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alt.tv.muppets FAQ


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Archive-name: tv/muppets/faq
URL: http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~csilvers/muppet-faq.html
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Expires: April 1, 1997

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
              ALT.TV.MUPPETS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
                                       
Version 5.2c.  Last updated: 23 February 1997.

Before we start, let me get this out of the way: the two old guys in
the balcony are Statler and Waldorf.  (See question 9.)

   CONTENTS                                        QUICK ANSWER
   I.   Administrivia
        1. A Muppet newsgroup?  That's SO cool!    Well, we think so
           What is alt.tv.muppets?                 A friendly newsgroup
        2. What other fan activities exist?        MuppetZine et al.
        3. I have strong opinions about this FAQ.  teej@panix.com,
           Who should I send "comments" to?           horn@dolphin.upenn.edu,
                                                      csilvers@cs.stanford.edu

   II.  Muppets and their owners
        4. What is a Muppet, anyway?               Puppets, but different
        5. Why are Muppets left handed?            Because performers aren't
        6. Doesn't Disney own the Muppets?         No
        7. Who runs the Muppets nowadays?          Brian Henson
        8. What's the address of Jim Henson        117 E. 69th Street
           Productions?                               New York, NY  10021

   III. "The Muppet Show" and its cast
        9. Who are the two old guys in the         Statler and Waldorf
           balcony?
        10. What is Gonzo?                         Unclear
        11. What about Scooter?                    Human
        12. Where has Scooter gone, anyway?        He's been retired
        13. And where has Skeeter gone?            Down the Amazon
        14. What's the best ever Muppet sketch?    Mahna Mahna  :-)

   IV.  "Muppets Tonight!" and its cast
        15. Muppets *what*?                        On ABC, occasionally
        16. Who plays Kermit now?                  Steve Whitmire
        17. What is Clifford?  What is Pepe?       Human and prawn
            What is Nigel's buddy?                 Mink

   V.   "Sesame Street"
        18. Is XXX dying of any disease?           NO
        19. Are Ernie and Bert gay?                No evidence either way
        20. I heard PBS is going to cancel SS.     Not gonna happen

   VI.  Things available on the 'net
        21. Who is...?                             Lew Zealand?  Uncle Deadly?
        22. Who performed...?                      Big list of all performers
        23. In what episode did...?                Lists: SS TMS MT! FR Dino
        24. What are the lyrics to...?             Lists: SS TMS
        25. Where are pictures of...?              Probably nowhere
        26. What records/CDs/CD-ROMs/videos/books  A lot, but some are
            are there?                                out of print
        27. What's that program that turns stuff   The Encheferizer
            into Mock Swedish?                        Bork bork bork!
        28. Yes, but where are the *Muppet sites*? All over the web

   VII. Now Showing
        29. What Muppet stuff is on TV nowadays?   MT! and others

A humble request: If someone posts a question that is answered here,
please be polite anyway.  Yelling to read the FAQ gets to be more
annoying that answering the question that was asked.

                          -----------------

I. ADMINISTRIVIA

1. A Muppet newsgroup?  That's SO cool!  What is alt.tv.muppets?

   It's a newsgroup devoted to Muppets, in all their wonderful shapes
   and forms.  We talk about Muppets in cartoons, movies, television
   shows, happy meal boxes, you name it.  While not emphasized in
   this FAQ, we often talk about _The Dark Crystal_, _Labyrinth_,
   "Fraggle Rock," "Dinosaurs," and other Henson productions on this
   newsgroup.  We do not really discuss puppets or puppetry in
   general; rec.arts.puppetry is more appropriate for this.

   While "Sesame Street" would not be the same without the Muppets,
   there is more to "Sesame Street" then just the Muppets.  If you
   want to talk about extra-Muppet parts of "Sesame Street," consider
   alt.tv.sesame-street.

   And if you are feeling terribly silly, there's always
   alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork.

2. What other fan activities are there?

   If you're in New York City or Los Angelos, The Museum(s) of
   Television and Radio have a huge collection of Muppet programs for
   viewing.  These includes rare Muppet clips that, no matter how big
   a Muppet fan you are, you've never seen before!  The NY address is
   25 West 52nd St, New York, 10019, and the phone number is (212)
   621-6600.  The LA address is 465 North Beverly Drive, Beverly
   Hills, 90210, and the phone number there is (310) 786-1000.
   (Thanks to Danny Horn and Rodney Elin for this info.)

   No matter where you are, you can subscribe to MuppetZine, a
   quarterly fanzine devoted to the Muppets and Jim Henson.  It is
   run by Danny Horn, whom you can contact at horn@dolphin.upenn.edu.
   Also take a look at the MuppetZine web page, at
       http://www-leland.stanford.edu/~rosesage/MZ.html

   If you want to get involved with a Muppet fan group or start your
   own, Danny is again the person to talk to.

3. I have strong opinions about this FAQ.  Who should I send
   "comments" to?

   Comments (but please, no thugs!) should go to
      o teej@panix.com
      o horn@dolphin.upenn.edu
      o csilvers@cs.stanford.edu
   We welcome, and indeed relish, comments.

                          -----------------

II. MUPPETS AND THEIR OWNERS

4. What is a Muppet, anyway?

   Muppets are puppets invented by Jim Henson and his colleagues.
   Muppets were specially designed to be on television and in the
   movies, using camera techniques as well as classical puppeteering
   techniques to create the illusion of life.  The name "Muppet" comes
   from a combination of the words "marionette" and "puppet," and many
   of the puppets are hand puppets with arm-wires operated much like
   marionettes' limbs.  However, many Muppets now include the most
   advanced computer and animatronics technology.  For the purposes of
   this newsgroup, "Muppet" means anything that has been created by
   Jim Henson Productions or the Creature Shop, including creations in
   "Muppets Tonight!," "The Muppet Show," "Sesame Street," "Fraggle
   Rock," "Dinosaurs," _The Dark Crystal_, and _Labyrinth_.

5. Why are Muppets left handed?

   You may have noticed that Muppets, particularly Muppet musicians,
   tend to do everything with their left arms.  This is because most
   Muppet performers are right handed and use their primary hand to
   control the head and face of the Muppet.  This leaves them their
   left hand to control the Muppet's arms.  The Swedish Chef, which is
   controlled by two performers, is an exception that proves the rule.

6. Doesn't Disney own the Muppets?

   No.  In the fall of 1989, the Walt Disney Company entered into
   negotiations to acquire Jim Henson Productions and the Muppets.
   While the deal was being worked out, Jim Henson created a 3-D film
   for Walt Disney World, "MuppetVision 3-D," and a TV special, "The
   Muppets at Walt Disney World."  Henson was initially excited about
   working with Disney -- particularly because its deep pockets could
   finance the projects he wanted to do -- but as negotiations
   progressed, differences in Disney's and Henson's management styles
   became clearer.  Jim Henson died in May 1990, before the deal was
   completed, and Disney lowered their offering price as a consequence
   (the original deal had included Henson's "creative services").
   Eventually the deal was called off.  Jim Henson Productions is
   still a completely independent entity, and Disney has no creative
   control over the Muppets.

   However, JHP and Disney do sometimes work together; for example,
   Buena Vista Home Video (a Disney subsidiary) distributes the Jim
   Henson Video line, and Disney distributes the Muppet films.  These
   are short-term deals and don't mean that Disney "owns" the Muppets.

7. Who runs the Muppets nowadays?

   Jim's son Brian Henson inherited the CEO position at Jim Henson
   Productions.  Brian has done some puppet work with the Muppets,
   including Dog on "The Storyteller" and Hoggle in _Labyrinth_, but
   he never performed any major Classic Muppet characters.  He
   directed _The Muppet Christmas Carol_ and _Muppet Treasure
   Island_ and performs some new characters on "Muppets Tonight!"
   These characters, including Sal and Seymour, are quickly becoming
   favorites, which is nice to see.

8. What's the address of Jim Henson Productions?

   117 E. 69th Street
   New York, NY  10021

   Note that this is an office building and is not open for tours.

                          -----------------

III. "THE MUPPET SHOW" AND ITS CAST

9. Who are the two old guys in the balcony?

   Statler and Waldorf.  Statler is the taller, thinner one sitting on
   the right as we look at them in their box.  Waldorf's wife is named
   Astoria.  They are all named after old New York hotels.

10. What is Gonzo?

   There has been no definitive comment on what Gonzo is.
      o In "The Muppet Movie," Kermit refers to Gonzo as "sort of like
        a turkey... but not much."  We've seen many Muppet birds, and
        even a Muppet turkey (in "The Muppet Family Christmas") and
        none of them looks anything like Gonzo.  In the Liberace
        episode of "The Muppet Show," Gonzo tries to pass himself off
        as a bird to get into the tribute concert for the birds, but
        it doesn't work.  So he's almost certainly not a bird.
      o In "Muppet Babies," his species is sometimes referred to as
        "weirdo."
      o In "The Great Muppet Caper," when Kermit, Fozzie, and Gonzo
        are flying to England, Kermit's crate is marked "Frog,"
        Fozzie's is marked "Bear," and Gonzo's is marked "Whatever."
        Gonzo continues to assert that he is a whatever in _Muppet
        Treasure Island_.
   The only thing we can say with certainty is that he is Gonzo the
   Great.

11. What about Scooter?

   Scooter's a human (like Statler, Waldorf, Bunsen Honeydew...).
   His uncle, J.P. Grosse, who owns the theatre, is clearly a human.
   He's called a "gofer," but that's his position, not his species
   ("gofer coffee," etc).

12. Where has Scooter gone, anyway?

   The performer who performed Scooter, Richard Hunt, died in 1992 of
   complications due to AIDS.  In tribute, the character of Scooter
   was retired.  He will not be brought back.

13. And where has Skeeter gone?

   Scooter's sister Skeeter has never been part of the non-animated
   Muppet world; she exists only in "Muppet Babies," probably as a
   nod towards gender equality (though this one character is hardly
   enough to mitigate the distressing lack of female Muppets).  In
   any case, at the end of that series we are informed that Skeeter
   became a famous explorer and disappeared down the Amazon.

14. What's the best ever Muppet sketch?

   Mahna Mahna, with Mahna Mahna and the two Snowths.  Even now,
   you sing "doo doo do doo doo" under your breath every time someone
   says "phenomena," don't you?  You know you do.

   Seriously, we don't mean to impose our point of view on the
   FAQ-reading masses.  We just love Mahna Mahna, that's all.  :-)

                          -----------------

V. "MUPPETS TONIGHT!" AND ITS CAST

15. Muppets *what*?

   It's this new show, see, on ABC.  It was a mid-season replacement
   for the 1995-96 season, and it was a mid-summer replacement in the
   summer of 1996.  Soon it will be a mid-season replacement for the
   1996-97 season.

   Not that we're biased, but "Muppets Tonight!" is *great*.  We all
   love Bobo, and Johnny Fiama (possibly Fiamma) and Sal, and Pepe and
   Seymour, and even Garth Brooks!

16. Who plays Kermit now?

   Steve Whitmire (whose other credits include Rizzo the Rat, Bean
   Bunny, and Wembley Fraggle -- he's been a major player since "The
   Muppet Show").  He has been performing Kermit since Jim Henson's
   death.  He also performs Ernie.  Brian Henson has never performed
   Kermit.

   Whitmire's first Kermit performance was in the 1990 special
   "The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson."

17. What is Clifford?  What is Pepe?  What is Nigel's buddy?

   These have definitive answers, from the performers.

   Clifford is a human: In the Billy Crystal episode, Clifford says to
   Rizzo, "I'm the man and you're the rat.  I've got genetic
   seniority."  In early press releases for "Muppets Tonight!" he was
   referred to as "Clifford the Rasta," but that's his religious
   affiliation, not his species.  In the Garth Brooks episode, Kermit
   calls Clifford "Catfish-faced" but never actually calls him a
   catfish.  Which is good, because he isn't one.

   Pepe is a Prawn.

   Nigel's buddy (that's the Nigel who says "Cue!" not the conductor
   from "The Muppet Show") -- the one who pops out of the control
   panel during the opening sequence -- is a mink.
      alt.tv.muppets trivia: Steve Whitmire contributed this answer
   during discussions of "Muppet Classic Theater" (in which the mink's
   head-banging performance in "Gotta Get That Name" stole the show
   for many of us).  This was the first ever post of a Muppet
   performer to alt.tv.muppets.

                          -----------------

VI. "SESAME STREET"

18. Is XXX dying of any disease?

   No.  No way, no how.  No "Sesame Street" Muppet character is dead,
   dying, or planning to die.  This is a rumor that has been
   circulating since Jim Henson died in 1990 -- people were afraid
   that since Henson died, the producers of "Sesame Street" were also
   going to make Ernie die on the show, so that children could learn
   about death (as they did when Will Lee, the actor who played
   Mr. Hooper, died).  This rumor has since spread and mutated to
   include Bert, Grover, and other characters, and any number of
   diseases and fatal accidents.  However, the producers have *no
   intention* of "killing" any character on "Sesame Street."  Jim
   Henson's characters are kept alive on the show by rerunning
   sketches that were recorded in the first twenty years of the show,
   and new Ernie sketches are also being made with Steve Whitmire
   performing Ernie.  Please help to stop this rumor when you hear it.
   Anyone who is afraid for the life of any character should be
   encouraged to actually watch an episode of "Sesame Street," where
   they will see Ernie, Bert, and all the gang, still alive and well.

19. Are Ernie and Bert gay?

   This is a source of wide speculation, but nothing has ever been
   said on "Sesame Street" to indicate that Ernie and Bert have any
   sexual or romantic feelings at all.  While we wouldn't want to
   suppress free speech on this newsgroup, beware: discussions on this
   topic have historically been ugly.  Rest assured that your point of
   view has been stated before.

20. I heard PBS is going to cancel SS.

   You would have to attribute a great deal of stupidity to PBS to
   have them canceling one of their most popular programs.  While PBS
   funding is indeed being cut, "Sesame Street" would be among the
   last shows to go.  If you see a petition claiming otherwise,
   ignore it.  (This is a good rule of thumb for email petitions in
   general.  Since there is no way to control forgery or repetition of
   signatures in email petitions, these petitions are universally
   ignored.)

                          -----------------

VI. THINGS AVAILABLE ON THE 'NET

21. Who is...?

   http://www-cs-students.stanford.edu/~csilvers/muppet-characters.html

   This site has lists: Muppets from "The Muppet Show" and Muppets
   and humans from "Sesame Street."  Compiled by Charles Evans, Bob
   Pedersen, Rueven William Goren, and others.

   Answers to some particularly frequent ID requests:
      o The guy who throws fish: Lew Zealand
      o The guy who blows things up: Crazy Harry
      o The scary-looking blue monster: Uncle Deadly
      o The piano playing dog: Rowlf
      o The guy who hits his head on the piano on SS: Don Music

22. Who performed...?

   http://www.clark.net/pub/cvaughn/html/mpindex.htm

   Chris Vaughn and Sue Rose have put together an extensive list.

23. In what episode did...?

   http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/VR/BS/Muppets/muppets.html

   Believe it or not, there are episode guides for every "Muppet Show,"
   "Fraggle Rock," "Dinosaurs," and "Muppets Tonight!" episode ever
   aired.  In addition, there are descriptions of some of the Muppet
   skits from "Sesame Street."

24. What are the lyrics to...?

   ftp://ftp.clark.net/pub/cvaughn/
   http://www.globalserve.net/~rhonda/sesame1.html
   http://www.cs.unc.edu/~arthur/muppet-songs.html

   The first site has Muppet songs, including Rainbow
   Connection, It's Not Easy Being Green, Just One Person, the theme
   from "The Muppet Show," and more!

   The second site, compiled by Tiny Dancer, has "Sesame Street"
   songs.  Besides all the songs you'd expect (Rubber Duckie,
   "Sesame Street" theme), it has many Frequently Asked Lyrics: the
   Alligator King, Captain Vegetable, I Don't Want to Live on the
   Moon, We All Live In A Capital I, etc.

   The third site has even more lyrics, courtesy of Kevin Arthur.

25. Where are pictures of...?

   There aren't many available, which is good because they are
   copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without permission,
   even for private use.  Sorry.  :-(

26. What records/CDs/CD-ROMs/videos/books are there?

   ALL:    http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/VR/BS/Muppets/muppography.html
   VIDEO:  http://www.megalink.net/~cooke/video.html
   ALBUMS: http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/1074/SSALBUMS.HTM
           http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/1074/ALBUMS.HTM

   The first link, Bill Sherman's muppography, is quite large and
   wonderful, but is not updated frequently.  Luckily (perhaps)
   neither are the albums, CDs, CD-ROMS, videos, books, etc.

   VIDEO: The second link has an amazingly large list of Muppet-
   related videos, collected by Jon Cooke.

   A note on availability: _Muppets Take Manhattan_, though hard to
   find, is available on video through Tristar.  Other Muppet movies,
   and some "Muppet Show" compilations, are also available.  The
   Playhouse Video compilations, such as "Gonzo Presents Muppet Weird
   Stuff," are no longer being produced.  Neither are "Dinosaurs"
   episodes or "Dog City" episodes.  On the other hand, the world is
   currently swamped with "Sesame Street" videos.

   ALBUMS: The last two links point to Ted Nesi's lists of "Sesame
   Street" and Muppet albums, respectively.  Both have track lists.

   The Muppets are currently "between" record companies -- they
   dropped Jim Henson Records/BMG Kidz, and rumor has it they are
   working on starting a new label, possibly this year.  Therefore,
   the only Muppet album still in print is the "Muppet Treasure
   Island" soundtrack.  "Sesame Street" albums are a dime a dozen.

   BOOKS: Books we think are particularly neat:
      o Of Muppets and Men
      o Jim Henson: The Works
   Both are by Christopher Finch and are hard to find.  _Of Muppets
   and Men_ is especially rare, and bidding for it (on alt.tv.muppets)
   has exceeded $100.

27. What's that program that turns stuff into Mock Swedish?

   http://www.almac.co.uk/chef/chef/chef/
   ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/sw/swedish_chef

   It's called the "Encheferizer."

28. Yes, but where are the *Muppet sites*?

   http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/VR/BS/Muppets/muppets.html

   Bill Sherman's page is the place to start.  It's the closest thing
   there is to an "official" Muppets WWW page, and it has links to
   other pages.  (Coverage of TV shows is particularly impressive: it's
   where you go if you want the ratings for the Jason Alexander
   episode of "Muppets Tonight!")

   Bill Sherman, again: http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/VR/BS/Muppets/muppets.html
   Official MTI site:   http://www.disney.com/DisneyVideos/
                           MuppetTreasure/index.html
   The Dark Crystal:    http://www.public.asu.edu/~galenelf/wyvern/darkcrys
   Labyrinth:           http://www.public.asu.edu/~galenelf/wyvern/labyrnth
   Muppets Tonight!:    http://www.megalink.net/~cooke/muptnt/
   Fraggle Rock:        http://www.clark.net/pub/cvaughn/html/frindex.htm
   Johnny Fiama page:   http://pages.prodigy.com/fiama/
   Muppets and Pooh:    http://www.clark.net/pub/rinzel/muppooh/
   Muppetabilia:        http://www.cs.wustl.edu/~mir/muppets
   The Muppet Site:     http://www.public.asu.edu/~galenelf/wyvern/
   Jeff's Muppenatics:  http://bones.wcupa.edu/~jepstein/muppets
   Ted's Muppet page:   http://www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/1074/
                           mupindex.html
   Kerry's Place:       http://pages.prodigy.com/robin/muppetr.htm

   Please contact us if you have a Muppet page to add to this list.

                          -----------------

VII. NOW SHOWING

29. What Muppet stuff is on TV nowadays?

   "Muppets Tonight!," occassionally on ABC, is once again on hiatus.
   Help make sure MT! stays on the air!  Write or email:
      ABC-TV
      77 West 66th Street
      New York, NY 10023
      E-mail: abcaudr@ccabc.com 

   "The Muppet Show" used to be on Nickelodeon but is no longer.

   As of October 1996: (All US times are Eastern)

   United States
   -------------
   ["Muppets Tonight!" -- soon, we hope (but probably not until Spring)]
   "The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss" -- Nickelodeon, Sundays, 8:00 pm
   "Aliens in the Family" -- ABC, Saturdays, 11:30 am
   "Muppet Babies" -- Nickelodeon, weekdays, 10:30 am and 1:30 pm
   "The Secret Life of Toys" -- Disney Channel, Sundays, 7:30 am
   "Jim Henson's Mother Goose Stories" -- Disney Channel, Saturdays,
      7:30 am
   "Big Bag" -- Cartoon Network, Sundays, 9:00 am
   "Sesame Street" -- PBS, every day, various times

   Great Britain (thanks to Stuart Lancaster)
   -------------
   "Muppets Tonight" (season one repeats) -- Sky 1, Sundays, 5:00 pm
   "Muppet Babies" -- Disney Channel, weekdays, 10:25 am
   "Wubbulous World Of Dr Seuss" -- Nickelodeon, weekdays 2:00 pm   
   "Sesame Street" -- Channel 4, Weekdays, 6:00 am; Saturdays, 6:00 am

   Australia (thanks to CRIT)
   ---------
   "Muppets Tonight!" -- Channel 7, Fridays, 7:30 pm
   "Jim Henson's Animal Show" -- Channel 7, Sundays, 8:30 am
   "Dog City" -- ABC, MTWTh, 8:30 am
   "Sesame Street" -- ABC, weekdays, 8:30 am and 3:00 pm

   The Netherlands (Thanks to Danny Sanders)
   ---------------
   "The Muppet Show" -- RTL4, Sundays, 11:00 am
   "Sesamstraat" -- Nederland 3, every day, 6:15 pm

   Germany (Thanks to Danny Sanders)
   -------
   "Sesamstrasse" -- N3, every day but Thursdays and Fridays, 6:00 pm

   Israel (thanks to Yoni Dital)
   ------
   "Muppets Tonight!" -- Channel 1, Tuesdays, 7:30 pm

   Jordan (Thanks to Yishay)
   ------
   "The Muppet Show" -- Jordan TV, Fridays, 2:00 pm

   Mexico
   ------
   "Plaza Sesamo" -- Univision, weekdays, 8:00 am

   Does anyone know shows, stations, and times for other countries?

                          -----------------

END of alt.tv.muppets FAQ.

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