Question: I was recently rewatching the seasons of The Larry Sanders Show when I couldn't help but notice how many of the featured celebrity guests had tragically passed away — all well before their time — in the decade since the series came to a close. (It was especially difficult seeing Chris Farley do what he did best.) One particular instance of the "show-within-a-show" had John Ritter, Gene Siskel and Warren Zevon appearing as guests on the same night. I know it's a grim topic, but I wanted to ask if you had a particular fallen star from recent memory whose work is never too far from your mind (including the work they might have gone on to do)? I know Bernie Mac will always be at the top of my list.
Answer: It's sad when any of these great talents die, but isn't it good to know that TV will always keep their legacies from being forgotten? No question that Bernie Mac was taken too soon, and John Ritter is another very poignant example. But for me, when I think about TV personalities who I miss who had a profound influence on me both personally and professionally, I always find myself going to Jim Henson (and seeing him pop up in a recent commercial, I forget for what, brought him to mind as well). I met him a number of times early in my career, and his graciousness and gentleness and the pure joy he took in the creative process I always found inspiring. (Visiting the Muppet workshop and Henson's main offices remain career highlights.) He accomplished quite a lot in his 50-plus years, but I've always wondered what marvels he still had up his copious sleeve.