Familiar Name, Different View

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It took two years of huffing and puffing, but Lisa Henson, one of the producers of the animated comedy "Unstable Fables: 3 Pigs and a Baby," finally blew the house down.

What's it like to be a movie producer?

"It's a meticulous process," she says. "My own kids don't understand that it involves so much patience, that it may be years before they see [a finished film]."

Henson, the oldest of five children of film producer and Muppeteer Jim Henson, joined Warner Bros. in 1983 as a movie production assistant. Ten years later she was named president of Columbia Pictures -- at 33, the youngest such executive in Hollywood.

She and her brother, Brian, co-chair the Jim Henson Company, which produces family entertainment. For Lisa Henson, that means movies.

"A producer assembles all the elements of a program," she says, developing the story line and finding writers, actors and animators to make it come alive.

Old Story, New Twist

"Three Pigs and a Baby," rated PG and released on DVD last month, started with a kernel of an idea: "To take a familiar fairy tale and take a different approach," says Henson.

Most people know the story. The pigs build houses of straw, sticks and bricks. The Big Bad Wolf destroys the first two, but can't beat the bricks.

In Henson's version, the pig brothers find a wolf cub on their doorstep. They take him in and raise him as their own, not knowing that the baby, Lucky, was left by some good-for-nothing wolves. When Lucky eventually learns he is a wolf, he faces a difficult choice.

Putting this twist on a traditional story makes it feel new, Henson says.

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