Things Are Not Going Well Behind The Scenes On ABC’s ‘The Muppets’

Editor-at-Large
11.04.15 16 Comments
KERMIT THE FROG, GONZO THE GREAT

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ABC had a lot riding on The Muppets, its new fall sitcom featuring a “grown-up” version of the beloved characters. Perhaps you picked up on this from the huge promotional push before the season started, some of which — unless I hallucinated it, which is certainly a possibility — featured frequent updates on a frog-pig-pig love triangle. In any event, the big push plus the name recognition paid off with huge ratings for the season premiere. Things were going great.

Since then… not so much. Deadline has a new report out that drops a few bombs:

  • Despite ratings rivaling those of Fresh Off the Boat, ABC has been disappointed by The Muppets because it is a “marquee title” that “has been held to a different standard.”
  • There are also creative concerns, which is leading to a showrunner change after only six episodes.
  • The series will be undergoing a “relaunch” in the spring.

That seems bad, especially the thing about changing showrunners. If you remember, Big Bang Theory executive proucer Bill Prady created the series with Bob Kushnell, but Prady’s commitments to bazingas and such kept him away from the show all but two days a week, so Kushnell was put in charge of day-to-day operations. Begin drama.

Behind the scenes, I hear there was a clash in styles and vision for the show between Kushell and Prady, which was exacerbated by Prady’s part-time participation, leading to swings in direction on scripts that had been already in progress. I hear Kushell was well-liked among the cast, crew and the producers, but the discord proved too taxing on everyone and was starting to show on the screen. It was getting harder for the show to go on with both Prady and Kushell, and a decision was made to let Kushell go, though I hear many wanted him to stay.

So, Kushnell is out and That 70s Show and How I Met Your Mother veteran Kristin Newman is “in negotiations” to replace him. Then all she has to do is figure out how to “relaunch” a marquee show full of beloved characters that just launched a few months earlier, and took all of six weeks to leave carnage in its wake as it started coming apart at the seams. (Admittedly, this “coming apart at the seams” metaphor is a bit morbid considering we’re dealing with a show about puppets, but I stand by it.) Piece of cake.

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