Sunday, September 26, 2010

Swazzle/Chiodo Bros/Simpsons/Katy Perry

Katy Perry and the Simpsons

Thanks to another collaboration between The Chiodo Brothers and Swazzle the Simpsons will be puppets this December, and they are joined by pop-superstar Katy Perry.

It seems Elmo is not Katy Perry's only puppet pal. In a very special Christmas episode of the Simpsons, Katy Perry goes down in history as the first human to guest star on the show.

Swazzle created the puppets, and provided all of the puppeteers. The Chiodo Brothers produced the puppet segment, and Stephen Chiodo directed. Puppeteers: Sean Johnson, Patrick Johnson, Artie Esposito, Russ Walko, and Brett O'Quinn.

The Simpsons puppets were first announced at the Simpson's panel and Comic-con, where they screened a short clip for a couple thousand fans. EW gives you a first look:

Katy Perry to guest star on 'The Simpsons'! Here's your exclusive first look...
by Dan Snierson

Simpsons-Katy-PerryImage Credit: FoxIt looks like Katy Perry will get to sing with a puppet on TV after all. Although Sesame Street has decided that Perry’s “Hot N Cold” duet with Elmo is too hot for TV, The Simpsons is rolling out the yellow carpet for the pop star. has learned that Perry will guest in a Christmas-themed episode of the animated comedy—and in an unusual way: She appears as herself in a live-action segment that features Simpsons characters as puppets. “In the wake of Elmo’s terrible betrayal, the Simpsons puppets wish to announce they stand felt-shoulder-to-shoulder with Katy Perry,” quipped series executive producer Al Jean in a statement to Not only does the singer wind up leading Homer & Co. in a rendition of “The 39 Days of Christmas,” she plays the unlikely role of… Moe’s girlfriend! Yes, from Elmo to Moe she goes. (And as you can see in the picture above, her sartorial selection for this gig probably wouldn’t have been Street-approved either: The PBS show announced on Sept. 23 that it wouldn’t air Perry’s performance after previewing it on YouTube and receiving complaints about her cleavage-revealing outfit. By the way, her Simpsons bit was shot in mid-September, prior to the fuss.) Perry, the musical guest on Saturday Night Live tonight, won’t be the only celebrity gracing this Simpsons episode; Martha Stewart also pops up, but in cartoon form. “The Fight Before Christmas” airs Dec. 5 on Fox.

This video was captured during the Simpsons panel at Comic-con this past summer.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Swazzle Casting NY Puppeteers

Swazzle is casting NY/Tri-State Area hand and rod puppeteers for a live show that will premiere at FAO Schwarz on 5th Avenue beginning in September. The show will be promoting the "Juno Baby" brand, which is a series of children's DVD's featuring a cast of puppets who teach the wonders of music. Performances will take place over four Saturdays in September, with 3 to 4 rehearsal days in late August/ early September. Applicants must be available for all performance and rehearsal days. The number of shows per day has yet to be decided.

Due to the short lead time, there will be no auditions, instead please send your resume and/or links to your reels to Artie Esposito at .

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swazzle and Chiodo Bros Bring Simpsons to Life as Puppets

For the first time in their long history, The Simpsons will be brought to life as puppets, thanks to Swazzle, and The Chiodo Brothers. See the puppet Simpsons this December during the 2010 Christmas episode.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Special Preview at Comic-Con Saturday!

Recently Swazzle teamed up with the Chiodo Brothers to help create a super cool puppet project that will be previewed at Comic-Con during a panel this Saturday. Unfortunately, since it hasn't been officially announced yet, I can't even tell you which panel to go to - because that would be too much of a give away.

Once it's announced, I'll be able to share more info. In the mean time, enjoy Comic-Con.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pee-wee Bound for Broadway

Pee-wee Herman poses with the Swazzle puppeteers

I'm sure you've heard the amazing news that The Pee-wee Herman Show is headed to Broadway. Working with our good friends The Chiodo Brothers, Swazzle built nearly 20 puppets for the show which originally opened at Club Nokia this past January.

The puppet build was challenging. It took lot's of skill and innovation to recreate such playhouse favorites as Pterri, Pee-wee's flying pterodactyl, Pee-wee's talking map shaped clock, Clocky, The Flowers, The Fish and more.

Just about every puppetry discipline was utilized - hand puppets, rod puppets, marionettes and more.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to give you an exclusive behind the scenes look at the creation of the puppets from The Pee-wee Herman Show...'re welcome :)

Swazzle on


Once again Swazzle was featured on Check out the link to our new demo reel here.

The demo reel features behind the scenes photos and video from The Pee-wee Herman Show (which is on it's way to Broadway!), The Japanese Subaru commercial we worked on with our friends, The Chiodo Brothers, and more! Check it out and share it with your friends.

BTW, don't forget to "like" the video and leave us a comment.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Team Smithereen is on the Air!

We just learned that Team Smithereen, the crazy stunt puppet show from The Dan Clark Company and W!ldbrain is hitting the air waves. You can catch all new Team Smithereen episodes every Saturday at 9:00 am on Disney XD during the Shortstop.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Japanese Subaru Commercial Behind the Scenes Photos


See behind the scenes photos from the commercial Swazzle worked on with the Chido Brothers. The Chiodo Brothers produced and designed the puppets, Swazzle made the otters, camel, whale, and jellyfish, and costume shop Alex in Wonderland made the lion suits.

You can see the photos here, and watch the commercials here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Puppeteer needed for Swazzle’s Bay Area tour

Date: Monday, May 3, 2010
Location: TBD

Swazzle is seeking a puppeteer to perform the live puppet show Water Color at libraries in the San Francisco Bay Area. The 45-minute show will be presented during June and July as entertainment for the libraries’ summer reading programs.

Water Color is a large-scale puppet show featuring a cast of light-up hand puppets and shadow puppets. Applicants must display good manipulation and be able to perform a wide range of character voices.

The puppeteer will be required to transport the show to the venue; interact with the client and the public in a professional manner; and set up, perform and break down the show. There may be multiple performances per day.

The puppeteer will be paid a flat fee per show.

To schedule an audition please send an e-mail to and put “audition” in the subject line.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

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Swazzle Creates Puppets for Japanese Subaru Commercial

Swazzle puppets

Swazzle had teamed up with the Chiodo Brothers to make puppets for two Japanese Subaru commercials. Working from designs by Charlie Chiodo, Swazzle's team of talented builders created five full body puppets for the spots.

The two 15 second commercials were shot in Japan, and Swazzle sent eight highly skilled puppeteers overseas to work on the spots.

The puppets including two otters, a jellyfish, a camel, and a whale were mostly shot against green screen and the puppeteers were removed in post. In some shots, the puppets were shot in the car and on a live set, and the rods and puppeteers were painted out.

The finished commercials were just posted online and you can view them here.

The site is in Japanese, so to find the videos click on the third pink button. You'll find links to the videos in the bottom left corner. The top left image links to the two commercials, the image next to it links to an extended web only version. Below those are links to behind the scenes videos.

We've also posted behind the scenes photos on the Swazzle Facebook page.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Swazzle puppeteers and Pee-wee Herman

Pee-wee Herman and the Swazzle puppeteers from The Pee-wee Herman Show.

The Swazzle puppeteers hang with Pee-wee Herman on the set of the new Pee-wee Herman Show now playing at Club Nokia.

From left to right: Victoria Johnson (Magic Screen), Erik Kuska (Clocky, Mr. Window), Artie Esposito (Chairry), Pee-wee Herman (Himself), Haley Jenkins (Flowers, Ginger), Sean Johnson (Pterri, Randy, Shamwow), Russ Walko (Conky), Patrick Johnson (Globy, Pterri), Carla Rudy (Pterri, Randy, Mr. Window).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Populating Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Swazzle creates 19 puppets for Pee-wee Herman’s triumphant return


Populating Pee-wee’s Playhouse: Swazzle creates 19 puppets for
Pee-wee Herman’s triumphant return

LOS ANGELES, CA – January 18, 2010 – Glendale, CA-based puppet company Swazzle has re-created many of the classic puppet characters from Pee-wee’s Playhouse and built a handful of new puppets for The Pee-wee Herman Show, now playing at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles. Directed by Obie Award winner Alex Timbers and starring Paul Reubens, Lynne Stewart, John Paragon and Phil LaMarr, the stage show reunites Pee-wee Herman with many of his puppet pals from the hit television series Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

That show was appointment television for Swazzle Creative Directors Sean and Patrick Johnson as kids, so when they learned of plans for a stage show, the brothers jumped at the chance to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime production. Swazzle’s team worked with design consultant Jimmy Cuomo and puppet producers The Chiodo Brothers to build Clockey, Randy, the Flowers, the Fish, Pterri, ShamWow and Cowboy Curtis’ horse, Ginger. “Working on this show is a dream come true. When I was 9 years old watching Pee-wee’s Playhouse, I never dreamed that I would get to work with Pee-wee Herman one day,” says Patrick.

The Pee-wee Herman Show features hand puppets, rod puppets, marionettes and walk-around costumes, and each posed unique building challenges. Sean, Patrick and fellow puppet builders Russ Walko and Artie Esposito worked round the clock carving foam, dyeing fleece, and stitching Spandex to complete the puppets on a demanding schedule.

The marionettes proved to be particularly challenging. For example, Pterri the Pterodactyl has to fly in from the ceiling, swoop around the room, and crash-land—a vertical distance of more than 20 feet. Swazzle relied on the advice of UNIMA-award winning puppetry consultant Basil Twist, whose idea for a split controller was essential to pulling off the stunt.

In addition to building 19 puppets for The Pee-wee Herman Show, Swazzle provided all of the puppeteers. Working as Puppeteer Coordinator, Sean assembled a team whose combined credits include work for The Jim Henson Company, The Walt Disney Company, the Muppets and the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. “The puppetry in the show is challenging,” says Sean. “I worked from the top of my list to pull in the most talented puppeteers in Los Angeles.”

Because so many different forms of puppetry are employed in the show, puppeteers are hidden everywhere—behind, beneath, on and high above the stage. Several of the characters are performed by multiple puppeteers, who trade off or work together depending on the puppet’s location and method of operation. At one point in the show, five puppeteers work together to perform Pterri as he crash-lands as a marionette and pops up as a hand puppet.

In addition to Sean Johnson (Pterri, Randy, ShamWow, the Fish, Mr. Knucklehead) and Patrick Johnson (Globey, Pterri, Mr. Knucklehead), the show features the puppetry of Artie Esposito (Chairry), Russ Walko (Conky), Carla Rudy (Pterri, Randy, ShamWow, Mr. Window, Mr. Knucklehead), Victoria Johnson (Magic Screen), Haley Jenkins (Ginger, Pterri, the Flowers, Mr. Knucklehead, Magic Screen), and Erik Kuska (Clockey, Mr. Window, Mr. Knucklehead).

Swazzle’s team members have spent years honing their puppet-building and performing skills in live puppet shows for libraries and schools, along with stage and screen projects for clients like Patton Oswalt, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, W!ldbrain/The Dan Clark Company, and Overbrook Entertainment. The Pee-wee Herman Show is the next leap forward for this young puppet company as it continues to develop and expand.

About Swazzle

Founded in 2004 by twin brothers Sean and Patrick Johnson, Swazzle is a Glendale, CA-based company specializing in puppetry for film, television and the stage. Together with their troupe of professional puppeteers they have performed hundreds of shows in venues across California.

Sean and Patrick have worked with leading children’s entertainment companies including The Jim Henson Company, PBS Kids Sprout, The Walt Disney Company and The Baby Einstein Company. They also teach puppetry technique to actors and comedians from The Groundlings for The Jim Henson Company.

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Media Contacts:

Sean Johnson