ABC planning 'America's Next Muppet' reality TV parody series
By Reality TV World staff, 10/25/2005
Although ABC is keeping quiet about the project for now, the Disney-owned network is reportedly working on America's Next Muppet -- a reality TV parody show in which home viewers will determine which one of several new characters will join The Muppets cast.
According to Daily Variety, ABC has already ordered a script and five script outlines for the six-episode series, which would air in primetime. Sounding a bit like a cross between Comedy Central's Drawn Together animated reality TV parody and live-action parodies like The Joe Schmo Show, America's Next Muppet will reportedly feature a judging panel format similar to American Idol and America's Next Top Model, with other existing Muppets characters serving as the show's judges.
Although Muppets creator Jim Henson died in 1990, The Jim Henson Company had continued to own the characters until last year, when the company announced that it had agreed to sell them to The Walt Disney Company. America's Next Muppet would part of the company's attempt to relaunch the characters, according to Variety.
The Muppet Show originally ran in syndication between 1976 and 1981, with ABC later airing a short-lived revival in 1996. More recently, ABC aired a The Muppets Wizard of Oz TV movie in May 2004.
While Hollywood trade papers are just reporting the story now, the America's Next Muppet project has apparently been in development for some time. According to MuppetCentral.com, a Muppets reality show pilot was first taped in Summer 2004, and word of ABC's America's Next Muppet plans first leaked out early last month. Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo are all said to be part of the judging panel that will oversee the "talent contest" performances. America's Next Muppet is reportedly tentatively scheduled to air in Spring or Summer 2006.