Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Did you know that there is a library in Manhattan (and in L.A.) where you can go and watch thousands of television shows?

I first discovered this library in 1993 around the time I started graduate school in New York. It was housed in what was then called The Museum of Radio and Television. There was a special exhibit called Jim Henson's World of Television. In addition to checking out the exhibit, I went to the library to watch these programs:

The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years
The Jim Henson Hour: The Secrets of the Muppets

The Muppet Show (with guest Ethel Merman)
The Muppet Show (with guest Paul Simon)

In more recent years, after the museum had been renamed The Paley Center for Media, I went back to view these titles:

Sesame Street - Maria & Luis Wedding
Muppet Show (with guest Harry Belafonte)
Of Muppets and Men
60 Minutes: Backstage at the Muppet Show

All these shows, along with books and articles I read, gave me a decent working knowledge of Jim Henson's work in television and film.

Branching out from all things Henson, I returned to the museum in January of 2010 to be part of the premier screening of VH1 Rock Doc Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America. I got to hear some great panelists speak about the show. The lineup included: Danyel Smith, music journalist (who also appears in the film): Big Bank Hank from The Sugar Hill Gang (of Rapper's Delight fame);Questlove, Drummer for the Roots and creator of the doc's musical score; and Tyronne Proctor, Soul Train dancer and currently choreographer.

This summer, I went back for more on Henson and found myself in a new and improved screening room where most titles have gone digital and the viewer can control what she watches with a click of a mouse. If your selection is only available via video, you go back up to the old screening room. Which I did do this time around, as my choice was Great Performances: The World of Jim Henson from 1994. It was great up there - dark and quiet. I kicked off my shoes and watched moving footage of Jim and also his peers talking about him.

Not long after, I went to Paley again and after some searching around the digital archives found living tap legend Savion Glover's Nu York, in which he could be found performing with folks like Stevie Wonder, Wyclef Jean, and (then named) P. Diddy. (Yes, he and Diddy did a tap-off!)

Then I journeyed downstairs to the Bennack Theater to watch a screening of Funny Women of Television, a show produced by The Museum of Radio and Television in 1996. It was a good show, but sorely lacking in representation of women of color.

Here's basic info on Paley, and I encourage you to check out their website to check out their Daily Screenings schedule so ya get to watch things on the big screen as well as on the individual computer screens.

The Paley Center for Media
25 West 52nd Street
New York, NY 10019-6129
(212) 621-6600

Open Wed,Fri-Sun 12pm-6pm; Thu 12pm-8pm
Subway: 5 Av/53 St
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