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. "

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Ed Christie on The Henson Company puppeteers' contribution to Jim Henson's memorial service
Ed Christie on serving as Muppet wrangler for a trip to Los Angeles for The Academy Awards
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
Ed Christie on working on "The Muppet Movie"
Ed Christie on what makes a great Muppet design
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his interest in puppetry and his internship with Jim Henson
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"
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
On the state of the Muppet Workshop when he arrived

Chapter 2

On the Muppet Workshop contd.; on materials for making Muppets and how the Muppets were stored
On how his job responsibilities evolved; on the process of creating a puppet and working with puppeteers
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
On his art direction duties on Sesame Street

Chapter 3

On liaising between The Children's Television Workshop and The Henson Company for Sesame Street; on who owns the Sesame Street characters
On Jim Henson's death and how it affected The Henson Company
On designing for international productions of Sesame Street
On specifics for designing for different countries for international productions of Sesame Street
On how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show

Chapter 4

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

Fraggle Rock

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

Jimmy Dean Show, The

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Ed Christie on the first time he saw Muppets

Muppet Show, The

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Ed Christie on designing for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show

Sesame Street

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Ed Christie on designing for Sesame Street and The Muppet Show
Ed Christie on supervising art direction for Sesame Street
Ed Christie on his art direction duties on Sesame Street
Ed Christie on liaising between The Children's Television Workshop and The Henson Company for Sesame Street
Ed Christie on who owns the Sesame Street characters
Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
Ed Christie on specifics for designing for different countries for international productions of Sesame Street
Ed Christie on how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
Ed Christie on the popularity of "Elmo" on Sesame Street
Topics

Advice

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Ed Christie on advice to aspiring puppet designers

Historic Events and Social Change

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

Pivotal Career Moments

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

Public Television

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Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street

Television Industry

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Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
Ed Christie on advice to aspiring puppet designers
Professions

Art Director/Set Decorator

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Ed Christie on the process of creating a puppet
Ed Christie on tailoring puppets to the puppeteers that operated them
Ed Christie on what makes a great Muppet design

Designers

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Ed Christie on the process of creating a puppet
Ed Christie on tailoring puppets to the puppeteers that operated them
Ed Christie on what makes a great Muppet design
Genres

Children's Programming

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Ed Christie on his art direction duties on Sesame Street
Ed Christie on who owns the Sesame Street characters
Ed Christie on designing for international productions of Sesame Street
Ed Christie on how Sesame Street has changed since he started on the show
Ed Christie on designing a South African puppet with AIDS for Sesame Street South Africa
People

Kevin Clash

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Ed Christie on the popularity of "Elmo" on Sesame Street

Valerie Harper

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Ed Christie on Valerie Harper greeting "Kermit the Frog"

Jim Henson

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

Brian Henson

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

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

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