Kirk Thatcher

Kirk R. Thatcher is an American writer/producer, television and film director, an internet video director, a creature designer, and a production designer. He worked closely with Leonard Nimoy, who referred to him as a "genius". He was called "Jim Henson's protege" by Henson's daughter, Lisa, at a press event for his 2015 film Turkey Hollow.[1][2]

Personal life

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Kirk Thatcher grew up, "just like most guys in the effects industry, just doing stuff in the kitchen sink and in the garage." In high school, he met Joe Johnston, a production designer for Star Wars. Johnston would later work with Thatcher on his first job in the industry, as a technical assistant on the ILM creature crew of Return of the Jedi.[3]


Kirk Thatcher began his career at eighteen, leaving UCLA Film School to work at George Lucas' special effects facility, Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), in the early 1980s. While there, Thatcher designed, built, and puppeteered creatures for the films Return of the Jedi, Star Trek II, Star Trek III, E.T., Poltergeist, and Gremlins. He left ILM to form a rock video production company with David Fincher called "Z Street Films". Thatcher was the production designer on Fincher's first music videos and spent over a year creating the look for a number of Rick Springfield and The Motels videos.[3] Subsequently, Thatcher was hired by Leonard Nimoy to associate produce Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. He also portrayed "Punk on the Bus," the character who was seen rocking out to the song "I Hate You" in the film, which Thatcher wrote and performed for the film, recording it with sound designer Mark Mangini.[4]

Thatcher's first directorial effort was in 2003, with It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie for NBC, which drew more than 11 million viewers. At the time, Entertainment Weekly even claimed it was the best Muppet film made in the last 18 years.[5] Thatcher has co-written several Muppet films including Muppet Treasure Island, and directed three television movies, including A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa and The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, which premiered at Robert DeNiro's Tribeca Film Festival.[6] On this film, Thatcher worked closely with composer Michael Giacchino.

In 2015, Thatcher directed Turkey Hollow, a Thanksgiving-themed TV movie for The Jim Henson Company which aired on Lifetime. The film stars Mary Steenburgen and Jay Harrington and focuses on a family's adventures with a mysterious group of magical, musical creatures.[7][8] Thatcher is also credited as one of the three writers of the film, alongside Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl. The film has gained Thatcher interviews in the New York Times, TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, and numerous other major national media sources. Reviews of the movie have been positive, with many viewers already asking about a sequel.


Kirk Thatcher was a supervising producer on the Emmy Award-winning ABC series, Muppets Tonight.[9] Before this, Thatcher worked at Walt Disney Imagineering as a show designer and also collaborated closely with Jim Henson as an "idea guy," designing characters and brainstorming concepts for sketches and shows. When he worked on The Jim Henson Hour, Kirk Thatcher designed Clifford, Vicki, Leon, Waldo C. Graphic, Zondra, and other characters. This collaboration with Jim Henson led to the 1991 television series Dinosaurs, where he worked on the concept and as a character designer and writer.[10]

Thatcher has also written episodes for the Cartoon Network series Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and directed episodes of Nickelodeon's series LazyTown, PBS' Sid the Science Kid and Comedy Central's Crank Yankers.

In 2014, Kirk Thatcher was seen on the SyFy Network’s series Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge where he appeared in each episode, filling the role of a judge for the competition. Thatcher was seen on each episode narrowing down a group of Creature Designers who competed against each other to create puppets and animatronics such as those found in science fiction, comedy, and kids' and family shows. Newsday rated the show with an A-, saying: "We don't just watch art being made, we come to understand the process." Entertainment Weekly awarded it an "A" rating, calling it "Wildly refreshing…" and saying "'ve never seen a reality show like this."

Internet and commercials

Kirk Thatcher has also directed over twenty-five Muppets videos, including The Muppets' "Bohemian Rhapsody", which was nominated for and won the "Viral Video" category in the 14th Annual Webby Awards.[11] He has also directed 2015 Muppet Music videos "Jungle Boogie" and "Kodachrome." They have left many fans begging for Thatcher to be added to the team for the current Muppet Show.

He has directed Muppet commercials for Subway, Toyota, Lufthansa Airlines and the award-winning commercial campaign for the Disney theme parks featuring the Muppets in and around Disneyland promoting the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" volunteer program. Among his additional credits, Thatcher directed a Muppet music video with the band OK Go, as well as a theatrical Public Service Announcement for the European telecommunications company Orange, two national spots for Alamo Rent a Car, and a milk commercial for Cravendale. Recently, his Muppet commercial for Warburtons new Giant Crumpets became an international success, garnering hundreds of thousands of YouTube views in its first day, as well as a large amount of Twitter support. His Muppet commercials also air in Europe, for major national and international companies.

In 2015, Thatcher's Warburtons crumpet commercial was named Best Christmas Advert of 2015. This is the top advertising award handed out and shows the growth in Thatcher's overall abilities and sensibilities.[12]

He is regularly proclaimed by Muppet websites as being "what the new show needs to be amazing again." He regularly works with the Muppets in web shorts and music videos, which consistently garner positive reviews and awards.[13]

Thatcher's piece on the experience of working with Prince has garnered worldwide attention and praise, especially after Prince's death.[14]


  1. "Overview for Kirk R Thatcher". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  2. "Team - Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge - Syfy". Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  3. 1 2 As he mentioned in a recent interview, he was once a competitive power lifter in high school and college, where known for his ability to lift cars. He has also learned to play the ukulele, which he can be seen holding in numerous interviews for Turkey Hollow. Plume, Kenneth (February 10, 2000). "Interview with Kirk Thatcher (Part 1 of 2)". IGN. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  4. "Mr. Know-It-All: Star Trek Teaches Us How Not to Confront Idiots With Loud Earbuds". WIRED. 23 December 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  5. "Kirk R. Thatcher". Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  7. "Turkey Hollow (2014) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  8. "Jim Henson's Turkey Hollow". Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  9. "Kirk R. Thatcher". Television Academy. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  10. Plume, Kenneth (February 10, 2000). "Interview with Kirk Thatcher (Conclusion)". IGN. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  11. "Webby Awards honour Ebert, Twitter, Times". CBC. May 4, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  12. "TV viewers have chosen the best Christmas advert of 2015 - and the winner is...".
  13. "Director Kirk Thatcher On the Madcap Muppets Video for Kodachrome". 28 December 2015.
  14. "Kirk Thatcher's Prince Memories « Muppet Fans Who Grew Up – Tough Pigs".

External links

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