Telepic offers new twist to classic fairy tale

Brian Henson has signed to direct CBS’ four-hour sweeps event “Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story.”

Production on the mini is slated to start in London within the next two months. The new “Jack” will offer a nontraditional twist on the classic fairy tale, making extensive use of the Jim Henson Co.’s Creature Shop to bring to life the land of giants (Daily Variety, Oct. 19, 1999).

“Jack” is being targeted for broadcast as early as May, though the Eye has yet to lock in an airdate.

Project represents the first time Henson, chairman of the Jim Henson Co., has helmed a telepic or miniseries. He has directed numerous series episodes, as well as the feature pics “Muppet Treasure Island” and “The Muppet Christmas Carol.”

Henson has always been attached as an exec producer of the mini, but came on board as director as scribe-exec producer James V. Hart (“Contact”) neared completion of the script.

“During the whole development process, I kept being most enthusiastic” about “Jack,” Henson told Daily Variety. “I finally said, ‘You know, I think I’ll do this one.’ “

21st century take

Henson said the new “Jack” will offer a 21st century take on the fairy tale, examining Jack’s theft of the goose that laid the golden eggs from the point of view of the giant and his brood.

Story will be set in the present, with one of Jack’s descendants — a European version of Bill Gates — finding himself on trial for his ancestor’s “crimes” against the giant community. Even the visual feel of the mini will differ from what most people associate with “Jack and the Beanstalk.”

“I don’t want it to look like what you thought it would look like,” Henson said.

Henson, Hart and Bill Haber will serve as exec producers of “Jack” for Jim Henson Television. Martin G. Baker and Tom Smith are producers; Alex Rockwell is co-producer.

Most recently, Henson served as exec producer and director of the Sci Fi Channel skein “Farscape.”

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