Another top brand from Disney’s portfolio may be getting a series treatment on ABC. The network has ordered a presentation for a comedy pilot featuring the Muppets. The presentation is being written by veteran comedy showrunners Bill Prady, co-creator of blockbuster The Big Bang Theory, and Bob Kushell (Anger Management). Details about the premise are being kept under wraps, but I hear the show would be set behind the scenes of a late-night talk show, with most signature Muppets, led by Kermit the Frog, on tap. Prady and Kushell executive produce, with Kushell serving as showrunner as Prady has his gig on Big Bang. Disney-owned The Muppet Studios (Disney bought rights to the Muppets characters in 2004) is co-producing with ABC Studios.
Prady has long ties with the Muppets franchise. He has written for seven different Muppet shows/specials, including The Jim Hanson Hour, Muppet Classic Theater and a 2007 presentation for another potential Muppets TV series. Kushell spent the last couple of years as co-executive producer and executive producer on FX’s comedy series Anger Management, which produced 100 episodes over a compressed time frame.
Television is the logical next extension in Disney’s efforts to exploit the Muppets characters following two feature films. ABC already has series based on characters from Disney-owned Marvel (Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter) and some of its most popular fairy tale/animated characters (Once Upon A Time).
ABC used a similar proof of concept presentation-leading-to-series order with spinoff Once Upon a Time in Wonderland and Agent Carter, where the Marvel one-shot served as a presentation.
The best-known Muppets series to date remains the variety Muppets Show, which ran for five seasons. The last Muppets series on TV was Muppets Tonight, which had a brief run on ABC in 1996.
Prady is with the Rothman Brecher Agency. Kushell is with ICM Partners.