Ed Christie

Art Director / Puppet Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his almost two-hour Archive interview, Ed Christie talks about his early interest in the arts and his studies in art education. He shares how his life changed when he accepted an internship at Jim Henson's company in the spring of 1978. He describes continuing to work with Henson over the summer (when he flew to Los Angeles to work on "The Muppet Movie") and subsequently returning to the company after college graduation in early 1979. He speaks of the Henson workshop during these years (noting in some detail what was done on each floor of the building). Christie explains how the puppets and the props were stored in organized sections in Oxford files, and describes the step-by-step process of creating a puppet for Sesame Street. He offers his impressions of Jim Henson and his managerial style, and talks about the effect Henson's sudden death had on the company. He speaks of the various jobs he's held through his years as supervisor of Sesame Street, as workshop manager, and as Vice President of the company, while still retaining his title as Art Director. Christie discusses the changing hands of the show's production company, the rights to the characters, and his work collaborating with international producers on series based on the Sesame Street model, including shows in South Africa, Russia, and Bangladesh. Karen Herman conducted the interview on July 21, 2004 at the Sesame Workshop in New York, NY.

"I like to think of it as a little bit of engineering involved, where you have to create something that moves perfectly for the best performance and the best message translation to the audience. And the way to do that is to make it work on the hand that's going to perform it. "

Highlights
Ed Christie on The Henson Company puppeteers' contribution to Jim Henson's memorial service
01:51
Ed Christie on serving as Muppet wrangler for a trip to Los Angeles for The Academy Awards
03:37
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
04:00
Ed Christie on working on "The Muppet Movie"
01:32
Ed Christie on what makes a great Muppet design
02:10
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his interest in puppetry and his internship with Jim Henson
07:03
On getting his degree in art education; on working as an intern on "The Muppet Movie" and joining The Henson Company; on the "Muppet stitch"
10:13
On working as a freelancer and then a staff member at The Henson Company; on meeting Jim Henson; on serving as Muppet wrangler for a trip to Los Angeles for The Academy Awards
06:30
On the state of the Muppet Workshop when he arrived
03:54

Chapter 2

On the Muppet Workshop contd.; on materials for making Muppets and how the Muppets were stored
08:56
On how his job responsibilities evolved; on the process of creating a puppet and working with puppeteers
13:40
On his roles at The Henson Company; on supervising art direction for Sesame Street; on running the Muppet Workshop and becoming Vice President, then leaving and becoming a consultant
03:54
On his art direction duties on Sesame Street
01:36

Chapter 3

On liaising between The Children's Television Workshop and The Henson Company for Sesame Street; on who owns the Sesame Street characters
06:30
On Jim Henson's death and how it affected The Henson Company
07:00
On designing for international productions of Sesame Street
03:35
On specifics for designing for different countries for international productions of Sesame Street
08:20
On how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show
03:41

Chapter 4

On designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
On the popularity of "Elmo" on Sesame Street
06:46
On what makes a great Muppet design; on what a Muppet is
02:34
On then-current projects and advice to aspiring puppet designers
03:37
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Ed Christie on serving as Muppet wrangler for a trip to Los Angeles for The Academy Awards
03:37

Fraggle Rock

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Ed Christie on creating puppets for Fraggle Rock, knowing that Jim Henson would be the puppeteer
00:55

Jimmy Dean Show, The

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Ed Christie on the first time he saw Muppets
00:28

Muppet Show, The

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Ed Christie on designing for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show
01:12

Sesame Street

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Ed Christie on designing for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show
01:12
Ed Christie on supervising art direction for Sesame Street
01:52
Ed Christie on his art direction duties on Sesame Street
01:34
Ed Christie on liaising between The Children's Television Workshop and The Henson Company for Sesame Street
03:17
Ed Christie on who owns the Sesame Street characters
03:13
Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
03:35
Ed Christie on specifics for designing for different countries for international productions of Sesame Street
08:20
Ed Christie on how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show
03:39
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
04:00
Ed Christie on the popularity of "Elmo" on Sesame Street
02:50
Topics

Advice

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Ed Christie on advice to aspiring puppet designers
02:24

Historic Events and Social Change

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Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
04:00

Pivotal Career Moments

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Ed Christie on serving as Muppet wrangler for a trip to Los Angeles for The Academy Awards
03:37

Public Television

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Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
12:09

Television Industry

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Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
12:09
Ed Christie on advice to aspiring puppet designers
02:24
Professions

Art Director/Set Decorator

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Ed Christie on the process of creating a puppet
07:01
Ed Christie on tailoring puppets to the puppeteers that operated them
04:26
Ed Christie on what makes a great Muppet design
02:10

Designers

View Profession
Ed Christie on the process of creating a puppet
07:01
Ed Christie on tailoring puppets to the puppeteers that operated them
04:26
Ed Christie on what makes a great Muppet design
02:10
Genres

Children's Programming

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Ed Christie on his art direction duties on Sesame Street
01:34
Ed Christie on who owns the Sesame Street characters
03:13
Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
12:09
Ed Christie on how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show
03:39
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
04:00
People

Kevin Clash

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Ed Christie on the popularity of "Elmo" on Sesame Street
02:50

Valerie Harper

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Ed Christie on Valerie Harper greeting "Kermit the Frog"
00:31

Jim Henson

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Ed Christie on doing an internship with Jim Henson
00:59
Ed Christie on working as an intern on "The Muppet Movie"
00:54
Ed Christie on meeting Jim Henson
01:54
Ed Christie on his favorite stories of Jim Henson
03:59
Ed Christie on creating puppets for Fraggle Rock, knowing that Jim Henson would be the puppeteer
00:55
Ed Christie on Jim Henson's death and how it affected The Henson Company
07:00

Brian Henson

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Ed Christie on Brian Henson taking over The Henson Company after Jim Henson's death
00:31

Don Sahlin

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Ed Christie on the state of the Muppet Workshop when he arrived at The Henson Company and meeting puppeteer Don Sahlin
05:50

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