Tough Pigs News Extra
updated Nov 20, 2002
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie!
NBC -- Friday, Nov 29th
8pm Eastern / 7pm Central
So this would be the "too much information" stage of Muppet fandom, where I have so many little facts about the new production that I can't organize it anymore. Here it all is.
Spoiler Warning: This is pretty much everything I know here on this page, and it includes some "spoilers" about the plot, cameo guest stars, all kinds of things. If you're completely opposed to knowing anything about the movie before you see it, then come back here after November 29th...
SYNOPSIS: Kermit struggles to save the Muppet Theater from foreclosure when the stylish, yet Scroogish, bank owner Rachel Bitterman plans to demolish it and open a trendy nightclub in its place. The Muppets have to put on a successful Christmas show to save the theater, paying homage along the way to every Christmas movie ever made.
The Muppet cast includes Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Pepe, Animal, Scooter and Sam...
Joan Cusack guest stars as bank owner Rachel Bitterman...
David Arquette plays Daniel, the rookie angel...
Whoopi Goldberg plays Daniel's "Boss"...
plus appearances by Matthew Lillard, William H Macy, Carson Daly, Kelly Ripa, Joe Rogan, Molly Shannon and the cast of Scrubs.
Screenplay by Tom Martin (The Simpsons, Just Shoot Me)
and Jim Lewis (Muppets Tonight)
Directed by Kirk Thatcher (co-writer of Muppet Treasure Island)
Executive producers: Juliet Blake and Brian Henson
TV GUIDE SAYS:
There's a lot of good info in this piece, from the Nov 23rd issue of TV Guide, written by Jason Tanz and reprinted here entirely without permission:
What's the most disturbing scene in the new Muppet TV-movie? Perhaps it's when Fozzie, a homeless vagabond, steals Kermit's wallet. Or maybe it's the image of Miss Piggy running a scam psychic hot line out of her dingy apartment. Or perhaps it's the rave club sequence, in which Sam the Eagle waves glow sticks and sucks on a pacifier while Scooter, wearing leather, gyrates in a go-go cage.
OK, so these scenes take place during a fantasy sequence, an It's a Wonderful Life-esque meditation on life without Kermit. But it's clear throughout It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie that the Muppets have come a long way from their naive "Rainbow Connection" days. This time around, the pop-culture references -- from Moulin Rouge to Angelina Jolie to Fear Factor -- fly more frequently than Lew Zealand's boomerang fish. In one scene, Kermit ruefully lifts a foot to show that he's been branded by NBC. In another, Animal funnel-chugs eggnog until he passes out.
"We tried to keep the characters true to themselves and yet contemporize the franchise," explains Juliet Blake, president of Jim Henson Television US.
For the dyed-in-the-felt Muppet fan, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie carries many of the hallmarks of a traditional Muppet outing: a feel-good message, a litany of guest stars (including David Arquette, Joan Cusack and Whoopi Goldberg) and a healthy dose of timeless Muppet shtick. And the plot is a familiar one. To save the Muppet Theater from foreclosure, the gang needs to pull off a successful Christmas show and deliver the funds to an evil banker (is there any other kind?) who wants to build a nightclub in its place.
But these Muppets have been updated since their last appearance three years ago (Muppets From Space), a mission Blake says she approached "with great fear and trepidation." Still, when she worried that she was playing too freely with the legendary characters, she always had a place to turn for guidance. "I keep a photograph of Jim Henson in my office," she says. "Sometimes I look at it and think, 'What would you think of what we're doing now?'"
MORE FUN QUOTES:
Tom Martin, from Entertainment Weekly (Nov 17): "There were arguments if the [movie] should have a lot of heart or if we should just make it funny. But the director, Kirk Thatcher, made a good point. He said, 'Look, these Muppets have enough heart. They have too much heart. Let's just concentrate on funny.' ... This could be a turning point for the Muppets. Otherwise, Kermit becomes Mickey, the symbol of a company rather than a viable character."
Kermit the Frog, from a CNN interview (Nov 13): "We have Joan Cusack, David Arquette, and Whoopi Goldberg plays the part of God, actually. Any time you can get Whoopi as God you know you've got your mojo working."
From a CNN Headline News interview, Nov 12:
Judy Fortin: I understand that Kermit gave you a very romantic kiss in this movie, and he made the first move. What's that all about?
Miss Piggy: It's true!
Pepe: It's all done with special effects. They weren't actually in...
Miss Piggy: We rehearsed day and night for it...
A cameo appearance by Snoop Dogg was cut from the film -- there's more information on the Snoop news page. Kermit commented on the cut on The Late Late Show: "I think that kinda what happened was that, uh, Snoop came along to do our movie at about the time that he was, like, quitting drugs... Unfortunately, he was starting porn."
Kynan Barker, Chris Smigliano, Scott Hanson,
Nate Downs, Zack Haumesser and Anonyfrog
for info on the Christmas Movie!