EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer team up with Disney Original Documentary for what’s promised as the “definitive portrait” of Jim Henson, the legendary creator of the Muppets.
Produced “with the full participation and collaboration of the Henson family,” the nonfiction project from Howard and Grazer’s Imagine Documentaries will provide a fascinating and intimate look at Jim’s illustrious career creating treasured characters and revolutionizing Containing never-before-seen personal archives, the film will give audiences an exciting first-person look into the life of one of the world’s most inspiring and iconoclastic creators through exclusive home movies, photographs , sketches and Henson’s personal diaries.”
Howard will direct and produce the self-titled film. Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes of Grazer and Imagine Documentaries will join Emmy winner Margaret Bodde (George Harrison: Living in the Material World†
“Jim Henson transcends generations through his iconic characters, and it’s one of the many reasons I’ve been a fan all my life,” Howard said in a statement. “I can’t wait to share a side of him and his career that people have never seen before. Henson’s boundless imagination and restless creativity is like few others and has influenced so much of our world as we know it. I am humbled to be able to share a deeper look into his life and story.”
In a statement, Henson’s family noted: “The archive of the Jim Henson Company is a treasure that reflects our father’s work, personal life and inspiration, and has been meticulously maintained for the past 30 years under the direction of archivist Karen Falk. It will be exciting to see the story emerging from these materials in the hands of a truly amazing filmmaker like Ron Howard, who has the perfect mind and personality to tell Jim Henson’s story.”
Also on board the project as executive producers are Michael Rosenberg of Imagine Entertainment and Marjon Javadi of Disney Original Documentary. Mark Monroe will serve as writer-producer on the film and Paul Crowder will serve as editor-executive producer. Monroe and Crowder previously worked with Howard on the documentaries Pavarottiand The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years†
Henson died in 1990 at the age of 53. Among his Muppet creations were Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Sesame Street characters including Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Bert and Ernie. He also directed the innovative fantasy films The dark crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986).
“Tracing his life and work,” a statement said, “the documentary will follow how the brilliant innovator shaped the childhoods of generations to come.”
The Henson documentary was produced by Imagine Documentaries for Disney Branded Television under the banner of Disney Original Documentary. “The Disney Original Documentary banner will largely produce and acquire content for Disney+, as well as the Disney Channels suite, with more announcements coming soon,” the release read.
“Jim Henson has influenced our culture for generations and his creative legacy lives on,” said Javadi, VP of Disney Original Documentary. “As iconic storytellers in their own right, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes are the best authors to share Jim Henson’s story with the world. We are delighted to be working with the Imagine Documentaries team and the Henson family on this undoubtedly inspiring film.”
No release date or distribution plan for the film has been announced.