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Disney+ is changing gears with its planned new scripted take on The Muppets.
Creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis (Once Upon a Time) and Josh Gad (Frozen) have walked away from the scripted comedy, called Muppets Live Another Day, which they had been quietly at work on for months, and Disney+ has opted to abandon work on the series. (Though never officially announced, the project has been in the works since at least February.)
Sources say the creative differences arose after producers Muppets Studios recently changed executives. Kitsis, Horowitz and Gad had been prepping what they playfully referred to as Muppets 1984, an eight-episode limited series that took place after the events of Muppets Take Manhattan. Kitsis and Horowitz had been working directly with Muppets Studios vp Debbie McClellan on the project.
However, McClellan recently departed and Disney CEO Bob Iger tapped Disney Parks Live Entertainment senior vp David Lightbody to take over Muppets Studios. Lightbody, sources say, wanted to do his own take on The Muppets, while Kitsis, Horowitz and Gad felt strongly about their vision for the show. Lightbody is said to have offered the trio the opportunity to move forward with The Muppets in a new way, but they opted to walk away from the show entirely rather than throw away months of work and a concept they believed in. Sources note that the parting was amicable.
The decision to retool the planned Muppets show will not impact the unscripted shortform series Disney+ announced last month at D23. That show — Muppets Now — will feature beloved characters like Kermit and Miss Piggy alongside celebrity guests.
Muppets is the second planned show that Disney+ has scrapped. The streaming service also recently abandoned plans for Disney villains drama Book of Enchantment, from showrunner Michael Seitzman, after having issues with its dark tone and budget.
This is the latest speed bump for a new Muppets scripted series. Disney-owned ABC rebooted the series with Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady and Bob Kushell a few years ago. That show kicked off with strong buzz after its short pilot presentation went viral. However, the ABC take pretty much died on the vine and efforts to change showrunners and revive the show for the second half of its first season were unsuccessful.
For their part, Kitsis and Horowitz, as well as Gad, all have shows in the works for Apple’s forthcoming streaming service, with the anthology Amazing Stories and the animated comedy Central Park, respectively. Kitsis and Horowitz are in the second of a four-year overall deal with ABC Studios, their home since signing on to Lost as staff writers in 2004.
Disney+ is set to bow Nov. 12 with a roster of programming from Marvel, Star Wars and other scripted and unscripted originals, as well as a deep vault of library titles from Disney, Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm.
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