via press release:
SYFY REVEALS THE 10 CREATURE DESIGNERS COMPETING FOROF A LIFETIME IN THE NEW REALITY COMPETITION SERIES JIM HENSON’S CREATURE SHOP CHALLENGE, PREMIERING TUESDAY, MARCH 25
Featuring Host Gigi Edgley and Lead Judge Brian Henson
NEW YORK – January 10, 2014 – Syfy introduces ten hopeful creature designers who have come to Los Angeles with an incredible shared dream: to land a job working in Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™. The new reality competition series, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, premieres Tuesday, March 25 at 10 p.m. ET/PT following an all-new episode of Syfy’s acclaimed . The eight-episode series provides a fascinating window into the imaginative and wildly creative environment of world-class creature design, fabrication and mechanization.
The series features host Gigi Edgley (Farscape) and lead judge Brian Henson, Chairman of The Jim Henson Company, who also oversees the groundbreaking work of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™. Henson is an award-winning writer, puppeteer, director and producer whose mentor was the iconic genius, his father Jim Henson.
The competing creature designers are allowed unprecedented access to the world-renowned Creature Shop, gaining hands-on experience to learn every aspect of what it takes to become a master creature designer. Following a series of elaborate challenges, only one will be awarded a prize worth up to $100,000, including the opportunity forof a lifetime – a contract working at the world-renowned Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™.
With backgrounds ranging from art students and teachers to professional sculptors to mask makers, the ten competing creature designers are:
- Ben Bayouth, 25, from Woodland Hills, CA, Freelance SFX Artist.
- Chaz Vance, 27, from Collins, NY (currently living in West Falls, NY), Owner of Technically Magic Effects and Sculpture Teacher.
- Ivonne Escoto, 35, from Los Angeles, CA, Freelance SFX Artist.
- Jake Corrick, 21, from Belle Vernon, PA, Student and Sculptor.
- Josh Smith, 27, from Claremore, OK (currently living in Minot, ND), Creature Costumer and Prop Builder.
- Lex Rudd, 34, from SE England (currently living in Guerneville, CA), Puppet and Creature Costume Maker.
- Melissa Doss, 24, from Big Bear, CA (currently living in Fort Wainwright, AK), Freelance SFX Artist.
- Robert Bennett, 29, from Baton Rouge, LA (currently lives in Orlando, FL), Sculptor for Walt Disney Imagineering.
- Russ Adams, 41, from Ogden, UT, Owner of Escape Design Effects, Creature Creator and Mask Maker.
- Tina Roland, 28, from Doylestown, PA (currently living Hollywood, CA), Freelance Effects Artist.
Challenges on the series explore all aspects of the creature design field, from sculpting and animatronics to full-body creature creation. Some episodes are inspired by Henson film and television classics The Dark Crystal and Farscape. Evaluating the designs are the esteemed panel of judges, led by Brian Henson and including creature fabricator Beth Hathaway (Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Batman Returns) and creature designer Kirk R. Thatcher (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Dinosaurs, Muppets Wizard of Oz). The judges will be evaluating the creatures for overall creativity and originality, technical execution and, most importantly, how convincingly the creature designers bring their creations to life. Each episode, the creatures will be featured in a screen test in which professional puppeteers showcase the creatures’ ability to perform and transport an audience to another world.
Serving as mentors are world-renowned designer Peter Brooke, mechanization and animatronics master John Criswell and fabrication and artistic specialist Julie Zobel. The three are longtime Creature Shop artists who have dedicated their talents to the Henson legacy. Their tenures with The Jim Henson Company span decades and they bring a specialized knowledge gained through their direct collaborations with Jim Henson. Working alongside the creature creators inside their workplace at the Creature Shop, they will be available for consultation and hands-on assistance.
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge is a production of The Jim Henson Company. Brian Henson serves as executive producer with his sister Lisa Henson, the company’s CEO. Also executive producing Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge are Joseph Freed (, Rachael Ray) and Rob Bagshaw (Paradise Hotel, Masters, All Stars).
Twitter Hashtag: #JimHensonSyfy
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™ provides performed digital visual effects, animatronic creatures, animation and soft puppets to the international film, television and advertising industries. Based in Los Angeles and New York with satellite shop capabilities internationally, the Shop is known for designing and building some of the world’s best-known characters including the Sesame Street puppets, the classic Muppets, the dinosaurs from Dinosaurs, the aliens from Farscape and the fantastical creatures from The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Other features credits include Where the Wild Things Are, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Five Children and It. The shop is also known for its live performance work with artists like Cee Lo Green, Kanye West, Lady Gaga and Deadmau5. A recipient of more than 9 Emmy Awards for its outstanding work building puppets for Sesame Street, the Shop also received an Academy Award for its visual effects work on the film Babe. Other awards include a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award for the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, and an Emmy Award for its work in developing the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio, a patented control system technology that enables puppeteers to physically perform a computer generated (CG) character in real time.
The Jim Henson Company has remained an established leader in family entertainment for over 50 years and is recognized worldwide as an innovator in puppetry, animatronics and digital animation. Best known as creators of the world famous Muppets, Henson has received over 50 Emmy Awards and nine Grammy Awards. Recent credits include the Emmy® nominated Sid the Science Kid, Dinosaur Train, and Pajanimals as well as the new series Doozers, a CG animated preschool series. Features include The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, MirrorMask, and the upcoming Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day and television productions include Fraggle Rock and the sci-fi cult series Farscape.
With additional locations in New York and London, The Jim Henson Company is headquartered in Los Angeles on the historic Charlie Chaplin lot, complete with soundstage and postproduction facilities. Independently owned and operated by the five adult children of founder Jim Henson, the Company is also home to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™, a pre-eminent character-building and visual effects group with international film, television, theme park and advertising clients, as well as Henson Recording Studios, one of the music industry’s top recording facilities known for its world-class blend of state-of-the-art and vintage equipment. The Company’s Henson Alternative brand is currently touring “Puppet-Up! - Uncensored,” a live puppet improvisational show.
Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (www.Syfy.com), and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies. NBCUniversal is owned by Comcast Corporation.(Syfy. Imagine greater.)