Word of the Day: Fun
My "Itsy Bitsy Spider" show shot today. I’ve posted
about it several times and now the script is on its way to its final incarnation.
Watching your show shoot is both tremendously exciting and tremendously humbling. It’s thrilling to watch the Muppet performers take those words you’ve slaved over for months and put them into their characters’ mouths. However, if something isn’t working, there’s no hiding from it. The scene will lag, yawns will happen, cuts will be suggested. What is usually most exciting is when, during rehearsals, the performers find something better and funnier than what you wrote. Much like theatre, the final element is the actor and they usually have good suggestions to make your work come alive. Often, when the writer is on the Sesame set, the performer will ask you if it’s okay to make the change. The only time it really can’t happen is if it changes or hinders the curriculum or the structure of the script. One time, Frank Oz added some incredibly funny lines to the end of my “Banana Imagination” insert with Bert and Ernie. Bert is using his imagination to talk on a banana to Ernie’s friend the cow. (Link to: Bert and Ernie: Banana Imagination). He finished the bit saying lines such as, “I’m tall, blonde and handsome.” I could never have written that and gotten it approved through the research department. However, Frank Oz can pull it off on the set in Bert’s character. That’s the magic of the Muppets.
"Itsy Bitsy Spider" could have been a killer shoot since it has a lot of little insect characters. However, the director Ken Diego had it under control by wisely not trying to shoot the insects separately in larger form. Instead, with Marty’s help, they actually shot through a magnifying glass that Telly was holding so you could really see these little guys up close. The only bug that was shot separately in a bigger form to be edited into the scene later was the Itsy Bitsy Spider. This made sense since she has a large role in the story.
I’m glad I was there because Leslie Carrara, who was playing the Itsy Bitsy Spider, was going a certain way with her voice, which was more like an old movie star. However, for the script to work best, we needed her to sound more motherly. I gave some suggestions to Leslie and she found a voice that was warm, low with a little southern drawl. The voice was perfect.
We also brought Lyra and Ripley to the set with us. Most of the crew had never met them so there were viewing opportunities at breaks with lots of hand sanitizer being passed around for those wanting to hold a baby. The girls only got overwhelmed when practically the entire production team was at the craft service area. There were SO many people clamoring to meet them that Ripley cried and Lyra got very fussy. Once they were back in Marty’s dressing room and visited on a more individual basis, they were their jolly selves again.
At one point, Lyra was sleeping. Clory, our nanny, watched her while I brought Ripley on the set with her goofy teeth binky. She was incredibly well behaved, never making a peep when we were shooting. (The binky helped.) This is a good sign for a kid with parents in the TV industry. We can do lots of “take your daughters to work” days.
(Ripley the Grouch. Love that teeth binky. Got lots of laughs on the set.)
(Rosita looking up at Ms. Itsy Bitsy and the egg sac.)
(They perform often this way, rolling about while holding their puppets up into frame. They have to watch small monitors that are on the floor around them to see what they’re doing while performing their lines. People often ask this and yes, the performer does the puppetry and voice, at the same time. A very difficult skill, which takes a lot of talent and practice.)
(Elmo and Telly looking upward. Telly has spider web stuck to him.)
So, the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" show is in the can. I won’t see a final edited version until it airs, probably in late 2010.