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The Month Ahead: Books

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“Reach into the looming and prophetic landfill, that perfect negative of the city in its seething foul incoherence, and find … a piece of ancient estuary exempt from what happened, what has gone on happening.” —From Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Bleeding Edge, set in pre-9/11 New York SEPT. 16

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Rex Features

 

Puppet Power

Kermit and Miss Piggy are household names now, but how did a rabble of wacky puppets take over prime-time TV? In Brian Jay Jones’ upcoming Jim Henson: The Biography, we get a behind-the-scenes look.

The Muppets appeared on the first episode of “Saturday Night Live”
“NBC was so scared of what Lorne [Michaels] … was doing that they insisted on Jim Henson and the Muppets to soften it.”

Miss Piggy started as a backup dancer named Miss Piggy Lee, with no lines
“‘I was working on Miss Piggy with Jim [Henson], who was doing Kermit, and the script called for her to slap him. Instead of a slap, I gave him a funny karate kick,’ said Frank Oz, who did voices for Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear.”

Before becoming a primary character, Gonzo the Great was a bit-part player who lived in a cigar box
“Gonzo was originally a sad-eyed, bent-nosed Cigar Box Frackle … who was written as a loser who did these horrible acts and thought they were great art.”

By season two, the writers and performers drafted a list of dream guest hosts
“Dustin Hoffman, David Bowie, Salvador Dalí, Michael Caine, Robert DeNiro … Frank Zappa, Meryl Streep, the entire Monty Python troupe and all four former Beatles.”

The entire creative staff once sailed on the QE2 from New York to London
“‘There were all these days when there is nothing happening out at sea … and we worked like fools!’ said writer Jerry Juhl. ‘That’s a typical Jim Henson vacation.’” SEPT. 2

 

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