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The Muppets at 40


Kermit and the gang still much in demand

February 28, 1996
Web posted at: 8:15 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Sherry Dean

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Kermit is 40. And even though he's held himself together better than Dick Clark, Kermit is too modest to say that he's still the hardest working amphibian in show business.

The movie "Muppet Treasure Island" was number three at the box office last weekend, drawing audience members ranging in age from 2 to 92. The Muppets have always appealed to a broad and diverse audience, and despite creator Jim Henson's untimely death nearly six years ago, his Muppets are working harder than ever.

Henson and Kermit

When Henson died in may of 1990, many thought his wildly successful business might fade away, but today the company is busier than ever, with two prime time television series in the works, a 15-picture movie deal and the current hit movie, "Muppet Treasure Island."


"In going forward, I really am doing much the same as my father did. He sort of had a grand scheme that wasn't too specific. Out projects were always innovative," says Brian Henson, CEO of Jim Henson Productions and son of Kermit's creator.

NBC scored a giant success when "Gulliver's Travels," starring Ted Danson and co-produced by Henson Productions. It became the network's highest rated mini-series in four years, clearly appealing to both children and adults.

Brian Henson

"What we're trying to do is entertain ourselves, and we are mostly a bunch of adults, but at a basic level that works for everybody," Brian Henson says.

A network sitcom, "Aliens in the Family," will soon air on ABC.

"This company in 40 years has never had two prime time television shows filming at once. It's record activity for us," says Charles Rivkin, co-president of Jim Henson Productions.

Muppet Treasure Island

Although "Muppet Treasure Island" is being distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, a new deal allies Henson Productions exclusively with Sony Pictures Entertainment in a 15-picture deal covering five years.

Rivkin says that three or four of those will be Muppet movies, and the rest will be family fare, "PG-13 and below."

In his 40 some-odd years, Kermit the Frog has become one of the most recognizable superstars around the world, with successful ventures in virtually every medium.

Kermit explains it best when he says, "I'm must basically your average talking frog in show business." Oh Kermy, Miss Piggy would say, you are too modest.

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