The latest chapter of Henson’s 1980s puppet TV series will be filmed entirely in-studio at the centre. Sets are currently being built and cameras are set to roll in mid-January.
The production is operating under the working title Raphanus, which is Latin for radish. It’s a co-production between The Jim Henson Company, AppleTV+ And New Regency Productions.
“We’re seeing designs that are top-drawer of a genre that we’ve never seen (here) before,” said Tom Benz, business agent of the film workers union IATSE 212. “It’s animatronics, puppeteering. It’s something we’ve not had before. It’s certainly not location-driven. What can be said is that they are here for the skill set and the business environment. It’s not about mountains or badlands.”
It’s unclear how many local workers will be hired, but it’s a major production that will be in town until late May or early June. Sources confirm that the series has taken over all three of the sound stages at the $28.2-million film centre, which is owned by the City of Calgary and operated by Calgary Economic Development.
AppleTV+ unveiled several shorts entitled Fraggle Rock: Rock On in April before signing a deal with the Jim Henson Company for an official reboot of the children’s classic. The shorts featured the original characters, including Gobo, Red, Boober, Wembley and Uncle Traveling Matt. The initial six “mini-episodes” were five minutes long and featured special guests such as Alanis Morissette, Common, Jason Mraz and Neil Patrick Harris. The storylines focused on social distancing and friendship. Fraggle Rock: Rock On! was shot on iPhones from the homes of the production team. All six episodes were written by John Tartaglia (Gobo).
The new Calgary-shot season will consist of full-length episodes. Matt Fusfeld and Alex Cuthbertson, who have written for New Girl and American Dad!, will serve as showrunners. Lisa Henson will be among the executive producers and original Fraggle Rock puppeteers Dave Goelz and Karen Prell have also signed on for the series.
The original series won an Emmy in 1983.
Also to note, the series is keeping its Canadian roots as the original series was shot in Toronto.