1 The Muppet Mindset: January 2013

Jan 31, 2013

The Muppets... Again! Goes Publicity Crazy

Yesterday was a major news day for the forthcoming Muppet feature film The Muppets... Again! Muppet fans were treated to three incredible new publicity stills, which you can check out in the highest available resolution below! Be sure to click on the pictures to see them in all their glory!
Entertainment Weekly exclusive first-look image
Same image with Director James Bobin replacing Sweetums
Human lead Ricky Gervais with Kermit and Miss Piggy

On any normal day, those three absolutely incredible images would be more than enough to satiate Muppet fans, but the powers that be weren't satisfied. The Walt Disney Company released an updated press release for the film, revealing some pretty awesome plot details which you can read about right here, right now!

Disney’s "The Muppets…Again!" takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe's most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine—the World's Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit—and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two, portrayed by Ricky Gervais, creator of "Derek" and the Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning series "The Office" and "Extras." The film stars Golden Globe-, Emmy- and SAG Award-winning actress and writer Tina Fey ("30 Rock," "Mean Girls," "Date Night") as Nadya, a feisty prison guard, and Emmy Award winner Ty Burrell (TV's "Modern Family") as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon.

Exciting, no? I love the idea of the doppelganger Kermit villain Constantine and can't wait to find out which Muppet performer will be bringing him to life. Also, who knew that Ricky Gervais would be playing the villain's sidekick? That's a major reveal as well!
But would you believe that there's still more?! Along with the awesome first-look image they debuted, Entertainment Weekly also has a fantastic interview with the one and only Kermit the Frog, which you should absolutely read right now. But if you don't feel like it, here are some of the major plot highlights:
  • Kermit on the plot of the movie: "I can actually tell you quite a lot because I have a press release in front of me, which makes it very easy! The idea of this film is that our gang is on this global tour, and we're selling out these grand theaters all over Europe—in Berlin, Madrid, London—but we sort of get into a little bit of trouble when we run across my doppelganger. He's the world's number one criminal, Constantine, and he happens to look an awful lot like me. I won't tell you any more than that, but let's just say mayhem ensues."
  • On whether he'll be playing himself and Constantine: "No. We talked about putting me in makeup and having me play both roles, but we decided Constantine needed to be a guy who could do a Russian accent. And, you know, I'm a pretty accomplished actor and all, but besides the Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island films, I've only really ever played myself. The great thing is, I have like 3,000 relatives back in the swamp, so it was quite easy to find a frog who could play Constantine."
  • On his human co-stars: "Ricky Gervais is kind of like a Muppet, if you think about it. He fits right in. He's about our size. I actually think when this film ends it's going to be hard to get rid of him. He keeps following me back to my hotel in London, which is very strange, but we're thrilled to have him. Then, of course, we have Tina Fey—and it's hard to beat Tina. I know her because I was lucky enough to get asked to do a little spot on one of the last episodes of 30 Rock. She's playing a feisty prison guard named Nadya, which should be fun. Then we have Ty Burrell, who's playing a French Interpol agent. But personally, I'm not going to be going to France for the French scenes. It's best if I don't go there. It's a frog thing."
But wait, there's more! After winning a Screen Actor's Guild Award for Best Female Actor in a Comedy Series this weekend, Tina Fey took the time to talk to the press and answer some questions about what she's doing next. Watch the video below to see the fantastic Tina confirm her involvement in The Muppets... Again!

And yet, there's more! Academy Award-nominated producer of The Muppets, Todd Lieberman, who is returning to produce The Muppets... Again! talked to MovieFantatic yesterday. He dished some fantastic and exciting details on the new film, saying "We're in our second week of shooting. It's gone amazingly well. It's an unbelievable amount of fun." But perhaps most notably, Lieberman revealed that there will be new songs as well as old, just like in The Muppets, saying "We got Bret McKenzie back to do the music! It has tons of new songs, and some old favorites." What old favorites do you think will be included? I'm hoping for "Movin' Right Along" or "Together Again." I'm excited to find out!

But wait there's still even more! Our friends over at ToughPigs.com posted a link to a radio interview that Ricky Gervais gave on the Christian O'Connel Breakfast Show which showcased once again how excited Ricky is about working with the Muppets. He gushes about working with Kermit (and how he's better than DeNiro), how much he adores Pepe (because, c'mon, who wouldn't?), and confirms that Academy Award-winning actor Christoph Waltz, who was once rumored for Ty Burrell's role in the movie, will be making a cameo! That means Christoph Waltz and Ray Liotta are our confirmed cameo stars so far! Extremely exciting and enjoyable stuff, so give it a listen!

Well, that's that! Tons of exciting updates on the upcoming The Muppets... Again!, which comes to theaters on March 21, 2014, in case you had forgotten. Now that the promotional ball is rolling, I sincerely hope it doesn't stoop anytime soon, because I've already got my popcorn ready.

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

Jan 30, 2013

Weely Muppet Wednesdays: Droop

Today's article was written by frequent contributor Michael Wermuth, Jr. If you would like to submit an entry for Weekly Muppet Wednesdays, email us at muppetmindset@gmail.com.


Performed by...
Jerry Nelson

Best known role...
Depressed, furry green fellow with long nose.

First appearance...
The Muppets Valentine Show (1974)

Most recent appearance...
Scratching the Surface: A Hasty Examination of the Making of The Muppets Blu-ray Bonus Feature (2012)

Memorable quote...
"It's okay. I still have my self-pity."

Droop is a furry green Muppet with a long nose who talks in a rather droopy demeanor. After evolving from Snivelly, one of the Frackles from The Great Santa Claus Switch (1971), he made his debut in The Muppets Valentine Show in 1974, his biggest appearance to date. Droop was a fairly sad character, telling host Wally that he can't help talk about love, being surprised that Mia Farrow noticed him, and lamenting that he "used to have a crumpet, but it died." However, Droop did get a happy moment during the "Froggy Went A'Courtin'" sequence. After Kermit and Big Mouse fight over Miss Mousey, she chooses Droop, who shows up on a motorcycle. During the credits Droop is still depressive; When Mia Farrow tells him to "Cheer up, it can't be that bad," he remarks "Oh, they're worse."

Droop was seen throughout the run of The Muppet Show, though he rarely had a major role. He would often be seen in group numbers, as well as frequently appearing alongside various monsters and weird-looking creatures. He was sometimes seen in "At the Dance" sketches in Season 1. Droop's most major appearance on the show was in Episode 117, when he appeared in Ben Vereen's closing number. After complaining about how dull the set is, Ben convinces Droop, in song, to use his "Pure Imagination."

After The Muppet Show, Droop appeared in the background in every Muppet movie except Muppets From Space. He even had a line in The Muppet Christmas Carol, sounding insulted and asking "What about my nose?!" Droop returned in The Muppets in 2011, again appearing in the background. In the movie, Droop can be seen dusting off Jack Black before the telethon starts, participating in the opening, and being part of the chorus for a new rendition of "Rainbow Connection."Although he had no lines in the movie, he was heavily featured in one of the Blu-ray bonus feature "Scratching the Surface: A Hasty Examination of the Making of The Muppets," where he revealed his job as the key grip (and has the key to prove it). He also revealed that the first day of filming is on Monday, even though it was really Thursday.

The Muppets don't have many characters who are almost always depressed. There are characters who are frequently happy, angry, dumb, scared, or who have well-rounded personalities, but there are hardly any characters who are constantly sad. That's where Droop comes in. His depressed sounding voice is a rather funny voice, and his long nose is a rather funny looking nose. More importantly, he adds to the large cast of Muppet characters.

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

Jan 29, 2013

The Great Muppet Survey - Ryan Dosier

Ryan Dosier - Yesterday we posted the guidelines for our brand new (but actually old) article series The Great Muppet Survey. Today, I thought I would kick off the series with my answers to the survey questions to possibly inspire you to send me your answers too! So... without any further ado, here we go! 

1.   Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
First and foremost always has been and always will be Gonzo the Great. It could easily be argued that Gonzo made me a Muppet fan because I connected with his desire to be accepted despite his oddities. My second favorite is Pepe the King Prawn. I immediately fell in love with Pepe the first time I saw Muppets From Space and I still can't get enough. He's kind of the anti-Muppet and I love it. Third but definitely not least is Fozzie Bear. Every time I've taken a Muppet personality quiz online, I always end up with Fozzie. He's innocent, caring, tenacious, and just a perfect character.

2.   Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
Grover is my very favorite Sesame character, period. I find him absolutely hysterical and he reminds me of Gonzo in that he never, ever gives up. Grover loves unconditionally and I think he's spectacular. Second would probably be Big Bird. It's hard to think of a more wonderful character than Big Bird. He cares about everyone, he's curious and smart, he's just amazing. Third... probably Count von Count. The life and spirit and love and humor that Jerry Nelson instilled in this character was amazing. I wish I loved anything as much as the Count loves counting. 

3.   Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?Wembley recently became my favorite Fraggle. His undying dedication, willingness to do whatever it takes, and pride in being a wimp remind me a lot of myself. Second would probably be Traveling Matt, simply because he's hilarious and Dave Goelz is always the best. Third is Marjory the Trash Heap. She's just so... lively and spirited and beautiful (for a heap of trash, that is), and boy when she starts to sing? Forget about it!

4.   What is your favorite television program starring any of Jim Henson's creations (e.g. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, etc.) and why?
While I adore Sesame Street for it's longevity and constant revamping to suit the needs of children, and Fraggle Rock for its sheer perfection in a mere four seasons, The Muppet Show is hands down my favorite. The humor, heart, talent, intelligence, and skills that brought this show to life have never been matched, in my mind. It was a perfect storm of writers, performers, guest stars, and characters. I will always be in the mood to watch the Raquel Welch episode or the Star Wars episode or the Pearl Bailey episode--or any episode.

5.   What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
Such a hard question. (So why did I ask it?!) It changes so often that it's really hard to say. Usually it's The Great Muppet Caper (and I just watched that the other night, so it's currently my favorite), but I think The Muppet Movie is perfect and The Muppets is insanely special to me for many, many reasons. But in the end... I always come back to Caper. It's consistently hilarious throughout the entire movie. You barely get a second to stop laughing before something else cracks you up again. Whether it's Beauregard driving his cab, Fozzie making some hilarious remark, Gonzo doing a photographic essay on kneecaps, or Miss Piggy being 100% perfect... The Great Muppet Caper is, in my mind, the best. 

6.   What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why? 
Again, this one changes all the time too. I love "Life's a Happy Song," "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon," "Wemblin' Fool," and so many songs from all over the Henson universe, but I think my favorite would have to be "I'm Going to Go Back There Someday." Gonzo's anthem from The Muppet Movie is hauntingly beautiful and the lyrics are amazing if you really listen to them. It's a theme song for hopes and dreams and finding that place you've never been but still know how to get to... it's great. 

7.   If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
This is hard for me because I have had dinner with Bill Barretta and conversations with practically every other major performer. I think I would have to say Steve Whitmire, though. The three times Steve and I have talked, we've gotten along famously and I would really like the chance to just sit and talk with him for a meal. He's beyond impressive and completely brilliant that I'm sure I could talk to him for hours and never get bored (although he might get weirded out).

8.   If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
"Thank you."  

9.   If the President called you and asked to discuss Muppet projects, what would you tell him was the "Greatest Muppet Moment of All Time"?
How is anyone supposed to answer this? I can't believe I asked it. Sheesh. Umm... I'm gonna go out on a limb and take a risky choice and say "Bohemian Rhapsody" from 2008. I know, I know, how can I say that's better than everything from the classic period? Well... because to me, most everything from the classic period is gold. But it wasn't truly until "Bohemian Rhapsody" that I knew the Muppets could be as amazing and incredible as they always were. It gave me hope and it because my greatest Muppet moment of all time, Mr. President.  

10.   What's the name of that song?"Tennessee Stud." 

11.   If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
He would absolutely attend every single class. I'm sure my teachers would love him so much I would never fail.  

12.   In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
The Muppets' Wizard of Oz. It was made in such a crazy transition period for the Muppets and the franchise that nothing really worked (except Pepe and Johnny Fiama, who keep the movie from being completely unwatchable). Thank goodness it's basically a forgotten footnote at this point.  

13.   Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
Steve Carell or Kristen Bell. Please?  

14.   If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
Fozzie Bear. We would both be trying really hard to tell a joke and no one would be amused.  

15.   What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!) 
A signed picture of Walter, sent to me by my absolutely amazing friend Peter Linz. It's the craziest, greatest thing I'll ever own... check it out below.
So that's The Great Muppet Survey! It's easy and actually quite a lot of fun to fill out these answers so... I highly recommend doing it! Submit your answers to the questions above to muppetmindset@gmail.com and join the fun!

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

Jan 28, 2013

The Return of The Great Muppet Survey

Ryan Dosier - Way, way back in 2009 when The Muppet Mindset first started (when we still used horrible red font and awful picture formatting), we posted an article called The Great Muppet Survey. Recently, some fans of the site have been asking that we resurrect The Great Muppet Survey for all the new fans we've gained over the years. I thought it was a great idea, and I'm just now getting around to it. So... here it, is, The Return of The Great Muppet Survey, with brand new questions and brand new rules! Read on...
This survey is a fun way for you Muppet fans to share some of your wit with us here at The Muppet Mindset and our fans who read our posts! Below are 15 questions that we would like you answer at your own pace. From there, copy and paste the questions and your answers into an email to muppetmindset@gmail.com. When we ran the survey in 2009, we posted everyone's answers at once, but this time we've decided to showcase each Muppet fan's answers in each post to make this a recurring segment. That means you can answer anytime you want and we'll save your answers for a new post every week! Fun, right? Check out the questions below and get started on answering The Great Muppet Survey!
  1. Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
  2. Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
  3. Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
  4. What is your favorite television program starring any of Jim Henson's creations (e.g. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, etc.) and why?
  5. What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
  6. What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
  7. If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
  8. If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
  9. If the President called you and asked to discuss Muppet projects, what would you tell him was the "Greatest Muppet Moment of All Time"?
  10. What's the name of that song?
  11. If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
  12. In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
  13. Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
  14. If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
  15. What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)
Well there you have it, Muppet fans! 15 questions, most new, some old, for The Great Muppet Survey! Start answering and submit your answers to muppetmindset@gmail.com at your earliest convenience to have your answers featured here on The Muppet Mindset! Happy surveying!

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

Jan 26, 2013

How To... Enjoy a Hotel Stay

The Muppet Mindset Precariously Presents:
How To...
Enjoy a Hotel Stay

Maxwell Jessop - Well folks, it's January once again. The first month of the year. When people return to work and vacations begin to die down. Of course, that doesn't stop me, because today I'm going to show you people just how to enjoy a relaxing hotel stay. This'll really come in handy, I think... then again, I did base it off my stay at that ratty hotel... Nevertheless, here it is...
  1. First, begin by checking in. This is a very simple step, you might think, but can be the most exciting one. Enjoy the hotel lobby, usually decorated to look quite unique or fancy. After taking in the surroundings, greet the check-in person, choose a standard payment (i.e., credit card, cash, or sneak out in the middle of the night), and make your way to your temporary home.
  2. After unpacking your whoopee cushion, yo-yo, and other items, break in the room a bit. Lay on your bed. Look out your window. Sit down and watch TV... if your hotel has one, that is.
  3. After step two, however, be sure to stay safe around your room. Critters and pests tend to sneak their way to an inn every now and again. Nothing too big to worry about, really. Just try and keep a wary eye out for bugs. Don't mind the rats, though, they're just there for the luggage.
  4. Enjoy the free services of the hotel. Choose some food from room service. If you find the hotel does not have room service, ask the hotel's chef personally for his best dish. (Tip, watch out for steering wheel soufflé, it'll make your stomach turn).
  5. Explore the rest of the hotel. Take another stroll through the lobby and possibly meet with another one of the hotel's guests and have a conversation. Just stay safe when doing so (so you should probably stay away from the crazy one with excessive red hair).
  6. (Optional) Document your stay. Another common way people enjoy their hotel stay is to take pictures and write about their day. Photography can be a nice activity, but it's not for everyone. Especially those who don't have to complete a photographic essay on kneecaps.
  7. If you're staying somewhere interesting, explore the city. Possibly see a local landmark, take a hot air balloon ride, or go to a Rembrandt exhibit at the National Gallery. (Renoir!)
  8. Finally, after following these seven steps or possibly adding in one of your own, hop in your bed to rest a spell and ready yourself for the next day. Actually, try not to hop, those old Murphy beds have a tendency to spring up.
DISCLAIMER: The Muppet Mindset is not liable for pain, injury, and disappointment when using this How To... Actually, we here at the Muppet Mindset disagree with most of these steps (we say most because we really do love steering wheel soufflé, it's our guilty pleasure) and discourage you from using this How To... We also do not have the rights to the Happiness Hotel and its descriptions (the Happiness Hotel itself probably doesn't either, though). We're really just covering our bases, at this point, to be honest. We just cannot be sued. Our new lawyer is Ryan's pet bird, Randy, and we've slowly discovered that all birds are not as smart as Big Bird. Randy just poops all over the place and repeats things we say. We're really desperate when it comes to lawyers. So yeah... just don't sue us!

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

Jan 25, 2013

Interview with Muppeteer John Tartaglia, Part 2

Interview with Muppeteer John Tartaglia, Part 2
Conducted by Ryan Dosier

RYAN:   The Carnegie Hall show was, of course, not your first foray into the world of musical theater. You made a big splash by playing the lead of Princeton in the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q. As Ive told you before, I adore the show and the music. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with the show and won the lead?

JOHN:   Thanks Ryan! Well, it was such a once in a lifetime kind of showbiz story. I was working at Sesame Street with all of us who ended up being in the show and Rick Lyon called and mentioned they were going to be doing this reading of a new show--which at the time was going to be a TV series for something like Comedy Central--and they wanted a young leading guy kind of Musical theater type (I was young at the time, a-hem). They wanted to do a live presentation and see how people reacted. At the time, there was no through-line to the show, it was only like six songs (including some that were written by other composers) and a couple of scenes. The two moments that actually have ended up being fairly close to what they started out as are "If You Were Gay" and "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist." Anyway, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Rick, Lara MacLean (the original Mrs. T--Jen Barnhart joined us later), and I did this live presentation of the show and it went over like gangbusters. And the idea quickly went from being a television series to being a live theater piece and from then on we did lots of readings and work sessions on it and it continued to evolve. 

The funny thing is, none of us (at least not the performers!) ever had any idea or desire that it would go to Broadway! We were jubilant when we got the word we would be off-Broadway. It just shocked us how much people loved it as much as we did. As far as my participation in it, I said yes to that first presentation (which is something I always tell people--say yes!!!) and then kept waiting to be replaced at each new incarnation by a big Broadway star! I really was expecting to get the call "Hey John, thanks for all the work but Neil Patrick Harris will be playing your part, buh-bye!" So, it was thrilling to ride the show all the way and it says a lot about the producers and the creative team that they kept us all involved. When you think about it, we had no stars, five of us had never been on Broadway before, etc. It was a big risk, but I guess it paid off!

RYAN:   What do you think of the lasting success and popularity of the musical?

JOHN:   It's honesty and observations about life. There's a timelessness to the show in its characters and stories. I've recently taken over maintaining the show off Broadway and we're about to celebrate its 10 year anniversary. It's very sentimental for those of involved since the beginning. I still get chills when I'm at the show taking notes and watching this new set of fresh talented faces keeping it alive. But yeah, I think the story of finding ones reason for being is the kind of story that will always be relatable.

RYAN:   How do you think that puppetry and theater intermingle and influence each other? Do you think that they mix well together?

JOHN:   Oh yeah. I think puppetry is incredibly theatrical in so many ways and it's a truly limitless art form in a theatrical setting. I think directors love using puppetry in theater because it allows them to visualize things in a way that nothing else does.

RYAN:   You returned to the stage this summer for Disney's Aladdin stage musical in St. Louis, Missouri. This is where we met, as you know. Can you tell us a little bit about this show and playing the coveted role of the Genie?

JOHN:   It was a dream come true! For so many reasons. I had always heard about the fabled MUNY and how much people loved seeing shows there but also working there and now I can see why. It's just this huge, gorgeous theater (it's over 10,000 seats!) and the productions they do there are mind blowing. In our show alone we had three live camels, a motorcycle, an electric car, a flying carpet. I mean, come on! As far as playing the Genie, wow. It was incredible. What's funny is I had been in talks to play the Genie in another production and it just didn't work out timing-wise which killed me. I really wanted to play it. But, I thought "Well, it's not to be" and let it go and not even two weeks later I was asked to play him at the MUNY and I said yes without a second thought. I think I might have literally screamed yes loudly into the phone! 

But, to have the opportunity to stand on a huge stage in front of over 10,000 people laughing, cheering, etc., is just unforgettable. I never thought I'd have that chance. I can see why rock stars love it! I mean that's a LOT of folks! And the Genie kind of felt like I was getting a chance to be an overly caffeinated version of myself! Aladdin is one of my favorite movies and scores. So much so that it was harder un-learning the movie music and lyrics I knew so deeply from my childhood to learn the newer musical versions of some of the songs. Singing "Prince Ali" and "Friend Like Me"... man.  As I told you last summer, it's one of the highlights of my life that I still get chills thinking about.

RYAN:   One of your biggest successes came with your own children's television show on Disney Channel, Johnny and the Sprites. Where did the idea for this show come from? What was your favorite part of being on it?

JOHN:   Well, funny enough, I had the idea for it when I was 16! Well, a version of it. At the time, I had this idea for a puppets-only show that took place deep in a magical forest with these Sprites that had their own magical world and had never heard of humans before. I even wrote down the names Basil and Ginger and some illustrations. Then I put it away and never thought about it again. Fast forward 10 or so years and I had just been nominated for a Tony for Avenue Q. Rich Ross, who was president of the Disney Channel at the time, had seen me in the show and asked to meet and he basically offered me the opportunity to have my own show on the channel. After picking my jaw off the floor I kind of stuttered out without thinking about this sprites show and he seemed to like that and offered to set up a meeting with his VP and head of development. Well, I went home and found that old notepad that I had written that idea down on long ago, and myself and four wonderful co-creators came up with the show that ended up airing. The funny thing is I never thought of myself being onscreen. It was one of my co-creators, Jill, who suggested it. In fact, I completely disagreed with it! I guess it's a very good thing she pushed me to be a part of it, and there ya go! It was a glorious few years of my life. I really miss it.

RYAN:   Most Muppet fans are labeled "different" or "weird" in the eyes of "normal" people. Did loving the Muppets when you were young help you if you ever felt "different"?

JOHN:   It's what literally got me through my childhood and adolescence. Literally. My parents divorce was hard as it is for any kid, and that's right around the time I found Fraggle Rock, which became my escape. The world I lived in for awhile. Then the Muppets and of course, Sesame Street. And from my initial love of the shows, came my interest and geekiness over puppetry itself and all of these amazingly talented people who were like me! I wanted to be one of them! But, I suppose most importantly, puppetry was an outlet for creativity for me and let me express myself. I mean, I never directly used puppets as therapy or anything like that, but I was able to play characters and create and use my imagination and that's what I love most about it. Muppet fans are weird and we're awesome darn it!!!! Normal people are boring!

RYAN:   What advice do you have for young Muppet fans who dream of performing or working with the Muppets some day?

JOHN:   Hmmm... it's funny because it's all changed so much even since I was a kid. You have to remember that everything's different now- the characters are owned by three different companies, there's many less television series with puppetry than there used to be, etc. We used to have these big auditions and workshops because we needed so many puppeteers and those haven't happened in awhile. I have a lot of younger fans who want to know exactly how to become a Muppeteer and here's the truth- there's no right or wrong way. If you line up all of us, we all entered into it in different ways, in different times of our lives, and for different reasons. I will tell you this- get as MUCH experience in every aspect of performance you can. I get a lot of younger folks who are fantastic manipulators but dont have confidence as performers when it comes to voices, etc  The only way you can get better at that is to "do". Take improv classes, take dance, take sculpture, take mime, take voice lessons, take accent lessons etc. There's so much theatre based puppetry work so try to focus there. The more skills you have, the more you stand out and become a unique "voice" or talent that is needed. I think there will always be a need for a new generation of Muppeteers, but just make sure you have as many tricks up your sleeve as you can. And practice, practice practice! 

RYAN:   Whats next in the slate of work for John Tartaglia? Anything exciting coming up that you can share with us?

JOHN:   Well, we're moving along with The Jim Henson Company on developing ImaginOcean for television using the HDPS system and it's incredibly exciting. The HDPS is allowing us to do so many things we could have only dreamt of before. I'm also developing two shows for Broadway that I'm attached to as director and creating some new live shows for Carnival Cruise Lines. And I'm going to be heading back to the MUNY this summer, this time directing Shrek the Musical which I'm really really excited about. They'll be lots of puppets in this production! And, I'm continuing work on Sesame Street which I just love. It's home to me.

RYAN:   John, thank you so much for doing this interview with me. I cant tell you how much I appreciate everything youve done for me! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

JOHN:   Thank YOU Ryan for providing such an awesome place for us "weirdo" Muppet fans!!!!
 All of my thanks go out to my friend John Tartaglia! You're the best, John. Can't thank you enough... for everything!!

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

Jan 24, 2013

News Update: January 24, 2013

NEWS UPDATE: January 24, 2013
Our good friends over at ToughPigs.com and their contributor Matthew Soberman have written a wonderful open letter to James Bobin regarding The Muppets... Again. While I'm sure Mr. Bobin has received a lot of Muppet fan requests regarding the new movie, I sincerely hope he pays attention to this one. Matthew and ToughPigs (and now me) are asking Mr. Bobin to dedicate The Muppets... Again to the life and legacy of Jerry Nelson. As we all know, Jerry Nelson sadly passed away in August last year. It only seems fitting--nay, completely right--to dedicate the new movie, presumably chock-full of Jerry's characters, to Jerry. So... share the open letter around as much as you can! Because Jerry deserves it.

Speaking of The Muppets... Again, Twitter has proven to be a fantastic source of information about the production process on the film. Muppeteer Matt Vogel and star of the upcoming film Ricky Gervais have been tweeting some pretty fantastic updates on the film, including the fact that FILMING OFFICIALLY BEGAN YESTERDAY! Check out some of the fantastic tweets below...

In casting news, the first official bit of non-leading part casting information for The Muppets... Again has been released: Ray Liotta will be appearing in the new movie! Variety confirmed that the Muppets From Space alum will be appearing in a secret role in the film. Will he be reprising his role as a security guard who easily succumbs to Miss Piggy? Probably not, but it would be pretty funny.

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

Jan 23, 2013

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Slimey


Performed by...
Martin P. Robinson (1980-present)
Dick Maitland (voice)
Jerry Nelson (1978)
Michael Earl Davis (1978-1980)

First (known) appearance...
Sesame Street Season 2: Episode 0262 (1971)

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 43 (2012)

Best known role...
Oscar the Grouch's pet worm; astronaut; race car driver; soccer player

Oscar the Grouch (owner)
Dusty (father)
Eartha (mother)
Sloppy (sister)
Squirmy (cousin)
Rachel (cousin)
Dirty (pet bug)

Slimey is a tiny worm who is Oscar the Grouch's many pets, but undoubtedly Oscar's favorite. Slimey lives with Oscar in his trash can and is one of the only creatures who can bring a smile to the Grouch's face. Slimey's first known appearance was in an early Season 2 episode of Sesame Street where Oscar enters him in a pet show. Slimey has continued to be a big part of Oscar's life, and Sesame Street, ever since.

According to a flashback on the show, Slimey and Oscar first met in the park on a rainy day. Oscar went to see mud puddles and found a mud puddle with worms playing in it. Oscar saw a baby worm playing by himself. The young worm crawled up Oscar's shoulder and fell asleep. Oscar took the worm home, named him Slimey, and a new friendship was born.

Slimey has quite an extensive family that has been part of the show, including his parents Dusty and Eartha, sister Sloppy, and cousins Squirmy and Rachel (the obvious black sheep of the family). Slimey has also been seen with a girlfriend named Glo Worm. Slimey even adopted his own pet, a bug named Dirty, in Episode 4175 in Season 39. Slimey's many worm friends have visited Sesame Street a lot over the years, as members of the WASA space program, worm soccer teams, and racers in the Squirmadega car race.

Oscar's little worm is also one of the only Muppets to travel to space. For a long arc of episodes in 1998, Slimey was recruited and trained by WASA, the Worm Air and Space Agency, for a mission to the moon with other worms from all over the world. The worms took off on the spaceship Wiggleprise and Tony Bennett even sang him to the stars with the song "Slimey to the Moon." After the launch, Slimey and the other worms starred in a recurring segment called "Worms in Space."

In recent seasons Slimey starred with Oscar in a recurring segment at the end of the show called "Trash Gordon," starring Gordon as the titular space cadet. In the segment, Oscar reads Slimey his favorite bedtime stories from the Trash Gordon series.

Slimey has been a prominent character for many years and in many episodes on Sesame Street and will be seen in Season 43 and Season 44.

Slimey is an interesting little worm. He has a family and friends and a pet, he has played soccer, raced cars, and even traveled to space. All of these things make him a truly amazing little fellow, but he is needed on Sesame Street because he makes Oscar the Grouch happy. Slimey is one of the only things that Oscar truly cares about. Slimey adds another dimension to Oscar, giving him feelings and cares. He may be one of the only worms to go to space, but it's on Earth and in Oscar's care that he truly makes a difference.

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