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Kermit the Frog reveals what you need to do "Before You Leap"

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Kermit the Frog reveals what you need to do "Before You Leap"

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Yesterday, FraggleFan411 send me the following e-mail:

Oh, come on. It's been months since you last wrote about the Muppets. Surely Disney must have something in the works for these characters by now. So spill already.

FraggleFan411 --

Actually, I am working on a story about the Mouse's latest plan for Kermit & Co. The only problem is ... That article won't be ready to run on JHM 'til this coming Monday.

So how's about this: To hold you over 'til then, why I don't tell you about this great new Muppet-related book that I recently discovered, "Before You Leap: A Frog's Eye View of Life's Greatest Lessons" (Meredith Books, October 2006) ?

 Copyright 2006 Meredith Books

Supposedly written by Kermit the Frog himself (Though I suspect that longtime Henson Company writer Jim Lewis may have had a hand in ... Well, if not in Kermit himself, then in the creation of this self-improvement book), "Before You Leap" starts off as an affectionate look back at this beloved character's first 50 years in show business. Starting in 1954, when Kermit first started working with Jim Henson on the "Sam & Friends" show at WRC TV in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2006 The Jim Henson Legacy

Looking back on those early days with Jim, Kermit recalls that ...

"Although I'm not exactly sure what (Henson) did, whatever it was really moved me. Along with Jane, his wife-to-be, Jim was always ready to lend a hand around the 'Sam & Friends' set. Whether it was writing a script, making a prop, or just giving us a lift, Jim was there. But he was more than a handyman. Jim was filled with great ideas and had a remarkable spirit that made you believe that anything was possible. And he wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and make it happen.

Jim and I had a relationship that just kept growing over the years. It was as if we were a part of each other, connected at the heart as we went arm in arm through life. Jim believed that anything was possible if you dreamed big enough and worked hard enough."

The above prose should give you some idea of the style & tone of "Before You Leap." By that I mean that this book is clever without being cutesy poo. Like the Muppets themselves, this 224-page hardcover is loaded with lots of gentle wit & whimsy.

Anyway, Kermit quickly hops through the high points of his career. His days on "Sesame Street," the five years that this frog & friends spent in the U.K. making "The Muppet Show." Followed -- of course -- by Kermit's big screen debut in 1979's "The Muppet Movie."

"The Muppet Movie" shots -- Copyright 2007 Muppet Studios

As to how the Muppets actually got to make their feature film debut, Kermit remembered that ...

" ... Hollywood beckoned. Okay, so they didn't exactly beckon. But they did forget to lock the front gate at the studio. And for us, that was as good as an open invitation to make a movie.

Our biggest problem was coming up with a name for that first film. Many suggestions were test marketed, focus grouped, bandied about, and throttled within an inch of their life by committees. Some of the options included:

  • 'To Have and Have More' (Piggy's favorite)
  • 'A Long Day's Journey into Nightclubs' (Fozzie's favorite)
  • 'The Oddfather' (Gonzo's favorite)
  • 'How Green was My Mother' (My favorite)

Finally after realizing that the audience deserved to know what they were getting into, we decided to be upfront about the whole thing and call it 'The Muppet Movie.' We opened to great reviews and the audience showed up in droves -- though some took mass transit because droves were hard to drive."

Copyright 2007 Muppet Studios

But there's more to "Before You Leap" than just a fond look back at Kermit's career. Over the course of this attractive little self-improvement book, the amiable amphibian also tries to deliver some sage advice.

Take -- for example -- that chapter with the very familiar sounding title: "When Bad Things Happen to Good Frogs." Where Kermit tries to put everything in perspective by saying that ...

"When people look at my life, they usually focus on the highlights. They see the television shows and the movies that I've done, the big stars that I've had the opportunity to work with, and all the other trappings that go with living in Hollywood. I guess that's okay. After all, people like to talk about their accomplishments. We revel in our successes and want the world to know every last detail of our great moments.

But we all know that life is more than an endless series of great moments. Everyone faces setbacks: difficult tasks, disappointing results, and the ocassional karate chop from an angry pig. We wish these things wouldn't happen, but they do. We wish we could forget all about them, but we can't. We wish the pig wasn't so darned good at karate. But she is."

Copyright 2007 Muppet Studios

That's another charming aspect of "Before You Leap." In that Kermit uses his relationships with some of the other Muppets to illustrate how readers should go about getting through their day-to-day lives.

If I had to pick my personal favorite part of this book, I'm guessing that I'd go with "Fridays with Fozzie: A Frog, a Bear and Life's Greatest Lessons." Where -- right in the middle of sharing some of the world's worst jokes -- Kermit talks about how ...

"We all don't have a Fozzie in our lives, and that's too bad because each of us really needs a Fozzie. We all need someone who believes in us and who believes that, no matter how bad things look at the moment, it will work out for the best. We all need someone who carries around a rubber chicken, a buzzer, and a whoopie cushion, just in case. We all need someone who never, ever gives up -- on us, on themselves, and on the dream that maybe this time that old joke will get a laugh. Most of all, we all need someone who needs us just as much as we need him or her.

That's Fozzie.

So go ahead! Get out there! Even if it's not Friday, find your own Fozzie. You'll be very happy you did."

Because " ... A best friend is someone who makes you laugh, even when the jokes aren't funny."

 Copyright 2007 Muppet Studios

Of course, that's the real beauty of "Before You Leap: A Frog's-Eye View of Life's Greatest Lessons." Most of the jokes that you'll find in this book are funny. Take -- for instance -- the advice that Kermit dispenses to one Muppet fan who needs help multi-tasking. He writes in to say ...

"I'm torn between wanting to put in more hours at work and spending more time with my family. What should I do?"

Kermit then comes up with a rather unique solution to this man's problem:

"I have this same difficulty, which is why I turned to Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, who suggests the Muppet Labs Send-In-the-Clones 3000. It's fun, efficient, and easy to operate. Just ask Beaker. And Beaker. And Beaker. And Beaker. And Beaker. And Beaker. And Beaker. And Beaker."

Copyright 2007 Muppet Studios

Loaded with light-hearted yet heart-felt advice (Not to mention some amazing photographs. Take -- for example -- this picture of Kermit dressed like Charlie Chaplin ...

 Copyright 2007 Muppets Studios

... Which is very reminiscent of the over-sized Kermit the Frog statue that still stands watch over the entrance of the Jim Henson Company's main production facility [Which -- FYI -- used to be Chaplin's old movie studio] on La Brea in Hollywood.) ....

 Photo by Nancy Stadler

... "Before You Leap" would make a great graduation gift for any student that you know who will soon be heading out in the world. Who might need to be reminded that ...

"You can wake up each morning just trying to get to the end of the day, so you can do everything in your power to make this your best day ever.

You can look around and scratch your head, trying to figure out why you're surrounded by such a strange menagerie of friends and family, or you can be grateful for every moment you get to spend with them.

It's up to you."

Which is pretty good advice. Particularly coming from a frog.

Your thoughts?

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  • Sounds like a nice little read, full of the trademark Muppet charm.

    Might have to keep an eye out for this one.

  • sounds way more inspiring than sadkermit.com

  • sounds pretty good. it sounds A LOT better than the most recent muppet movie, "the muppets' wizard of oz".  i thought that movie wasn't very good...i think i was dissapointed that ashanti was dorothy instead of miss piggy...what would have been wrong with using her??

    i don't know what's on tv nowadays as far as muppets go, but, it'd be good to see them back on tv and/or in some good movies.  

    the muppet 3-d at mgm is a good show, but, i feel it needs to be updated...it's the worst 3d effect of the four at wdw (philharmagic, it's tough to be a bug, & honey i shrunk the audience).

  • It's articles like this that just leave me missing Jim Henson even more. He left us far too soon.

  • Sounds cute. I'm not one for inspirational books...but it's a different story if Kermit is involved.

  • This sounds like a similar vein to "It's Not Easy Being Green", which I enjoy thoroughly and own in both print and audiobook.  THanks for sharing, Jim - I can't wait to pick up a copy!

    I knew the Muppets wouldn't die easily; even though they haven't done much easily, it's so difficult to kill the true spirit of the Muppets.   I firmly believe that the world would be a much better place if Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jim Henson were still alive; the latter had the power to make day-to-day life a glorious event. Vive le Muppets!

  • The Muppets today are just a shell of their former selves. While the book looks nice, all it does is remind me of happier times.

  • I appreciate the opinions that all these responders have regarding the Muppets.  They're a great treasure.  However, none of you have any idea what you're talking about.

    I've been with the Muppets for years and you are way off base.  Chill out and watch.

    I love how people on this site (not Jim) are self appointed experts (not just about the Muppets) - the arrogance...get inside, know the info and then don't talk about it.

  • OK here is my self appointed expert opinion LOL. I love The Muppetts. Actually some of my personal favorites are the lesser known ones that were used on early episodes of Saturday Night Live and even on Ed Sullivan. However I was a bit disappointed to learn that The Walt Disney Company had brought out Jim Henson Productions. Actually somebody please correct me: did they buy out that company or just the rights to the characters? My reasoning is this, and please plutosfriend, I don't mean to offend, it seems to me (just my opinion) that the executives at The Walt Disney Company were waving the white flag about their own company's creativity. I know why they did it though. It was good business sense. But it does make me wonder if the executives were throwing in the towel on their own people's creativity? Just my opinion, take it for what it's worth LOL. I do however think it's totally cool that the Jim Henson facilities is in the old Charlie Chaplin studio location. It looks like a beautiful facility from that photo. I am a huge Chaplin fan and have had the privledge of visiting locations in Niles, California where much of the extreior footage for the various Little Tramp films were shot.

  • Hey Jim, this is Mary :) I just wanted to say that Mom got me this book for Easter! I haven't read through the entire book yet but I skimmed a few chapters and read most of the stuff about Kermit's life. It's really cute!

    I really liked the stuff about Jim Henson. The Muppets just keep getting more lovable!

  • I love the Muppets as much (or more) as Disney, yet for some reason I don't like the idea of them together.

  • If Miss Piggy had played Dorothy, who would have played the witches?  Janice?  The Muppets aren't exactly overloaded with female characters...and I don't think the character arc would have been convincing coming from Miss Piggy, anyway.

  • My husband and I found this book about a month ago while waiting for our group to be called to get in line for a different book signing at the local Barnes & Noble.   Being a muppets fan from the time he was old enough to watch TV, my husband snapped it up and we simply had to purchase it.  He's read it three times already, and really loves it, not only for the nostalgia factor, but also because there are very real grains of truth and wisdom.  It's a lighthearted and fun read, and it even gets you to think!

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