Monday, 18 January 2010


Forget the NBC Late Night Show hosts war. CBS has the best Late Night combo with veteran host David Letterman (Late Show with David Letterman) and Craig Ferguson.

The Scottish-born American comedian hosts The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, produced by Letterman's company Worldwide Pants. One of the features of his show is the use of puppets as regular characters: Wavy Rancheros (a "crocodile-alligator"), Aquaman, Sean Connery, etc...

When The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson celebrated its 1000th episode in December 2009, Wavy and its puppet colleagues took over the show. Elaine Kollias, Marketing director of Folkmanis, the company behind these zany creatures, has gracefully accepted to answer to questions about the puppets, the company and the event. Here is Part Two of our interview.

What were the specifications given by Craig Ferguson for the characters?

Elaine Kollias: Aquaman had to have the blonde hair and the superhero costume. And it had to look like Craig. We suggested the Shark instead and Craig liked the idea.

Sean Connery had to have a beard, cardigan and argyle and be Craig dressed as Sean. That's why he ended up as a Bull.

"Craig" had to have a full suit, shirt and tie. Since the real Craig is a Taurus, we thought a Bull would suit him nicely. It was a great piece but I think it was a difficult puppet to animate, and it wasn't used for the show.

"Starlet" had to sit on the couch and be a guest. It had to have glamour. We choose the Ostrich with her long eyelashes and gave her lots of bling. (Not seen)

"Action-hero star" was a Male actor with casual clothing. We chose our new Camel puppet and made hoof arms and legs. They had us stop working on him as the show filled up and ran out of time. (Never completed)

There was also two animals to depict Jeff and Chris - background dancers. We suggested several dog combination and Craig chose the Chihuahua and Beagle. The dogs were dressed as Jeff and Chris. (Not seen)

Can you name us the people who made these puppets?

Elaine Kollias: It took a team of folks to pull it off! I, Elaine Kollias, coordinated the project, scoured for materials, brainstormed the animal character concepts and cheered our staff on.

Carlene Cordova handled all the "Hollywood" speak including legal and electronic media, while Wendy Morton took on most of the fabrication with assistance from one of our senior designers, Erica Kawata, and our junior designer, Ellie Brickman. Wendy also assisted on the set with puppet wrangling and puppeteering.

What were the materials used?

Elaine Kollias: Because we only had about two weeks for the entire project we had to think quickly and act even faster. We figured that the best way to do what was required, was to piece the custom puppets together from parts that we already had, like Frankenstein, and by purchasing costume components and children's clothing. Normally we would have done it all from scratch but 10 days isn't much time for what we undertook.

Who got the ideas for the 1000th episode?

Elaine Kollias: Oh, the "all puppets" show was all Craig's idea. Supposedly he had wanted to do a show like this for awhile. Can you imagine being a television producer and your talent comes to you and says they envision a special show where they're not seen at all and the show is run by puppets? How silly but brilliant at the same time and probably pretty risky from the corporate point of view!

Do you collaborate with Craig Ferguson beyond the creation and fabrication process and on which basis?

Elaine Kollias: No, we don't work directly with him but with him through his staff. We only collaborated for this special show. Normally we just send puppets that we think Craig will enjoy and as we introduce new designs, we make sure Craig receives a set.

Do you work for other shows or for the movie or tv industry in general?

Elaine Kollias: Generally speaking, we don't take on custom projects. However, we feel so strongly about what Craig is doing for late night TV and specifically for puppets, that we really couldn't turn it down.

We have become huge fans of the show and Craig's unique sense of humor. We do work with many set designers and prop masters for TV and films, but that's with puppets that we've already manufactured. Our puppets are actually in many films and productions.

If you look out for them you'll be surprised at how many productions choose our puppets as props and set dressing. And, although I can't say much about it, there's a major motion picture coming out in 2011 with top box office names that will be absolutely filled with our puppets! We can't wait.... !

Who is the puppet character of the show your company is the most proud of?

Elaine Kollias: Of our standard puppets, it was Kronos the Monkey, but then the Shark took our hearts and now it's really all about Wavy the Crocodile. For the custom puppets we really love how Aquaman turned out. But I think my favorite is Craig the Bull. Hopefully, Craig will use it on the show in the future.

Did your company worked specifically on the 1000th episode?

Elaine Kollias: Yes. When the 1000th episode was merely a concept of Craig's, the producers had a phone conference with us to determine our interest. We helped them brainstorm the characters. Because of the timing, Craig was okay with the characters being anthropomorphic.

Originally, I think his idea was to have human character puppets. Making human puppets is a nightmare because they're usually too scary if they're realistic and too goofy if they're not. It's very difficult. So we were relieved when Craig green-lighted the animal characters. If you know Folkmanis, you know that we know animals!

Part One:


En Français: (Première partie) (Deuxième partie)

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