THE MUPPET MAN Henson Biopic and FRAGGLE ROCK Movie Updates

Movieby Eli Reyes

All is well in the world of Muppets. Things are still moving along quite nicely on the Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller written film, The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time, with last month's confirmation that Flight of the Conchords director James Bobin will be at the helm. Now there's some movement on two other films that involve Jim Henson's soft and fuzzy creations.

The first is The Muppet Man, a Jim Henson biopic written by Australian scribe Christopher Weekes, which was voted the best of the unproduced screenplays on the 2009 Black List. It's amazing that this film is in development in the first place. As heralded as it was, the were a couple of extremely important things that were pitted against the script. First; the fact that it was unauthorized, without securing the rights to either Henson or his creations and often fictionalized or exaggerated depictions of Henson's life played out by Muppets. Second, the use of the Muppets in many adult situations in reenacting or depicting Henson's life, would likely not bode well with the iconically kid-friendly, and more importantly, Disney owned, characters.

But amazingly, the Henson Company, who hold the rights Henson's life story, and Walt Disney seem to have come to an agreement on the film and are moving forward. How much of the historical and factual liberties and fill-ins Weekes took with the script will remain intact is unknown, but I'd assume with The Greatest Muppet Movie heavy into development, they wouldn't want to do anything to tarnish Henson's or the Muppets' image.

NYMag reports Disney and the Henson Co. are eyeing a director for the picture, setting their sights on commercial and music-video director Michael Gracey to helm Muppet Man. The film would be the feature debut for Gracey, most famous for directing the viral Evian commercial which featured break-dancing, roller-skating CGI babies, and became the most-viewed online advertisement in history (45 million views worldwide); and the fifth most-watched YouTube video of last year (watch video here). The commercial is pretty cheesy, but I can see why Disney would be vying for this guy. I just hope he leaves the CGI stuff out of the Muppet world, if brought on.


Meanwhile, it's been nearly two years since first announced, but the long-gestating big-screen version of Fraggle Rock is still being tinkered with, as director Cory Edwards and his associates have been working to integrate big-name musical acts into their feature film. 

Melissa Segal, senior VP of global consumer products at Jim Henson Company, told MTV, "The idea of integrating popular musical acts into the movie is something that everyone’s excited about." The music will be front and center in the movie, with Segal adding "It’s a big part of the movie."

Immediately, horrific visions of the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus palling around with Gobo and Boober rush to my head. But as you may remember, Edwards has said in the past, and Rock Henson stated last year, that although the original Fraggle Rock was aimed pretty exclusively for a children's audience, the feature film will "expand it to be more accessible to a wider audience."

So should we expect the Superbowl worthy acts like Bruce Springsteen and The Who to be onscreen with the likes of Taylor Swift? They should aiming for the cream of the crop, because Yo Gabba Gabba has successfully carved out the indie and punk bands quite successfully already.

What do you think of the new developments on the upcoming Muppet movies?

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