By Jeff Holder, Managing Editor
If you take Muppet-inspired characters, a meaningful life lesson and one of today’s most well know Bible teachers, mix them together you will get the latest PAHAPPAHOOEY ISLAND children’s DVD, entitled “What About Me?”
MOVIEGUIDE® chatted with Eric Newman, the writer and director of the latest DVD title, and got his insights into the production.
Though the PAHAPPAHOOEY ISLAND franchise has released a number of titles into the Christian video market, “What About Me” is the first title written and directed by Newman.
As a writer and documentary maker, Newman brought his passion for children’s entertainment to the property.
“I’ve always enjoyed great kids programming, especially puppetry,” he said. “It’s such an interesting craft. I was raised on the Muppets from a young age, and they were my absolute favorite thing to watch. PAHAPPAHOOEY combines a lot of my loves.”
Working with puppets is harder than one might expect.
“If in the script one character hands another character something or if a character is supposed to drink a glass of water, puppets can’t do that,” Newman explains.
The production team had to be very inventive in how they stage and handle seemingly simple actions, but this doesn’t limit their creativity.
For example, at one point, they needed the frog character to expand and become a hot air balloon. So, they created a six-foot diameter puppet with the puppeteer in the body of it. This worked great, but “it was a tough day for the puppeteer,” Newman noted.
The shows are produced in Oklahoma but the puppeteers are mostly Florida based, working at theme parks such as Disney. The same puppeteers have been performing the same characters through the years. That has brought a great sense of continuity to the characters.
Newman says that the puppeteers keep coming back because they appreciate that “this is message based and they can be proud to show it to their kids.”
The previous PAHAPPAHOOEY ISLAND titles were released only in the Christian market but this time around they will have a larger market exposure, showing up in Wal-Mart and other major retailers.
The new item for the established children’s series is that famed radio and TV preacher Joyce Meyer is providing the voice for Miss Ruby, a lioness character that is just being introduced.
Newman is pleased to have Joyce on board, recalling that when they had the initial discussions she said, “Make me a lion. I want to be a lioness.”
They hope that Ms. Meyer will not only will be a great new character but also sill help parents learn about PAHAPPAHOOEY ISLAND who might not have heard of it before.
Newman hopes that this and upcoming titles will “point upwards, glorifying God and point people toward eternal truth.”
The latest title hits the DVD shelves on August 19, 2009. To read the review of the DVD, click HERE.