I was invited as media to cover this event. All opinions are my own.
During my recent visit to LA for The Good Dinosaur Premiere, I also had the opportunity to visit a few sets for ABC TV. One of those was the “Up Late with Miss Piggy” set from The Muppets!
Find The Muppets on ABC TV Tuesday’s at 8-8:30pm ET. While at the studios we were able to watch the latest episode (the one that airs tonight) “Going, Going, Gonzo.” This episode’s guest stars include Joseph Gordon-Levitt and and Foo-Fighters’ Dave Grohl. Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins Scooter, Pepe and the gang for poker night, while Dave Grohl challenges animal to a drum-off! Plus will the Great Gonzo perform his dream stunt? Tune it to see!
The Muppets stars all of your favorites; Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Pepe the King Prawn, Rizzo, Scooter, Rowlf and The Electric Mayhem.
After watching the latest episode, we sat down with Executive Producers Randall Einhorn (“The Office” “Modern Family”) and Bill Barretta (Various Muppets projects and performer). We kicked off the Q&A by asking about their roles and Randall mentioned that they cover the stories and what the stories will be about. Randall described Bill as “the Muppet Captain” because he’s been a longtime performer and advises on the direction of the characters. Bill adds that it’s been a fun challenge working together because Randall brings a Documentary Style to the show.
We then asked about the mechanics of using The Muppets characters. Bill shares that there are different types of puppets. Adding, “Kermit for example, is a puppet that you can almost see if you really look. You can almost see the knuckles of Steve Whitmire’s hand and they create those facial manipulations. He’s a very malleable Puppet. He also has arm rods that go into his wrists so he’s what we call a Rod Puppet.” He adds, “a character like Fozzie is usually operated by two people. It’s one person that’s doing the head and [another] doing the behavior and the body of the Character.”
Next we asked about their production technique. Randall shared that they prep the show for 5 days and shoot for 6. He also added that each scene takes approximately 1 hour to rehearse with lighting and cameras. He gave an example of a recent episode they shot where it had 28 scenes, which meant 28 hours of non-shooting hours just to rehearse. So there’s quite a lot that goes into each episode.
When asked about looking back at old episodes for inspiration, Bill shared that the writers did a lot of research, but that he along with the performers have worked with The Muppets for a long time.
Next we asked why the theme of a late night talk show. Randall shared that was the theme the writing staff came up with, adding they wanted Kermit to be in real-life situations, like having a job and mortgage. And Miss Piggy plays a celebrity who has a tak show, which is kind of like Ellen. So it was all real-life situations.
When asking about selecting guest stars for the show, Randall shares that they either call people they’ve worked with previously or many times the actors want to be apart of the show. Bill adds that sometimes the script dictates the type of person they needs as well. We also asked what their dream cameo list of guest stars would be and the two mentioned Ringo, Sofia Vergara and Jimmy Stewart.
It was really fun to visit the set and learn about some of our favorite Muppets growing up!
Do you have a favorite Muppet?