Jeff Piccirillo/Mr. Pickles [Jim Carrey] with Viva Lost Pages, a new puppet for his long-running beloved children’s show Mr. Pickles’ Puppet Time... All of the puppets are based on real people in his life. You’ll learn more about Viva’s touching story further in the gallery...
Jeff’s sister is the puppet maker for his show, which has been running for 30 years on Public Access TV. Diers et cie established two different workrooms for her, the one at the studio, and a more personal one at her home. He reveals...
“Artist/Set Dresser Paula Zimmerman [pictured] spent more than a week working at Deirdre's worktable. We wanted the keep mess Paula made on the table and floor to ensure that we achieved a true artist’s presence in Deirdre's home workroom. We used odd vintage bins, baskets, lunch boxes, and many handmade pieces to create the character and backstory of the space...”
“Jeff introducing Vivian to her puppet namesake ‘Viva Lost Pages’. She is the Librarian who seems to have a knack for losing the pages to books. A metaphor for Vivian's limited time to finish her life story...”
The show gets a reprieve and is back after having been canceled in its 30th Season! And there’s a special guest for the first episode of the 31st Season... Ariana Grande as Picola Grande, The Pickle Fairy of Hope...
Don & team jumped into the “origin” story aspect...
“This is creative young Jeff's first version of ‘Pickle Barrel Falls’. He has the ‘Town Square’ with the fountain in a ‘70's parfait cup. The Lego cactus of ‘Confettii Canyon’ is on the right. Top right corner, on a mantle shelf sits a rocket ship top...Aston-Otter's, perhaps?”
“Here's young Jeff's version of ‘Secret Chef's Castle' made of white bread, with the entrance flanked by cutlery. Pasta and peanuts were used to create the ‘Pickle Barrel Falls’. This was scripted set dressing created by Paula Zimmerman under Production Designer Max Orgell's instructions, in addition to vintage fabrics, furniture and props I found...”
Jeff and Deidre’s father, Seb [Frank Langella], is the Producer of the show...and of all things Mr. Pickles-related. There is a constant disconnect between him and his son about the branding and merchandizing. His son feels it’s ethically challenging. The father sees it as finance and power-making. Ethics are for his son to deal with...
Diers team procured and created all of the merchandize, including: Secret Chef kitchen toys, Sy the Fly crayons, Snaggle Horse baby powder and diapers, along with Mr. Pickle mugs and lunchboxes, etc. Scripted Sy the Fly mirror has place of honor on the wall...
In Season 2, Deirdre, as the new producer, has taken over Seb’s old office and made it a point to erase everything of his. The only thing that remains in this stark white universe is the merchandise. Don says, “Visible toys and products from previous seasons we created: Pickle pens, Oops tops, and even Green rock candy as Pickle-flavored rock candy! Graphic Designer Diane Chadwick created the ‘Talking to Children’ book in Season 1...”
“Deirdre's living room is full of handmade crafts and art. We used strong patterns and warm colors to express her bohemian spirit. The turkey-hands were created as if by her daughter Maddy for the Thanksgiving episode...”
“Victorian headboard used as bulletin board. We created puppets to convey Deirdre's history. Most of these puppets & puppet sketches are by set dresser/artist Paula Zimmerman. We added in many handmade elements and a wide-ranging warm palette...”
Deirdre’s home workshop/studio, Mother/daughter time...
“We wanted to visually break up the plane of windows with stained glasswork and shadow puppets. Maddy also gets crafty in the workroom...”
Watch the interview below, where Don explains the importance of having her home workshop being more personal and visually different than the one at work, not only to convey more of her world, but also when there are closeups, to know which space she's in...
“Near the Ohio State campus – kind of reverting to his life before he & Jill got married, a kind of safe place for him. There are multiple layers of symbolism in this “Magic Show” kit that he gives his surviving twin son Will...”
For more details & revelations, watch the great interview below!
“Here we are with a motif we sort of repeat in the show about identity, or about parallel identities...of twins...and of knowing who you are... Of course, when you do a liver transplant, you have both beds in here, so we designed that to be absolutely symmetrical, but then we have the magical realism when he’s in that dreamlike state and the walls suddenly start to fall away and nature encroaches...we end up in a “real” Pickle Barrel Falls waterfall and lake...”
Note: Watch Don’s interview below for more in depth about this magical realism and where it leads!
Don notes, “Just one of the many swing sets from Season 2... Here, a custom painting I commissioned to express the joy of skating for the Olympic Gold Medalist, the youngest skater to ever win the Gold. The clock is a featured prop we created. It includes her photo and an ice skate finial...”
“I was so excited to find this vintage Soviet gas pump at an antique mall! My Leadman Ken Turek and the crew dropped load after load of concrete debris on top of ‘Croatian’ streets to re-create the visual carnage we viewed in our research...”
But wait, there’s more! Watch Don’s interview below!
Don Diers, Hopscotch the Sasquatch. Photo courtesy DD/Showtime.
In his first series regular role in over two decades, Jim Carrey stars as Jeff, aka Mr. Pickles, an icon of children’s television and a beacon of kindness and wisdom to America’s impressionable young minds and the parents who grew up with him. But when this beloved personality's family begins to implode, Jeff finds no fairy tale, fable or puppet will guide him through the crisis, which advances faster than his means to cope. The result: a kind man in a cruel world faces a slow leak of sanity as hilarious as it is heartbreaking. --Showtime
Jim Carry shares,
“What I really like about this whole project is that no matter how bad things may look, there’s an innocence inside us that can never be destroyed. It’s always there...Jeff Pickles is a gentleman who has raised everybody’s kids for 30 years. He’s reached out through the medium of television to love people.”
But, as the series Creator Dave Holstein points out in a KCRW interview,
“He’s the kindest man alive and a ticking time bomb at the same time...
At the heart of the show is a father who loses one of his identical twin boys, and is, in a way, stuck with the “ghost” of the deceased child around all the time.” [Editor’s note: The remaining twin realizes that now when people look at him, they often see both him and his dead brother.]
Dave adds, “...The show deals a lot with identity and duality...Something I came across when researching grief, is that there is a direct line from grief to identity crisis. When someone dies, you ask yourself, ‘Well who am I now?’”
Set Decorator Don Diers SDSA and his inimitable team* collaborated deeply with Production Designer Maxwell Orgell and his teams, Props, Graphic Design, Costume departments and puppeteers to help explore this existential question visually, creating a range of environments, from stage to personal, including some fabulous magical realism!
Don gives fascinating details in the video interview here, which include:
... “The aspect of Magical Realism universe as mystery and almost a powerful spiritual force. The boy is into Magic and shares these concepts with his stoner friends. The writers provide us with an environment to believe in magic in life’s tragedy...”
...In Season 1, twin houses next door to each other. Jeff buys the one next to his ex-wife’s house to attempt maintain the life he had. But it’s only a mirror reflection, an empty shadow of his life before the death of the twin...
... Deirdre’s two Puppet workshops as a device to highlight her conflict. Her Identity as a sister, friend, coworker, creative partner etc to Jeff...and major changes in her life and home in Season 2...
... Almost identical Mr. Pickles Puppet Time sets in different countries...so many parallels and visual twinning throughout the series...
...The Mr. Pickles Puppet Time set reflecting Jeff & Deirdre’s childhood home...
...So many intentional “compare and contrast” elements...and Easter Eggs!!
Interview with Set Decorator Don Diers SDSA, held at R.C. Vintage prop house:
Head Buyer Christine Staggs encapsulates the Season 2 experience:
"...A season with much larger sets, requiring larger crew and to work with special effects to configure some scenes. We had sets that were constantly moving characters and viewers between real time, imaginary worlds, and even international settings, with flashbacks and puppet sequences. At times, that meant a combo of stage and location for the same set/scene. We were constantly trying to weave these together, i.e. the ICU with partial wall filmed at the lake, and some of the art piece in the hospital in real time were echoing the imagery of the lake. Writers explored deeper the intricacy of duality when faced with changes in life which we reflected in some sets such as Deirdre’s new office and her now ex-husband’s house."
An example is this set change to reveal a person’s evolution over 5 years from meth junkie to going clean to finding and defining herself. And it was filmed in a non-stop sequence, which has gone viral on YouTube: CLICK HERE for Shaina's Apartment sequence shoot!
Don and team focused on finding not only signature pieces to enable the viewer to quickly define the changes, but also lightweight and easily movable for that extremely fast, choreographed turn around.
So, check out the gallery above, with special notes from Don...plus a cameo of guest Arian Grande as the Pickle Fairy of Hope...
...and the on-camera interview with Don...
...and the fun viral set change...
*Set Decorator Don Diers SDSA would like to acknowledge his incomparable crew, particularly:
Leadman Ken Turek
Head Buyer Christine Staggs
Buyer Assistant Danny Diamond SDSA Associate, Season 2
Art Department Coordinator Michelle Thieme, Season 1
Art Department Coordinator Lisa Parker, Season 2
OnSet Dresser Tim Gideon, Season 1
OnSet Dresser Austin Randoph, Season 2
Artist/Set Dresser Paula Zimmerman
Gang Boss Eddie Tamayo, Season 1
Gang Boss Phil Bufano, Season 2
...And his great resources, especially the following SDSA Business Members: Art:
Chris Art Resource
Enchanted Studio Props
Hollywood Cinema Arts
Hollywood Studio Gallery Medical:
Alpha Companies Motion Picture Rentals
A-1 Medical Integration Scott’s Mansion:
Objects Assorted sets:
Advanced Liquidators Office Furniture
Dina Art Company
History for Hire
Lennie Marvin’s Propheaven
PSW/Props Services West
Sandy Rose Floral, Inc
Sony Pictures Studios