Syfy has signed Gigi Edgley (Farscape) to host Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, a new competition series set in the imaginative and visually stunning world of original creature creation. Beth Hathaway and Kirk Thatcher are also inked to serve on the judging panel, alongside headline and lead judge Brian Henson.
As host of the series, Edgley is charged with introducing each week’s challenge to the group of contestants. The Australian actress has a long and rich history with The Jim Henson Company, beginning with her popular role as Chiana on the Company’s critically-acclaimed sci-fi cult series, Farscape, in which she starred for over four years. The beloved role was the catapult for Edgley’s huge online presence and large following of fans. Additionally, Edgley has appeared in countless film and television series including the ABC miniseries Carlotta and USA’s The Starter Wife. She also starred on one of Australia’s most popular and respected series, The Secret Life of Us. Edgley is a singer and a creator of original comic books and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Queensland University of Technology.
Syfy also finalizes the series judges with the additions of creature fabricator Beth Hathaway and creature designer Kirk Thatcher to the panel, who each week will critique the original creatures and decide the fate of the contestants.
Beth Hathaway has fabricated specialty creatures and costumes for film and television for over 25 years. With over 100 credits to her resume, Hathaway’s first big break came when she landed a job at Stan Winston Studio. In her ten years with the studio, she mastered the craft of assembling creatures and worked on high profile projects like Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. For the last ten years, Hathaway has led the fabrication department at K.N.B. EFX Group working on projects like The Walking Dead and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Kirk Thatcher is an Emmy-award winning writer/producer, a Webby award-winning director, and a production designer with a penchant for special effects, strange creatures, and comedic characters. Thatcher began his career at age 19, working at George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic, building and performing creatures for films like Return of the Jedi, E.T., Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Gremlins. He co-produced the series Dinosaurs, designing most of the characters and working closely with one of his mentors, Jim Henson. He also co-wrote Muppet Treasure Island, and directed television features The Muppets Wizard of Oz, It’s A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. Kirk also directed multiple Muppet online videos, including the wildly popular The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody.
Brian Henson will headline and lead the panel of judges on the series. Henson is the Chairman of The Henson Company and oversees the groundbreaking work of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. An award-winning writer, director and producer, he is also a creature designer and performer taught by the iconic genius, his father Jim Henson.
Serving as mentors on the series will be 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 having collaborated directly with Jim Henson himself. 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 will feature ten aspiring creature creators competing in a series of challenges where they will build everything from mechanical characters to whimsical beasts, bringing high-end creature designs to life. The contestants compete for a prize worth $100,000 including the opportunity for The Job of a lifetime – a contract working at the world-renowned Jim Henson’s Creature Shop™.
Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge is a production of The Jim Henson Company. Brian Henson will executive produce with his sister Lisa Henson, the company’s CEO. Also serving as executive producers on Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge are Joseph Freed (Little People Big World, Rachael Ray) and Rob Bagshaw (Paradise Hotel, Top Chef Masters, Project Runway All Stars). Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge is set to debut in first quarter 2014 on Syfy.