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Brian Henson

Chairman, The Jim Henson Company

Brian Henson is Chairman of The Jim Henson Company and an award-winning director, producer and writer for film and television. He is also a technological innovator and skilled puppeteer.

Joining his father Jim Henson on set when he was a child was something Brian did regularly. By the time he was 17, he had watched his father at work and spent time with his father’s colleagues. After operating the marionettes in the complicated bicycle scene in The Great Muppet Caper, Brian became indispensable on the sets of his father’s productions. In May of 1983, Brian joined his dad on production of the The Muppets Take Manhattan. He was assigned to Faz Fazakas, often referred to as an electro-mechanical wizard, to help with special effects. Some of these involved radio controlled puppets and other animatronic techniques. He was also a performer, working the marionette rig for Scooter’s bicycle ride. Talented in both areas and interested in the work of his father’s Creature Shop, Brian kept an eye out for other opportunities in fantasy film work. In 1984, he moved to London to work on Return to Oz. The film was not a Henson production, and allowed Brian to assemble his own team of animatronic performers that worked with him on several projects, including Jim Henson’s fantasy classic Labyrinth. Brian served as puppet captain for the film while also performing the character Hoggle with Shari Weiser. Brian’s work both inside and outside the company during the 1980s allowed him to establish relationships on both the technical and performing sides of the business, giving him a strong foundation for his leadership role in the following decade.

Following the death of his father in 1990, Brian moved back to America to become the CEO of The Jim Henson Company. In 2009, he became Chairman of the company and his sister Lisa Henson became sole CEO.

In recent years, Henson served as Executive Producer on the television projects Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (which he also directed) and Jim Henson’s Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (which he co-wrote and directed). He also directed Battleground, an Emmy Award-winning episode of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King for TNT. Henson’s producing credits include Bear in the Big Blue House, Gulliver’s Travels, Muppets Tonight and Dinosaurs. Henson’s long list of film credits includes The Great Muppet Caper, Return to Oz, Labyrinth, The Witches, Little Shop of Horrors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island.

Henson has also led the creative and technological innovations of the company, overseeing the groundbreaking work at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, one of Hollywood’s pre-eminent character-building, digital and physical visual effects facilities. He was part of the team that first created and utilized the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, which won an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science Scientific and Engineering Award in 1992. He has also been leading the Shop’s work with its revolutionary puppeteered animation system, the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. In 2009, he and his team were awarded a Primetime Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for this proprietary system that allows performers to puppeteer digital characters in real time.

Along with his many talents in performing, directing and technical innovation, Henson is a master at improvisational comedy. In 2005, he created Puppet Up! – Uncensored, a live puppet improvisational show which was named a top ten “Best Stage Show” by Entertainment Weekly and has toured comedy festivals in Aspen, Las Vegas, Edinburgh, New York and Australia and continues to play venues around the country.

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Robert Bennett

Designer/Fabricator

Robert Bennett designs and fabricates creatures for the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. A multi-talented concept designer, sculptor, painter, and fabricator, Bennett won the first season of the Syfy competition series Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge in 2014, earning him a staff position at the Shop. His blossoming career includes work experience as a Walt Disney Imagineer, suit performer, scenic artist, sculptor for Universal Studios (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter), and costume designer for SeaWorld. Recent credits include Oscar’s Hotel, Turkey Hollow, and various commercial campaigns. Bennett attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

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Peter Brooke

Creative Supervisor

Peter Brooke is the Creative Supervisor for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and is responsible for the conception, design and sculpt of each character and creature brought to life at the Shop’s LA location.  His work can be seen in such films as Where the Wild Things Are, The Producers, Cats & Dogs, Dr. Dolittle, and The Flintstones as well as the television projects Dinosaurs and Jim Henson’s The Storyteller. Brooke works closely with the creative team of each film and television project to guarantee that their vision is realized in the characters he creates.  He also liaises with the Shop’s builders and supervises characters on set to ensure that the original concept and design style is maintained throughout the build and performance.

Brooke began his relationship with The Jim Henson Company in 1988 as a sculptor on Jim Henson’s The Storyteller and he relocated to the US when the company began production in Los Angeles on Dinosaurs in 1991.

Brooke’s own fine art sculpture work has received the Gold Medal for Best Sculpture from the California Art Club and the Award of Excellence from the Society of Animal Artists.  His work has been featured in several magazines including Southwest Art, Art Talk, Art Revue and Wildlife Art News.

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Melissa Creighton

Senior Production Manager

Melissa Creighton is the Senior Production Manager of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in New York where she oversees all aspects of production, from beginning to end on projects big and small, interfacing with clients and fabricators. She is the HR representative and facilities manager for the New York Shop, as well as the main point of contact between LA and NY.

Prior to her current position, Creighton was a part of the core team that launched Puppet Heap in 2005 where she was a major player in projects for clients including Little Airplane, Pierre Huyghe and The Walt Disney Company. Earlier in her career, she led a team of designers and builders at Shadow Character Design and worked as a prop builder at Clockwork Apple, eventually moving into project management.

On top of all this, Melissa is an established puppet artist and has created work in partnership with award-winning companies such as Wakka Wakka Productions, Cosmic Bicycle Theatre, and Ave. Q. As a puppeteer, Creighton performed on It’s a Big Big World, Sesame Street and Henson Alternative’s Stuffed and Unstrung. As an independent filmmaker her works have been featured in BAM’s Puppets on Film Festivals. As a show creator she has won grants from the Jim Henson Foundation.

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John Criswell

Animatronic Supervisor

John Criswell oversees all the design, engineering and building for the technical and mechanical components of all projects at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. An established builder with his own character shop for ten years before joining the company in 1991, Criswell’s previous credits include Spaced Invaders, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, and Critters. His TV work at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop has included Dinosaurs, Pushing Daisies and Sid the Science Kid. Feature credits include The Hangover, Where the Wild Things Are, George of the Jungle and Cats and Dogs.

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Kourtney Day

Business Development Coordinator

Kourtney Day joined the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in 2015 and serves as Business Development Coordinator. Day handles all the logistical duties of the busy shop and keeps track of all the various projects. Prior to joining the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™, Day worked in production and casted such shows as Miss Quinceanera for AwesomenessTV. Day attended Ithaca College and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Television and Radio and a minor in Business Administration.

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Rollie Krewson

Master Puppet Designer and Builder

Rollie Krewson began her career with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in 1973 as an intern. After graduating with a BFA in Theatre from Denison University in 1974, she returned to the Company as part of the puppet workshop, which at that time was focused primarily on the Muppet characters. She has contributed as a designer, builder, project leader, wrangler, and performer for almost every Henson production since the 1970s, as epitomized by her work throughout several seasons of the internationally renowned series The Muppet Show.

She also brought to life the iconic Fraggle Rock characters Red and Wembley Fraggle, Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal, Wendell Porcupine and Charlie Beaver from Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, and more characters than she can remember from The Muppet Show.

Krewson continues as Master Builder and Designer for Sesame Street, including both the series’ domestic production and its international co-productions. Krewson has built Elmo for the past 25 years and some of her other Sesame Street puppets include Abby Cadabby, Zoe, Murray and Ovejita.  She has been awarded 12 Emmys for her contributions to this groundbreaking series and has been nominated many times for her work on other Henson productions.

Krewson led the puppet builds for other productions from The Jim Henson Company like the recent stage version of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, and the preschool series Pajanimals, currently airing on Sprout.

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Jeremy Nocon

Vice President of Business Development

Jeremy Nocon develops new third party business opportunities and projects for the Creature Shop and, working with some of the top advertising agencies in the world, he has secured commercial campaign projects for companies such as Kraft, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit, LendingTree, Jack in the Box, Air New Zealand, and many more. Live event clients include headline artists such as Lady Gaga and Deadmau5. Nocon has also secured successful themed-entertainment attractions for Hershey’s Chocolate World at Hershey Park and for the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Nocon joined the company in 2009 as Director of Business Development. Prior to joining Henson, he worked as a producer on independent film productions in Philadelphia and New York. Nocon attended Rutgers University and Widener University School of Law.

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Dan Ortega

CG Supervisor

Danny Ortega joined the company in 2008 and, as CG Supervisor, he is responsible for all computer generated development from modeling, rigging to animation. It is essential that all animated characters are believable and entertaining to all audiences and Ortega brings characters to life by showing their internal thoughts and emotions through physical motions. He works with modelers to produce cg models that accurately translate the character design while meeting any technical requirements needed to make it an efficient, reliable model to rig and animate. He then works with riggers and technical directors to assure the character is properly rigged with all necessary controls needed to give a full range of motion and an easy to use rig. As well as properly rigging and exporting a character to be used in the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio.  Ortega’s credits include Good Morning Today for Fusion, the theme park attraction Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery, the PBS series Sid the Science Kid and Wilson and Ditch and the wildly popular Google landing page “doodle” celebrating Jim Henson’s 75th birthday.

Ortega is a graduate of the Art Institute of California – Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts & Animation.

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Connie Peterson

Build Supervisor

Connie Peterson joined Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in 1980 to develop the costumes and manage the costume shop for the first Sesame Street Live arena show and soon made a specialty of making large character puppets like the Gorgs in Fraggle Rock, and Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. In addition she spent two years in London to oversee the build of the puppets for classic fantasy feature film Labyrinth, and to this day continues to build costumes of all sizes for all Sesame Street productions.  Her more than forty years of experience in television, stage and film include such highlights as stints with both the Santa Fe Opera and the New York Metropolitan Opera; the Broadway productions of My Fair LadyFiddler on the RoofA Chorus Line, and Chicago;  television productions like Saturday Night Live; and the feature films Dressed to Kill and the Academy Award winning The Great Gatsby, as well as many Muppet films.

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Joe Roddy

Production Supervisor

Joe Roddy has served as liaison for the Creature Shop’s extensive roster of world-class puppeteers since joining the company in 2000.  In his role coordinating performers and auditions, he has worked on projects including Sesame Street, Coca Cola polar bears, Stuffed and Unstrung (Puppet Up! – Uncensored), the live stage show of Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, and The Muppets Wizard of Oz.  Prior to joining the Shop, Roddy was a post-production assistant on season three of Sex and the City and a production assistant on Law & Order SVU.  Roddy received a BA in Media Arts from The University of South Carolina and recently completed writing his first novel.

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Amy Smith

Production Manager

Amy Smith joined Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in 2012.  She has been a part of the team for stage productions like Deadmau5, Dinosaur Train Live and Sid the Science Kid Live.  She was the production coordinator for the Shop’s work on the LendingTree commercial campaign and served as the Shop’s coordinator for the new Syfy series Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge. Previously, Smith designed children’s craft kits for retailers such as Michael’s, JoAnn’s and Target and studied puppetry and puppet-making with former Sesame Street puppeteer Michael Earl.  Her TV credits include Felicity, The Guardian and the popular puppet-themed episode of Community.

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Jason Weber

Creative Supervisor

Jason Weber is a graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in theatrical costume design.  He began working with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in 1985 as a freelance fabric painter and dyer.  After freelancing with the company and several design jobs with companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey Dance Co, he was invited to become a member of the staff in 1996.  Since then he has worked on numerous projects such as Muppets Tonight, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Muppets Treasure Island, Muppets from Space, Elmo in Grouchland, The Jim Henson Hour, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, and many others.

In 2002, Weber stepped into his position as Creative Supervisor for the Creature Shop’s work on the internationally renowned Sesame Street.  He continues to serve in this position today, overseeing all Sesame Street projects and acting as art director and a designer for the series’ domestic production, international co-productions, home video, PR appearances, and photo shoots. He has been awarded ten Emmys for his work on the Sesame Street team.

Since 2010, Weber has been part of the leadership of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, serving as Creative Supervisor for all New York-based projects.

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Steffen Wild

Senior Vice President, Digital Puppetry and Visual Effects

Steffen started his career as a Digital Effects Artist and Producer for commercials and digitally created visual effects for TV and feature films in Europe. He moved to Hollywood in 1995 to work on the Academy Award-winning visual effects for the feature film Independence Day and became the Digital Effects Supervisor for Centropolis Effects, a Culver City based effects house where he was responsible for developing the facility’s production workflow.  Credits include GodzillaThe Faculty, The Thirteenth Floor, the Academy Award-nominated Stuart Little, as well as Where The Wild Things Are, The Simpsons Movie and many others.

In 2007 Steffen joined The Jim Henson Company as the Visual Effects Supervisor and Director of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.  In this role, he has continued to further develop and stream-line the digital workflow of the Shop’s proprietary technology, the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. His credits include Head of Digital Production for Good Morning Today, a real time animated TV show for Fusion, and as  VFX Supervisor for the Company’s hit series and movie Sid the Science Kid.

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Julie Zobel

Senior Puppet Builder

With over three decades of experience with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Julie Zobel has been a lead fabricator on puppet and animatronic projects for television, film, stage show and commercial clients. A graduate of NYU with an MFA in Theatre Design, Zobel joined the company in 1980 creating the walkaround suits for Sesame Street Live. Her prolific career includes TV credits on such classic series as Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock, as well as Dinosaurs, Muppets Tonight, and Sid the Science Kid. Feature film credits include Where the Wild Things Are, George of the Jungle, Dr. Doolittle, Cats and Dogs and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Additionally, Zobel has been on the team for the Shop’s live show clients like Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Deadmau5.

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Los Angeles Creature Shop headshots, photography by Joseph Armario, Maryanne Pittman; New York Creature Shop headshots, photography by Richard Termine. © 2014 The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved