The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 21, 1986 · Page 18
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 18

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Salina, Kansas
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Tuesday, January 21, 1986
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Page 18
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Entertainment The Salina Journal Tuesday, January 21,1986 Page 18 It's "Big 3-tf for Kermit the Frog NEW YORK (AP) - Want to feel old? Really old? Kermit the Frog, the original Muppet, is turning 30. Talk about humble beginnings. In 1955, a young college kid named Jim Henson created Kermit from his mother's old green cloth coat. Henson and Kermit first appeared in a five-minute spot on a local Washington show called "Sam and Friends" that year. The show ran eight years, and won an Emmy award in 1958. The rest, as they say, is Muppet history. Guest spots followed on "The Ed Sullivan Show,""The Jimmy Dean Show" and other network programs. Then "Sesame Street" came — the educational program that would catapult such names as "Big Bird,""Cookie Monster," "Fozzie Bear" and "The Count" into marionette immortality. In 1976, Henson proved that Mup- pets weren't just kid stuff with the phenomenally successful "Muppet Show." It became a status symbol of the highest order to be seen cavorting with Kermit and Miss Piggy. Scores of celebrities clamored aboard as guest stars, including Orson Welles, Diana Ross, George Burns and Ray Charles. Several Muppet movies followed. "Labyrinth," starring David Bowie, will be released next summer. The latest generation of TV mup- petry includes "Fraggle Rock," now in its third season on HBO, and "Muppet Babies," a Saturday morning cartoon ending its first year on CBS. To commemorate all this, CBS tonight will broadcast "The Muppets — A Celebration of 30 Years.'' Kermit's creator shared some thoughts on Muppet life after 30 in a recent interview: Q: What made you name your creations Muppets? A: In actuality, Muppets was a word we just coined. It was merely to be the name of our act. ... I used to say to people that it was a combination of 'marionettes' and 'puppets.' But that was mostly an answer that I made up so that people who needed an answer would get an answer. But then I stopped telling this lie, and I'm back to the truth: It just came out of mid-air. Q: What are your inspirations for Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Kermit or Miss Piggy? Did you have actual people in mind? A: No, I don't believe we've ever designed a character around a person. Usually, we start out with a kind of personality. With Big Bird we knew we wanted to do a great big character. He should represent a child so he can make the kinds of mistakes that kids make, and talk about it and be out front about that. So we wanted this large, kooky creature. Q: So you really think about qual- Marquee Jim Henson is pictured with some of his Muppets creations. ities rather than imitating individuals. There isn't some grouch out there that Oscar is modeled after? A: No. Lake Fozzie Bear is certainly an amalgam of all the comedians that were around. We were thinking in terms of people like Red Skelton and Milton Berle and we wanted a character who was terribly unsure of himself. The personality of Fozzie just gradually grew. Q: Have any of your characters or programs ever taken a political direction, or do you ever parody politicians? A: I avoid it. ... We parody greed, intolerance, those sorts of large things. I don't think it's our function to take political stands. And because of our connection with things like 'Sesame Street,' I think it would be slightly unwise. Q: To the extent that your TV programs are educational, that there are underlying messages, what do you hope children and adults are learning from them? A: It's basically just a sort of positive approach: taking the attitude that life is good and people are good. I try not to do loud, obvious 'message' sort of things. What we're doing is more like the kind of attitude that you have when you're raising kids. What they learn has more to do with attitude and environment that is around them. Q: A lot of people think television is harmful for kids because it's too violent or a waste of time. Do you agree, and how do you avoid the criticisms yourself? A: Sure. I am certainly quite strongly against violence on television. It is near criminal what the networks are doing. There is some sense of responsibility, but not nearly enough. At the same time, as a producer and a director, I know that action and violence get the ratings, get the audience and make the stories a great deal more exciting. So one is in a great quandary on how to program. Q: Neil Postman, a professor of communication arts at New York University, recently wrote this criticism of 'Sesame Street': 'If we are to blame Sesame Street for anything, it is for the pretense that it is an ally of the classroom. ... As a television show, and a good one, Sesame Street does not encourage children to love school or anything about school. It encourages them to love television.' Care to comment? A: Well, it probably doesn't encourage kids to love school. I don't think that was ever its intent. Its intent was to get kids started in the learning process, and I think it does do that. And it does do it through television. I don't think it encourages them to love television. The trouble is kids love television anyhow. ... Kids are going to watch television anyhow. So why not put something on television that's good for them? ... It's aggravating when educators attack our show.... This thing is not supported by educational money anymore; it's scraping along on its merchandising. Q: I've heard you say that speaking through characters like Kermit gives you a way of saying things you'd find hard to say otherwise. Is that something that goes way back? A: I started this when I was just out of high school. Basically, I was always an artist. Since I was a little kid I was painting and drawing and cartooning. I had no interest in puppets. I certainly never went to a puppet show. I never had a puppet when I was a kid. The first puppets that I knew were Kukla, Fran and Ollie.... That show was a major influence on me. And Bil Baird also had several shows. Those ... in particular were my only exposure to puppetry. Q: The other side of your craft is the script. Are there any comedians you particularly admire, or who have influenced your material? A: Stan Freberg, and Walt Kelly whodidPogo. Q: How is Kermit adjusting to life at 30? Has he confided his innermost thoughts to you? A: No. But puppets have the same sort of graceful aging that cartoon characters have. Orphan Annie is not 50 years old. I'm sure Kermit will stay young a lot longer than I will. Do you need another employee? Hundreds of readers are looking through the classified ads every day. Phone 823-6363 and an ad-taker will help you. Salina movies American Rabbit — Sunset Plaza Cinema (early shows only), Rated G A Nightmare on Elm Street-2 — Vogue, Rated R Black Moon Rising — Sunset Plaza Cinema (late show only) „ Rated R Jewel of the Nile — Mid-State Cinema, Rated PG Out of Africa — Sunset Plaza Cinema, Rated PG Runaway Train — Fox Theater, Rated R Troll — Mid-State Cinema, Rated PG-13 TV movies, specials 7 p.m. — The Muppets: A Celebra- tion of 30 Years, CBS, Salina Cable Channels 5 and 12 A host of celebrities joins Muppet creator Jim Henson's menagerie of madcap puppets to chronicle Muppet history from their humble beginnings in Washington, D.C., to their roles in full-length theatrical movies. 7 p.m. — Little Darlings, USA, Salina Cable Channel 6 Tatum O'Neal, Kristy McNichol (1980). At summer camp, two teenage girls compete to see who will be the first to lose their virginity. 7:05 p.m. — Custer of the West, WTBS, Salina Cable Channel 13 Robert Shaw, Mary Ure (1967). 6 GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS ROBERT MERYL REDFORD STREEP IRfs-HHW (*5:00>7:15-9:30 Our OF AFRICA A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2 ENDSTHURS. MEET SAM QUINT... NIGHTLY AT 8:00 ONLY General Custer pleads unsuccessfully with government officials to tactfully remedy Indian rebellions. 8 p.m. — Miss Teen USA, CBS, Salina Cable Channels 5 and 12 The Commodores, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and Fabian perform as 51 teen-age girls compete for the coveted crown and approximately $175,000 in cash and prizes. 9 p.m. — NBC News Special, NBC, Salina Cable Channels 3 and 4 "Life, Death and AIDS." Leading experts present updated research on the fight against AIDS, focusing on the political and social problems faced by public health officials and how the disease has affected patients and their families. 2-HIGHT MOVIE RENTAL Rent A Movie Today Keep It Tonight! Keep It Tomorrow Night! Bring It Back The Next Morning By 9 AM! 7 Days A Week 80% Of Our Stock Gold Star Tapes $ •! 99 7 Days A | Week Stock VCR PLAYERS Tuesday & Wednesday $ -f ftoo Per I \J Week NormalJ>_2 0.00 Per Week DOWNTOWN NEWS & BOOKS CARROLL'S BOOKSTORE Open 7 Days A Week 24 Hour Drop Boxes lake a Break lours, inc. Special to LAS VEGAS NON-STOP FROM SALINA February 14-17 $ 214 Air only Morning departure Evening return per person Complete air & hotel packages available. Jan. 31 & March 10 departures available too. For Reservations Call Your Travel Agent Today 4_ ANYWHERE & INTERNATIONAL ' TRAVEL H TOURS Sears Center 825-2191 Mid State MalJ 823-1150 WORLD TRAVEL CENTER 1827 S. 9th 827-0496 TRAYLOR TRAVEL 126 N. 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