Today we welcome back our good friend Noel MacNeal, noted Muppet performer most well known as Bear from Bear in the Big Blue House. Noel has recently started a new campaign for his own web series The Show Me Show. We’ll let Noel tell you more about it below. But in the meantime, you should absolutely donate to the cause and support The Show Me Show on IndieGogo.
Huge, huge thanks to our good friend John Papovitch for writing the interview questions.
The Show Me Show Interview with Noel MacNeal
NOEL: THE SHOW ME SHOW is the first online/downloadable series for kids of autism & special needs. I’m the (human) host, “Noel,” and it takes place in The Wonderfilled Wagon, my workshop and stage. The puppets are friends I’ve “made.”
The “guest star” for each show is a color, a sound, a shape, or a number. At the top of the show, if the guest star is the color “blue,” two characters will want to create an act based on it. That’s when the viewer will choose one character (eg. helping “Taylor” create a song) and the storyline goes off in that direction. Then, because it’s downloaded, the viewer can go back and choose the other character (eg helping “Nona” create a dance) and the story goes off in a totally new/different direction.
Q: What inspired you to come up with and pursue this concept?
NOEL: I created THE SHOW ME SHOW as part of a development deal with, back then it was called, Noggin. It was down to me and one other show (Jack’s Music Show that they chose). So I got to keep all the rights to THE SHOW ME SHOW.
Then ever since Bear (in the Big Blue House) ended, I’ve received fan email from parents with kids of autism and special needs, thanking me for the Bear and how some of their kids still watch it. It was sincere, genuine, soft, and nurturing and hit a chord with these families. And that’s when I realized that there isn’t a show like that on TV now (and won’t be anytime, soon).
NOEL: “Fynnias,” a boy who’s around 7 yrs old and loves to make up stories; his sister “Taylor,” who’s around 9 yrs old and loves to create songs; “Nona the Invented Yak,” who loves to dance (and being a yak she’s a real “hoofer;”….. never mind); and “The Ants” the stage hands and band who, you never see but, you hear them when things start moving around.
Q: You spent many years working as a puppeteer on several notable children’s series, both Henson projects and not, how have those shows helped you prepare for this new series?
NOEL: I’ve learned what to do and most important what NOT to do. Make the scripts funny and fun to perform cause then they will be fun to watch. Create well-rounded characters; don’t create “talking punch lines” or one-note characters. Talk TO your audience not AT them.
NOEL: James Wojtal, Jr. who was a builder for Henson, made “Fynnias” and will design and build the other characters. Peter Lurye, the musical director for Bear, co-wrote the song “Fynnias” performs for the pitch.
And I know a lot of friends from these shows: writers, composers, as well as puppeteers, who I will ask to contribute to THE SHOW ME SHOW.
Q: What brought you to do this series independently and through online distribution instead of working with a network or company you’ve worked with previously?
NOEL: About three years ago, I had a pitch meeting with on of the big kids networks. It was for a (different) live action series that would use puppets. It went terrible; like watching the last forty-five minutes of Titanic; you know you’re sinking, lets just get this over with, now. They of course passed and that’s when I asked, “So, exactly what DO you want?” And I was told, “Honestly, if you can create an inexpensive 3D, even 2D, animated show, where the characters, during the course of the story must ‘acquire’ things that can be turned into merchandise the kids at home can buy, THAT’S what we want.
As I rode down in the elevator, I washed my hands of children’s TV.
Then, when I started getting the emails from parents, I wondered what kind of show it could be and then remembered THE SHOW ME SHOW. It’s perfect; not only showing early science and math concepts (eg. shapes and numbers) but also showing social and communication skills kids of autism and special needs can practice with. (The one thing I had to do was go back to my development bible and re-tool it; kids don’t just sit at home and watch TV. Now they can take their show(s) with them.)
NOEL: I hope we’ll being doing the fifth season and that it became so popular on its own that one of the online networks (Netflix or Amazon) could stream it (and thus have their financial backing).
Q: Finally, what do you want people to take away from the project once it makes it’s way to the internet?
NOEL: Well, the project, itself. As I said, this first season will be downloadable with all the profits going back into production for the next season. But I also want people to come away having had a good time with the cast. That there still is room for a sweet, gentle, genuine show for kids and their families. I want THE SHOW ME SHOW to be that go-to place and be another nice memory of childhood.
Donate to The Show Me Show on IndieGogo and help make Noel’s dream a reality!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org