Fourteen years after beloved puppeteer Jim Henson passed away from streptococcus pneumonia at the age of 53 in 1990, The Jim Henson Company transferred all rights and ownership of “The Muppets” to The Walt Disney Company.
Soon after attaining the rights, Disney and MGM teamed up and created Muppets in 3-D, a family friendly and entertaining show featuring all of our favorite Muppet characters. It’s located in Orlando, California at Disney's Hollywood Studios and is an easily recognizable spot, as it is marked with a giant Miss Piggy fountain statue right outside its gates.
Recently, Disney has decided to do a lot more with the Muppet rights and wisely so. After all, the Muppets generate a huge fan following! Soon to be released by Disney’s production company is a TV movie set to air right around the holidays called Letters to Santa: A Muppets Christmas. Celebrity voices include Uma Therman, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Sirico and Steve Schirripa from The Sopranos, and Richard Griffiths, a Harry Potter regular.
Letters to Santa: A Muppets Christmas is set on Christmas Eve when Kermit and company mistakenly avert three letters en route to Santa Claus, which triggers a race against time to bring a happy Christmas to the kids whose wishes were lost in the mail.
Even more recent, Disney has decided to bring the Muppets back to the big screen, though this decision has come with a backlash. Not that of bringing the Muppets back into the limelight, but rather, who Disney has chosen to write the script. Jason Segel, who has been signed on to write the new Muppet movie, was the writer and star of the recently released to DVD rated R movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Nick Stoller, director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is also signed on to work with Segel on the script. June of 2008 is when the pair turned their first script to the studios and from an interview given by Segel, they couldn’t be more excited about it. "I think we’re bringing them back," Segel explains.
When you have seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Disney’s pick for Segel as the writer actually makes sense. In the movie, puppets play a pretty predominant aspect in the film. Just wait for the big musical ending where Segel plays a talented puppeteer. The puppets he works with in the movie are made by Henson puppeteers. This experience encouraged Segal to pitch his concept for a Muppets movie to Disney.
Meanwhile, over at CHUD.com, Devin Faraci hinted a possible plotline. “Apparently their Muppet film is going to be incredibly old fashioned, with the familiar Muppet characters putting on a show to save an old theater (the theater from The Muppet Show?). The danger? An evil character wants to tear the place down to get at the oil underneath.”
Nobody will ever do what Jim Henson did, but Muppet fans should be excited none the less to see what Segal and Stoller can do with a little bit of felt on their hands and a whole lot of Miss Piggy attitude.