4 items from 2017
We talk to Frank Oz and the other original Muppeteers about creating characters, watching them evolve, and giving them sentience.
After a few moving documentaries about individual puppeteers, this year’s SXSW debuted a new documentary directed by Frank Oz called Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets of the Show the Whole World Watched. The film is an hour-long free form discussion with Jerry Nelson (The Count, Mr. Snuffleupagus), Dave Goelz (Gonzo, Bunsen Honeydew), Fran Brill (Zoe, Prairie Dawn), and Bill Barretta (Pepe, Tree-Face-Guy) loosely moderated by Oz. Because it features so many of the key personalities that have been only briefly touched upon in spotlight docs on Big Bird or Elmo, it’s a must-watch for any Muppet Show obsessive who wants to hear about what it’s like being buried in a room under a fire pit so they could perform a song with John Denver.
You wouldn’t know it from the way they talk »
- Da7e Gonzales
Filmed in 2012 but proving timeless, Frank Oz’s loving and free-wheeling “Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched” is a must-see not only for Muppet fans and the people who made them, but for anyone seeking insight into the power of creativity.
Its title is nearly longer than its 65-minute runtime, but that’s a fine length for a doc that plays like a snappy conversation between pals. Oz assembled said “Muppet Guys” (Oz plus Muppet maestros Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, Fran Brill, and Bill Barretta) for an unprecedented gabfest, all filmed and assembled into a satisfying inside look at the people behind (and sometimes under) the world’s most beloved puppets. In his introduction, Oz promises a look at “the spirit of The Muppets,” and “Muppet Guys Talking” delivers on that claim.
Read More: The 2017 IndieWire SXSW Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted »
- Kate Erbland
Other than Jim Henson, Frank Oz is the most famous man behind The Muppets, as the voice of Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, and Grover, among others. He’s at South By Southwest right now promoting his new documentary, Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind The Show The Whole World Watched. Variety reports that the “film is a candid, often bitingly funny conversation between Oz and four of his closest colleagues: Dave Goelz (Gonzo), Bill Barretta (Rowlf The Dog), Fran Brill (Little Bird), and Jerry Nelson (Count Von Count), who died in 2012.”
Bringing those beloved characters to life might be enough for some people, but Oz went on to become a director for films like Little Shop Of Horrors, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and In & Out. He also happened to voice another iconic character: Yoda, who first appeared in Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back.
At SXSW, Oz candidly ...
- Gwen Ihnat
On Sunday morning, Frank Oz — the celebrated puppeteer behind such Jim Henson characters as Miss Piggy, Grover, Fozzie Bear, and Sam the Eagle — premieres his new documentary “Muppet Guys Talking: Secrets Behind the Show the Whole World Watched” at SXSW. The film is a candid, often bitingly funny conversation between Oz and four of his closest colleagues: Dave Goelz (Gonzo), Bill Barretta (Rowlf the Dog), Fran Brill (Little Bird), and Jerry Nelson (Count von Count), who died in 2012.
Oz, 72, started his career as a puppeteer when he met Jim Henson at 19, and he went on to become a successful director of such comedic hits as “What About Bob?,” “In and Out,” and “Bowfinger.” He got the idea for his latest movie from his wife, Victoria, a business consultant, who thought the close camaraderie he shared with his co-workers is rare — proof that business culture can still be fun.
Oz shot the conversation some years ago, »
- Ramin Setoodeh
4 items from 2017
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