The stars of The Muppets brought the magic onstage at the D23 convention in Anaheim on Friday, revealing new details behind the scenes of the show's fall premiere on ABC next month.
The presentation consisted of puppeteers Dave Goelz (Gonzo); Steve Whitmire (Kermit, Rizzo); Bill Beretta (Pepe the Prawn, Rowlf); Eric Jacobson (Fozzie Bear, Animal); and Matt Vogel (Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Uncle Deadly), each of them taking jabs at the others, in and out of character, as they discussed how the show's format breaks new ground for The Muppets.
Kermit and Miss Piggy's recent break-up was a hot topic. The porcine diva was also most notably absent from the panel.
"It's no mistake that Miss Piggy is not here today -- it could be awkward," said Jacobson, who also performs as Piggy.
"Some people are upset out there by the break up, but you now, if you've followed their relationship, they've never been the most stable couple," said Whitmire. "We've been talking about breaking up Kermit and Piggy since '91, after Jim died."
The upcoming ABC show promises an entirely different approach, focusing on the characters' individual lives and backstories after Kermit makes a "big mistake" in hiring his fellow muppets to run crew behind a faux late night talk show, hosted by Miss Piggy. In the panel, the cast announced the characters' roles behind the show-within-a-show with Sam the Eagle as the head of broadcast standards, Bobo the Bear as the stage manager, Uncle Deadly as the head of wardrobe, and Bunson and Beaker as the props builders.
Rowlf will not be working as crew alongside his lifelong friends, but instead will be the proprietor of a tavern that the muppets frequent after work.
Goelz believes the new show to be the most successful iteration of The Muppets in media, in large thanks to the impressive writing and production team behind them.
"Everybody in the room is the right person," said Goelz. "I haven't had this feeling since Fraggle Rock."
Goelz also credited the show's successful launch to Executive Producer Bill Prady's longtime relationship with the Jim Henson Company. Goelz said Prady was working at a Radio Shack at the time when Henson offered him a staff writing job with the Muppets. Since then, Prady's career has skyrocketed after working on a dozen other shows and creating The Big Bang Theory.
"Now [Prady] can do whatever he wants, and he wants to do the Muppets. In a way, I think it's a thank you to Jim."
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