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The Jim Henson Co. Puts Twists on Old Fables

21 Jul, 2008 By: John Latchem

Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare

No Muppets? No problem.

The Jim Henson Co. is setting its sights on CG animation with its new “Unstable Fables” series, a collection of full-length features that put a modern twist on classic children's stories.

“It's a departure for us,” said Lisa Henson, co-chair and co-CEO of The Jim Henson Co., and daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson. “Puppetry has its traditions, but animation has its own traditions.”

Genius Products and The Weinstein Co. Sept. 9 release Unstable Fables: Tortoise vs. Hare on DVD at $19.97. The title is the second of three planned direct-to-video “Unstable Fables” movies. The first, 3 Pigs and a Baby, debuted in March. The third, Goldilocks and the Three Bears Show, is slated for later this year.

“We picked the stories because everybody knows them and we have a lot of license to change them with a modern twist,” Henson said.

Tortoise vs. Hare picks up 15 years after the original legendary race, with Wally the Tortoise and Murray the Hare entered in an eco-challenge, trying to extend their classic rivalry to a new generation.

“The hare has a son, who isn't competitive. And the tortoise has a daughter, who also isn't very competitive,” Henson said. “So the fathers now are renewing their rivalry through their children.”

The movie features the voice talents of Jay Leno, Danny Glover, Vivica A. Fox, Keke Palmer and Drake Bell.

“Unstable Fables” began as a collaboration between three entities with neighboring offices: The Jim Henson Co., Prana Animation Studios and indie producer Tony Krantz's Flame Ventures. According to Henson, the concept was sold to The Weinstein Co. as a package of three movies, allowing the studios to spread the cost of the CGI.

Henson said the focus was more about creating fun stories and less about the educational content often associated with The Muppets, which are now controlled by The Walt Disney Co.

“We still want everything we do to have a high level of humor for both adults and kids,” Henson said. “These stories have a universal appeal, and it's surprising to see the level at which parents also are enjoying them. Each of the movies has a nice, positive message about families.”

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