Classic kids TV producers Sid and Marty Krofft go to the dogs with ‘Mutt and Stuff’

Marty Krofft

Marty Krofft

By Randee Dawn

It was impossible to be a child in the 1970s and 1980s and not be aware of the live-action children’s programming brought to TV sets by the brother team of Sid and Marty Krofft. Puppeteers at heart, the Kroffts were the men behind TV gems like Land of the Lost, HR Pufnstuf, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, to name just a few. The budgets were small, the images trippy, the shows enduring. Now they’re back, with the new live-action kids show Mutt & Stuff premiering on Nickelodeon. Marty Krofft, now 78 (his brother is 85) spoke with Cynsiders about the show, how kids’ TV has changed – and also how it’s stayed the same.

Cynsiders: Do you get tired of hearing that your shows were cultural touchstones for a generation?
Marty Krofft: I usually say, if I had a dollar from everybody who said that to me, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. We’d like to get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest brothers who are producers. I’m serious, and I’m not. The thing is, we own all the shows we ever did. Everyone else who was making TV back then like Hanna-Barbera, they didn’t own their shows and now they’re [no longer making programs].

Cynsiders: How free were you to make your shows? Did you have a lot of network interference?
Krofft: Mostly we were left alone. Just like at Nickelodeon; they trust us, they loved the idea, and they picked us up. We know what we’re doing: We’ve got 23 dogs, two puppet cats and Cesar Millan’s son Calvin [Cesar is also an executive producer]. The show feels very special. I think creativity is the same all the time. You just go with the times and come up with a great idea and hire great people.

Cynsiders: What do you wish you could have done with your earlier shows that you weren’t able to?
Krofft: I think we did everything we wanted to do. We always complained that we didn’t have enough money, but you can’t make excuses.

Sid and Marty Krofft.

Sid and Marty Krofft.

Cynsiders: It’s been 20 years since you made any children’s television. Why come back now?
Krofft: The whole business changed 20 years ago. You couldn’t own your shows any more, and it was hard to do. I accept what it is now, and we wanted to do another one – not a reboot. Once the kids find the show, they’re going to hang in. Adults will also enjoy it.

Cynsiders: Is it a coincidence or planned that Mutt & Stuff sounds a bit like “Pufnstuf”?
Krofft: I think that’s a coincidence. Then again, I don’t know. Maybe a little bit on purpose. I got the idea when I heard that one of our agents represents Cesar Millan. And he has a kid, he’s 13, and hey, we could work this out. We did two pilots: One was 12 minutes, the second was a show they could air. They picked up the series from the first pilot.

Cesar Millan and son Calvin on the set of "Mutt & Stuff."

Cesar Millan and son Calvin on the set of “Mutt & Stuff.”

Cynsiders: Are kids different now from when you first started making TV for them?
Krofft: They are different. They’re more technological, with computers and cell phones. They’re different, but their interests are the same. They know the winners from the losers.

Cynsiders: What are you hoping kids get out of this show?
Krofft: Values and sharing. Basically, we’re entertainers. The values are what we teach, as opposed to educational things. I live in the present and I try to stay out of the future. If you’re in the moment you’re not in the past or the future. Kids are like that.

The Cynsiders column is a platform for industry leaders to reach out to colleagues, followers, and the public at large. In their own words and in targeted Q&As, columnists address breaking news, issues of the day, and the larger changes going on in the ever-evolving world of television, video and digital. Cynsiders columns live on Cynopsis’ main page and are promoted across all daily newsletters. We welcome readers’ comments, queries, and column ideas at RDawn (@) cynopsis.com

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