“Garbo, Marilyn, Dietrich – I feel that I’m a con­tin­u­a­tion of that time­less legacy”

Miss Piggy and Tara Brady talk fame, frogs and fem­i­nism

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

MISS PIGGY is late – so late, in fact that her sig­nif­i­cant other, Ker­mit, feels obliged to pop up and apol­o­gise. “I’m afraid we might have to hold on Miss Piggy. Last time I saw her she was leav­ing the bar. I’m not say­ing she was drink­ing. I’m just say­ing that’s where she was.”

The am­phib­ian half of Tin­sel­town’s long­est mar­riage and screen part­ner­ship is, un­der­stand­ably enough, reluc­tant to speak on be­half of his long-time porcine paramour.

More than three decades have passed since the frog im­pre­sario pro­moted a bud­ding show-sow to head­line act for an early episode of Jim Hen­son’s The Mup­pet Show. No­body ex­pected the in­ter-species ro­mance to last.

In a 1979 in­ter­view with the New York Times, Frank Oz, Piggy’s for­mer as­sis­tant and con­fi­dante, de­scribed her as a pos­si­ble pig Eve Har­ring­ton on the make. A small­town girl from Idaho, Pi­gatha “Piggy” Lee had sur­vived a re­put­edly tough up­bring­ing by seek­ing fame and for­tune on the beauty con­test cir­cuit.

Ker­mit the Frog’s dis­cov­ery of the young pageant queen was recre­ated for The Mup­pets Movie in 1979. By then, Piggy had al­ready eclipsed Ker­mit and her other Mup­pet Show col­leagues in terms of mer­chan­dise sales; the oth­ers had lunch­boxes but only she had a No 1 book on the New York Times Best­seller List.

Mr the Frog, for his part, at­tributes the cou­ple’s longevity to decades of de­vout “com­pli­ance” though con­cedes the re­la­tion­ship has, at times, been “tu­mul­tuous”. “Ma­tured? Yes. An in­ter­est­ing word,” he says later. “I’d say the re­la­tion­ship has de­vel­oped.”

He’s keen, as ever, to de­fend his su­per­star part­ner’s tar­di­ness. This is London, day two on the cou­ple’s gru­elling pub­lic­ity tour for their new film, The Mup­pets. Piggy, ex­plains Ker­mit, has many im­por­tant ap­point­ments to at­tend to. “Har­rods. Cam­den Mar­ket. Ox­ford Street. She’s very, very busy.”

Miss Piggy, when she fi­nally ap­pears, tells a dif­fer­ent story: “As a diva I have a very im­por­tant rep­u­ta­tion to up­hold. It’s hard work out there. Some­times the es­ca­la­tors don’t work and you have to use stairs.”

To­day, the plus-size ed­i­tor of Paris Vogue is wear­ing an an­i­mal print sweet­heart neck­line dress teamed with white evening gloves. Her cas­cad­ing blonde hair is longer and sleeker than it was dur­ing its clas­sic wet-curl disco bob. In­deed, up close and per­sonal, one can only think of one ques­tion to ask Ru­dolph Nureyev’s favourite dance part­ner. “Miss Piggy, can I touch your hair?” “Sure. But you know it’s only a wig, dear. You can buy them at any wig store.”

She’s right. But few hair­pieces can claim to carry quite so much box-of­fice clout.

Two months ago, in­dus­try pun­dits rubbed their eyes in dis­be­lief as The Mup­pets, the 10th fea­ture from an im­print thought near de­funct, be­came a su­per-size all-ages hit with pre-christ­mas au­di­ences in the US.

The new reloaded Mup­pets ar­rive cour­tesy of screen­writer and star Ja­son Segel and a ver­i­ta­ble hip­ster army. Flight of the Con­chords co-cre­ator James Bobin di­rects a cast that in­cludes Jack Black, Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Zack Gal­i­fi­anakis, Alan Arkin, Sarah Sil­ver­man and Dave Grohl. Ea­gle-eyed view­ers may also note Ricky Ger­vais, Jim Par­sons, Mickey Rooney, James Carvill, Se­lena Gomez and Neil Pa­trick Har­ris hov­er­ing around the edges.

For all these cool new chums, The Mup­pets re­main de­fi­antly un­cool. The new film brings to­gether the old gang as they at­tempt to stop oil baron Tex Rich­man (Chris Cooper) from drilling un­der their old Hol­ly­wood theatre. Their plan, as ever, cen­tres on the re­vival of old-school va­ri­ety acts and Mup­pet stan­dards, in­clud­ing Rain­bow Con­nec­tion.

Thus far, the new Mup­pets picture has at­tracted rave no­tices and an Os­car nom for Best Song from what Piggy dis­misses as “those species-ists over at the Academy”.

Other com­men­ta­tors, most notably the right-wing mouth­pieces at Fox News, have slammed the film as com­mu­nist, hip­pie pro­pa­ganda. Busi­ness an­chor Eric Bolling, in par­tic­u­lar, has led the charge against The Mup­pets’ lib­eral agenda: “It’s amaz­ing how far the left will go just to ma­nip­u­late your kids, to con­vince them, give the anti-cor­po­rate mes­sage,” he said last month.

“It’s al­most as laugh­able as ac­cus­ing Fox News of be­ing, you know, news,” notes Miss Piggy dryly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.