In a rapidly expanding children's television environment where the choices are becoming unlimited, Jim Martin is a professional with talent and experience in the areas of producing, writing, puppet performance and directing.
Whether giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Leonardo his facial expressions in the movies, bringing various Muppet characters to life on TV's Sesame Street, or delighting children of all ages with live performances of his own puppet company Pupplets, Jim Martin credentials have been growing for more than twenty years.
Jim Martin earned his Bachelors Degree in Directing and Acting from Point Park College in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The knowledge that he gained from his studies and the experience he accrued from directing his own puppet theater shows provided a strong background for when, through his role of puppet performer on The Puzzle Place, he got his first opportunity to direct a television episode. This achievement led to Jim Martin's enrollment in the prestigious Director's Guild of America. Since The Puzzle Place, Jim Martin has gone on to direct shows for Sesame Street, Elmo's World, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Between the Lions. Jim Martin's hard work and dedication to excellence was nationally recognized when he received the 2002 Emmy Award for Outstanding Direction in a Children's Series for his work on Sesame Street. On Sesame Street, Jim Martin is the only Director who is also a Muppeteer.
One of Jim Martin's proudest achievements was The Puzzle Place -- a daily half-hour national PBS series teaching multiculturalism, diversity and social skills -- and arguably the one which has most benefited from his puppet experience and expertise by serving as Director, Associate Producer, and Lead Puppet Performer. As Associate Producer, he supervised the 8 member performing group, acted as script consultant, coordinated stage direction by blocking shots in conjunction with the director, and also filled the duties of a principal puppet performer in the role of "Chief Piece Police" and "Ben."
The film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, afforded him the opportunity to acquire new state-of-the-art skills. Operating a complex radio control network, he provided all of Leonardo's mouth movements, dialogue and facial expressions in concert with the character's body language.
For more than a decade, Jim Martin has been involved in a variety of productions with Jim Henson's Muppets: making his film debut in Muppets Take Manhattan; puppeteering in television specials such as The Muppets at Walt Disney World, The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson, and The Muppets' 3-D Movie at Walt Disney World; appearing in an episode of The Cosby Show featuring Henson's furry characters, and the Muppet Saturday morning TV show Dog City; playing a major role in the Muppet home video, Billy Bunny and the Animal Songs; performing on the award-winning Jim Henson's Play Along Video Series, and in Muppet Meeting Films for use in corporate conferences. Jim Martin has also been involved with a variety of productions featuring the Sesame Street Muppets: directing and performing on Sesame Street, Elmo's World, and Sesame English and puppeteering in films such as Cinderelmo and Sesame 1-2-3D. Jim Martin also worked as a creative consultant on the original developmental team Big Bag, a show produced by The Children's Television Network in conjunction with the Cartoon Network. Through his achievements with the Muppets, Jim Martin has had the opportunity to work with such puppeteering notables as Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Kevin Clash, Jerry Nelson, and Caroll Spinney.
Jim Martin's artistry extends to producing and writing puppet shows for television. Not only was Jim Martin featured in the title role of Fox Television's The D.J. Kat Show, he also won the prestigious New York Broadcasters Award for Excellence in Children's Programming for both his years as producer-writer of the series. Jim Martin also co-produced the Emmy award-winning literacy special Milo's Secret for WMAR, Baltimore (NBC). He won the 13th Annual Telly Award for co-producing The Magical World of Herr's, an in-house video tour seen daily by thousands who visit the Herr Snack Food Factory in Nottingham, PA. From show concept to puppet creation and construction, from live promotional performances to final video package design, Jim Martin was instrumental in every segment of production.
As a performer, his puppeteering talents have been featured on a wide range of commercial, public and cable television projects including: Sesame Street, The Puzzle Place, Eureeka's Castle, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, Captain Kangaroo, The Great Space Coaster and the HBO comedy pilot Live from Planet Earth. Jim Martin launched his career on Pittsburgh's local TV programs The Cap'n Jim Show (NBC), The Most Important Person (CBS) and Adventure Time (ABC) -- as co-producer, writer, designer, puppet performer and actor.
Jim Martin has performed in numerous national and local television commercials as well, including spots for Franco American SpaghettiOs as Mr. SpaghettiO, Curex Medicated Powder, HESS Oil Co., Parker Brothers, Herr's Foods, Del Monte Tuna and Goldenflake Potato Chips. Jim Martin has carried his expertise into many corporate business venues as well, having performed in industrial events, most notably for Exxon Corp., U.S. Steel Corp., and Ingersoll-Rand Corp.
Design has been an integral part of Jim Martin's puppeteering success from the start. The most challenging design project was Audrey II -- the carnivorous plant in the Pittsburgh Playhouse staging of Little Shop of Horrors. Martin P. Robinson, the original puppet designer and performer on the off-Broadway production praised Jim Martin's work, saying "I thought I was looking at photos of my original plants in Little Shop of Horrors! Jim Martin's expertise in puppetry allowed them to move as well as mine."
Jim Martin enjoys projects that bring him one-on-one with people. This attraction to exchanging ideas with others has led him to teach puppet design and building at various tri-state colleges, including the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. At this institute, Jim Martin had one of his most rewarding teaching experiences by co-producing a national television commercial utilizing student talent from the Industrial Design Department.
Recently, Jim Martin brought his creativity and talents to Seoul, Korea where he puppeteered a cantankerous cat named Kip for House of Tales. This new television show is the creation of an emerging Korean production company, Appletree Edutainment, whose focus is to teach English to Korean children with the philosophy that Koreans who learn English when they are young will be better able to compete in the international business marketplaces of the future. Currently, Jim Martin is in development with Appletree Edutainment writing and creating a live stage show, and also working as a creative consultant for their television show.
During the past several years, through his own company, Pupplets, Jim Martin has devoted many hours to community service through organizations such as the American Heart Association, Easter Seals and the Children with Aids Awareness groups. "I love the variety in what I do." He states. "It's always a challenge, never boring, and enables me to work with many interesting and talented people."
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