"To Introduce our Guest Star, that's What I'm Here to Do..." The Hensonverse Fan Contribution Thread

We're the World's Most Fearsome Fighting Team...
Chapter 8: Hey, Dudes! This is No Cartoon...
Excerpt from From Dover to Turtle Power!: The Extensive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles[1] by Morgana Fata.

The show was immensely
popular by around 1988, but then came a curveball. 1989 would see the release of Batman on the big-screen, directed by Sam Raimi.
Mark Freedman[2], who had been in licensing long enough to know how quickly a property’s fortune could change, felt that the Turtles needed to keep up, and for good reason.
“The show was, arguably, the hottest thing in the market in it’s first two years, but Batman in 1989 really was a massive hit for Warner Bros. Retail stores were immediately starting to back off orders on anything Turtles, and started stocking up on Batman. Kids were wearing Batman shirts, lugging around lunchboxes with Batman logos, you name it. Everywhere in 1989, even before the film’s release, was Batman. And immediately, I knew that we were going to need a movie to keep the Turtles going”.

At around this time, Freedman had been introduced by the watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher and his producing partner, Kim Dawson. Initially, they pitched a comedy movie, with actors like John Candy playing the Turtles, but Freedman didn’t want to go down that route and make that kind of movie.
Gallagher and Dawson then introduced him to another producer, Tom Gray, who worked for the legendary Hong Kong production company Golden Harvest, who had introduced audiences across the world to the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Gray was the perfect person to ensure that a Ninja Turtles movie would include plenty of real ninja action.
Soon, Golden Harvest approached Limelight Entertainment to co-produce the film, with Limelight founder and director Steve Barron initially tapped to serve as director. Known for directing music videos for A-ha, David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Dire Straits, as well as directing a couple of episodes of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller for Disney’s World of Magic and later, Tim Burton’s Nocturns, it was apparent that Steve Barron’s experience in the field of cutting-edge animatronics, to bring the Turtles to life in a live-action film, was required.

That meant that a deal was needed with Jim Henson, who was the Chief Creative Officer of Disney at the time. But with the success of the show and the toyline, in addition to the box office success of He Man in 1987, major film studios were starting to put out bids for the film rights to the franchise. Walt Disney Pictures, Columbia, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros and Orion Pictures were all contenders, whilst Hollywood Pictures, United Artists and TriStar were “not interested”[3].

It eventually came to a close contest between Disney, Warner and Paramount, but in the end, Disney won not just the film rights, but the theme park rights.

The story of how the Turtles came to Disney, started with Steve Barron, who made a call with Jim Henson’s son, Brian Henson, who had voiced and performed the Storyteller’s Dog in The Storyteller, and was now working as an imagineer in Disney’s Creatureworks, a subsidiary under Walt Disney’s Imagineering Workshop formed from a merger between Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and Disney’s own studio practical effects group, to figure out how to bring the Turtles to life.
“Although initial discussions were good between me and Steve, on how to do the Turtles in live-action, I was somewhat made aware by Steve that the film rights were being contested by other film studios. If they had gotten the film rights, Steve was worried about not being able to get the participation of the Creatureworks. So, after Steve talked with a few individuals working at Fantasia Films, Hyperion Pictures and MGM, and with dad’s approval, Disney was effectively bidding for the film and won,” recalls Brian.

After Disney had won the bidding, discussion soon turned to what kind of movie was going to be made, and even more importantly, who was going to direct, for even despite Jim and Brian putting in a good word for him, Disney executives were not sold entirely on Barron directing, given that his only film credit was 1984’s Electric Dreams, and instead wanted someone more experienced to direct a potential hit.
With Ron Howard, Frank Oz and Tim Burton among many other directors declining the offer to direct, Disney chose Robert Zemeckis, director of the Back to the Future films, to direct the film.
Initially reluctant to get to work on another film, especially one this close to the finishing up of filming the last two BTTF films, filmed back to back, Zemeckis remembers what changed his mind.
“The animatronics, basically! I always loved the latest in special effects, and by around 1989, the Henson Creature Shop (as Disney’s Creatureworks was still informally known) was at the very top of that field”.

Zemeckis and Barron partnered together, with Barron being made 2nd unit director, while Brian was made “Chief Puppeteer”[4], and they set to getting to work.

Freedman recalls that he made it clear to Zemeckis and Jim Henson in one of the meetings, that the film would need to be a different experience from the show, “The film had to be different, otherwise you could just basically watch the Turtles at home. So why would anyone spend money to see something that they’ve already seen on Television?”
Zemeckis recalled, “All I knew about the Turtles was the cartoon, pretty much. And my first attempt of trying to prepare a film about the Turtles was just watching a couple of episodes on TV. But then, during one meeting, Mark [Freedman] told me and Jim about the original comics that the show was based on, and thus arranged a meeting between the both of us, and Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird to discuss the film”.

Heading up to Mirage Comics over in Northampton[5], the two of them met Kevin and Peter, to which both Jim Henson and Robert Zemeckis were amazed at how different the comics were from the show, examining all the various issues of the Mirage comics.
Soon, with many issues of the original comics noted for research, Zemeckis had the material ready to make the film, and Jim got along well with Kevin and Peter, especially since Jim was made aware that they knew Dave Sim, who Jim was in early discussions in making a Cerebus movie[6].

“On the way back to LA, I discovered that in one of the comic books they had given to Bob [Zemeckis] as research, Kevin and Peter had made a sketch of Raphael pointing his finger in that sort of “Uncle Sam Wants You” pose, saying, ‘Bob, Jim. You make a good movie, or else! Grrrrr…..’. It was quite such a good drawing and I suppose it was their way of giving their blessing to us to make the movie”, Jim remembered about that meeting[7].

Everything was in place. With Golden Harvest Entertainment Company and Limelight Entertainment producing and Disney’s Fantasia Films label distributing the film, it was up to Zemeckis, Barron and the rest of the team to make the film.
Zemeckis immediately set to work on the story with Todd Langen and Bobby Herbeck, with much of the original comics as their inspiration for the story[8], while making the choice to keep a few elements of the original cartoon in (namely the multi-coloured head bands of the Turtles from the animated series, their love of pizza, elements of Michelangelo’s and April’s character as well as the appearance of Burne Thompson), while Brian and his team set to work on getting the Turtles to life.

Eastman and Laird visited the set and approved of the direction being taken, and both felt the story was a good balance between the early comics, while containing elements of the animated series that would allow people to accept the film.
With a budget of $19.3 million, which was less than Batman’s $48 million[9], the film would need to spend it’s money carefully, especially since filming began in July 1989, mere weeks after Batman’s theatrical release and with a planned March/April release date for next year, they only had two months of filming to complete[10].
A tremendous task for Zemeckis, especially since filming for the last two Back to the Future movies was also taking place[11]. But luckily, Barron and Brian stepped in to help “shoulder the burden” for Zemeckis, an act that he never forgot.
Filming took place on the Disney soundstages in Burbank, California, as well as location shots in New York City itself and in upstate New York for the farm scenes.

No major stars would be playing the Turtles, for as far as the young audiences would be concerned, the Turtles themselves would be the stars.
Even then, no single person would solely be behind the performance of each individual Turtle. There were primarily at least three people involved in each Turtle. There was the in-suit performer, who would wear the suit, Dave Foreman, Leif Tilden and Michelan Sisti. An facial assistant who would operate the waldo, operating the Turtle’s face, Martin P. Robinson, David Rudman, David Greenaway and Mak Wilson. And a voice actor. Brian Tochi, who was one of the most prolific East Asian child actor of the 70s and 80s, would voice Leonardo, while Robbie Rist from The Brady Brunch voiced Michelangelo, Adam Carl voiced Donatello[12] and Josh Pais, who not only voiced Raphael (giving him an iconic Brooklyn accent) but also wore the suit. In some cases, stunt performers wore the suits like Ernie Reyes Jr. (who had replaced a Hong Kong stuntman initially doing Donatello’s stunts when he got injured[13]) and Kenn Troum. And professional skateboarder Reggie Barnes doubled for Michelangelo for the skateboarding stunts in the sewers[14].

Performance between the puppeteer operating the animatronics and the suit performer, was a major challenge, as Josh Pais explains, “While wearing the head, you had a radio within, that would allow you and your puppeteer to communicate through the scene and essentially, work in sync together. We would spend hours and hours together, doing lines simultaneously in order to make our lines in sync with each other”.
Then came the challenge of making Master Splinter (voiced by Kevin Clash, known as the Muppet performer for Elmo on the iconic educational children's show Sesame Street), from the pages of the comics, straight to the big screen.
“After Peter Brooke found a way to sculpt him from the comics, straight into a film character”, Brian recalls, “we had to animate him with at least 3 to 4 people. Kevin [Clash], who did the voice, operated him, sitting inside of his torso, moving his mouth with one hand, while Robert Tygner and Rickey Boyd worked on the facial animatronics, and another puppeteer operated his arms, which were mechanical. And this all meant we had to ensure that Kevin was out of shot of the camera. It was quite fortunate that for a lot of Splinter’s scenes, Splinter was always stationary, whenever sitting down or imprisoned on the wall or standing in a fixed position. Whenever we had to have Splinter moving, we had the impression of him being moved by other characters or have Kevin’s legs out of the shot of the camera”.

Soon, the Creatureworks turned their attention onto the Turtles themselves, developing two kinds of suits.
“We had the Stunt Turtles, in which the Hong Kong stuntmen wore as they did their martial arts and combat moves”, said Brian. “They did very good martial art work, even in the suits which were basically containing a multitude of foam rubber within it. However the foam rudder did help in acting as padding, so no one could get really badly hurt”.
Then, there were the Hero Turtles, which were used for close-ups and dialogue, with the infamous Henson Performance Control System (otherwise known as the "waldo") controlling the facial expressions, mouth and eye movements in the head.
“There were about thirty motors powering all that. All of them were hidden in the shells, thus making the shell essentially an effective backpack. Thank goodness for the characters being turtles. This meant we didn’t have to worry about making the head too large. The motors were connected via cables which ran right up the back of the neck into the heads of the Turtles. But it was rather tricky, as they all had to work wirelessly with the waldo”, says Brian. “This may sound relatively easy by nowadays, but back in 1989, the idea that a signal could be transmitted into a creature, with no wire whatsoever, was relatively new. Luckily, Hackle in Labyrinth and the Dog in The Storyteller essentially were early versions of this idea. They weren’t at the levels of the Turtles, but at least, they were a good place to start and better than starting from scratch”.

With so much fledgling technology around, constant maintenance was a daily reality on set, necessitating an army of technicians on hand to make repairs and adjustments.
Zemeckis remembers, “Much of the filming took place in the midst of summer, with high temperatures whenever we were in LA or in upstate New York, with many of the suit performances sweating buckets in the suits that weighed around 50 pounds and had to keep hydrated at least a gallon of water a day, all just to keep hydrated. And I thought I had the harder job! Much credit to Dave, Leif, Michelan, Josh, Ernie, Kenn and all the stuntmen who put up with wearing those suits”.

Michelan Sisti, the suit performer for Michelangelo, remembers the struggles of filming in the suits.
“Not only did the suit weigh so much, but in the warm temperatures, the suit would be soaking up all our sweat, increasing it’s weight to around sixty/seventy pounds. Of course, shooting days that had heavy fighting scenes or major stuntwork required that we stay within our suits most and all of the time. You can only imagine how much physical work it was to be a Turtle, but I wouldn’t have missed a single moment of it for anything”.
Josh Pais on the other hand, found wearing the turtle head to be claustrophobic for him and would immediately remove it after filming wrapped.
Zemeckis had the Turtles work out a schedule in order to get their filming done as much as possible, while ensuring their safety and health.
“The Turtle performers and their puppeteers all woke up at around 6:00am”, Zemeckis states. “Then after a quick breakfast, the suit performers would get suited up, before rehearsing on set, with the puppeteers reading the lines and rehearsing with the performers to get in sync with each other. The first suit up, the performers’ suits were incomplete, mainly Turtle suit legs right down to the knee over skintight shorts, with harnesses and various other bits attached as well. Then the second suit up, the performers would put on the suit fully, minus the head and rehearse the scene again, before finally, putting on the head for a final rehearsal before filming started. Over time, as filming progressed, the performers grew so adept that they went straight to the whole “putting the head on” phase, which sped up the progress. To help keep the temperatures down, much of the film was shot at nighttime, or at least, in the early hours of the morning as those were when the temperatures were at their lowest, but when filming in the day, we had cold tents established, for times when the performers needed to rest, in between shots”.

In regards to the film’s live action actors, Nicole Kidman was cast as April O’Neil, beating out Judith Hoag, Jennifer Beals, Lorraine Bracco, Sandra Bullock, Melanie Griffith, Brook Shields, Marisa Tomei and Sean Young for the role[15], while Elias Koteas was cast as Casey Jones.
The Shredder, the film’s main antagonist, was portrayed by James Saito, with Toshishiro Obata as Tatsu, the Shredder’s second in command (both of them dubbed by David McCharen and Michael McConnohie), while Jay Patterson was cast as the dismissive Police Commissioner of the NYPD Charles Pennington, Raymond Serra was cast as Channel 6 News boss Burne Thompson, Michael Turney as troubled teen and Foot Clan recruit Danny, Sam Rockwell as a head Foot Clan thug, while Skeet Ulrich and Scott Wolf made uncredited appearances as Foot Clan thugs[16].
Even the suit performers got to make cameos, with Dave Foreman, Kenn Troum and Ernie Reyes Jr as various Foot Clan members, Leif Tilden as the Foot Clan messenger who threatens April, Michelan Sisti as the pizza delivery boy and Josh Pais as the taxi cab passenger with Kevin Eastman making a cameo as the taxi driver[17].
As for Peter Laird, an offer for a cameo was made to him, but he politely declined, “I’m not comfortable doing the whole cameo thing, really”.

With filming wrapped, post-production began and already, problems emerged. Golden Harvest did not like the editing of editor Sally Menke and tried to have her removed[18], but Zemeckis stepped in and made it clear to them that he would not tolerate her removal at what he called “such a crucial stage”. So, knowing that Zemeckis had Disney's backing and would raise a bigger stink if they pushed further, Golden Harvest relented.
Composer Alan Silvestri provided the film’s score while various artists such as MC Hammer, Hi Tek 3 and Partners in Kryme made contributions to the film's soundtrack, with the later releasing the single Turtle Power!, which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks after it’s release in April 1990, making it the first hip hop single to reach number one in the United Kingdom and becoming the 13th-highest-selling single of the year in the United Kingdom, while peaking at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100[19].
An week before the film released, Mark Freedman held a special screening for his partners at Playmates Toys. Much to his surprise, they hated it’s darker tone, and Freedman was convinced that the film would bomb.
But on the day of the film’s release, March 30th, 1990, Freedman and his wife, who were attending because “somebody had to show up to this movie”, soon found themselves surprised when more and more people started attending, to the point that the line reached all around the theatre.

The film would earn around $135 million in North America, and over $66 million outside North America (where in the UK, the film would face severe censorship, just like with the animated cartoon before it. The word “Ninja” was replaced with hero, both on the film title and the song Turtle Power!, while Michelangelo’s nunchaku were removed, with his infamous show-off duel omitted[20]), for a worldwide total of over $200 million.
Pizza Hut would collaborate on a $20 million marketing campaign (despite that in the film, Domino’s Pizza was ordered by the Turtles).
And even more rewarding for all those involved, the film won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, beating out The Hunt for Red October, Tremors, Dick Tracy and even fellow Disney film Hooked![21].

As big as the previous two years had been for the Turtles, 1990 had effectively become the year of the Turtle.

[1] Based of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History by Andrew Farago. Very fascinating read on the franchise and includes segments with Brian Henson, particularly on the first Turtle film.

[2] Founder of Surge Licensing, a licensing corporation started in 1986, which had took on Mirage Studios as it’s first client. Mark Freedman had discovered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles though Kevin Siembieda of Palladium Books (who had developed Role-playing games for the TMNT), pitched them as a toy line to Playmates Toys, which lead to the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson animated series in 1987, which Mark Freedman was a producer of.

[3] In OTL, Walt Disney Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, MGM/UA, Orion Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Warner Bros. would turn down distributing the film, because, despite the popularity of the cartoon and the toy line, they thought the film was going to fall, due to the failure of 1987’s Masters of the Universe in OTL, thus the only distributor would be New Line Cinema (known then for the A Nightmare on Elm Street series, and mainly low-budget B movies and arthouse fare). Paramount would later acquire the franchise via Viacom (Paramount Global as of 2022) in 2009 after Laird sold it to them. With He Man succeeding in this timeline a bit more than it’s OTL counterpart due to casting Brian Thompson as the titular character rather than Dolph Lundgren, the TMNT franchise gets more film studios bidding for the film rights.

[4] In the OTL film, Brian Henson was second unit director as well as chief puppeteer.

[5] Northampton, in Massachusetts, is also a setting in the TMNT universe, where the Turtles reside in the original Mirage comics, starting from the end of Issue #10 “Silent Partner”. And from then on, whenever a TMNT adaptation has the Turtles leaving New York after being forced to leave, they usually reside on a farm (either the Jones farm or the O’Neil farm) in Northampton, Massachusetts (sometimes, it’s based in rural New York state). In Issue #14 “The Unmentionables”, there’s even an in-joke, in which Casey Jones passes Mirage Comics.

[6] Dave Sim, creator of Cerebus, collaborated with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird as they were big fans of him and Cerebus (for they had much in common, being self-publishing comic book cartoonists), with the Turtles and Cerebus having a crossover issue in 1986. And the mention of the Cerebus film is in reference to this.

[7] During a meeting with Peter Laird, Kevin Munroe, director of 2007’s TMNT movie, says that instead of getting a signature in his Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Issue #1 that he had brought along with him (for he wanted at least Peter’s signature if he didn’t get the job directing the fourth movie), Peter Laird had made a sketch of Raph saying a response just like this. The whole “Uncle Sam Wants You pose” that I included, is inspired by J. M. Flagg’s Uncle Sam WW1 poster.

[8] In this version of the film, there is more of a plot, in which Shredder recruits troubled teens into the Foot Clan, has them thieving and a silent crime wave, but the Shredder’s thieving is more purposeful, in that he is developing devices to destroy the foundations of buildings in New York City in order to collapse them and thus hold the city to ransom (inspired by Baxter Stockman’s plot in Issue #2 of the Mirage comics) and many of the first film’s deleted scenes are included, and that Danny is not related to April’s boss, but is acquainted with Casey due to coming from the same neighbourhood, plus the fight between the Turtles and the Shredder takes place at the Foot's base, after the Turtles foil the Shredder's plot and go to find Splinter. The film closes with April O'Neil making a TV report about the night's events (not mentioning the Turtles mind you, but giving subtle hints), which the Turtles celebrate and try and find a catchphrase, with Splinter recommending "cowabunga", before "I made a funny!"

[9] In OTL, the film’s budget was around $13.5 million, roughly one-third of what Tim Burton’s Batman had cost.

[10] Same as the OTL movie.

[11] Filming for Back to the Future Part II and III took place in between February 1989 and January 1990.

[12] With the death of Corey Feldman in TTL, Adam Carl (who voiced Donatello in TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze) takes on the voice of Donatello.

[13] Just like in OTL.

[14] True! Except in the OTL movie, he doubled for Donatello.

[15] Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Beals, Lorraine Bracco, Sandra Bullock, Melanie Griffith, Brook Shields, Marisa Tomei and Sean Young were all considered for the role of April before Judith Hoag was cast.

[16] Yep, all true!

[17] Kevin Eastman’s cameo in the OTL film isn’t seen at all. So I gave him a bit more of a visible one, as the taxi driver who remarks on Raphael chasing Casey when he passes him.

[18] Yep, in OTL, Sally Menke was removed for those same reasons. It’s a bit of a shame that we never got to see the movie if she had stayed on.

[19] Yeah, I introduced a Robert Zemeckis collaborator here for the film score, replacing OTL’s John Du Prez, and those Turtle Power facts are true as per OTL.

[20] Oh yes, welcome to 80s/90s Britain, when the TMNT cartoon was edited into a wholly completely different show! Seriously, you couldn’t have anyone saying ninja back then, hence why the UK version of the cartoon was Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles! It was why the show removed the weapons from the series entirely in the fourth season in order to make the show more appropriate for the international airings, and thus the weapons were replaced with the “Turtle Line”. Because nunchaku were heavily censored and in the second TMNT movie, Mikey basically had to use sausages in their place! And oddly enough, for the film's UK release, the BBFC actually removed all shots of Mikey using sausages, because according to them, any "streetwise 8 year old" would actually be influenced to use sausages in the place of nunchaku. I'm not joking!

[21] At OTL’s 63rd Academy Awards in 1991, Total Recall won the award for Best Visual Effects, when it was an Special Achievement Academy Award.
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12 October 2001
I had a dream last night where I was asked by Jim and Brian to be the co chief puppeteer for a fourth teenage mutant ninja turtles movie working alongside Steve Whitmire who is a big ninja turtles fan that would go the distance in terms of how the turtles would be portrayed by casting actual teenagers in the roles and despite it being only a dream I would very much like to pitch to Jim that idea if Steve will let me go on ahead and do so so yeah something that I thought about throwing out there.
Peter Linz
I Love the Sound of Muppets in the Morning....Sounds Like...Victory!!
Disney press release by Piper King, 2-15-2022
Guest post by @Trevor807 with @MNM041 and @Plateosaurus; idea by @kirbopher15, special thanks to @Nathanoraptor

It can’t be argued the Muppets are the most far-reaching TV stars in television history. Since Jim Henson first created a show about zany, surreal puppets for a local Washington D.C. station in 1955, and the Walt Disney Entertainment Company’s 1984 acquisition of the Muppets, they have conquered a variety of genres in movies and TV.

Now, they’re bent on conquering the morning show with their new NBC series, Good Muppet Morning!, which will ironically premiere tonight on NBC and Disney Direct. (In fact, there are hints that this entire show is actually being held late in the evening in-universe despite the characters pretending that they're hosting in the morning.) Co-developed by Muppet performers Kevin Clash and Bill Barretta with veteran writer Kirk Thatcher, this series is co-hosted by Clifford, Miss Piggy, and Scooter. Kermit the Frog, like in Too Late with Miss Piggy and Muppet Quiz, remains as the producer, though he also introduces each show this time.

Good Muppet Morning! is a whole new take on the tried-and-true variety show format”, says Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, former Disney chairman, and an executive producer and creative consultant on the new series. “Three hosts presenting brand-new sketches with Kermit continuing to provide stable leadership behind the scenes, a combination that's sure to entertain the audience”.

Each episode opens with Kermit providing teasers for some of the featured sketches and introducing Clifford, Piggy, Scooter, and the guest stars (“Yaaaaay!!!”), while the format consists of the three hosts presenting seven sketches (many of which are new sketch series to the Muppet canon, though there are returning series from earlier projects such as a reboot of Pigs in Space) as news stories, as well as interviewing guest stars (who also have their own skits).

These skits include Dr. Clifford & Dr. Fozzie (which follows the titular doctors bumbling their way through a surgery) [1], Rowlf and the News-Hounds (in which Rowlf and his old Purina Dog Chow cohort, Baskerville the Hound, along with Afghan Hound, try reporting news stories in the form of musical numbers), Feelin’ Those Fads (where sibling Muppet fans Alvin and Audrey report on the latest fads, usually fictional ones), and The WSR Crew (Whatever, Shrimp, and Rat - wait, Pepé’s not a shrimp, he's a king prawn, okay?), in which Gonzo, Rizzo, and Pepé [2] pull off some crazy stunts in a parody of r-comp shows from the 2000’s. [3]

And, of course, there's a universal rule that, if there's a Muppet TV show, Statler and Waldorf must heckle the Muppets and their guest stars, this time watching them on TV at their den like the one in the original 1975 Sex and Violence pilot. Sometimes, they'll even phone the show using a 1980’s landline (because it's an upgrade from a 1920’s candlestick phone) when Fozzie's on... just so he can hear their snarky commentary! Plus, the usual backstage segments with Kermit falling apart at the seams trying to get the Muppets under control. Will he ever learn that that's easier said than done?


Basically this, but replace Kermit and Miss Piggy with TTL’s hosts.

Like Too Late, there are some new Muppet characters as well, including Scooter’s friend Bobby (performed by Alice Dinnean), a very snarky but easygoing tomboy who not only loves skateboarding and playing sports, but is also a (not-so-secret) fan of ballet (one episode sees her dance with Benjamin Millepied) and really loves teasing the extremely feminine but un-ladylike Piggy. Also new to the Muppet canon are Clifford’s nephew Norman (performed by Clash protégé Tau Bennett and named after Clifford the Big Red Dog creator Norman Bridwell), a novice reporter who is often subject to accusations of nepotism from Piggy, Frida (Kathleen Kim [4], named after artist Frida Kahlo), a spiritual hippie artist and a high school friend of Janice’s whose eyes are hidden beneath her bangs a la Boober Waggle, and Cooperbot (Billy Barkhurst), a robot who will work for a quarter. (Literally, ‘cause he’ll only work for one minute unless you put another quarter into his coin slot).

And, like in other recent projects, some of the more obscure Muppets are getting their time to shine as well, such as the aforementioned Baskerville the Hound (Artie Esposito) and Afghan Hound (Dinnean), and Dolores [5] (Donna Kimball), the trumpet/trombone player in the Muppet Orchestra on The Muppet Show, now co-starring in her own recurring segment with the similarly obscure Mildred Huxtetter (Julianne Buescher) where the duo try to review musical performances, only for their reviews to fall apart in true Muppet fashion.

Also similar to Too Late, Good Muppet Morning! features celebrity guests that are often ostensibly there to promote something, but the interview segments get interrupted by typical Muppet antics. For example, in the very first episode, Nicholas Brendon and Amy Jo Johnson arrive to promote Resident Evil, only for the Swedish Chef to come running around trying to deal with rotten zombie-like foods. Or in subsequent episodes, Rizzo, Yolanda and other rats ravage all the foods brought in by Rachael Ray while she's promoting a cookbook, Steve Irwin treats the chaos caused by a rampaging Animal like a segment on his show, and retired NASCAR driver Kelley Earnhardt [6] challenges Bobby in a one-on-one stock car race while promoting Disney Direct’s new direct viewing series, NASCAR: Fast Women. These are just previews for what to expect, though.

As one of the three hosts would say to wrap up each show, "we hope you have a Good Muppet Morning!"

[1] Inspired by a similar sketch series on the obscure France-exclusive series Muppets TV.
[2] Inspired by a YouTube comment I read suggesting them as a trio.
[3] More on what those are later.
[4] IOTL, she performs Julia’s mother Elena and Ji-Young on Sesame Street.
[5] Better known as Trumpet Girl. IOTL, Rashida Jones coined the name Dolores on the set of The Muppets (she also performed Trumpet Girl during her cameo in the movie).
[6] Another butterfly; Kelley is the sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and was an aspiring race car driver before moving on to business due to a lack of opportunities, currently co-owning the JR Motorsports team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. I’d imagine there would be more female drivers in NASCAR from the 1990s on due to the societal changes, leading to Kelley herself having a long career driving for her father's team.

EDIT: Resized the images.
EDIT 2: Added apostrophe to 2000's. Alright, should be my last edit for this post.

RETCON: I renamed Walter and Wendy to Alvin (Shockeye7665's suggestion) and Audrey, and cast Artie Esposito as Alvin. I realized that Walter's name and performer would be different due to butterflies.
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27 May 2008
I am liking where Paul is taking swine trek so far like I really like the way that he is treating my Dearth Nadir character with a lot of what made Darth Vader so great in the Star Wars movies we are parodying with this while at the same time still paying tribute to who gonzo is I even asked Eric and Bill what they thought of this guy as a director and they seem to be of the same opinion as well especially when Kirk and Joey’s script for this is being taken so seriously but still having the touches that make the muppets the muppets can’t wait to go to the premiere in April 2009.
Dave Goelz
27 May 2008
I am liking where Paul is taking swine trek so far like I really like the way that he is treating my Dearth Nadir character with a lot of what made Darth Vader so great in the Star Wars movies we are parodying with this while at the same time still paying tribute to who gonzo is I even asked Eric and Bill what they thought of this guy as a director and they seem to be of the same opinion as well especially when Kirk and Joey’s script for this is being taken so seriously but still having the touches that make the muppets the muppets can’t wait to go to the premiere in April 2009.
Dave Goelz
I assume the "Joey" is Joey Mazzarino?
May 27, 2005:

I am liking where Paul is taking Pigs in Space so far. I really like the way that he is treating my Dearth Nadir character with a lot of what made Darth Vader so great in the Star Wars movies we are parodying with this, while at the same time, still paying tribute to who Gonzo is. I even asked Eric and Bill what they thought of this guy as a director and they seem to be of the same opinion as well, especially when Kirk and Joey’s script for this is being taken so seriously but still having the touches that make the Muppets the Muppets. Kevin and Jerry made the right choice by trusting Paul there. I can’t wait to attend the premiere in July 2007.

Dave Goelz
May 27, 2005:

I am liking where Paul is taking Pigs in Space so far. I really like the way that he is treating my Dearth Nadir character with a lot of what made Darth Vader so great in the Star Wars movies we are parodying with this, while at the same time, still paying tribute to who Gonzo is. I even asked Eric and Bill what they thought of this guy as a director and they seem to be of the same opinion as well, especially when Kirk and Joey’s script for this is being taken so seriously but still having the touches that make the Muppets the Muppets. Kevin and Jerry made the right choice by trusting Paul there. I can’t wait to attend the premiere in July 2007.

Dave Goelz
I assume you eventually want to assemble these micro-posts into a guest post, right? I like the idea and you're executing it well, but please don't spam the Guest Thread with draft work. This is for completed work and questions//answers about it. There are Draft PMs for this.
8 December 2000
I already told Jim Steve and Dave this but due to some disagreements I had with Tim Hill during post production on muppets from space I would be stepping down from full time puppeteering work at the end of the year there are a lot of factors to my decision to do this now my ever growing family my wanting to do things as a director a bit more like I am as of writing this doing preproduction work on Harry Fletcher and the chamber of secrets and feeling limited by just being known as miss piggy and Grover among others but I already told the guys who should succeed me as characters like piggy fozzie Bert Sam animal and Grover and that is a young puppeteer I met while working on too late called Eric Jacobson I am sure whoever will play Cookie Monster after me will do fine but I am adiment about Eric taking up the hat karate moves and patriotism thanks for the ride muppets miss you I will.
Frank Oz