At long last, there’s been some great news from Disney concerning another one of its shockingly underutilized properties – the Muppets. After fighting for more than a decade to obtain the rights to the Muppets, Disney has apparently had no clue how to properly use the characters. Thankfully, someone now seems to.
Variety reports today that actor-writer Jason Segal (right) and director Nick Stoller have signed a deal to create the next Muppet film. The pair will co-write the film, which Stoller will then direct. The two are currently working on Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which Universal releases on April 18th.
Disney has long toyed with the idea of new Muppet projects, including a new TV variety show and an alternate TV concept spoofing reality shows that centered around a competition to become “America’s Next Top Muppet.” These projects have yet to surface, and the Muppet projects that have been greenlit – like 2005′s The Muppet Wizard of Oz – have been sadly lacking the creative spark that made the traditional Muppet films so special.
Thankfully, this project seems to be different. Inspired by his work with Henson puppeteers during work on Sarah Marshall, Segal pitched his idea during a meeting with Kristin Burr at Disney and got a deal on the spot. I feel this bodes well, as the project stems from an original idea brought from outside and not from Disney just looking around for something to slap the Muppet name on in order to move some merchandise.
Segal’s career began in the first wave of the Judd Apatow media juggernaut; he appeared in both of Apatow’s prematurely canceled TV projects, Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. Apatow also produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall. We can only hope that more creative talent from the Apatowverse comes aboard; it can go a long way to restoring a bit of the anarchic, hippie vibe that made early Muppet projects so great and provided an edge sorely missing from recent, blander productions. The Muppets used to be very, very hip; they were cool, instead of trying to be cool. There’s a big difference, and hopefully Segal and Stoller can restore a bit of that. We’re very excited about this one. But no exposing yourself in this one, ok guys? That’s just not cool.
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