Oscar nominee Bret McKenzie jokes Miss Piggy might pull a ‘Kanye’ if Sergio Mendes wins best original song

02.10.12 6 years ago

In many ways, Bret McKenzie is a lucky man.  There aren’t many Oscar nominees who can say they have a 50/50 chance of winning an Academy Award.  Sure, for many years there only three nominees in the visual effects category and there can also just be three in the animated feature field, but the songwriter of “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” only has one other contender to worry about this year.  McKenzie, who is best known as one half of comedy music group Flight of the Conchords, will face off against Sergio Mendes, Carinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett’s “Real in Rio” from the animated adventure “Rio.”

Granted, the fact there are only two nominees when there could be up to five is a travesty that the Academy really needs to address in the off season, but for the moment McKenzie can’t believe his luck.  The New Zealand native sat down with me earlier this week to talk about his “Muppet” success and his first ever Oscar nomination.

“I was at home and it was very early in the morning and I woke up to find out I was an Academy Award nominee, which is a great way to start a day, and then I was like, ‘There are only two songs,'” McKenzie recalls. “First it seems like there was a mistake that [other nominees] had been left off the list.  And then I thought, ‘Well, y’know, these are the biggest odds I’ll ever have of winning an Oscar.'”

With only two nominees you’d assume show producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer would be thrilled to have to worry about just two performances during a show that gives away 24 awards in three hours (well, as close to three hours as possible). Instead, the producers have shocked movie fans by deciding to drop any original song performances from the show.

“I found out last night. I can’t say I’m furious, because I’m just excited to get to go,” McKenzie says. “I can’t believe I only get to go the Oscars!” (Laughs.)

McKenzie continues,”I’m just honored to be involved, but it is a shame we don’t get to get a man and a muppet up on stage and have a samba-off with Sergio Mendes. Even if they cut it from the broadcast. Just for the sake of amusing the audience. It’s just nice to have a break from speeches.”

McKenzie reveals, however, he’s still trying to get Kermit and Miss Piggy to attend the show.  Of course, it’s hard to have the real life men and women behind the characters lie on the floor in the audience during the entire program, but can you imagine what Miss Piggy would do if “Man or a Muppet” doesn’t win?

“She’ll just run up there and smash Sergio Mendes up. She’ll pull a Kanye,” McKenzie says laughing (and joking of course).

(But yes, we’d love to see it too.)

The songwriter says he worked on and off on “The Muppets” for 18 months. He also wrote the tracks “Life is a Happy Song” (which seemed like a surefire nominee also) and co-wrote “Me Party” and “Let’s Talk About Me.” None of his songs were cut from the film, but there were different versions of Chris Cooper’s “About Me” that were shelved. The Oscar winner didn’t record them, but McKenzie composed versions of Cooper’s rap if OutKast or Jay-Z were to “sing” them. Perhaps he’ll trot them out someday at a future solo or Flight of the Conchords performance

And if you’re a Conchords fan, don’t fret. McKenzie seemed unsure if the long-rumored movie would ever come to fruition, but the duo do plan on touring soon.

For more on McKenzie’s thoughts on being an Academy Award nominee and writing songs for “The Muppets,” watch the entertaining interview embedded at the top of this post.

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