(9/23/08) While I havenít heard an official story yet, I was given a good theory about why Jim Hensonís name has been removed from the attraction at Disneyís Hollywood Studios
. According to this older news article
from when Disney purchased the Muppets, they simply bought the Muppets characters along with Bear and the Big Blue House from The Jim Henson Company back in 2004. Itís a common mistaken believe that Disney bought the entire company, but they did not. However part of that deal also included a four-year consulting contract with the Jim Henson Co., as well as a three-year production deal to make new films or TV shows. Itís thought that The Jim Henson Company may have even requested that Disney remove and stop using the Jim Henson name in an effort to clear up some of this confusion how that the consulting deal is over that they have cut their ties with Disney.
Meanwhile, just in time for the end earlier this year, Disney launched an all new version of the Muppets.com
website that also has no mention of Jim Hensonís name (that I can see at least...). Not long afterwards, Disney also announced a deal with writer Jason Segel and helmer Nick Stoller to produce the next Muppet film for them by 2010.
Clearly Disney is taking ownership of the Muppets for this all new generation. It seems this is just the start of Disneyís efforts to ramp up public awareness of the Muppets all over again for their next big marketing push, which will include a new Christmas special to be broadcast on NBC this December. Itís taken a few years for Disney to figure out how to fit the Muppets in to the mix with the rest of the Disney characters, but it seems clear now that they have a plan and it is being put into action
So far the early efforts, including all new viral videos on YouTube have been a huge success. There are all new YouTube videos being posted by actual Muppets who have made their own channels such as Sam the Eagle posting as PatrioticEagle
, Statler & Waldof posting as HeckleU247
, The Swedish Chef posting as Deumnborkborkbork
, Beaker posting as MeepMeepMeepow
and Gonzo posting as WeirdoWhatever