Tag Archives: Frank Oz

Why the Big Bang girls owe their careers to Miss Piggy…

There are many trailblazers in the world of entertainment – especially for women. They take on new roles, challenge our understanding and break new ground in what is considered phenomenal.

Miss Piggy is one such trailblazer.

When she hit the screen in the 1970s, many actresses had limited choices in their creative output. The secretary, the wife, the sexpot or the matriarch. Miss Piggy came along and redefined all that it meant to be a woman. And now, I believe that the ladies of The Big Bang Theory have her to thank for her trailblazing performances. In fact, I think they owe their roles to her. And considering that their creator Bill Prady got his start with the Henson company, the connections seem even more inevitable.

Let’s examine them, shall we?

Penny: Beautiful, creative, sensitive/over dramatic, fashionista and looking for success.

Bernadette: Sweet, funny, delicate voice, ample bosom and can switch moods on a dime. She even scares some people.

Amy: Awkward, out of the loop, pining for her man.

Miss Piggy: Beautiful, creative, sensitive/over dramatic, fashionista and always looking for success.

Miss Piggy: Sweet, funny, delicate voice, ample bosom and can switch moods on a dime. We know she’s dangerous.

Miss Piggy: Awkward, out of the loop, pining for her man.

At least, she used to be… I guess we will see what Bill Prady and the team have cooked up for our Triple-Threat Diva as the new show comes to the air this fall! There can be no doubt that she will deliver the goods as only she can. Current and future actresses will need to take note of her character range so they can emulate her divine performances!

Will YOU be watching? You know you will.

 

 

Miss Piggy’s Water Ballet

Miss Piggy’s beauty is undeniable. Mostly because, if you deny it, you get hurt by the Pig. But in this sequence, she really imagines a most elaborate showcase of her beauty. An Esther Williams inspired Water Ballet that would put any old Hollywood producer to great shame.

Frank Oz commented on the shooting of this sequence…

“The water ballet scene with Miss Piggy was really wonderful. I was under the water for a week. I had three days of scuba training and then down I went. Having them swim for the first time really was exciting!” Source: Muppet Wikia – http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/The_Great_Muppet_Caper

Miss_Piggy_Swimming_1

This whole dream sequence is one of my favourites. I think it stems from the fact that Miss Piggy is fantasizing about everyone’s love for her. It’s all about her. The way it should be.

It all starts with Piggy having to replace a model in the swimsuit section of a fashion show. Perfectly plausible, right? Of course right. Especially when she’s being set up for a frame job by the major criminals of the caper – but you’ll need to watch the whole film for those details.

So, the incandescent Pig enters the stage, (much to the chagrin of the designer and her boss, Lady Holiday), but the crowd goes wild. Hog wild! (sorry, I had to…) Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. That’s one of the great things about Miss Piggy’s fantasies, we are never sure what IS real and what is imagined by the Pig. But her confidence in her fantasy is such that we see what the Divine Swine imagines the world feels about her – and then, we end up feeling that way about her. Talk about the power of suggestion!

Happiness, Miss Piggy

One Caress, Miss Piggy

All the world ever wanted way YOU! A dream come true….

What ensues is an elaborate water ballet, that you just have to witness to truly appreciate. I think my favourite moment is the insert of Kermit and Charles Grodin who are “apparently” fighting over her affections. The true tenor of Kermit’s voice gets me every time.

And then…. and then…. well, it ends badly for our heroine. And we see the crowd jump to their feet – not in adoration, but concern. So, I’m always thinking… how much can this gal cram into her imagination in a matter of seconds? It’s pretty amazing what goes on in that brain. At what point did they stand? And where does that actually fit in her fantasy sequence?

Ah, who cares? Watch it. It’s awesome.

Check out the design of her swimming costume…. I need personal designers… Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?

PiggySwimmingCostume

The positive effects of sharing things you love.

So last week, I gave my students a new, quick, research assignment to find out about voice actors. It was simple and I hoped, fun. It turned out really great – and the best part was, we all enjoyed it and everyone learned something new, including me.

They were to work in pairs to find some basic information about performers who are famous for their voices. The list of names included, (but was not limited to) Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons), Billy West (Futurama), Mel Blanc (Looney Tunes), John DiMaggio (Futurama), Dan Castellena (The Simpsons) and of course several Muppeteers, such as Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Kevin Clash, Caroll Spinney and Jerry Nelson.

Their presentations were simple and to the point and consisted of Name, Birth/Death (if applicable), where they live, career highlights, and major characters. Then they were asked to find two contrasting YouTube clips to share with the class. In some cases, I helped. In others, they had a myriad of examples. In all cases, the students were impressed with the variety and skill of these performers and their vocal abilities. It was a great week.

This week, we moved on to creating simple props. The Grade 9s were to create something with a basic shape – rectangle, square, round, cylinder – but to represent something realistic. Essentially a brick, stone or stepping stone. They went to town. I’ve now got on display some headstones, a paving stone, several versions of bricks, an oversized hunk of chocolate with a bite removed and a swiss roll. All made from cardboard, florist foam or styrofoam. Incredible.

Simple Bricks and other Props on display.

The Grade 10s get their pick of props to make. It just has to be something that a character could use on stage in some manner. I’ve now got several weapons, including a couple of animation inspired swords, an overly large hammer – it’s hard to describe, it’s SO huge, Thor’s hammer, (complete with leather wrapped handle), Pooh’s Hunny Jar – complete with BumbleBees on it, a diary, a Marauder’s Map, a sorcerer’s collection of goodies, pumpkins made from dryer tubing and an amazing Mad Hatter’s Hat – so incredible and large that it won’t fit in the display case. Most of these creations were made with less than $5 and some with $0! That’s what I call creative prop making! These kids had a blast and were coming to class early to get to work on their creations. It was amazing to watch them work and collaborate and encourage one another. So thrilling.

Assorted Props on Display!

 

Muppet Central Radio Game

Here’s a little game I play, with myself… (don’t be dirty)

I like to put on the Muppet Central Radio channel when I’m working on some chores. You know, the dishes, laundry, whatever. Something that would be great fun on Sesame Street, but at home, by yourself, it’s mundane and depressing. Then I play a little game.

First, I have to be a distance from the computer or my phone – which is easy, cause I’m busy doing some chore. But as each song comes on, without looking, I run through as many details of the tune as I can possibly think of whilst listening. Now sometimes this is easy. For example when the Oscar winning Man or Muppet is played, I can remember who wrote it, for what purpose, who sang it (character and performer), and of course the scene plays in my mind. And I sing along at the top of my lungs.

Sometimes it’s not so easy. For example, I may hear what is unmistakably Jim Henson’s voice, but at first listen it may be difficult to tell if the character is Kermit or Ernie – he’s not given away a tell tale character giggle yet or said “Hi Ho!” So, without looking, I try to decipher the setting, the character and everything I can from simply listening. It’s also fun when a “What-not” song comes along, to determine which character is Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt or Louise Gold, etc. Or, when it is clearly an Ernie and Bert segment – is it Jim & Frank or Steve & Eric, etc. Again, often easy, but still enjoyable.

This evening a segment from an early Veterinarian’s Hospital came on, and without Piggy actually before my eyes to distract me with her beauty, it was so easy to tell that the voice was Richard Hunt. This is, of course, how I knew it was an early episode.

I do frequently check to see how close I am in my guesses and what info might be there on the station, but if I’m stumped, then there’s always the good ol’ reliable Muppet Wiki to help me along. If you’ve never explored the Muppet Wiki – you are in for a treat!

It’s a simple and fun trivia-esque game that would be hard to play with another person – unless they were in the room with you, as their load rates could be different and they might be one song ahead or behind you – should you ever try to play this with someone while chatting or skypeing. Just a thought.

But of course, no one out there is quite as nerdy as I. Are they?

Let me know if you are.