Two years ago, as Forgetting Sarah Marshall was moving Jason Segel from the TV to the big-screen, it was clear actor-writer Segel loved the Muppets. ("Dracula musical! Dracula musical!" I'm still chaffed that "Dracula's Lament" didn't get nominated for Best Song.)
In fact, soon after Sarah Marshall, Segel and his Marshall director and co-writer Nicholas Stoller began working on a Muppet movie script (sometimes known as The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made) that would effectively relaunch the Muppet film franchise for a new generation.
For a while this winter it seemed Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, might be signing on to direct the new Muppet film (they would have been perfect), but instead they're off to do a big-screen remake of 21 Jump Street that will star Jonah Hill.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Muppet directing gig has now gone to James Bobin, the behind-the-scenes co-creator, co-writer, and sometimes director of the much-beloved HBO series Flight of the Conchords. Before seeing Jermaine Clement and Bret MacKenzie perform as the Conchords and working with them to create the HBO series, Bobin had worked as a writer and director on Sacha Baron-Cohen's Da Ali G Show. And Bobin's musical-comedy experience with the Conchords could certainly be a plus for a Muppets movie.
If you're worried all this sounds like they might be turning the grand tradition of the Muppets into some sort of hipster-ironic in-joke, don't worry. Segel has often professed his sincere admiration for Jim Henson's genius creations and this promises to be a true labor of love for him–something Muppet-focused that harkens back to the magical, hope-and-dreams purity of the original Muppet Movie, as opposed to just another Muppet classics adaptation or genre spoof. Besides, the appeal of the Muppets, The Muppet Show, and the Muppet movies has always been that they're a little more sly and knowing, quicker with a wry inside show-business joke than the original Sesame Street Muppets were.
This will be the first big-screen Muppet film since 1999's Muppets from Space (there have been a couple TV movies). Since Jim Henson's death in 1990 (20 years ago! Yipes!), his son Brian has taken over voicing Kermit the Frog and co-running the Jim Henson Company with his sister Lisa. In 2004 the Muppets were purchased by Disney, so this also marks the Mouse's first major film project with the property.
And now, since it's Saturday, how 'bout joining me over the jump for some music videos!
First, Segel performing a fantastic, musically beefed-up, more uplifting version of the full "Dracula's Lament" on the Craig Ferguson Late Show last month:
Then some Flight of the Conchords–though between upsetting someone that I didn't post their personal favorite Conchords song (though we can all agree it's probably "Business Time") and accidentally posting something with inappropriate lyrics, I'm going to go with one of my favorites, which ironically features Rhys Darby's Murray, not Bret and Jermaine:
And finally, of course some Muppets!