As hard it is to believe, we’re a mere four weeks away from publication of Jim Henson: The Biography. At one point, September 24, 2013 seemed as far away as the 23rd century. And now…here we are. There are a couple of exciting things lined up for the weeks following the release of the book–including a couple of fun “cameo appearances” of the book in some unexpected places–all of which I’ll tell you about later, as we get closer to the 24th.
In the meantime, Jim Henson has picked up a couple more nice mentions, as well as some kind words from another longtime friend and collaborator. The lovely and talented Fran Brill — the first-ever full-time female Muppet performer, who made her debut on Sesame Street forty-three years ago, and still performs on the show to this day — had this to say about Jim’s story (and graciously permitted me to quote her):
“This is not only a superb biography for the Jim Henson and Muppet fans but also a sensitively-written portrayal of a great and unique human being that will fascinate any and all readers.”
Fran’s been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of this project, and I’ve been grateful to her — on more than one occasion — for allowing me to pepper her with questions not only about her and Jim and the Muppet performers, but also Sesame Street sets, Muppet right-handing, and all those little quirky details that inform a story, even if they never make it onto the page. A big thanks to her for everything.
A side-note: I had a great time interviewing Fran for the book, but never had the pleasure of talking with her in person (though we’re working on it — more on that later). We conducted our conversations over the phone instead, and it was such a thrill hearing that voice–so distinctive, so one-of-a-kind– come out of the speakerphone the very first time. Wanna see her in action? Here’s Fran and Prairie Dawn with Frank Oz and Grover as they try to stage Singin’ In The Rain:
Next up, the esteemed Booklist gave Jim Henson one of its coveted starred reviews, and I’m thrilled with its reaction. At the moment, the review’s behind a firewall, but here’s a bit of it:
“[Jones’] lucid style, wide-angle perspective, and deep immersion in Henson’s exuberantly innovative approach to puppets, television, and film make for a thoroughly compelling read . . . With verve and insight, Jones illuminates the full scope of Henson’s genius, phenomenal productivity, complex private life, zeal to do good, and astronomical influence.”
Very nice. Finally, The Hollywood Reporter chose Jim Henson as one of its “Ten Hot Fall Hollywood Reads,”along with the upcoming biography of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. Which marks the first and likely only time I will ever be on the same list with Stephen King.