Chairman, Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Director, Producer, Writer, Performer
Brian Henson is Chairman of The Jim Henson Company and an award-winning director, producer and writer for film and television. He is also a technological innovator and skilled puppeteer.
Joining his father Jim Henson on set when he was a child was something Brian did regularly. By the time he was 17, he had watched his father at work and spent time with his father’s colleagues. After operating the marionettes in the complicated bicycle scene in The Great Muppet Caper, Brian became indispensable on the sets of his father’s productions. In May of 1983, Brian joined his dad on production of The Muppets Take Manhattan. He was assigned to Faz Fazakas, often referred to as an electro-mechanical wizard, to help with special effects. Some of these involved radio controlled puppets and other animatronic techniques. He was also a performer, working the marionette rig for Scooter’s bicycle ride. Talented in both areas and interested in the work of his father’s Creature Shop, Brian kept an eye out for other opportunities in fantasy film work. In 1984, he moved to London to work on Return to Oz. The film was not a Henson production, and allowed Brian to assemble his own team of animatronic performers that worked with him on several projects, including Jim Henson’s fantasy classic Labyrinth. Brian served as puppet captain for the film while also performing the character Hoggle with Shari Weiser. Brian’s work both inside and outside the company during the 1980s allowed him to establish relationships on both the technical and performing sides of the business, giving him a strong foundation for his leadership role in the following decade.
Following the death of his father in 1990, Brian moved back to America to become the CEO of The Jim Henson Company. In 2009, he became Chairman of the company and his sister Lisa Henson became sole CEO.
In recent years, Henson served as Executive Producer on the television projects Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge (for which he was also lead judge), Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (which he also directed) and Jim Henson’s Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (which he co-wrote and directed). He also directed Battleground, an Emmy Award-winning episode of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King for TNT. Henson’s producing credits include Bear in the Big Blue House, Gulliver’s Travels, Muppets Tonight, and Dinosaurs. Henson’s long list of film credits includes The Great Muppet Caper, Return to Oz, Labyrinth, The Witches, Little Shop of Horrors, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Treasure Island.
Henson has also led the creative and technological innovations of the company, overseeing the groundbreaking work at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, one of Hollywood’s pre-eminent character-building, digital and physical visual effects facilities. He was part of the team that first created and utilized the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, which won an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science Scientific and Engineering Award in 1992. He has also been leading the Shop’s work with its revolutionary puppeteered animation system, the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. In 2009, he and his team were awarded a Primetime Emmy Award, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Outstanding Achievement in Engineering Development for this proprietary system that allows performers to puppeteer digital characters in real time.
Along with his many talents in performing, directing and technical innovation, Henson is a master at improvisational comedy. In 2005, he created Puppet Up! - Uncensored, a live puppet improvisational show which was named a top ten “Best Stage Show” by Entertainment Weekly and has toured comedy festivals in Aspen, Las Vegas, Edinburgh, New York and Australia and currently at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas through December 2016.
Harvey S. Gettleson Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Harvey is a Certified Public Accountant as well as an Attorney, having received his degrees in a combined program from Monteith College and the Wayne State University Law School. As a founder of Gettleson, Witzer & O’Connor, Harvey’s clients include a wide-range of film, TV, stage and music entertainers and entertainment professionals as well as corporate leaders in the Los Angeles business community, Forbes 400 members, and entrepreneurs. He is very active as an advisor to start-up companies in the Los Angeles “Silicon Beach” community.
Harvey utilizes his diverse professional experience to advise clients on how to navigate today’s studio and independent film, TV and internet opportunities, to access capital for their projects, and maximize participation in emerging entertainment strategies. With an extensive history of serving seed and early stage companies, Harvey is equally experienced advising investors, executives and entrepreneurs in the challenges facing them to grow a successful business from its initial start-up through the business’ evolution to exit either through sale or “going public”.
Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
President, The Jim Henson Foundation
Henson Foundation, an organization promoting the art of puppetry in the United States through grants to artists and theater presenters.
As the President of The Jim Henson Foundation, Cheryl is an ardent advocate of contemporary puppetry. Each year, she oversees a competitive granting process to encourage excellence in puppet theater. Since 1982, the Foundation has awarded over 714 grants to more than 320 American puppet artists for the creation of innovative new works, as well as over 113 Presenters grants to theaters in New York City for presenting this work. (For more on The Jim Henson Foundation visit www.hensonfoundation.org)
Cheryl executive produced the award winning biennial Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater from 1992 to 2000. These five festivals presented 136 different productions from 31 countries in 24 theaters throughout New York City. The Festival won both the Drama Desk and the OBIE Award, received coverage from prestigious sources including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, CBS Sunday Morning, and National Public Radio, and is widely acknowledged as having changed the perception of puppet theater today. (For more on these festivals visit www.hensonfestival.org)
Cheryl served as a Vice President of The Jim Henson Company from 1992 until 2000. During this time, she was the liaison between The Jim Henson Company and Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), the producer of Sesame Street, working closely with production teams on Sesame Street shows both here and abroad. Cheryl believes in the power of puppets to educate as well as entertain; to transcend cultural differences and to communicate in a universal language. Having repurchased the company in 2003 with her siblings, Cheryl is excited to be working with the New York branch of The Jim Henson Company where the renowned Sesame Street Muppets continue to be designed and built.
Cheryl is on the board of the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia which opened "The Worlds of Puppetry Museum" in November 2015. This museum is host to the largest collection of Jim Henson's puppets, as well as the most extensive collection of global puppetry in the United States. She is also the founder of Darkcrystal.com, a vibrant online destination for everything regarding The Dark Crystal.
Cheryl has led two successful book projects. In 1994, she and the Muppet Workshop created a book to help children explore their imaginations by making puppets out of everyday objects. The Muppets Make Puppets, published by Workman Press, sold more than 100,000 copies. In 2004, she worked with The Jim Henson Company Archives to compile a special book of quotes from her father, his characters and his friends. It's Not Easy Being Green, and Other Things to Consider, published by Hyperion publishing and recipient of the Quill Book Award for "Health/Self Improvement" in 2005, continues to inspire interest in Jim's philosophy of creative collaboration.
Cheryl built puppets while in high school for The Muppet Show (1976-1979) and before college on The Dark Crystal (1982). After graduating from Yale (l984) with a degree in History, Cheryl continued to work on films and television specials as a puppet and mask maker. Her work is seen in the film Labyrinth (l986) and The Tale of the Bunny Picnic (1986). In 1987, Cheryl earned a degree in textile design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and returned to Jim Henson's Creature Shop™ in London where she worked on The Storyteller and Mother Goose Stories. Later, she worked as an Art Director for Song of the Cloud Forest, a segment of The Jim Henson Hour, which was nominated for an Emmy and won a Monitor Award for Best Achievement in Entertainment Series.
Cheryl lives in New York City with her husband and their two children.Learn more about The Jim Henson Foundation
Heather Henson Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Heather Henson is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design and attended The California Institute of the Arts to broaden her expertise in visual spectacles for theatre. Most recently Heather designed animation in collaboration with Project Firefly Animation Studios to be incorporated on stage with choreographed indoor kites. She continues to produce in a myriad of venues including film, television and stage. Her years with The Jim Henson Foundation and participation in The Eugene O'Neill National Puppetry Conference has given her a deep appreciation for the raw creative process as well as making her the consummate puppet advocate.
Heather continues her work with Handmade Puppet Dreams, a selection of short puppet films by independent artists exploring their hand made craft specifically for the camera. The goal is to showcase a new generation of puppeteers who will embrace film as a medium for their individual expressions. Collected are films that focus primarily on real-time performed puppetry, with an emphasis on character. Here we have a selection of contemporary artisans who carefully weave the craft of filming and puppetry into their work. These films have allowed artists to build their vision then breathe life into their dreams.Learn more about Handmade Puppet Dreams
Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
CEO & President, The Jim Henson Company
As CEO and President, Lisa Henson oversees all television and feature film production from early development through post-production. Henson credits include the Netflix Original Word Party, the groundbreaking marine biology series Splash and Bubbles for PBS KIDS®, the Sprout animated series Dot., based on Randi Zuckerberg’s popular book, and the new Netflix Original preschool show Julie’s Greenroom, starring award-winning actress Julie Andrews. Additionally, Henson serves as executive producer on the Emmy®-nominated PBS KIDS® preschool series Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train, the Sprout preschool series Pajanimals and the Hulu original Doozers, a CG animated preschool series inspired by the popular characters from Fraggle Rock, all airing daily in the U.S. and in multiple markets around the world.
Henson is currently serving as executive producer on Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star set to premiere in November 2017. Other feature credits include the Disney film Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, MirrorMask, Muppets Wizard of Oz, and Good Boy! Films currently in development include Frog and Toad, Which Witch with Billy Crystal, Happytime Murders starring Henson Alternative's Miskreant Puppets, and the highly anticipated film Fraggle Rock.
Prior to her current position, Henson was President of Columbia Pictures where she oversaw a string of critical and commercial successes including Little Women, Immortal Beloved, and Ang Lee’s Oscar®-winning Sense and Sensibility. Before joining Columbia Pictures, Henson served as an executive at Warner Bros.
Henson graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University, where she was the first female president of The Harvard Lampoon.
John Hyde Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Hyde is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at The Jim Henson Company. Hyde is also the founder and CEO of Rehab Incorporated, which consists of Rehab Entertainment, a television, film, and intellectual rights company, as well as Rehab Consulting, an entertainment and media consulting firm. In 2014, he executive produced A Walk Among the Tombstones.
Hyde was President of Strategic Planning and a member of the Board of Directors for RLJ Entertainment. Hyde was also Vice Chairman of the Board at Image Entertainment, a premier producer and distributor with over 5,200 exclusive titles. Previously, Hyde served as Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Starz Media, which purchased IDT Entertainment in 2006 for nearly $500 million.
From 2000-2006, Hyde was Chief Operating Officer of IDT Entertainment and CEO of Film Roman, IDTE Productions and New Arc Productions. Hyde was responsible for organizing these acquisitions and subsidiaries and creating an infrastructure to give IDT Entertainment a cohesive production and distribution system. Hyde was brought into Film Roman as President and CEO. Hyde successfully generated new business while continuing to produce King of the Hill and The Simpsons, for which he was nominated for five Emmys, winning one.
Hyde was involved in financing and overseeing production and worldwide distribution of nearly 175 motion pictures and television shows. His Executive Producing credits include Short Circuit, Flight of the Navigator, Space Chimps, Neverending Story, Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, Homicide: Life on the Street, 9 ½ Weeks, UHF, and Das Boot.
Hyde was involved in the restructuring or reorganization of Avenue Entertainment, Filmstar, Management Company Entertainment Group, Orion, and MGM, among others. He is a former director of The Cousteau Society. He was also a founding member of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (originally American Film Market). Hyde graduated from New York University with additional international economic studies at Leiden University in Holland.
Robin Russell Board of Directors, The Jim Henson Company
Robin Russell received her J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of Law, in 1978, where she graduated with honors. She received her B.A. in Economics (with Honors) from the University of California, Berkeley.
After completing her education, Robin was an associate at one of the top Los Angeles law firms, specializing in complex business litigation with a focus on Federal civil defense litigation. She went on to be an associate at Gang, Tyre, Ramer and Brown, a firm whose practice was focused on Entertainment law. It is there that Robin developed her passion for Entertainment. In 1984 she was recruited to join the Frank Wells/Michael Eisner management team as a Senior Vice President of Legal and Business Affairs for Walt Disney Pictures.
While at Disney, Robin worked closely with senior leaders and served as an advisor to the corporate business development group responsible for the re-structuring of the Consumer Products and Disney Parks segments. Her responsibilities also included oversight of the legal and business affairs departments and all aspects of the business for the production of an annual slate of theatrical motion pictures released under the “Disney” and “Touchstone” brands.
Robin, following her entrepreneurial spirit, spent 2 years in the role of Chief Financial Officer, Business Affairs and Administration for InterTalent, a small, high-end, talent agency which was started by six senior agents from ICM and CAA. The company became Endeavor, which was then merged with The William Morris Agency to become WME2, the largest talent agency in Hollywood.
It was at this point in her career that Robin joined Sony Pictures Entertainment. Over her 19 year career at Sony, Robin’s span of control and responsibility continued to grow, spending 3 years as Executive Vice President Business Affairs for Columbia Pictures, overseeing negotiation of development and production agreements for the Studio, contract oversight and administration and supervision of all facets of Columbia’s business relationships with its creative family. Starting in 1997, Robin served for 10 years as Senior Executive Vice President and General Manager for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, where her main focus was the development of the DVD format and transition from a home rental to sell through market and expansion of the distribution outlets, including Amazon and Netflix. Ms. Russell’s career culminated as Senior Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations Marketing and Distribution. In this role, she was responsible for development of the business models for digital delivery in exhibition as well as media spend optimization and transition to on-line advertising.
Included as one of the “Women in Entertainment Power 100” for 5 years (2000-2005), Robin has been considered one of the most influential women in the Home Entertainment Industry. Robin recently concluded 18 months as a Fellow in the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative Program. She has an active consulting practice focused on litigation strategy, expert witness services, and content distribution. Robin is also an Adjunct Professor at USC Gould School of Law, where she teaches in the Entertainment Law curriculum.