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STAY UP ‘LATE’ WITH THE MUPPETS Bill Keveney
Miss Piggy, Kermit and company will have tongues wagging on their ‘talk show’
It’s not easy putting on a network talk show, especially if you’re green.
Kermit the Frog tries, as executive producer of Up Late With
Miss Piggy, the show-within-ashow on ABC’s The Muppets. But complicating matters is the recent end of his romantic relationship with the diva pig.
Cameras will go behind the scenes at the fictitious late-night show, taking a mockumentary look at the professional and personal lives of Piggy, Kermit and their Muppets colleagues.
Fozzie Bear, Piggy’s late-night sidekick, must finesse his human girlfriend’s disapproving parents, while head writer Gonzo explores the murky world of online dating. Pepé the King Prawn and Rizzo the Rat are staff writers, and Animal is in Piggy’s house band, Electric Mayhem.
“The Muppets’ characters are grown-ups. They drive to work, they get stuck in traffic, they date and they have conflicts with people in the office,” says executive producer Bill Prady ( The Big
Muppets will interact with humans, too, including guest stars Reese Witherspoon, Eliza- beth Banks, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Groban, who will play Piggy’s love interest.
The new series has more in common with 1970s Muppets
Show than with recent feature films that sent the felt-covered folk on risky adventures.
“I want to be able to sit and watch with my 8-year-old and we would both enjoy” it, Prady says. “But I want to tell a story about what it’s like when you’re working with your ex-girlfriend. That’s not a life experience most 8-year-olds would have.”
Prady and executive producer Bob Kushell have strong ties to Jim Henson’s Muppets. Prady’s first TV writing jobs were for Muppets projects, and Kushell says he learned to read watching a different group of Muppets on Sesame Street.
The Muppets Studio VP Debbie McClellan says a return to the characters’ roots in series TV made sense. “We were searching for a way to reconnect with audiences on a more consistent basis” that also would create the opportunity to flesh out characters’ personal lives.
McClellan says she trusts all involved to tell creative stories while protecting the characters’ integrity. “You go up to that line. We don’t want to cross it.”
Prady enjoys envisioning the Muppets as real people. “You write them as human beings. You don’t write them any differently, other than when it comes down to it, Fozzie is a bear. But bear is closer to his ethnicity than his species.”