File puptcrit/puptcrit.0909, message 4

Date: Wed, 02 Sep 2009 09:33:29 GMT
Subject: [Puptcrit] Veggie Tales-way back when

I am reminded of seeing a live hand-puppet production of Veggie Tales in a small theater in Burbank, California many years ago. The building was on a triagular plot surrounded on three sides by city streets. Last time I saw the spot, the building was gone.

My memory was that the Veggie puppets were pretty overt back in the beginnings, before the TV work was in full swing. Also, I thought the quality was much higher than a lot of what passes for "religious puppetry", but which really seems more like Muppet ripoffs. Veggies had some originality in their puppet design.

In Portland OR, a group made close copies of Sesame Street Muppets for their "religious" shows---the big change was doing the famous characters in different colors. Apparently these fine people never heard about "Thou shalt not steal". Jimmy Swaggart told us on TV that he had sinned (after he'd gotten caught in that New Orleans motel near the airport).

Of course Jim Bakker & Tammy Faye started their TV ministry with puppets---that is a curious bit of puppet history, then Jerry Falwell, pretending to be their friend at an awkward time, took over their TV stations. Is there a lesson in all of this?

Maybe we need to take things with a grain of salt. As my friend Jimmy Gorno, a real fifth genration Italian puppeteer who worked with Teatro dei Piccoli & Sid & Marty Krofft, it needs to be "a BIG grain of salt". 

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Axtell
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 8:22 PM
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] JellyTelly

The Jelly Telly puppets were built by Barry 
Gordemer of Handimonium, who I recommended to 
Phil.  I hope he succeeds and that he also hears 
what you have communicated to him.  He IS a great 
guy and a hard worker and no dummy.  I've worked 
with him back in the early 90s with VeggieTales, 
we had the puppet license.  He's been way up in 
show biz and way down with his then company Big 
Idea...amazing story of corporate 
shenanigans.  Interesting read      Ax

At 07:56 PM 9/1/2009, you wrote:
>Today I received an e-mail announcement from 
> Maybe many other puppeteers 
>did too.  JellyTelly is an internet 
>entertainment company that was started by Phil 
>Vischer, the man behind the "Veggietales" 
>phenomenon.  This time, Phil Vischer is 
>producing adaptations of the Bible (overtly 
>rather than covertly as before) and selling them as downloads from his site.
>I must say that his production values are first 
>rate (although coincidentally, Alan Cook posted 
>a link to some photos of some George Latshaw 
>puppets that were similar but oh, so much better).
>Anyway, excuse me for maybe getting off topic, 
>but Phil Vischler's videos interpret Jewish 
>stories from a Christian point of view.  Hey, 
>it's a free country, and we can all say as we 
>please, and I'm for that.  But as a Jewish 
>person, I take offense.  Why?  Because in this 
>case Phil Vischler is communicating with young 
>children, and he is obliterating the true 
>meaning of these ancient stories in order to promote his personal view.
>This is a topic that could be hotly debated, and 
>it's not my intention to do so.  But as most 
>puppeteers have taken it upon themselves to be 
>entertainers (and sometimes, educators) for 
>impressionable young people, it's our duty to 
>make sure that we are responsible and honest.
>You may wonder why I don't address my 
>frustration to Phil Vischler instead of venting 
>on puptcrit.  Well, I did.  I sighted specific 
>examples where his work really went off on a 
>tangent - and hey, I'm no religious scholar, so 
>it was all very obvious.  All I got was a reply 
>from a staff member telling me that Phil was an 
>awfully nice guy and hard worker.
>Anyway, while I usually applaud all efforts of 
>puppet theater, I hope this one fails.
>Just my two cents.
>Robert Rogers
>List address:
>Admin interface:

Steve Axtell
Axtell Expressions, Inc.
Amazing Puppets & Magic
Twitter : Steve_Axtell

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