The Jim Henson Legacy - Disney vs. the Henson Kids



In recent news, people are quick to point fingers over the Spider-Man, Disney and Sony debacle. If you ask me, someone just jumped the gun and leaked something that wasn't finalized yet. But I would like to turn the clock back a few decades. Back before we had the high-speed internet equipped with the social medias we do today, there was another debacle. If there was a whistle-blower then, could things have gone a little differently?


Jim Henson had a stressful time in his meetings with Disney. He was good friends with CEO, Michael Eisner, and was inspired by Walt Disney himself. Which perhaps, could have added to his stress in feeling obligated. He died of the flu. Let me say that again - The Flu. Who dies of the flu? Probably someone who had never been sick before in their life. Someone who had no problem working at all hours of the day and night, and still remain happy as a lark. Therefore, it's easy to point the signs at Disney for contributing to his death. Think about that when you post about this Spider-Man debacle.


Make Art Make Money by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens chronicles Henson's life. It looks at how he turned a passion into a multi-figure business. In turn, it helps inspire those who want to do the same. It was that passion that drove Henson throughout his life, working non-stop, and then only stressed him out when he was faced with selling it all.


But Henson was a smart man. Disney did want it all. They wanted the entire Jim Henson Company. However, they only got the Muppets. That's all Jim agreed to give them. Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dark Crystal, and The Labyrinth all stayed out of their reach.


You can see in the years after his death how that franchise has been manipulated by Disney - whether good or evil. There were some gems in Disney's tenure with Kermit and the gang. (see The Muppets with Jason Segel, and The Muppet Christmas Carol with Michael Caine) And there were some flops. Although, I'm most disappointed with the fate of the last couple Muppet projects. Disney-owned ABC produced a television series simply called The Muppets. It aimed more towards Henson's original target audience - adults. Sadly, it was cancelled after only one season. Reports say that audiences didn't care for the mature approach. And then Muppets Live Another Day was supposed to be a new, original program for the streaming service, Disney Plus. But, dang it! That's been cancelled ever before it got the chance to live another day.


Like in their last performance, Jim Henson intended the Muppets to be for adults. He was talked into creating children programming with Sesame Street. From there on out, people viewed all of Henson's work as it was for a younger audience. The recent sitcom couldn't get people to change their minds. Jim's son, Brian, tried to fulfill his father's vision. Unfortunately, what's adult today is more than just sophisticated humor. Brian had to go to the extreme with the Melissa McCarthy-co-starring Happytime Murders. That didn't seem to go over well, either.





But there's another Henson sibling who's doing what they can with their father's legacy. Daughter, Lisa Henson, is an executive producer on Netlix's newest hit: Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.


And outside of the Henson family, there are reports of author, Neil Gaiman, rebooting The Storyteller, which was a sophisticated series employing Henson's puppetry.


I wish Kermit all the best within Disney's clutch. There's the struggle with maintaining their rights to Spider-Man. And while they had him, they did some good things. But even though they can't churn out anything worthwhile with the Muppets lately, their rights seem to stay firmly planted. Perhaps if this new Dark Crystal makes enough money, Lisa can buy her father's flagship franchise back, and see if Netflix can do something with them.

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