Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Press Release: A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER at St. Paul the Apostle


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at St. Paul the Apostle

Holiday Special Airs on CBS Television Network December 24, 11:35 pm eastern/pacific and 10:35 pm central
Special to Include Bible Passages Read by Regis Philbin & Dramatized by Puppet Performers Inspired by work created by the late Jane Henson as well as Performances by Heather Henson, The Fordham University Choir, the National Children’s Chorus and the St. Paul the Apostle Choir

New York, New York (December 3, 2013)--The TV holiday special A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER at St. Paul the Apostle, presented as a service of Lessons and Carols from The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Manhattan, will be part of the Christmas Eve services at the church and air nationally December 24 at 11:35 pm eastern/pacific and 10:35 pm central on CBS. Regis Philbin will proclaim the Bible passages of the birth of Jesus as dramatized by the puppet characters created by the late Jane Henson. Originally named Nativity Story, the performance has delighted audiences since 2008 and is produced and funded by daughters Cheryl Henson and Heather Henson.

Throughout the hour-long special, Philbin will tell Biblical stories intercut with performances by Heather Henson, The Fordham University Choir, The National Children’s Chorus and the St. Paul The Apostle Choir.

A NEW YORK CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER at St. Paul the Apostle is a joint production of The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Paulist Productions, and Scott Mirkin
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Productions. Rev. Gilbert Martinez, C.S.P., Marybeth Sprows, Rev. Eric Andrews, C.S.P. and Scott Mirkin will serve as Executive Producers. John P. Blessington is the Executive Producer for CBS. This show is made possible in part through a grant from the William R. Payden Philanthropic Fund in memory of Bill Payden. Funding for the puppet performances comes from The Jane Henson Foundation, Heather Henson (President of the Jane Henson Foundation and CEO IBEX, Inc.), Cheryl Henson (President of The Jim Henson Foundation) from the Henson family, and The Jim Henson Foundation. Puppets built by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop.

Background Profiles

The Church of St. Paul the Apostle:
Located near Lincoln Center on Manhattan’s West Side, the Parish of St. Paul the Apostle began years before the present church was built. It was founded at the same time the Paulist Fathers started in 1858. New York was a rapidly growing city of immigrants arriving by the hundreds every day from Europe. The present church was dedicated in 1858. Today, St. Paul’s is a vibrant, growing, and welcoming parish. It is well known for its outreach to West Side.

Paulist Productions:
Founded in 1960 by the late Fr. Ellwood “Bud” Kieser, Paulist Productions is an independent nonprofit organization that creates uplifting and inspirational content for all platforms. Throughout its fifty-year history Paulist Productions have aired on ABC, CBS, A&E, the History channel, the Hallmark Channel, among others. Paulist Productions has won numerous awards including six Emmys®, the Christopher Award, five Gabriel Awards and the Toronto International Film Festival Award. Recently, Paulist Productions co-produced two new films:
Christmas for a Dollar and The Town that Came A-Courtin’. Both movies will appear on UP TV (formerly known as GMC/Gospel Music Channel) this winter.
Scott Mirkin Productions:
Scott Mirkin Productions is a nationally recognized live event, design and media production company. Scott Mirkin Productions has been at the helm of some of the highest profile events and live TV productions in the United States including the VH1 Philly Fourth of July Jam and An Evening with James Taylor – celebrating 120 years of Carnegie Hall. From concept to completion, Scott Mirkin Productions delivers results on stage, on screen and online.

The Jane Henson Foundation:
The Jane Henson Foundation was founded in 2010 by Jane Henson to provide financial support to not for profit organizations that enhance and improve the quality of services offered by education, performing and creative arts and related groups.
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The Jim Henson Foundation:
The Jim Henson Foundation was founded in 1982 by Jim Henson to promote and develop the art of puppetry. Each year the Foundation introduces thousands of adults and families to the magic of puppet theater through grant-making and public awareness efforts. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than 675 grants to more than 300 American puppet artists for the creation and development of new work.

Jim Henson’s Creature ShopTM:
Jim Henson’s Creature ShopTM provides performed digital visual effects, animatronic creatures, animation and soft puppets to the international film, television and advertising industries. Based in Los Angeles and New York with satellite shop capabilities internationally, the Shop is known for designing and building some of the world’s best- known characters including the
Sesame Street puppets, the classic Muppets, the dinosaurs from Dinosaurs, the aliens from Farscape and the fantastical creature from The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Other feature credits include Where the Wild Things Are, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Five Children and It. The Shop is also known for its live performance work with artists like Cee Lo Green, Kayne West, Lady Gaga, and Deadmau 5. A recipient of more than 9 Emmy Awards® for its outstanding work building puppets for Sesame Street, the Shop also received an Academy Award® for its visual effects work on the film Babe. Other awards include a Scientific and Engineering Academy Award® for the Henson Performance Control System, a powerful custom-based interface for puppeteers, and an Emmy Award® for its work in developing the Henson Digital Performance Studio, a patented control system technology that enables puppeteers to physically perform a computer generated (CG) character in real time.

IBEX Puppetry:
Heather Henson's IBEX Puppetry promotes health and healing for the planet through artistic spectacle, discussion, and devotion to the fine art of puppetry wrought by independent artists all around our world. Founded in 2000 and receiving multiple UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette) awards since its inception, IBEX Puppetry supports puppet art in the mediums of film, stage, gallery exhibits, workshops, and artist presentations.

National Children's Chorus:
America's leading youth choral institution, the National Children’s Chorus (NCC), trains students from more than 60 schools in Los Angeles and New York who meet weekly for rehearsal and musicianship study. The NCC provides musically talented children with first-rate vocal training and an unparalleled musicianship curriculum. Each child, regardless of prior education or financial background, is given the opportunity to develop his or her vocal skills from the most basic concepts through the college level. Expert instructors work to cultivate tone quality, breath support, and musical expression within the individual singers, while working together as an ensemble culminates in world-class performances. For more information please visit
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Jane Henson’s Nativity Story Background:

Jane Henson, the wife of Jim Henson and co-creator of the original Muppets, was also an accomplished ceramicist, painter, and puppeteer. Throughout her life she was inspired by the classic story of the birth of Christ. The genesis of this version of the Nativity Story began 12 years ago. At that time, Jane was studying sacred art at Catholic University and was particularly interested in both written and visual depictions of the birth of Jesus Christ, including those three-dimensional Nativity scenes whose appearance in medieval Europe is traditionally credited to St. Francis of Assisi. Her long association with puppetry and her Catholic background made the idea of a Christmas crèche, with figures that “come to life,” attractive to her.

In early 2008, Jane Henson put her vision into action and called like minds together, notably Sean Keohane, Director of Pinocchio’s Marionette Theater near Orlando, to create a new show that could tour churches. “Probably Episcopal churches,” Jane said, adding, “We’ll never get puppets in the Catholic Church.”

Her daughter Heather Henson’s own company IBEX Puppetry designed and built the set, Jane Henson sculpted the heads for the puppets and oversaw their design as Jim Henson’s Creature Shop built and costumed each unique character. After a successful workshop performance at the National Puppetry Conference in 2009, the Nativity Story played several times at Pinocchio’s Marionette Theater, always to sold-out houses, and went on to tour churches and schools in Central Florida.

Following her funeral in early April 2013, Father Eric Andrews, C.S.P., President of Paulist Productions and a Jim Henson Company Alum, approached Cheryl and Heather Henson with the opportunity to showcase the Nativity Story during CBS’s annual Christmas Eve Prayer Service. The holiday special will honor the legacy and artistry of their amazing Mother.

For the upcoming national broadcast Christmas Eve, new puppets have been added to the cast, including shepherds, sheep, a bowing donkey, and an endearing baby Jesus in the manger. Television personality Regis Philbin will proclaim the scripture as the nativity scenes come to life through Jane’s puppets. The Nativity Story will be performed at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Columbus Circle, the mother church of the Paulist Fathers. A Catholic Church! Jane would be most pleased.

CHRISTMAS FOR A DOLLAR ratings hit on UP Television Network!

The Sunday, December 15th premiere of CHRISTMAS FOR A DOLLAR on the UP Television Network was the highest rated movie premiere of all times for the cable channel formerly known as the Gospel Music Channel.

If you missed it, there is still a chance to watch. It re-airs: Dec 19 at 7 pm, Dec 22 at 5 pm and 11:20 pm, Dec 24 at 12 noon, Dec. 27th at 9 am and 9 pm. UP is Dish Network Ch 188, DirecTV Ch 338, Verizon Fios Ch 224. And go to to see what channel UP is on your local cable provider.

Dorothy Day Screening a big success!

Check out the Catholic New York article on our screening of Dorothy Day:,10151

Monday, November 11, 2013


We are excited to announce that our co-production Christmas For A Dollar will premiere on UP Television on Sunday, December 15th at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

UP Television, Formerly known as the Gospel Music Channel (GMC), is America's favorite channel for uplifting music and family entertainment.  UP TV can be seen in more than 58 million homes on various cable systems around the country, as well as DISH Network on channel 188, DIRECTV on Channel 338, and Verizon FiOS on channel 224.

Christmas for a Dollar enjoyed a limited theatrical release in the Salt Lake City area on the weekend of Nov. 1 and is now available on DVD!

To order your own DVD, go to:

Friday, June 7, 2013


The independent feature THE TOWN THAT CAME A-COURTIN'  a Paulist Pictures co-production with Odyssey Media and Cartel Entertainment is in final preparations for shooting in Canada in July 2013.  The movie, based on the book by Ronda Rich, is a delightful romantic comedy about an entire town that courts a visiting author on behalf of their dashing, widower mayor will be released early 2014.


A special screening of Entertaining Angels:  The Dorothy Day Story to promote the sainthood cause of Dorothy Day is scheduled for Monday, October 28th at the Academy Screening Room at Lighthouse International in New York City.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan is scheduled to attend.  For more info, contact us at


On behalf of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City, Paulist Productions in association with ESM Productions will produce a Christmas Eve Special for the CBS Television Network.  The one hour special of Bible Lessons and Christmas Carols will air nationally on December 24th at 11:35 p.m. EST.  A performance of Nativity Puppets created by the late Jane Henson and her daughter Heather Henson will be featured.  Narration will be provided by television personality Regis Philbin.  Noted talent from Broadway and Lincoln Center are scheduled to appear as well.

This prayer service will be pre-recorded on Thursday, December 5th at St. Paul the Apostle Church, the mother church of the Paulist Fathers, located at Columbus Avenue and 60th Street.  For more information regarding tickets to this event, contact St. Paul the Apostle at 212 265-3495.