ABC is hoping The Muppets — and their personal lives — are able to captivate both new viewers and those who grew up watching the Jim Henson franchise. The new series features familiar faces Kermit the Frog, his now ex, Miss Piggy, and BFF Fozzie Bear, as well as a cast of returning favorites and new arrivals as the comedy explores the Muppets‘ personal lives as they mount a late-night talk show hosted by Miss Piggy.
Here, Kermit and Fozzie open up in a candid “conversation” with one another about working with your ex, how personal the new Muppets will get and how Up Late will compete with the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and company.
Fozzie: Kermit, tell me: What’s it like working with your ex?
Kermit: Extremely challenging. Working with Miss Piggy has always been like an Olympic event; now it’s all that — plus the X-Games.
Fozzie: How are you still working on the show? I always heard that the producers are the first to go when a “shomance” goes bad.
Kermit: Shomance? Fozzie, where did you get that? You’ve been reading The Hollywood Reporter again, haven’t you? Good grief. … All I know is that I am the executive producer of her talk show, Up Late With Miss Piggy, and that I serve at the pleasure of the network and Piggy. So far, I’m here.
Fozzie: How has your split with Piggy impacted how you approach her with notes for the show?
Kermit: When approaching Miss Piggy with notes, I now use a 20-foot-pole. OSHA said the 10-foot-pole just wasn’t long enough anymore.
Fozzie: Do you and Piggy have an understanding about bringing other people you’re dating around on the set?
Kermit: No, we do not have an “understanding” about bringing people we’re dating to the set — or, pretty much, anything else. We take it one unpleasant incident at a time.
Fozzie: With the cameras following our personal lives, too, how much will we find out about your breakup?
Kermit: Absolutely everything, I’m afraid … very afraid … petrified.
Fozzie: Is there any part of your life that’s off-limits to the documentary crew cameras?
Kermit: Nope. Cameras everywhere. When you agree to a documentary show, always read your contact very, very carefully.
Kermit: What about your personal life: What will we learn about you?
Fozzie: On this show, I bear it all! Get it? Bear it all? Bare it all? … I still got it, right?
Kermit: You sure do, Fozzie. By the way, what’s the one thing about you that you don’t want the behind-the-scenes documentary crew to reveal?
Fozzie: My male pattern balding. Oh dear, I just told you and everyone who reads The Hollywood Reporter, which means I revealed it. … Hoo-boy. I guess that means nothing’s off-limits.
Kermit: Why are you so fascinated with my relationship with Piggy?
Fozzie: Well, I don’t really understand it. Why did you split up? Come to think of it, why were you together in the first place? It’s all very confusing.
Kermit: Agree. So, Fozzie, I hear you’ve started dating a woman … and she’s a human. What do you think of dating outside your species?
Fozzie: Becky [played by Riki Lindhome] is great. Her family is still getting used to me, but she and I are on the same page. Well, maybe not the same exact page, but we are in the same general nonfiction. As for dating outside my species, it is a challenge. I don’t know how you did it for all these years. Humans are tough; I can’t even imagine dating a pig.
Fozzie: What topics are off-limits on Up Late?
Kermit: Nothing is off-limits. Our rule is to do anything that’s funny, entertaining, audience-grabbing and that makes Miss Piggy look very good. It’s a tough job.
Fozzie: How are you trying to make Piggy’s late-night show different from the competition?
Kermit: Our show is the only one hosted by a pig. And our host is not named Jimmy. You probably shouldn’t print this, but I heard a rumor Stephen Colbert makes his staff call him Jimmy backstage.
Fozzie: Who is your dream guest star for Up Late?
Kermit: Oh, we’ve already had several guest star dreams come true: Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Groban, Imagine Dragons, Laurence Fishburne — to name just a few. But we’re always looking for new dream guest stars who’d like to have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of being interviewed and sharing the stage with Miss Piggy. Funny thing — when we have a guest star, once in a lifetime is usually all they can handle.
Fozzie: How many viral videos will we have to produce to compete with the likes of Jimmy Fallon and company?
Kermit: I’m not sure exactly how many viral videos we’ll need to produce. Chip, our IT guy, is currently running data to see what the cut-off number is for competing with the likes of Fallon and company.
Fozzie: Would we ever feature any other late-night hosts on Up Late?
Kermit: Absolutely. We’d love to have Jimmy or Jimmy or Stephen on Up Late. Heck, we’re already in talks with that guy who does the local access cable show in Burbank. But, that’ll only happen if he promises to leave the parrots at home.
Fozzie: How timely will our opening monologues be?
Kermit: Extremely timely. On every show, the Up Late writing staff — Gonzo, Pepé and Rizzo — wait until the very last minute to write the monologue. And in many cases, in most cases … the opening monologue is not written until after the show is over, if even then.
Fozzie: Will Piggy ever do any on-the-scene bits the way Jimmy Kimmel does?
Kermit: Yes. We’ll go anywhere and do anything as long as it’s funny, entertaining, audience-grabbing, makes Miss Piggy look very good … and we can get there on a MTA bus.
Kermit: Not to be insensitive, but will you be updating your comedy to reach today’s audiences?
Fozzie: Updating? What do you mean? Oh, like topical references? Sure, I’ll do those. Say something topical and I’ll come up with a joke.
Kermit: One last question: Do you think your role on Up Late and in The Muppets could launch your career to a new level? If so, what are your hopes for your future in show business?
Fozzie: It’s showbiz, anything can happen. But the most important thing is I’m still working side-by-side with my best friend in the whole entire world … you.
Kermit: Thanks, Fozzie. I feel the same way.
The Muppets premieres Tuesday on ABC.