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We recently had the chance to chat with the fabulous Lisa Henson. Lisa is Co-Chief Executive Officer of The Jim Henson Company where she, along with her brother Brian, is responsible for the Company’s strategic and creative direction. She is the genius behind the fabulous new show Sid The Science Kid and oversees all television and feature film production for the Company from early development through post-production.

 

Prior to her current position, Lisa was President of Columbia Pictures, in charge of all creative business affairs, administrative and production-related matters for the company. Under Ms. Henson’s leadership, Columbia Pictures produced a string of critical and commercial successes including Bad Boys, Men in Black, and Fly Away Home. She was also responsible for the critically acclaimed, Academy Award-winning Sense and Sensibility. Prior to joining Columbia Pictures, Lisa served 10 years as a Production Executive at Warner Bros., working on such blockbusters as Lethal Weapon, Batman, and Batman Returns.

 

Ms. Henson graduated in 1983 with a degree in folklore and mythology from Harvard University, where she was the first female President of The Harvard Lampoon. In the past, she has served on the Board of Directors for Harvard University, the Tibet House and The Jim Henson Foundation for Puppetry. She is the mother of two children, ages 10 and 8.



 

Mommy Tracked: Who's your favorite Muppet?


Lisa Henson:
My favorite Muppet character has always been piano-playing Rowlf the dog. He is a quieter character — not quite as well known as Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and others — but my father always performed Rowlf himself and so he was special to me. He was one of the early puppets that debuted on another program. Rowlf came into his own later — on The Muppet Show.

 

 

Growing up with Jim Henson as your dad had to be a unique experience. How much did his work impact his parenting style?

When we were children, we went to the Muppet workshop in New York City all the time. That's where the puppets were built. It was a fantasy land for a child. It felt like going to Santa's workshop. It was an incredibly creative place to be. Working on creative projects was part of the fabric of our upbringing. We always had a really big art project going on at home. We would mosaic bathroom tiles together as a family, work on animated films. The projects weren't 45 minute afternoon activities — they would take weeks. There was always something going on at our house.

KatSpellmanMiner
02.07.09

Sid is a wonderful, entertaining educational resource. As a mom to two boys I really seek-out good content like this. Kudos.

CherylLage
02.05.09

You know, I should have realized that Sid the Science Kid was a Henson brain child! From its first episode, our boy/girl twins were BOTH entranced. (Making it challenging to get them out the door to first grade on time! ;) )
Lisa seems the pluperfect descendant of her dad. Thanks for this glimpse into her life and work.

chrysa
02.04.09

So cute.
I visit elementary schools with my children's series; The Adventures of the Poodle Posse, and have developed a puppet show interpretation of one of the stories to share with pre-readers. The kids absolutely love it! And amazingly, they follow the story so accurately, with all its twists and turns because they seem so drawn to the puppet characters. I guess it has to do with visual learning, but it seems that if you can get a story in the right format, you can reach a lot more folks. www.wellbredbook.net.

mrsncook
02.03.09

How wonderful! Thank you for sharing this article! I absolutely love hearing about her work.

I have always loved Jim Henson's work. When someone criticized my children for having such wonderful imaginations, saying it's not healthy and they don't know reality from fantasy, I firmly told the person that there is NOTHING wrong with having some imagination. "After all," I said, "Jim Henson made worlds out of imagination." I have used him as an example, many times, of how a little imagination goes a long way into creating fun. I have raised my children to know it's okay to make puppets, tell stories, and create things. If anyone says it's not healthy, I tell them about Muppets, Sesame Street, Dark Crystal, etc. We all know Sesame Street is educational, fun, and imaginative!

I also love the science show. I was raised being told that girls can't do science. I was made to believe there were boy things and girl things, and I hated not being allowed to indulge my curiosity. It wasn't until after I had children that I realized I have always loved science. lol I love making messes, experimenting, and I have always asked "Why?" I worked hard to find good examples of female scientists to show my girls, "Yes, girls CAN do science!"

Now I have one more example of a powerful, successful woman whom I can point to and say, "Girls, look. This woman..." and read the article to them to show them that they CAN do anything no matter what some narrow minded person would say. As we say in this female dominated house (5 girls, 1 man), "Girl power!" ;)