Wednesday, October 07, 2015
I adore the Muppets’ Christmas CD and I cried when Kermit sang “The Rainbow Connection” live during a tribute to Jim Henson at the D23 Expo six years ago, but I’m not a big Muppets fan. Tim and Karen, on the other hand, love the Muppets, so the three of us got tickets to a lunch event at the Henson studios, last Saturday, honoring Muppets-master Jim Henson, who was posthumously inducted as a Disneyana Fan Club “legend.” But let’s get real: we were mainly there to see the studio, which is one of the most historic lots in Hollywood.
Built on La Brea, just south of Sunset Blvd., the studio was home to Charlie Chaplin’s film company from 1917 until it was sold in 1953. To fit in with the surrounding architecture of the time, Chaplin created a compound that looks like an English village. I remember always being fascinated by it when I was a kid, driving to the La Brea tar pits with my family.
La Brea entrance to the studio
Interior: homey offices
Chaplin peaking out from a doorway on La Brea
In 1966, the studio was bought by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, who converted it into the HQ of their record label, A&M. Jim Henson took over in 2000 and installed a 12-foot statue of Kermit, dressed as Chaplin’s “Little Tramp,” at the entrance, where he remains today.
Kermit as the Little Tramp
Lunch, which was served on the Chaplin sound stage, featured some of the more famous dishes (e.g., Cobb salad and grapefruit cake) of the long-gone Brown Derby restaurants.
Cute Muppet centerpieces
We, however, were most thrilled by the lot itself. Tiny, compared to other studios we’ve seen, the lot was homey and very intimate. After lunch, we got to walk around and tour the grounds on our own. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Jim's son Brian's office (click on image to enlarge)
Life-size Carol from Where the Wild Things Are
Miss Piggy as lady's room sign
Men's room sign
Relaxing before heading home