Exclusive: Oscar winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have teamed up with the Disney Original Documentary, which has been promised as a “specific portrait” of Jim Henson, the legendary creator of the Muppets.
The nonfiction project of Howard and Gregor’s Imagine Documentaries is being created “with the full participation and collaboration of the Henson family”, according to a release, “and it will create a valuable and intimate look at Jim’s colorful career and revolutionize television. The film has never been seen before.” With such a personal archive, the film will give viewers an exciting first-person perspective on the lives of one of the world’s most inspiring and iconoclastic creators through its exclusive home movies, photographs, sketches and Henson’s personal diary. “
Howard will direct and produce the untitled film. The Grazer and Imagine documentary will be produced by Sarah Bernstein and Justin Wilkes, along with Emmy winner Margaret Bode (George Harrison: Living in the material world)
“Jim Henson has crossed generations through his iconic characters, and that’s one of the many reasons I’ve been a lifelong fan,” Howard said in a statement. “I can’t wait to share an aspect of her and her career that people have never seen before. Henson’s boundless imagination and restless creativity, like a few others, has influenced much of our world as far as we know. I am humbled to share a deeper perspective on his life and story. “
In a statement, Henson’s family commented, “The Jim Henson Company archive is a treasure trove reflecting our father’s work, personal life and inspiration, and has been carefully maintained for the past 30 years under the leadership of archivist Karen Falk. It will be thrilling to see the story emerge from these materials in the hands of truly great filmmakers like Ron Howard, who has the perfect spirit and personality to tell the story of Jim Henson. “
Also on the project board as executive producers are Michael Rosenberg of Imagine Entertainment and Marjan Javadi of Disney Original Documentary. Mark Monroe will be the writer-producer of the film and Paul Cradder will be the editor-executive producer. Monroe and Crowder had previously collaborated with Howard on the documentary PavarottiAnd The Beatles: Eight days a week – The Touring Years.
Henson died in 1990 at the age of 53. Her Muppet creations included Carmit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Sesame Street Characters including Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Bert and Arnie. He has also directed fancy fantasy films The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986).
“Looking for his life and work,” the statement said, “the documentary will follow how the brilliant inventor came to shape the next generation of childhood.”
The Henson Documentary is produced by Imagine Documentary for Disney branded television under the Disney Original Documentary banner. “The Disney Original Documentary banner will primarily create and acquire content for Disney +, as well as the Disney Channel suite, with more announcements coming soon,” the statement said.
“Jim Henson has influenced our culture for generations and his creative legacy survives,” said Javadi, VP of the Disney Original Documentary. “As iconic storytellers in their own right, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Sarah Bernstein and Justin Wilkes are the best writers to share Jim Henson’s story with the world. We are thrilled to be partnering with Imagine Documentary and the Henson family team on this undoubtedly inspiring film. “
No release date or distribution plan has been announced for the film.