Things got a little heated at the Television Critics Association panel for ABC's new series, The Muppets, when Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, along with series executive producers Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory) and Bob Kushell (Suburgatory), revealed more about their upcoming series and that the felt couple's long-term relationship is done-zo.
"Piggy and I have gone our separate ways romantically," Kermit revealed. "I think it's just kind of coming out in the press now. It can be tough to work with your ex, you know. And it can be tough to be the executive producer on your ex's late‑night TV show, especially when your ex is a pig." (We're sure he meant that in a species identification way only.)
And yes, Kermit is stepping up in the pond, taking an executive producer credit on Miss Piggy's late-night chat show, Up Late With Miss Piggy. The show-within-the-show format will give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of every Muppet helping to make the TV magic. Kermit said of the premise, "Bill and Bob came along with this wonderful idea to shoot behind the scenes. It's interesting and scary at the same time, because you get to see things that we wouldn't normally necessarily want you to see."
Like seeing your ex dating, which Kermit said he wasn't interested in witnessing, but Miss Piggy expressed a lot of interest in sharing. "Now everybody's going to want to know, 'Ooh, ooh, who's Miss Piggy dating? Who is she getting caught snogging with?'" she said with that telltale edge in her voice. But she added, "I have no problem working with my ex, okay?"
Excited about the format of her new series, Piggy reminded the audience, "Moi has been a role model for a generation of little starlets, all those little starlets that are running around town. Yes. They've all modeled themselves after moi, mm‑hmm."
Prady then added, "One of the things that we're hoping to show for the first time in the series is a little bit of the behind the public persona, and behind the mask. We might even get a camera into Piggy's house in the morning and see if we can catch her before she gets her makeup on." As imagined, that aspect didn't go over well with a certain pig at the table.
Changing focus to how Prady and Kushell are contemporizing The Muppets for this generation, Prady said with a laugh, "The goal here is to be exactly the same and completely different. For me, the genesis of it is, if you look at when The Muppet Show was on television, it mocked variety shows because that was the dominant form of television at the time. It struck me that if the Muppets were on television now, it would look at the way television is done now and say, 'Well, what's the Muppet version of that?'"
The answer is the mockumentary format that charmed ABC executives to pick up the series based on an initial pitch and then the 10-minute presentation reel. To keep the concept on point, Kushell revealed that The Office director Randall Einhorn is The Muppet's producer/director."He is just an astonishing, astonishing director. And he's bringing everything he brought to The Office and just building it up for these guys."
As for tone, Kushell said their goal is that "anybody who hasn't seen the Muppets in the past will see this whole new world, and it will feel fresh and original and new to them. And anybody who has grown up with it, as we all did, will have that nostalgic feel but also have their minds blown by the new way we're doing the show." He also clarified that the premise means guests like Reese Witherspoon or the band Imagine Dragons will appear but not like they did on the original series. "Yes, there will be top‑notch singer/songwriters, performers and bands on the show, but the show is not a variety show. It's not about that. So you will see parts of the show with those bands, but there won't be a full act per se."
After the panel, Prady talked to Blastr and a few other reporters and got genuinely emotional when asked how it felt to start his career writing for Jim Henson and now fostering the menagerie back to the television format. "It's an incredibly, profound, emotional experience that I can't quite put into words. Jim was a mentor, and I remember him really fondly. I find myself in my career missing him on days that surprise me. It's hard to talk about."
But he absolutely keeps Henson in his head as he's charting this new series. "What Jim did first and foremost is he made a television show he liked. He would say, 'You don't know someone else's taste, you only know yours.' I try to do that. I try to make a television show that I would want to watch and that I would enjoy. I can't make the show Jim would make. I can only make the show that I would make. But I can do it with the same philosophy that he had."
The Muppets debuts Sept. 22.