11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Muppets' Boss Explains Why He Broke Up Kermit and Miss Piggy
ABC's The Muppets shocked fans across the globe Aug. 4 when Kermit and Miss Piggy formally addressed their romantic split with a statement to the press during the Television Critics Association's summer press tour that went viral.
The relationship between the iconic characters will be one of the new facets of ABC's upcoming Muppets revival from executive producers Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory), Bob Kushell (3rd Rock From the Sun) as the series will feature Miss Piggy hosting her own late-night talk show, with Kermit and company also on board. The entire process will be filmed documentary style for The Muppets, with the series also focusing on the personal lives of characters including Fozzie, Gonzo and company. (The trailer for the series, released in May, also revealed Kermit and Piggy's split.)
So why break up one of pop culture's most beloved couples? To hear Prady tell it, he was simply following the characters, a skill he honed while working alongside Chuck Lorre on TV's No. 1 comedy, CBS' The Big Bang Theory.
"One of the places it came from is Eric Jacobson [Piggy] and Steve Whitmire [Kermit] have done press with them for the past however many years and they always get asked about their relationship," Prady tells The Hollywood Reporter. "Because there has been no ongoing place to tell that story, they've been caught in this, 'Well, it's complicated' kind of place."
Prady, who started his career working with Jim Henson, noted that the idea of splitting the couple up came after he watched an interview with Kermit and Piggy to support one of the recent Muppets movies.
"Just listening to it, I said it sounds like they broke up. They're being really evasive. Then Bob Kushell said, 'What if they're broken up?' and it seemed to make sense with what I saw when they were interviewed," he noted. "It seemed like that couple that was putting up a public face but there was something going on."
Prady liked the idea and immediately started thinking about questions like why and what could have gone wrong between them.
"We started talking about it and I said Piggy probably wanted to be 'Brangelina' and wanted to be a public couple — and Kermit is a quiet fella from Mississippi who probably likes a night at home," he said. "I thought about other couples I know where one or both people in the couple are famous and the challenges they face and the difficulty they have of having a public persona of going out in the world and being recognized and how that affects your relationship. I said, 'Boy, I think it's entirely possible that they broke up and that they both had a good reason.' "
The ABC series, set to debut in the fall, will also likely put the spotlight on Kermit and Piggy's actual break up. "We might in the first episode even see the break up that maybe there was a paparazzo shooting it while it happened a year or so ago," Prady said.
The producer, who will split time on ABC's The Muppets and CBS' The Big Bang Theory — which both film on lots in Burbank — hopes the series will be able to produce a full 22-episode season. He's approaching the storytelling on both shows in the same fashion: by following the characters rather than plotting out the entire season in advance.
"One of the things I learned from Chuck Lorre is to get out of the way of your characters," he said.
The Muppets debuts Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. on ABC. Rewatch the 10-minute Muppets presentation that convinced ABC to move forward with the series here.