Gina Selim – On March 20th 2012, The Muppets finally received their long-overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. By 10:30am a huge group had gathered, consisting of Muppet fans, photographers, and tourists visiting the El Capitan Theater trying to see what was going on. Bill Barretta and Steve Whitmire had passed by once or twice to sign autographs for the fans who had been out early in the morning, but it was a waiting game until 10 minutes before the ceremony for any excitement to really kick up.
The family and friends of the Muppeteers started to fill the VIP seats, then Brian Henson, Lisa Henson, and Rich Ross came out, James Bobin peeked out from another viewing area… and suddenly it was time to begin. The host, whose name I can’t recall, but who was rocking a sweet Kermit necktie, started off the event praising the history of the Muppets and calling out the names of many Muppets to the cheers of fans. He noted that the use of celebrity cameos and signature soundtracks are a hallmark of all seven Muppet films. He also touched on the staying power of the characters even after The Muppet Show ended. You can watch all of his speech on YouTube.
He soon introduced Rich Ross, Chairman of the Disney Studios. Rich acknowledged how fitting it was for the star to be in front of the El Capitan which, as we all know, played the part of The Muppet Theater in The Muppets. As well as being across the street from the Kodak Theater where the Muppets garnered their first Academy Award. He goes on to recognize the great work of the Muppeteers who you “never get to see, but you get to see those incredible characters.” He then graciously took the moment to lead into Lisa Henson’s speech by noting that her and Brian Henson were in attendance as well.
The host guy came back up to introduce Lisa as the CEO of The Jim Henson Company and to praise her for the success of Dinosaur Train, Sid the Science Kid, and the upcoming Pajanimals. Lisa stepped up and told the crowd that the Walk of Fame on this Street of Dreams was fitting for the Muppets as well as Jim Henson’s legacy. She credited the crew Jim surrounded himself with for helping him achieve his dreams, including Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl, Don Sahlin, Jane Henson, and others. For all the efforts of Jim and his team, the world fell in love with the Muppets. She then thanked the Walt Disney Company for the recent success of the Muppets and noted that Jim had always wanted it to be the home for the Muppets. She was thrilled by the location of the star, so close to her father’s star and Kermit’s star. Finally she sang a line, “Look at us, here we are, right where we belong… and yes they do belong, Thanks to you, the fans” as she pointed out to the crowd. You can watch Lisa’s speech on YouTube as well.
Finally it was the moment everyone was looking forward to. The Muppets were going to “magically” appear and we could see them do what they do. Animal, Pepe, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Kermit, and Walter all popped out! Kermit spoke on behalf of the group. They took turns noting other stars on the walk of fame that seemed fitting to be notable to each one; Fozzie mentioned Milton Berle, Walter mentions Don Knotts, Gonzo: Edgar Bergen, Pepe hilariously calls out Judge Judy, and then Miss Piggy mentions Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Norma Desmond, to which Kermit replies, “Actually Piggy, Norma Desmond is a fictional star.” and Piggy says “Aren’t they all?” (wocka wocka!!). Miss Piggy changes the subject and asks when she can perform her big musical number, then Pepe asks when they will be presented with the Big Check. The star plaque, which is generally given to the one person getting the star, is then fought over, mostly by Pepe and Gonzo. The host guy then officially declares it “Muppet Day” in Hollywood. Watch the hilarious video on YouTube and see for yourself.
Sweetums is then called out to help unveil the star, and as soon as the cover is lifted, confetti canons are fired shooting multi-colored confetti, feathers, and puffballs all over the place. Then Sweetums came out with autographed Muppet Blu-rays and started to throw them into the crowd! When the proverbial confetti smoke cleared, The Muppets posed for photos with Rich, Brian, and Lisa, and eventually all the big wigs got their photo taken with the Muppets. Afterwards, the Muppeteers emerged from behind their box and all posed for photos together in front of the star. Dave Goelz, Eric Jacobson, Bill Barretta, Peter Linz, Matt Vogel, and David Rudman all eventually made their way to the crowd of fans and autograph-hounds and spent close to an hour signing autographs and taking photos. It was a great experience as a Muppet fan, to see the Muppets and the puppeteers get acknowledged for what they do. But even better, that after being crammed in a box and performing, that these puppeteers were kind enough to come by and spend so much time meeting fans when they don’t have to. It was really cool of them. So… Thanks guys, for signing my CD!!
This was a once in a lifetime event, a great moment in Muppet history. And I’m completely lucky to have been there. A star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Congratulations Muppets, you deserve it!
Pictures come courtesy of Gina Selim and Disney D23. Huge special thanks to Gina for her coverage of the event and quite a few other awesome things!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com