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We always knew Big Bird wasn't a player, he just crushed a lot. The Internet definitely taketh away (today it was in the form of men being angry about female soccer stars being added to FIFA 16), but this is definitely a gift it has giveth. An iconic Sesame Street character rapping along to an iconic '90s song? Say no more, this is the only video we need to watch today. Benjamin Roberts edited together Big Bird and his crew singing "That's Cooperation" with rapper Big Pun and his crew performing "Still Not a Player" and it fits so well together that we're beginning to wonder if Big Bird has been trying to tell us something for all these years. Look, it's Thursday. Friday »
Many a filmmaker shows up at the Sundance Film Festival dreaming of becoming the next Martin Scorsese. But only Alfonso Gomez-Rejon can claim to have crashed on the legendary director’s sofa, retyped his script pages and learned at his side.
Unsurprisingly, the “Taxi Driver” auteur is everywhere in Gomez-Rejon’s Sundance grand jury prize-winner “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” which Fox Searchlight opens in limited release June 12. Greg Gaines, the movie’s cinephile protagonist, has a “Mean Streets” poster tacked to his bedroom wall, a first-edition copy of “Scorsese on Scorsese” on his desk, and a photo of the filmmaker’s longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker as his computer screensaver.
And those are just some of the homages that crop up throughout the second feature by Gomez-Rejon, who learned some of his craft at Scorsese’s elbow, as the director’s production assistant on the Las Vegas shoot of “Casino” in 1995. Now, »
- Scott Foundas
It's here, dance fans! That huge semi-annual televised dance party is back! It's the "Dancing with the Stars" Season 20 Finale-as the giant letters across the stage continually remind us. There's lots of activity as all of the season's contestants return to the ballroom, but it's not all fun and games: the final 3 couples still work really hard with one more round of competition.
After their performances last night, the final 3 were given their dance styles for the 24-hour fusion challenge. Noah and Sharna's cha-cha/argentine tango mashup uses phrases and sequences we've seen earlier in the season, and it looks like it. Same with Rumer and Val's fox-trot/paso doble fusion, as lovely as it is. I imagine Riker and Allison's salsa/quickstep also uses sequences they have done previously, but it doesn't seem as obvious to me. Perhaps they just hide it better. But all three couples dance beautifully, »
- Renée Camus
The Violet Crown Cinema has an encore screening of its Arthouse Monthly series Sunday night with the acclaimed new documentary I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story. In her review, Jette says it's a "pleasant and sometimes touching profile of Caroll Spinney, who has spent decades portraying both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street and elsewhere." Tickets are on the verge of selling out, but if you miss out on this one-time local screening, the film is available now on cable and digital VOD from Tribeca Film. In addition, Violet Crown is holding over Austin-shot indie Arlo and Julie (Elizabeth's review) for another week, with daily screenings.
The Austin Film Society kicks off the weekend with Jess Franco's 1971 avant-garde horror film Vampyros Lesbos, which screens tonight at the Marchesa. On Sunday afternoon, Afs is teaming up with the Austin chapter of the National Alliance on »
- Matt Shiverdecker
Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of Jim Henson’s untimely death at age 53. Bill Prady, co-creator of “The Big Bang Theory” and exec producer of ABC’s new primetime comedy “The Muppets,” began his career at Jim Henson Co. Here he shares his memories of working with the innovative producer and puppeteer whose legacy lives on through the Muppets and other groundbreaking creations.
Those of us who’d flown in from out of town for the memorial were caught short. There were instructions for the service, one of which was a request that no one wear dark clothing. Steve Whitmire, the puppeteer who would soon learn that he’d been chosen to take over the performance of Kermit, went and bought a white suit. He took it to the Muppet workshop on 67th Street and had them dye it green. That green.
We gathered at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. »
- Variety Staff
Get ready for the pop culture collision you've always dreamed of as the Avengers perform their own version of 'Uptown Funk'.
Ultron is also much more interested in getting funky than wiping out humanity – and he's successful (unlike in the movie)!
The most impressive dancer among the crew is clearly the Hulk, who is surprisingly coordinated for a lumbering green monster.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is now playing in the Us and the UK, and has already earned more than $932 million worldwide. »
If you were to compile a list of iconic children’s TV characters, who would occupy a slot near the very top, say in the top five (to quote a recent Chris Rock flick)? Oh, we’re not talking about those denizens of “Toon-town”, so no Scooby Doo or Spongebob Squarepants. Well, at the dawn of the tube there was the freckle-faced marionette Howdy Doody and his pal/handler “Buffalo Bob” Smith. Then, as Mr. Doody hung up his strings, Bob Keeshan (a vet of that former show) arrived as Captain Kangaroo along with his real-life buddies (Mr. Green Jeans) and more puppet and costumed cast mates (Bunny Rabbit, Mr. Moose, and Dancing Bear). He was a TV mainstay for decades along with that gentle, soothing-voiced Fred Rogers and his puppet-filled neighborhood. Just a few years after his debut on PBS, a most influential classic educational kids’ program premiered on »
- Jim Batts
PBS Kids has a new show coming your way in November, and it not only looks like a very interesting idea, it has an exciting voice cast.
Nature Cat is going to be a show that focuses on exploring nature, using a house cat as the jumping off point to lots of adventures. It’s potentially a great idea for an effort that clearly points toward following up a viewing by going outside.
The voice cast is made up largely of SNL cast members, which ought to add to the fun.
Catch all the info below, and stay tuned for more info on this one.
New PBS Kids Series Nature Cat Will Premiere November 25, 2015
Today at the PBS Annual Meeting, a gathering of member stations from across the public media system, »
- Marc Eastman
The documentary I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is exactly what you'd expect it to be, if you're a Muppet fan ... and also exactly what you'd hope it would be. Tonight's Violet Crown screening is sold out, but you can watch the film via online streaming outlets such as Amazon, iTunes and Vudu.
The film is a pleasant and sometimes touching profile of Caroll Spinney, who has spent decades portraying both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street and elsewhere. It's traditionally structured, primarily by time sequence -- beginning with his childhood and early puppet and acting gigs, and heading for the present. Interviews with Spinney help form the backbone of the film -- he tells us his own history, supported by other interview from his family to Sesame Street colleagues such as Frank Oz, Joan Ganz Cooney and Norman Stiles.
Naturally I Am Big Bird »
- Jette Kernion
Kermit and co. are back for an 'adult' Muppets show set in their behind-the-scenes world. You can get your first look here...
The Muppets are returning to TV for a new show called - you guessed it - The Muppets. This new programme is a behind-the-scenes mockumentary about their lives off the stage.
The show will air on the Disney-owned ABC network this autumn, at part of their Tuesday night schedule. Here's the synopsis:
"The Muppets return to primetime with a contemporary, documentary-style show. For the first time ever, a series will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, breakups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires. This is a more adult Muppet show, for “kids” of all ages."
And here's the first trailer...
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Read More: Watch: 'Sesame Street's' Caroll Spinney Embodies Michael Keaton for 'Big Birdman' For 46 years, Caroll Spinney has been playing "Sesame Street's" Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch - and at 81 years old, he has no intention of stopping. A loving portrait of the man in the yellow suit, "I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story" features extraordinary footage of Spinney's earliest collaborations with Jim Henson as it traces his journey from bullied child to childhood icon. And as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the puppet, who will steal your heart. In the exclusive clip above, fellow "Sesame Street" cast members Dr. Loretta Long and Bob McGrath recall a hilarious issue with a microphone, a couple of randy truckers and Bid Bird being stabbed in the neck (okay, not actually stabbed, just watch the clip.) "I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story »
- Casey Cipriani
PBS Kids is purr-loining some talent from “Saturday Night Live” for its upcoming series “Nature Cat.” “SNL” veterans Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan and Kenan Thompson have been tapped for the voice cast of the series, which is scheduled for a November 25 premiere. Kate Micucci, of “Garfunkel and Oates” renown, has also been cat on “Nature Cat,” which is created by “Sesame Street” duo David and Adam Rudman. See video: 'SNL' Doc 'Live From New York!' Trailer Chronicles 'Strange Canadian' Lorne Michaels' 'Weird Idea' The series will follow Fred, a house cat who dreams of exploring the great outdoors. »
- Tim Kenneally
No negative thoughts, words or deeds intrude upon “I Am Big Bird,” Dave Lamattina and Chad Walker’s documentary about Caroll Spinney, the man behind the voice, walk, heart and soul of the beloved Sesame Street character for the last 45 years. But as endless processions of friends and colleagues attest to Spinney’s genius, and the filmmakers wallow in never-before-seen behind-the-scenes imagery, they fail to fully capture the actual art of puppeteering, with woefully few substantial excerpts from the show itself. Diehard Big Bird fans will delight in this treasure trove of intimate moments, but the pic’s relentless outpourings of affection might prove too saccharine for general consumption.
“I Am Big Bird” opens with clip from an old episode of “To Tell the Truth,” featuring three men who all claim to be “the real Caroll Spinney.” It sets up the dichotomy of the film; while Big Bird may qualify »
- Ronnie Scheib
Big Bird is familiar to countless people of multiple generations all around the world who grew up watching “Sesame Street.” But who’s the man behind (or inside, actually) the 8-foot-tall, perpetually six-years-old, 4,000-feathers-covered bird? That would be Caroll Spinney, who has puppeteered Big Bird since the first “Sesame Street” episode aired in 1969. He also puppeteers Big Bird’s next-door neighbor, Oscar the Grouch. Now 81, Spinney still works on the PBS show as both characters and has no plans for retirement. Spinney is the subject of new documentary “I Am Big Bird” (now available to VOD and iTunes in a limited theatrical release), a sweet, reverent tribute to the man behind the yellow feathers. The film puts a spotlight on both his joyous and difficult times on “Sesame Street” and features archival footage and interviews with Spinney, his wife and several “Sesame Street” cast and crew members. Here are the »
- Emily Rome
Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer and voice behind Sesame Street’s Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, recounted one of his most emotional fan encounters during a Reddit Ama on Thursday. Caroll Spinney Tells Heartbreaking Big Bird Story Spinney, who has been voicing Big Bird since Sesame Street’s inception over 45 years ago, took part in an […]
- Olivia Truffaut
Big Bird has brought decades of laughter and smiles to Sesame Street fans worldwide, but 5-year-old Joey's devotion to the character takes the cake. As Big Bird puppeteer Caroll Spinney recalled in a Thursday, May 7 session of Reddit's Ask Me Anything Q&A, the yellow feathered friend to many helped make the little boy smile just before he took his dying breath. "This is a very sad story, but it's real," Spinney, 81, told Reddit users of Joey, who was in the end stages of his cancer [...] »
Maybe we contain multitudes, and maybe we contain a couple great splashes of primary color. With one arm stretched high above his head, puppeteer Caroll Spinney has spent the last decades embodying the warmest of yellows and grimiest of greens, playing — in every sense of the word — Sesame Street's biggest bird and most trash-talking grouch. Dave Lamattina and Chad Walker's I Am Big Bird offers just what the title promises, an involving and affectionate study of Spinney, whose fine-feathered friend we've all been following for almost half a century now.
To become the bird, Spinney dons orange pants ringed with ribbons of pink and ending in three-toed feet that, through the genius of Muppet design, can't help but cheer you just by existing. How can »
[Editor's Note: This post is presented in partnership with Time Warner Cable Movies On Demand in support of Indie Film Month. Today's pick, "I Am Big Bird," is available now On Demand. Need help finding a movie to watch? Let TWC find the best fit for your mood here.] Caroll Spinney has been playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" for 45 years when, after making a humble start as a traveling puppeteer, he was invited by Jim Henson to come to New York to work on "Sesame Street." The rest is history. After decades of stretching and extending his arm to work the giant bird's head (damaging tendons and nerves in the process), Spinney, now 80 years old, has no plan to give up playing Big Bird -- a character who he says is a part of his soul. Years ago, Spinneyhandpicked his ownsuccessor, an understudy who has since waited, quite literally, in the wingsfor almost 20 years. When his first marriage to a woman embarrassedby hiscareer ended in »
- Casey Cipriani
8 Feet Tall and Light as a Feather: Walker and Lamattina Chronicle the Life and Love of a Puppeteering Legend
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t know Big Bird. Of the many beloved creatures that sprang from the genius of Jim Henson, Sesame Street’s Big Bird may well be the most universally recognizable. Bearing the spirit of a child within the body of an 8-foot canary yellow behemoth, Big Bird became a larger than life icon of children’s television. Yet, despite Caroll Spinney’s famed collaborators and lengthy list of accolades that include Emmys, Grammys, and even a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you may not recognize the lanky, mop-headed man who has brought the bird, as well as Oscar the Grouch, to life for the last 45 years. Following the success of Constance Marks’s Kevin Clash bio-doc Being Elmo, directors Chad Walker »
- Jordan M. Smith
The complex character inside the Big Bird suit is revealed in this often fascinating study of a lovable man-child
A few years ago, the ebullient documentary Being Elmo told the story of Kevin Clash’s journey from puppet-struck kid to international Sesame Street celebrity. This account of Caroll Spinney’s life as the heart and soul of Big Bird takes a similar tack, painting a picture of a lovable man-child whose professional playfulness counters personal melancholia. Spinney is a complicated character (he’s also Oscar the Grouch), but the tone of the film is positive, with painful childhood paternal traumas raised and resolved, separated friends reunited, and even the spectre of a grisly crime turned to an opportunity for tearful reconciliation. An incessantly schmaltzy TV score threatens to drown us in syrup, but the sight of Big Bird singing It’s Not Easy Being Green at Jim Henson’s memorial provides a powerful emotional sucker-punch. »
- Mark Kermode, Observer film critic
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