During early 1998, Animal Makers was fired and Chiodo Brothers hired instead. I therefore have two sections on this page, one for the new puppets and one for the originals.
The only information I have so far concerning the new Salem is from Paula Hart, the executive producer of STTW. She said:
We will fine tune the newest version until everyone is satisfied. The newest Salem can do many more fine movements than the last. Also the body is more cat like. The face is much more expressive. Also remember that the puppeteers have to learn how to work this cat. Right now, as we speak, Salem is undergoing adjustments.
You can get the latest info on the debate page.
I have yet to come into contact with anything substantial said by anybody at Chiodo Brothers.
Salem the animatronic cat was created in the Animal Makers shop in Newbury Park, California. When not in use it was stored there. The animatronic cat is used whenever the cat is talking or doing other, un-cat-like actions. Salem's first two puppet versions were built in three weeks at a cost of almost $100,000.
The puppets used in the second half of the first season were the result of the network's art direction. It would seem that people high up in Animal Makers disliked the look of these puppets but they had to serve the specific comments of ABC.
Two new puppets were created for season two.
For each Animal Makers version, Salem has existed in two flavours. One is sitting up and the other is lying down. The facial expressions are done with radio-animatronics; the tail and head movements are cable-control, and the body english is performed with animatronic-rod-controls (this is what Maury does, this is why she has to be "buried"). The lying puppet is used sparingly as a relief from the sitting position. It is rare to see this version, but it really helps to see him talk in different positions. He is usually eating and talking when you see him in this position. The sitting puppet offers ear movement as well as three separate talk actions in the mouth. His eyes blink but do not turn like his first version did.
The design crew photograph shows (left to right) Jim Greenall, Val Crawford, Jeff Cruts and Doug Hudson, with the two Version 3.0 puppets.
See also "how do you get Salem's mouth to move?" and "why did they change the looks of the cat on Sabrina?" in the Nick Bakay interview.
Source: Jim Boulden from Animal Makers, as well as their web site.
Jim Boulden was dismissed in February of 1998. He claims that he wanted more money for the puppets and that the Sabrina management refused. Paula Hart explained that in fact Jim Boulden was fired due to a lack of profesionalism regarding fellow actors and producers on his part.
The people at Animal Makers are very excited about the Salem puppets. Here are a few things Jim has said:
We are proud to have the industries leading animatronic designers, artists and puppeteers on board to make these amazing puppets.
We all are very proud of the new season. We even have Emmy dreams for Salem... the Synthespian!
According to Jim Boulden, head of Animal Makers, Jim Greenall (who also designed Salem), operates Salems' tail, ears and all of the rigging, Thomas Fountain (who is the lead puppeteer) does all the puppetteering for Salems face, talking etc..., and Maury Bernstein operates Salems' body. Maury is a very small woman and can fit in many places needed to operate salem. i.e: Maury can fit under the stage if Salem is sitting on the floor! Maury is active in a live comedy troupe in Hollywood.
The credits for episode #001, the pilot, list Jim Greenall, Jim Boulden, Thom Fountain and Sandey Grinn as the pupeteers. The other season one and early season two episodes merely credit Jim Boulden for the animatronics and say "Salem Animatronic Puppets by Animal Makers, Inc". Sandy Grinn was cast in another TV show and couldn't return to do any further episodes. This was apparently caused by an argument he had with Paula Hart (the producer), which rattled many bones in the Animal Makers upper levels for some time.
When Salem talks, Nick Bakay sits next to Thomas Fountain. Thomas then follows Nick's mouth while he is speaking.
Viacom has its lawyers calling me complaining that i have a small fan site for Salem. That I am infringing on their copyright somehow. [...] I'm going to shut it down, i think.").
Do you have more material? Pictures or sounds of Salem? Information? Corrections? Comments? Links? Please e-mail them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.