Tough Pigs Anthology
The Road to Hollywood
Chapter 2: A Frog is Born
The movie opens with the Muppets arriving at World Film Industries for the preview screening.
Statler and Waldorf arrive and joke with the security guard. They drive off, and Miss Piggy arrives in a chauffeured pink Rolls Royce -- "a vision in mauve satin." The guard waves her in, and then Kermit arrives on a bicycle, his nephew Robin sitting in the basket.
The Muppets assemble in the screening room. Kermit yells, "Roll film!" and away we go.
Up on the screen, we see an image of The Universe -- "the endless reaches of outer space. Very gradually, in what appears to be one continuous shot, we move in to one particular galaxy..." The shot closes in on the Earth, then the Western Hemisphere, the United States, and finally "a swamp in the deep south."
Kermit sits on a log, playing his banjo and singing "a lovely little tune about how content he is with his lot in life." As the song ends, he's approached by a Fisherman, "the first of our cameo guest stars."
They chat, and the Fisherman mentions that he's an agent from Hollywood.
Kermit goes to the Bait Shop. "The shop looks a lot like a news kiosk one sees on the streets of New York, except that it is made with weathered old barn boards. The sign over the window is roughly painted and has been worn by years of rain. It says 'GEORGE AND KERMIT -- BAIT". On the counter sit half a dozen plastic buckets, and inside are various scrawled notices about fishing.
"Kermit is talking to George, who sits on a stool outside the kiosk (cameo guest star). He is wearing bib overalls. He is smoking his cigar." [ It's not said outright in the script, but this was obviously supposed to be a George Burns cameo. ]
That night, Kermit takes a moonlight walk by the water.
So What's the Difference?
The main structure and breakdown of the story remains the same from this script to the finished film, but they changed lots of details and rewrote most of the dialogue.
In the film, we only see Statler and Waldorf pull up to the studio gate before cutting to the screening room. Most of the dialogue for the opening was re-written -- Statler and Waldorf do the "detergents leave a better film than this" gag, which was moved to later in the movie, and the screening room chatter is pretty bland. Another little detail that was changed is the name of the movie studio -- World Film Industries in the script, World Wide Studios in the movie.
Kermit's brief exchange with Robin -- "Is this the real story of how the Muppets got together?" -- doesn't appear in the script.
The script opens the film-within-a-film with a sweeping shot from the farthest reaches of the universe down to Kermit's swamp, while the movie starts with clouds and a rainbow.
The dialogue with the Fisherman was largely rewritten and tightened up. One major difference is that in the script, Kermit doesn't recognize the name Hollywood -- which makes it a little less plausible that being in the movies would suddenly become his "dream." In the film, after the "read my lips: Hollywood" gag, the Fisherman asks if Kermit ever goes to the movies. Kermit replies, "Oh, sure. There's a double feature in town every Saturday."
More details that were changed in the Fisherman scene: In the movie, he introduces himself as Bernie, the Agent, which leads to the Arnie the Alligator joke. Arnie is played in the movie by an animatronic alligator. Bernie doesn't jump out of the boat and swim; he tries to paddle away. The "Arnie only eats kosher" gag is cut, possibly because it's got kind of a sinister edge to it -- but it's a shame, since it's a funny gag.
The other major change -- and this one is crucial to the spirit of the movie -- is Kermit's motivation to hit the road. In the script, Kermit is struck by the phrase "rich and famous," and that's what drives him to leave home. In the movie, that phrase is "making millions of people happy" -- a goal that makes Kermit more focused on other people, and less self-absorbed.
I think they knew how weak the "rich and famous" motive was, which is why there's two extra scenes of Kermit agonizing over whether to leave the swamp. With the motivation changed to "making people happy," there's no need for explanation, and Kermit's decision-making process is cut down to one line and a banjo strum.
This goal drives the whole emotional arc of the movie. It's a tiny change, and one obviously made late in the process -- but I think it's the key to making the movie beautiful and inspiring. Also, they got to cut the corny "I love you, Kermit" stuff.
Next in the Anthology:
Kermit hits the road, and meets some interesting people
-- but no steamrollers --