Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Muppets are Taking Back Manhattan

When I went out to Los Angles to call on Disney in June, I spent some time in the archives digging through old Muppet memorabilia. Like a kid in a candy store, I sat for a few hours with those materials wondering why in the world the brand has been dormant for so long. I grew up on the Muppet Show -- I think at my very young age, it was a large influence on my interest in theatre that led to my career in the industry two decades later. I loved the idea that an audience could we watching a show on stage and then having an entirely different drama unfolding in the wings. I was entranced by the idea of illusion. As I sat in the archive I wondered, aloud and to myself, why on Earth Disney had let the brand go dead. As it turns out, ideas, big ideas, were brewing. 

My buddy, Dan, and I wondered in to FAO Schwarz a few weeks ago. As Dan sang the Muppet theme going down the escalator (and received spontaneous public applause, thank you very much), we rounded the corner to find "The Muppet Whatnot Workshop", a make-your-own Muppet boutique. Choose the color, eyes, nose, hair, and clothes. You name it, you can make it. It's a clever twist on the make your own trend tied to a beloved brand that is seeing a resurgence. You can also design and purchase on-line at (As an aside, FAO Schwarz will open toy boutiques at 200 locations inside of Macy's stores across the country for the holiday season. It will be interesting to see what kind of merchandise they choose to stock and how they will set up these stores.)

In other Muppet news, there is a new movie that will be released in 2009 featuring our Muppet pals. Details about the film are few and far between. Jason Segel of Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame is the lead writer. And in my limited research findings I stumbled upon a blog that tracks the latest Jim Henson News - "The Muppet Newsflash" - that has some information on the picture. 

In addition, the Muppets will be taking over the set of the Today Show (NBC) tomorrow morning, November 13th, for 30 minutes during the 8:00am hour. It might just be the best day Matt Lauer's ever had at work. And with all the depressing news about the economy these days, we could all use a little Muppet humor. So grab your morning coffee, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.   

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