolest things I've ever gotten to do. It was my own private little moment with Walter and it doesn't get better than that.

And then they called for the puppeteers to get in place and true Muppet magic was turned on. There, directly in front of me, maybe four feet away, was Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, Walter, Scooter, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, Floyd, Animal, Dr. Teeth, Janice, Zoot, Lips, Bunsen, Beaker, Wayne, Lew Zealand, Sweetums, and Thog. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, and honestly I still don't believe it. It was truly breathtaking and like a dream to see all of these Muppets alive right in front of me. It was fascinating to see James Bobin direct them (and boy is he brilliant at it). I honestly don't know if I'll ever see anything quite like that again. I have no words to explain how utterly amazing it was.

After they wrapped the scene, the Muppets were whisked away (I'm still miffed I didn't get a picture with Lew Zealand) and Matt and I finally got to talk to Eric Jacobson. Eric is really the nicest guy around and one of the easiest people to talk to. He signed a picture of Fozzie I brought and then asked Matt and I if we were sticking around for lunch. I believe we said, "If we're allowed to" and he said, "Of course you are! Come on with me." So Matt and I started to follow Eric... but then we had to stop because we saw Peter and Walter chatting with the members of the press that were on set that day. Eric went on to lunch and we told him we'd catch up with him later.

Thank goodness we stuck around, because, thanks to Debbie McClellan, Matt and I got to sneak into the back of the line of press people getting their photos with Walter. When I got to Walter he said, "Hey, hey, Ryan! What pose should we do? Ooooh! I got it!" Walter then jumped on my shoulder and grinned wildly... and so did I, because how can you not? Then this picture happened:
And I think that's where I'll stop the story for today. What happened the rest of that day is more than enough to fill another article, and then there's a whole other day on set as well! There's still lots more story to come, Muppet fans, so be on the lookout for Part 2 and Part 3 of my incredible visit to the set of Muppets Most Wanted--a year later!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Mar 31, 2014

Muppet Performer Interviews from the Muppets Most Wanted World Premiere

As you know, (and if you don't, check it) your pals at The Muppet Mindset and ToughPigs attended the World Premiere of Muppets Most Wanted as members of the venerable press line. The popularity of our initial video was so huge that Muppet fans demanded more--and obviously we live to please. So we're thrilled to showcase the full interviews we conducted with the Muppet Performers. We interviewed Steve Whitmire, Peter Linz, Bill Barretta (and his awesome son Jackson), David Rudman, and Eric Jacobson--plus we talked to Dave Goelz, but not on camera. We sincerely hope you enjoy!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 12, 2013

News Update: July 12, 2013

NEWS UPDATE: July 12, 2013

San Diego Comic Con is coming to rock the bay-area next weekend starting on Saturday, July 20th. Comic Con is a hub for all things geek culture, so of course there will have to be some Muppet presence there. Last year, Super Grover 2.0 and Eric Jacobson appeared, and this year our friends at ToughPigs.com have been great enough to gather all the relevant Muppet panels and events in one convenient place! Check out their post and find out what Muppet-related fun you can see (or what you'll miss) at San Diego Comic Con this year!

Speaking of Eric Jacobson, he recently sat down for an excellent interview with CNN to showcase the movement of Sesame Street puppets--from penguins to Anything Muppet kings. The video below features tons of puppets, Eric being awesome, a cameo from Matt Vogel, and some delightful Grover ad-libs. This is not to be missed!

A week ago, Acme Archives and Dark Ink Art released the outstanding and beautiful "Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem" prints from our good friend and James Carroll. The print was released in three stellar variants--and would you believe that all three variants are still available? Yup, you can still get the standard green, "Rock Star Red," and "Purple Haze" prints for just $60 each. What are you waiting for?! Get to rockin', man!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 15, 2012

Super Grover 2.0 Goes ComicCon

It's a slow week, and a fairly news-less weekend, so we here at The Muppet Mindset are struggling to bring you a well-deserved update. So... just enjoy these pictures of Super Grover 2.0 and Eric Jacobson meeting fans (and Spider-Man) at ComicCon a few days ago! Hopefully some video of these meet and greets will surface soon as well.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

Jul 11, 2012

1000th Post - Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Miss Piggy

Ryan Dosier - Greetings Muppet fans! Today is another milestone day for us here at The Muppet Mindset. After less than three years, today we post our 1000th post! Our first post happened way back in August of 2009 and our goal has been daily posts of Muppety goodness ever since. Yes, we've missed a few days here and there (mostly because yours truly, Ryan Dosier, gets exhausted), but now that we come to 1,000 it seems like it all worked out, don't you think? I have way too many people to thank about us having gotten here... but that would distract from this article that I so painstakingly wrote just for you folks! So instead, I'll save the thanks for the three year anniversary next month. After 1,000 posts, I realized that I had to honor only one Muppet with this momentous occasion--and not just because she'd hurt me if I didn't. So now, please enjoy The Muppet Mindset's 1000th Post!

Performed by...
Frank Oz (1976-2002)
Eric Jacobson (2001-present) 

First appearance...
Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (1974)

Most recent appearance...
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Best known role...
Diva pig; lover of Kermit; self-proclaimed star of The Muppet Show; international star of stage and screen; karate expert; fashionista; faux-French speaker; purple glove enthusiast; First Mate of the S.S. Swinetrek; nurse at Veterinarian's Hospital; singer; dancer; model; Emily Cratchit; Benjamina Gunn; news anchor; Vogue plus-size editor; force of nature

Relationship status...
Married. Definitely married.

Miss Piggy is the biggest porcine star to ever grace the screens of television or film. She is also very good at paying/threatening people to maintain her image. First rising to prominence as the breakout star of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy went on to star in seven feature films, countless television specials, and so much more. She has become a fashion icon, karate master, role model, and the perfect representation of diva class that we as a people could ever ask for. (And, again, she's really threatening.)

The television debut of Miss Piggy occurred on the 1974 television special Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, where her then-agent Hoggie Marsh convinces Herb Alpert to work with the upcoming star. Miss Piggy displayed some of her trademark traits almost immediately, such as flirting with men and fighting for the spotlight. In her first television appearance she was assisted by a young man named Jerry Nelson for the only time. Miss Piggy made a few other appearances in television specials in 1975 before moving on to her starring role on The Muppet Show.

When 1976 rolled in and The Muppet Show hit the airwaves, Miss Piggy saw an opening, and took her place among the stars. In the very first episode, Miss Piggy was cast as nothing more than a simple chorus girl. While her boss and host (and pretty good looker), Kermit the Frog, conducted the Muppet Glee Club in their performance of "Temptation," Miss Piggy let her talent guide her forth, making quite the impression on both Kermit and the audience. Her assertive ways in this number would define and carry Miss Piggy for the rest of her career.

Miss Piggy continued to define herself during the first season of The Muppet Show. Her world-famous karate chop was brought to the forefront (and Kermit's actual front) in the second episode after Kermit's seductive dance with Lydia the Tattooed Lady. Her manipulation of Kermit's affections began in the episode guest starring Avery Schreiber, when she tried to convince the frog that she was really taken by Sir Avery of Macho. All of these traits combined to make Miss Piggy the lead female (and, in her opinion, the lead altogether) on the show.

As Piggy's star rose, she used her clout to adjust her image. Throughout every season of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy's look changed. Not only her style, but her physical appearance as well. Piggy is not shy about discussing her "look alterations" over the years, and feels that perfecting her look is as important as perfecting her artistic image. Miss Piggy is never one to stay stagnant, so by constantly updating her look she always gives her audience something new to talk about.

Throughout the five season run of The Muppet Show, Miss Piggy schmoozed, flirted, competed, and performed with some of the biggest names in show business. She performed sultry songs with Elton John and Rudolf Nureyev; she combated with such beauties as Linda Ronstadt and Raquel Welch; and flirted with Luke Skywalker and, of course, Christopher Reeve.

Miss Piggy also starred in two of the most popular recurring sketches on The Muppet Show (probably the most popular because of her presence): Veterinarian's Hospital and Pigs in Space, playing Nurse Piggy and First Mate Piggy, respectively. In the sketches, Piggy's limits were tested by her goofy co-stars, Rowlf the Dog and Janice in Vet's Hospital, and Link Hogthrob and Julius Strangepork in Pigs in Space. The rampant puns and the even more rampant idiocy of these sketches helped Piggy become a star while pushing her buttons on
every level.

After her incredible success becoming a television star, it was only natural that Miss Piggy move onto feature film work. She first stole the silver screen in 1979 with The Muppet Movie (the original title, The Miss Piggy Movie, was changed due to its length). In the film, we first got a look at Miss Piggy's humble beginnings as the winner of the Bogen County Fair beauty pageant. It was after her career-making win that she was taken aback by Kermit the Frog. After singing "Never Before, Never Again," Piggy joined Kermit and his crew on their journey to Hollywood, where she finally became the star she knew she was destined to be.

Miss Piggy's film work carried on even after The Muppet Show ended on a high note, with starring roles in both The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan. In the former, Miss Piggy plays assistant-turned-model to fashion designer extraordinaire Lady Holiday. Eventually she meets Kermit, who immediately falls for her while trying to solve a jewel heist. Later, the love triangle expands as Lady Holiday's brother, Nicky, becomes enamored by Piggy as well. After a stint as a model, in "the cooler," and a fantastic motorcycle stunt, Piggy helps Kermit solve the caper. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Miss Piggy was a star in a college musical alongside Kermit and the other Muppets and joined them when they journeyed to New York City. After they split up, Piggy stays in the city to spy on Kermit. She is eventually outed, helps restore Kermit's memory, and stars in the Broadway production of "Manhattan Melodies." It is during the play that a wedding between Kermit and Miss Piggy occurs. (And it was totally, definitely, without a doubt real, legal, and proven. No matter what the frog says.)

After and during her time in three hugely successful films, Miss Piggy returned to her television roots in specials such as The Muppets Go Hollywood (1979), The Muppets Go to the Movies (1981), Rocky Mountain Holiday (1983), A Muppet Family Christmas (1987), and, most importantly, The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show (1982). In her titular special, Miss Piggy got the opportunity to host her own show with special guests George Hamilton and John Ritter. After many highs and a few lows, Miss Piggy gets into an a fight with the network vice president about whether the show was a special or a pilot for a series and storms off saying, "I'm too delicate for show business!"

In 1989 she was asked by a business friend, Jim Henson, to return to television in his show The Jim Henson Hour. Because he refused to change the name to The Miss Piggy Hour, she opted to only appear a few times throughout the run of the series, most notably in the special episode "Miss Piggy's Hollywood." A few years later, in 1996, she appeared multiple times as a very special guest star on the series Muppets Tonight.

Once the 1990s were in swing, Miss Piggy knew that it was time for a new audience to appreciate her talents on the big screen. She returned to the cinema in 1992 for The Muppet Christmas Carol where she played the loving and fashionable wife of Bob Cratchit, Emily. After demanding a bigger role, she was handed one in Muppet Treasure Island in 1996, where she was cast as Benjamina Gunn, the leader of the group of crazed island boars. In the film, she was revealed to be quite the lover, having a relationship with Captain Smollett (Kermit), Long John Silver, and the notorious Captain Flynn. In 1999, she returned to playing the role she made famous: herself. In Muppets From Space, Miss Piggy plays an untalented, not at all accurate, version of herself as a last-minute news anchor. She joins Kermit and company to help liberate Gonzo and Rizzo and meet Gonzo's alien family (all the while keeping her hair looking great).

In the 2000s, Miss Piggy appeared in numerous commercials for various products. In 2002 she starred in the made-for-TV movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie on NBC, once again playing herself and a version of herself as if she had never met Kermit. In 2005, she played four different characters in The Muppets Wizard of Oz TV movie on ABC, playing all four of the witches of Oz. Her most recent television film appearance was in 2008, again on NBC, in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, where she over-reacted and stormed off to the Caribbean... only to return for him later making it the "Best Christmas Yet."

After even more appearances on television talk shows and reality shows, internet videos, and more, Miss Piggy was brought back to feature films in 2011's The Muppets, once again playing herself, this time as a highly successful editor in the plus-size division of Vogue Magazine. In the film, Miss Piggy made a record twelve costume changes, sang "Me Party" with Amy Adams, and a beautiful rendition of "Rainbow Connection" alongside her love, Kermit the Frog.

Besides her acting roles, Miss Piggy has appeared on countless pieces of merchandise, innumerable magazine covers and spreads, books, clothing, and even fronted her own line of perfume titled Moi. The only other Muppet who has been seen more or appeared more often than Miss Piggy is Kermit--which she is probably actively working to correct. But despite this, Miss Piggy remains an idol and an inspiration to women and girls and everyone everywhere.

Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog are madly, unflinchingly, and faithfully in love and very happily married. GOT THAT?! (Again, Miss Piggy pays very well.)

If Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog are the closest and most similar Muppeteer/character combination, then Miss Piggy was most effected and developed by her original performer, Frank Oz. In the 1980s, Frank Oz was always eager to discuss Miss Piggy's backstory and character in interviews, saying, "In one rehearsal, I was working as Miss Piggy with Jim, who was doing Kermit, and the script called for her to slap him. Instead of a slap, I gave him a funny karate hit. Suddenly, that hit crystallized her character for me -- the coyness hiding the aggression; the conflict of that love with her desire for a career; her hunger for a glamour image; her tremendous out-and-out ego -- all those things are great fun to explore in a character."

Frank had also developed an elaborate backstory for Miss Piggy in his mind in order to better understand her. A 1979 newspaper interview stated that, "According to Oz, Miss Piggy's father chased after other sows, and her mother had so many piglets she never found time to develop her mind. 'I'll die before I live like that!' Miss Piggy screamed, and ran away to the city. Life was hard at first. People got all the jobs; pigs had to take what was left. To keep going, Miss Piggy walked a sandwich board for a barbecue stand. Desperate, she took a stage name, Laverne, and entered a beauty contest. She won and got her big break: a bacon commercial. This led to a season as mascot for a local TV sportscast called Pigskin Parade--and then on to The Muppet Show."

Clearly Frank Oz created a character from nothing and made her into one of the most popular Muppets of all time--let alone one of the few females. All of this goes without mentioning how incredible and near-perfect Frank's performances with the pig were. Frank knew Miss Piggy inside and out and it showed in nearly every performance. When he threw his entire self into being Miss Piggy during a performance, it was clear, and it was some of the best character puppetry ever.

When Frank Oz formally retired from performing Muppet characters in 2001/2002, there was one man who soon became the clear choice to be his replacement: Eric Jacobson. Eric first performed Miss Piggy in 2001 during The Muppet Show Live at the MuppetFest fan convention. His performance was so convincing that hardly anyone in attendance could recognize the change in performers. From that point on, it was clear that Eric Jacobson would be the one to carry the torch, willingly passed on by Frank Oz.

Since then, Eric has performed Miss Piggy as well as anyone could have expected. He has honored the performances of Frank Oz by making Piggy equal parts beautiful, funny, and furious. Eric's landmark performance as Miss Piggy came with The Muppets in 2011, where he was finally given the chance to stretch and emote with the character. Because of Eric performing Miss Piggy after Frank Oz retired, the Muppets were able to survive and now thrive thanks to their diva pig in the spotlight. Eric continues to perform Miss Piggy to this day, and most likely will for the foreseeable future. And thank goodness for that.

Miss Piggy is truly an institution. What other Muppet, besides Kermit, can that honestly be said about? She has become defined as more than just a pig, more than just a woman, more than just an actress/singer/model... she is Miss Piggy, nothing plain and simple about it. You would be hard pressed to find another character that is as well-defined, clearly motivated, and hilarious as Miss Piggy. Yes, she may be rough around the edges (and right up on the edges), sometimes untalented, sometimes clumsy, sometimes gruff, but Piggy always knows what/who she wants and will do anything to get it.

This is why the Muppets need her. Miss Piggy's drive and passion and never-back-down attitude have saved the Muppets on multiple occasions (see The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppets, etc.). It is also clear that her level of talent is something absolutely necessary for the Muppets to succeed. They won't put on a show without her in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie or The Muppets--even though they know it just means more trouble and a bigger headache when she's around. But, above all, the Muppets need Miss Piggy because Kermit needs Miss Piggy. Though she karate chops him, stalks him, gives him kissy-kissy, and hounds him with sometimes-unwanted romantic advances, Kermit does need her. She keeps him motivated and reminds him why he drives to succeed.

Miss Piggy may be a diva, she may be demanding, she may be difficult to work with, brash, brutal, and vengeful, but she is a Muppet, and Muppets always have a sweet side. Miss Piggy puts on her diva appearance to hide her inner pain, but she shows her sweetness to reveal her inner caring. Deep down Piggy cares about the Muppets and would--and could--do anything for them, and that's why they need her.

Plus, she's more talented and better looking than the lot of them--duh!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com