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Night & Day: Puppeteer makes cut on Syfy show

  • Alexis “Lex” Rudd

One can only wonder what Dr. Frankenstein would come up with, faced with grueling deadlines and sizzling competition from nine equally talented and determined Frankensteins.

It's an experiment currently under way on the Syfy network. Take 10 “creature makers,” stick them in the dream environment of Jim Henson's world-renowned “Creature Shop” and task them with fabricating the most wildly imaginative and elaborate monsters possible and then get them to perform live. Only in the spoof “Young Frankenstein” did the crazed doctor's creature ever have to perform.

Lex Rudd, a 35-year-old pro puppeteer and “creature maker” from Guerneville, was plucked from a big pool of contestants to compete on an 8-week reality show, “Jim Henson's Creature Challenge.”

Rudd survived Episode 1 last Tuesday. But she's contractually sworn to silence on how she fared in a series of elaborate challenges to win a prize worth up to $100,000 and a chance for a fantasy gig in Henson's Creature Shop.

“It was probably the hardest I've ever worked. And the amount of time they give — you can't even possibly imagine making something like that in that period of time,” she said.

“But it was very exciting and very cool working in the actual Jim Henson Creature Shop, with all its history. We couldn't even stop to breathe and a lot of days wouldn't even eat. They'd bring us food but we wouldn't have the time. We were all trying to impress the judges.”

The panel was headed by Brian Henson, who now heads the Jim Henson Company.

“Brian has a really good eye and he will pick up on stuff you don't want him to pick up on. But he's very fair about it,” said the British-born Rudd.

After earning a degree in engineering, she joined a special effects company and now has her own studio. She did work for Terry Gilliam's “The Brothers Grimm” and the comedy short, “The Life of Leopold” and hopes her turn on reality TV will lead to opportunities.

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