There was “no part of me whatsoever that did not want to wait” for midseason to launch The Muppets primetime series on ABC, EP Bill Prady said of fast-tracked series during this morning’s Q&A session that created one of the biggest mic fights in TCA history.
Whereas the original Muppets show poked fun at the variety show genre, which was hot back in the day, ABC’s new series pokes fun at late-night TV. It poses as a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Miss Piggy’s new ABC late-night show Up Late With Miss Piggy, that now follows Jimmy Kimmel Live — sorry Nightline.
Celebrities have been booked for each episode, Kushell said, though only Reese Witherspoon could be named this morning. Also booked are “very top-notch singers and bands.”
“But the show is not a variety show,” Kushell said. “It’s about what happens behind-the-scenes at Up Late With Miss Piggy, so you’ll see part of show, with those bands on the show, but you won’t be a full act.”
The project was about eight months from script to now, leaving no time for a pilot; the show was ordered off a 10-minute presentation.
That said, the series has been eight years in the works, Prady acknowledged, noting a previous stab at a primetime series did not materialize.
“This went very fast and makes the work harder,” said Prady, who cut his teeth writing for Jim Henson on Muppets shorts.
“We had a very clear vision, as we were making that presentation,” EP Bob Kushell jumped in. “Once we got the greenlight, we were set and ready.”
“But would more time have been helpful – to all human endeavors,” Prady said, getting in the last word on the subject. Among the humans on the panel, that is.
“I have been a little busy. I was doing movies for a while,” Miss Piggy interjected, adding, “that’s a pretty good answer!”
“We did a lot of other stuff,” but to get back to primetime takes a while, jumped in Kermit. Also complicating things, the frog noted, “We’ve been owned by multiple” companies in that span of time. “Like most big stars, we are wholly owned subsidiary of big companies.”
Prady said the series’ very casual The Office-like documentary style is a painstaking process when working with puppets. “Getting it to look haphazard and casual, and getting docu shots that are messy and dirty and catch things you’re not supposed to catch – from a production point view it is absolutely a magic trick.”
Showrunner Kushell described the series as a sort of push-back to content in which what you see onscreen is built by computers and greenscreened. “These are here today,” he said, referencing Kermit and Miss P on his left and right onstage. “The idea of things existing in the world … still feels magical and wonderful.”
“You can touch me,” Piggy said. “Yes. I give you permission.” But “don’t all come up here feely-feely,” she warned.
Miss Piggy had made a fashionably late Loretta Young entrance at the panel and seemed miffed when journalists in attendance did not erupt into applause upon her arrival.
“They don’t do that,” Kermit said, in re applause at TCA panels. “This isn’t Comic-Con.”
“I don’t know,” Miss Piggy responded, dubiously, surveying the hall. “You coulda fooled me — some of these outfits!”
She instructed the journalists to address to “Blob” all questions intended for Bill Prady and Bob Kushell.
Which they then did, proving Miss Piggy’s point that there is not so much difference these days between TCA and Comic-Con after all.
When not fighting to put questions of Kermit and Piggy. Like asking Kermit what it’s like executive producing a late-night show starring his ex — he and Miss P have broken up.
“Piggy and I have gone our separate ways romantically. It’s just coming out in the press now,” Kermit said “It can be tough to work with your ex. It can be touchy to be executive producer on your ex’s late-night show – particularly if your ex is a pig.”