Partnering with the most renowned family entertainment production company in the world, The Jim Henson Company, and with award-winning author Neil Gaiman writing and executive producing, Fremantle today announced that the company is developing a reimagined version of Jim Henson’s iconic 80’s anthology series The Storyteller for television.
A perfect creative partner to bring The Storyteller to a new audience, Gaiman is well-known for his far-reaching work in popularizing folklore and mythology. From the mythological basis of his best-selling novel American Gods to the African folklore of Anansi Boys, his body of work is constantly reinterpreting classic stories, while also including completely authentic collections like his recent Norse Mythology book. In the new series, The Storyteller will create a mystical world combining various fairy tales and folklore that have been passed down from generation to generation, designed for today’s co-viewing audience.
Inspired by his daughter Lisa’s university studies in folklore and mythology, Jim Henson created the original version of The Storyteller in 1987 and directed multiple episodes. With top-notch talent in front of and behind the camera, including Oscar-winner Anthony Minghella who wrote all the episodes, the Emmy and BAFTA-winning live-action television series featured creatures brought to life by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and provided a re-telling of various European folk tales, with a mysterious elfin storyteller (played by the late John Hurt). The world of The Storyteller was inhabited by various mystical and magical characters – heartless giants, enchanted beggars, white lions and human hedgehogs – exploring themes such as fear, desire, death and destiny, and challenging notions about good and evil.
“There is currently nothing like The Storyteller in the television landscape and the themes these stories will explore are even more critically important today,” said Dante Di Loreto, President of Scripted Entertainment, Fremantle, North America. “We are honored to be working with Lisa Henson and her illustrious company to bring their esteemed property back to television, and to be yet again partnering with Neil on another project that will further showcase his brilliant narrative power.”
“The Storyteller has been a longtime favorite for our fans who appreciate the beautiful artistry and faithful visualizing of these classic tales. It has always been a special project for me as well, having worked so closely with my dad on the original concept,” said Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company. “Neil Gaiman is an expert in traditional folklore and mythology, in addition to himself being the modern ‘storyteller’ for our times. It is especially exciting to have Neil’s reimagining of the series brought to life by our Creature Shop, allowing us to share these classic stories with a whole new audience all around the world.”
“Jim Henson was always ahead of his time,” said Neil Gaiman. “He found ways to retell folk and fairy tales for a televisual generation. The original The Storyteller was a brilliantly written, directed and told set of stories. It's a terrifying and inspiring task to reinvent what Jim Henson did for the golden age of television we are in right now, and I'm honored that The Jim Henson Company would entrust me with the task of bringing back the storyteller and his magical stories, and sending him out into the world for a whole new round of tales.”
The Storyteller will be produced by Fremantle in association with The Jim Henson Company, with Lisa Henson serving as executive producer and Blanca Lista as co-executive producer. Gaiman, who has a long-standing relationship with Fremantle, will also serve as executive producer. He currently is in post-production with Fremantle on the second season of American Gods for STARZ and will also executive produce the company’s upcoming project, Gormenghast, an episodic series based on the critically acclaimed fantasy book series by Mervyn Peake.