Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Henson Creature Shop Faces a Post-Puppet Depression

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Henson Creature Shop Faces a Post-Puppet Depression

Article excerpt

THE FUR usually flies at Jim Henson's Creature Shop in Burbank, where bits of fabric, foam rubber and fluff magically become lions and tigers and bears, and, until recently, dinosaurs.

But it's quiet now at the Creature Shop, which until October was caught up in a three-year frenzy making hand puppets and life-size costumes inhabited by people for the ABC television series "Dinosaurs."

Staffers are awaiting word on whether the prehistoric fantasy series has been canceled or will be used as a midseason replacement. Fourteen episodes of "Dinosaurs" have not been broadcast, and ABC spokeswoman Sherrie Berger said there are no air dates set at this time.

The shop also has wrapped up maintenance work on the puppets and costumes that its sister facility in London made for "The Flintstones" movie, set to open during the Memorial Day weekend.

With a lull in activities, Creature Shop staffers, who are used to working 16-hour days, are facing a sort of post-puppet depression.

"We're at a bit of a loss. We were deeply involved with these characters for three years," said Creature Shop creative supervisor David Barrington Holt. "They've become part of our lives and suddenly they are not there. They are tucked away in boxes. There's a definite nostalgic feeling.

"We worked incredibly long hours and would wonder, `Why are we still doing this?' And then we are not working on it anymore and wondering, `If only we were still doing this.' "

The original Creature Shop was founded 15 years ago in London by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, who died in 1990.

The shop was established to make characters for such Henson productions as "The Dark Crystal," "Labyrinth" and "Jim Henson's Storyteller," then expanded to New York and opened in Burbank three years ago with the premiere of "Dinosaurs."

Since Henson's death, his 30-year-old son, Brian Henson, has become president and chief executive officer of Jim Henson Productions, which includes the three Creature Shops, in addition to films, television, publishing, consumer products, home video and records. The video and record lines were established a year ago.

Brian Henson directed the film "A Muppet Christmas Carol" and has been an executive producer on "Dinosaurs" and "CityKids," a Saturday morning series on Fox. …

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