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Closing logo for the 90s meeting films

Mmf leo grump

Leo and Grump

Leo and Grump

Entertainment Tonight Muppet Meeting Films

1987 Entertainment Tonight segment on Meeting Films

Muppet Meeting Films are a series of short films produced for public screening during business meetings and training sessions. The films are two to three minutes long, and provide some comic relief in a long, dull meeting. The early films in the series, produced in 1975, featured puppets that would soon become stars on The Muppet Show -- Kermit, Sam the Eagle, Janice, Gonzo and Waldorf. In 1979, Jim Henson and Frank Oz created a new comedy team for the films -- Leo, a master speechmaker and wordsmith, and Grump, a cynical crank.

IBM films[]

Beginning in 1956, Henson's company produced a successful range of television commercials, most famously the "Wilkins and Wontkins" ads for a Washington, D.C. coffee company, Wilkins Coffee. In the mid-60s, Henson also produced special presentation films for the sales meetings of some of his clients, including Pak-Nit, La Choy and Wilson's Meats.

In 1965, information technology company IBM commissioned a set of films for their sales meetings. Henson worked on these films with David Lazer, the head of IBM's film and television division; Lazer went on to leave the company and work for Henson, producing many of the Muppet productions over the next twenty years, including The Muppet Show and The Muppet Movie.

One of the IBM films, "Coffee Break Machine", features an early version of Cookie Monster, who devours a complex machine as the machine describes its purpose and construction. At the end of the sketch, the talking machine explains that it's wired with a security system set to explode if tampered with. The monster promptly combusts. This film was so successful that Henson performed the sketch in 1967 for The Ed Sullivan Show, and it was remade as a Muppet Show sketch.

Other IBM films included Rowlf the Dog playing the piano and singing "My Way", and "The Paperwork Explosion", a non-puppet film which included a soundtrack by Raymond Scott.

Muppet Meeting Films[]

The IBM films were a hit, and in 1975, Henson Associates created the Muppet Meeting Films, which could be licensed to other companies.

The films were produced as collections of three or four skits, usually running about two or three minutes each. The first collection, "Muppet Picker Upper", used puppets that would soon become major characters on The Muppet Show. After this collection, the Classic Muppets didn't appear in the Meeting Films, except for a brief Kermit cameo in 1993, and one film featuring Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear in the late 90s (which was a clip from The Muppet Show episode 124).

The films produced from 1979 to 1987 feature Leo and Grump, a comedy duo performed by Henson and Frank Oz. Leo is the optimistic salesman, always trying his best; Grump is an old grouch who complains about everything.

In 1987, the cast and characters were featured in a short, behind-the-scenes segment for Entertainment Tonight. It was around this time that some new puppets were introduced, but none of them have constant identities, personalities, or voices. The most prominent is the David Lazer Muppet, an orange supervisor character (and a caricature of producer David Lazer). The character was identified on as "The Company Man" but unnamed in the films until 1992's "Executive Island", where he was referred to as Finneman. The only other character that maintains a constant voice and identity is Big Head, a grumpy boss character played by David Rudman, also introduced in 1992.

In the Meeting Films made after Henson's death, Frank Oz no longer performed in the films, and Leo and Grump were retired. Subsequent films employed a larger cast of Muppet performers, including Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, Joey Mazzarino, David Rudman, Peter Linz, Camille Bonora, Don Reardon, Jim Martin, Noel MacNeal and Julianne Buescher.

Other characters to appear included Beautiful Day Monster, Luncheon Counter Monster, and a monster who was later used on Muppets Tonight as Big Mean Carl. Several of the generic supporting characters were later adapted as characters for From the Balcony, notably Ted Thomas and The Weather Guy. Known directors of the various films include Brian Henson (who helmed a few of the 1992 entries) and David Gumpel.

The films continue to be distributed as rentals for business use by Enterprise Media. According to the company's website, popular titles include "Sell, Sell, Sell" (the top-ranked release), "Let's Have the Dam Break", "The Meeting That Would Not Die", "The Sky's The Limit" and "Win! Win! Win!".

Muppet Picker Upper (1975)[]

Muppet Breaker Upper (1979)[]

Muppet Gimme a Break (1979)[]

Muppet Side Splitter (1981)[]

Muppet Breakthrough (1983)[]

Muppet Perk-Up (1985)[]

Muppet Lift Off (1985)[]

Muppet Coffee Break (1987)[]

Muppet Breakaway (1987)[]

Muppet Breaking Point (1992)[]

Muppet Mayhem (1992)[]

Teaser (1993)[]

Muppet Breakout (1993)[]

Muppet Know How (1993)[]

External links[]