By CYNTHIA LITTLETON
Behind the scenes of a late night talk show was a natural setting for a next-generation Muppets TV series, producers of ABC's The Muppets told reporters earlier this week during the Television Critics Association press tour in the US.
Bill Prady and Bob Kushell, executive producers of ABC's The Muppets, said the series would have a mockumentary flavour and revolve around the backstage antics at Up Late With Miss Piggy, as well as the personal lives of Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzie Bear and other beloved Muppet characters.
The show will incorporate celebrity and musical guests through the prism of their appearances Miss Piggy's late night programme. Reese Witherspoon and Imagine Dragons are among the guests lined up so far. But it will not be a straight-ahead variety show like the previous Muppet Show from the 1970s, although it will have the same irreverent tone of poking fun at pop culture.
"The goal here is to be exactly the same and completely different," Prady joked. "We will honour The Muppet Show (legacy) more rigorously than has been done before but at the same time do something contemporary."
The panel session also featured Kermit and Miss Piggy, who kept reporters laughing with their banter. The big news of the morning was that Kermit and Miss Piggy have split up, even though Kermit remains an exec producer of her latenight show. ABC went so far as to release a statement about the breakup. (Prady stirred the pot by noting that Kermit is now dating a pig who works in marketing at ABC.)
"After careful thought, thoughtful consideration and considerable squabbling, we have made the difficult decision to terminate our romantic relationship," the statement said.
Prady, co-creator/executive producer of The Big Bang Theory who began his career working Muppets creator Jim Henson, has been working on ideas for a revived Muppets series for years but the timing was never quite right. But after he pitched ABC execs in February of this year, he was pleasantly surprised when they pushed him to fast-track his concept for launch this fall.
Muppets was ordered to series on the strength of a 10-minute presentation reel that gave a feel for the setting that would veer from backstage at Miss Piggy's talker to the personal lives of Kermit and other key characters. That will allow them to skewer reality TV tropes as well as latenight TV conventions.
Randall Einhorn, an alum of NBC's The Office, is on board as a producing director.
"For the first time we will be a little bit behind the mask (of the characters)," Prady said. "We might even get a camera into Piggy's house in the morning and catch her before she gets her makeup on."
Kermit and Miss Piggy had fun with the notion of exposing their private lives to the glare of reality TV cameras. "My life has played out for years in front of the world," Kermit said. – Reuters