The Pipes, the Pipes are Calling
June 9, 2010 6:38 PM   Subscribe

In 1964, a group of men were bored,in their dressing room waiting for several hours between the dress rehearsal and recording of "The Jack Paar Program". Noticing a collection of odd steam pipes, their leader suggested they decorate the pipes to pass the time. Painting them and attaching fur and googly eyes, they signed the piece "With Love, From the Muppets".

The men were told that it would be painted over the next day. 16 years later, workmen who were told to rip out everything behind the walls of the sixth floor stopped to get clarification. The Today Show took notice and Jim Henson came on to discuss what he, Frank Oz, Don Sahlin and Jerry Juhl had done on that day in 1964.

In 1983, Jack Paar showed the closet to David Letterman on his old Late Night show. He said, "Now, I never won a lot of awards. But I have something that's so rare, and so touching to me." and brought Dave to the old dressing room to show to his audience.

10 years later, Dave moves on and the dressing room becomes Max Weinberg's until last year. The pipes were hidden away in a closet. When Jimmy Fallon took over Late Night (and, as such, most of the sixth floor), he urged NBC to preserve the pipes.

This week, they did just that. Through misty-eyes, Frank Oz recalled to Brian Williams the creation of the pipes while also lamenting that he was the "last man standing" from the group. During a ribbon cutting this week, it was added to the NBC Experience tour.
posted by inturnaround (33 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
That's wonderful!! Thank you so much for sharing this!
posted by The otter lady at 6:44 PM on June 9, 2010 [5 favorites]

In related news: a new Muppets movie will premiere Christmas, 2011.
posted by jedicus at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

Oh, I'm such a huge fan of early Oz and Henson work. Yay! I wish I could find the clips of some stuff they did for (I think) early SNL, I remember it being hysterical.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 6:49 PM on June 9, 2010

Wow, that's so great. If I had been Frank Oz in that Brian Williams clip I would have had a harder time keeping it together.
posted by aclevername at 6:50 PM on June 9, 2010

That's awesome!! Thank you so much for sharing this! :)
posted by zarq at 6:54 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thanks for posting it. The last link doesn't seem to work for me... it just points to some MSNBC Sandra Bullock gossip (or maybe it's buried in there?... didn't want to watch "entertainment reporting" long enough for it to affect my I.Q.).
posted by MegoSteve at 6:58 PM on June 9, 2010

Those guys were so incredibly creative they just couldn't ever shut it off.
posted by orange swan at 7:03 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

This is so nifty! I'd never heard of this before . . .

but, man, does Letterman come off as kind of jerky in that clip. It's like he can't wait for the old man to stop so earnest and embarrassing or something.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:06 PM on June 9, 2010

No, it was just Bullock gossip with a smattering of other celeb stuff....they must have moved it.

New Muppet Link
posted by lampshade at 7:07 PM on June 9, 2010

Sorry about the last link. It had worked for me initially when I previewed the post.

Try this one.

As for Letterman, I think he embarrassed Dave a little bit with the earnest compliment...and he didn't know how to react.
posted by inturnaround at 7:09 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

All right, Mr. Fallon. I've had my issues with you, but you're all right.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:14 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

the muppets: "affectionate anarchy" (from the msnbc Oz interview)
posted by el io at 7:24 PM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

SecretAgentSockpuppet: They have the early SNL seasons on DVD now, which includes the muppet skits. (at least they are on 1st season), I'm sure netflix has it.
posted by edgeways at 7:36 PM on June 9, 2010

The line for the Muppets 3D movie at Walt Disney World goes past a set of Muppet decorated utility pipes on the outside of its theater building. It's a very sweet tribute.
posted by Spatch at 7:41 PM on June 9, 2010

It's incredible how talented those guys were/are. Thanks for sharing this...we all owe them a great debt.
posted by moviehawk at 7:54 PM on June 9, 2010

I saw that picture in the book "Jim Henson: The Works" years ago, and forgot about it. I had no idea all these preservation efforts were going on. I'm happy for Frank Oz for getting to see it again... in fact this whole post makes me happy.
posted by evilcolonel at 8:04 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I did not know about this, brilliant, thank you.
posted by everichon at 8:42 PM on June 9, 2010

This is amazing. Thank you!
posted by spec80 at 8:46 PM on June 9, 2010

but, man, does Letterman come off as kind of jerky in that clip.

Gene Shalit, even jerkier. But a wonderful story — of affectionate anarchy — I hadn't heard about before. Thanks for posting it.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:50 PM on June 9, 2010

This is really cool and all, but what's with the lighting? It just looks like they stuck a grid of spotlights on it, and it misses a lot of the detail.
posted by Big_B at 8:51 PM on June 9, 2010

That's great; thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:18 PM on June 9, 2010

All right, Mr. Fallon. I've had my issues with you, but you're all right.

I'm tellin' ya. Jimmy Fallon has grown into his position, and is turning out to be one of the more interesting people to watch. His enthusiasm is contageous, his writers are pretty witty (I even liked his LOST parody, and I don't have any interest in the subject being parodied at all), and he's improved dramatically from his first month on air. He doesn't have the same wit as Craig Ferguson, but he's going to be around for a long while. I'm sure of it.
posted by hippybear at 10:19 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Going forward, when someone says that vandalism cannot be art, please link to this FPP.
posted by davejay at 11:05 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

I have a really ugly boiler in my laundry room with a bunch of ugly pipes coming out of it. If I can convince my husband (and if it's safe) I am going to give it the full Muppet Treatment. I might even let my kids help.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:17 AM on June 10, 2010

Great post title! Thanks.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:43 AM on June 10, 2010

I lived in an apartment with an odd pipe in the living room, and our first thought was add more pipes, a la Brazil. If I only knew we had a proto-muppet.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on June 10, 2010

posted by michswiss at 7:24 AM on June 10, 2010

This is absolutely fascinating. Great post.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:30 AM on June 10, 2010

MetaFilter (and, indeed, every single website) can always benefit from a Muppet-related (or, just a Jim Henson) story! Jim Henson has been one of the rare people who has made life worth living!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:35 PM on June 10, 2010

...If I can convince my husband (and if it's safe)...

Then you have missed the point entirely.
posted by thejoshu at 8:15 AM on June 11, 2010

Those are the coolest pipes! I can't believe they just sat in a closet from 1964 until 2010. Seeing this made my day. And they're making a new muppet movie?! Truly it is the best of all possible worlds.
posted by audacity at 9:04 PM on June 11, 2010

Absolutely amazing post. On a side note, NBC either added "Ribbon Cutting sound effects" to the video with Frank Oz & Jimmy Fallon or they made an error in editing it. (Weird cutting sounds at ~3:15)
posted by promptcurry at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2010

utterly delightful, thank you!
posted by myrrh at 12:51 PM on June 12, 2010

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