MHB WEEKLY: By the students, for the world

Speaker Series: Nicole Goldman | February 18, 2011

Each Friday, the MHB program hosts an industry pro with insight into career opportunities, marketplace trends and new ideas who engages students for two hours of class time. On February 11th, 2011, the speaker series featured Ms. Nicole Goldman, currently the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Publicity at The Jim Henson Company, the internationally-recognized family entertainment juggernaut based here in Los Angeles.

Ms. Goldman, who has worked for the Henson family since 1995, started her talk by characterizing the late Jim Henson, her company’s founder. The original master of puppets, Mr. Henson was the creative mind behind The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies and even Dinosaurs. Beyond that, he created a legacy to fuel the unique and jocular atmosphere that permeates each Henson property currently in production — including the PBS shows Sid the Science Kid and Dinosaur Train, both major hits combining cutting-edge CGI animation with time-honored stories and characters. Ms. Goldman shared the tenets underlying her company, which range from the inspirational — encouraging responsible and honest parenthood, for instance — to the inane: “When in doubt,” she explained, “throw penguins!” (The latter references the irreverent conclusion to many Muppet sketches, when, in lieu of proper endings, the puppets would toss their avian house band into the air.)

Ms. Goldman also explained how the Muppets, Henson’s most visible brand, are now owned and operated by Disney. (Look for a new movie, tentatively titled The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time, this fall.) But because Henson’s name is linked inextricably to characters like Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo, Ms. Goldman remains integral in all Muppet-related media issues — the same way that she continues to handle press for films like Labyrinth and shows like Fraggle Rock, both of which live on through devoted fans despite their decades of age. Even Farscape, a lesser-known sci-fi show produced by The Henson Company at the turn of the century, proves that memorable and entertaining programs long survive their cancellation dates: after a robust “Save Our Show” petition from its online fan community, Farscape continued on via webisodes and comics.

Ms. Goldman shared that her day-to-day work is detail-oriented but also fun, as puppetry and animation are artistic endeavors defined by their levity. And above all, she maintained that Henson’s list of clients, which have included Lady Gaga and Cee-Lo as of late, must fit within the Henson “brand box” — or its landscape of good intentions — in order to earn the company’s business. Privately-owned since its inception and now managed by Jim’s five children, The Jim Henson Company represents a place where, according to Ms. Goldman, work fits within the framework of family.

Continue reading for more about Ms. Goldman, as well as a video featuring Muppets where you might not expect them.

You can find Ms. Goldman on the Henson website, and you can read her company bio here. And below, check out a clip of Cee-Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow duetting on “Forget You,” their performance from last weekend’s Grammy ceremony that featured — you guessed it — an entourage of puppets.


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    Established in 2009 at USC, the Master's of Science in Human Behavior is designed to equip students with knowledge of consumer psychology, social media and market analysis skills. This is our blog. Subscribe

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