Tuesday, July 28, 2009

KREG and the KATZ

It's a funny thing about cats. They love me. Lots. Must know that I'm somewhat allergic. When I was younger, it was even worse - - puddy tats had me hacking and wheezing like Mister Magoo laughing.
Ironically, some of our most fun and profitable puppet projects involved cats. Here are pictures of a few of our Flexitoon felines. . . nothing more than felines. . .
I built COUNTRY CAT in 1974 when my then partner Holly Smith and I began touring schools after several CoLoRfUl years performing psychedlic puppet shows at colleges with the MARKO PUPPET THEATRE. Country Cat, bless him, has worn the wear well, as you can see in the above picture from a recent star turn in Film Fest Fave FOREST 40 TREES. He is assayed here by one-time VENTRILOQUIST OF THE YEAR - - ALAN SEMOK.
In 1986 we helped pioneer INTERACTIVE TELEVISION invented by Dr. Michael Freeman. The man was a genius. Not only did he create many and lasting patents for true interactivity but, he also hired us. His network was ACTV, and we starred on programs for pre-schoolers (A SPECIAL PLACE, THE BOB SHOW); school-age kids (CARTOON CAVALCADE); and pre-teens (GUESS WHAT?) Pictured above is the rascally star of A Special Place, KATMANDOO.
Starred on FOX-TV as DJ KAT (another cat-in-the-cradle). Here's a backstage view with my exuberant on-camera co-star, CARMEN DeLa Paz. Since my hands are otherwise occupied, she's scratching my head. What price fame?

When DJ KAT won the New York State Broadcasters Award for Outstanding Children's Television Series, FOX-TV decided to change the format and strip the show 5 days a week from 2:00 - 5:00, using the Kat and other Flexitoon Puppets as hosts of a daily cartoon fest. We called the show the DJ KAT CLUB. The network wanted the character softend, so we did (below. Taken at NAPTE. I'm looking at the camera - - he's looking at Xena).

"Goin' Up" (PBS Special) brought another cat into our fold, the streetwise, KATITUDE. (That's me con el gatto, and Olga Felgemacher goosing Skylar into existence.)
And here's the CHESHIRE CAT from our stage production of ALICE IN WINTER WONDERLANDTM

All these cats have been furry-furry good to us through the years. Which brings us to today. Our latest project is a new comedy series starring Flexitoon Puppet versions of the World's Most Famous Feline:
Felix was created by the brilliant animator JOE ORIOLO, and we've been friends with his son Don for years. We've been jamming ways to puppetize the characters and now suddenly, it's a happening thing! Don is a terrific talent: very creative, artistic, musical and funny, and his team at Felix Productions are great guys (and goils) as well.
Here's how Don tells all:

We're very excited and pleased 'cause now all we gotta do is . . . take these globally beloved characters and turn them into three dimensional living breathing puppets that captures the essence of Felix, The Professor, Poindexter, VaVoom. Hmmmmmm. . .

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