Disney has proven itself more than capable of milking its properties for every bit of profit that they can. Since acquiring first Marvel and then LucasFilms, there has been a steady stream of buzz over a variety of spinoff projects centered on the various characters that were acquired… from Iron Man to Boba Fett.
Oddly, the Mouse has not done the same with one of its other properties, the Muppets. Sure, there have been some synergistic TV appearances by Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy and the gang, and the feature film The Muppets did enough at the box office to spawn this spring's Muppets Most Wanted. But, as with Star Wars and Marvel comics, the Muppets have their own universe that could be mined for additional projects. These secondary felt performers have enough juice to take a turn at center stage.
The Great Gonzo
Some Muppets observers would argue that 1999's Muppets from Space was Gonzo's vehicle, since he was, after all, the Muppet from space. Be that as it may, if the Incredible Hulk can keep being revamped and re-launched, then so can Gonzo. The weird looking blue guy even has his own established posse with Rizzo the Rat and Camilla the Chicken ready to join in. Take Gonzo and his pals, drop them in some well-known destination like Paris or Las Vegas, and set them loose to wreak havoc. It practically writes itself.
Like all great drummers from Keith Moon on, Animal has always been on the restless side. Does anyone really think that the crazy guy manning the skins for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem doesn't have a side project or two? We saw him hanging with Jack Black at an anger management retreat in The Muppets, so just borrow a page from the Judd Apatow/Jason Segel playbook and assign Jonah Hill or Michael Cera to get Animal to the big show at the Greek or wherever. Russell Brand will seem innocent -- and less hairy -- by comparison.
The fuzzy lipped Swede has always been a fan favorite and has even done commercial work on his own, like taking over cooking duties at the ESPN commissary in one of the network's "This is SportsCenter" promos. When a network tried to build a sitcom around superstar chef Emeril Lagasse, it was an epic fail, mostly because he wasn't funny and couldn't act. Swedish Chef doesn't have those same limitations. Install him in a sitcom where he's the new chef at a five-star restaurant in Manhattan, give him a strong ensemble, and voila! Or, you know, whatever the equivalent expression is in Swedish.
Rowan Atkinson spent years starring in Mr. Bean projects without talking, so the precedent is already established for Beaker's brand of comedy. Get the inept lab assistant separated from his boss, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, and have him be mistaken for a spy or international art thief or an astronaut. Even with just his "meep-meep," he can still save the day and get the girl.
Rowlf the Dog
How many people know that Rowlf was actually Jim Henson's first nationally known Muppet, appearing on The Jimmy Dean Show starting in 1963? Everyone just assumes that it was Kermit, who was still relegated to local TV at the time. In the grand tradition of Ray and Walk the Line, Rowlf really needs a biopic. From his early television success in the 1960s through his transition to ensemble player in the '70s and '80s to largely being forgotten now, his story could be the stuff of little gold statues.
If you've ever thought that holiday specials were too boring and safe, we have some good news for you: Lady Gaga will host a holiday special this year with the Muppets — presumably in an effort to keep things both festive and family-friendly. Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular will feature songs from the singer's latest album, Artpop, as well as some traditional holiday favorites. The hosts will be joined by special guests Elton John, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and RuPaul, ensuring that it will be the strangest holiday special the world has ever seen.
According to ABC, the show will be an "avant-garde twist" on traditional holiday variety shows, and is apparently a "dream come true" for Gaga, who has always wanted to perform with the Muppets. She is set to duet with Kermit the Frog and have the creatures join her for a new interpretation of her lead single, "Applause." And for those who would rather watch the puppets than the pop star, the Swedish Chef, Beaker, and Animal will be on hand to put a Muppet-y twist on classics like "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells." The special will also feature a sneak preview of the upcoming film Muppets Most Wanted, which will hit theaters in 2014.
Gaga has a long history with the Muppets, having taken Kermit as her date to the 2009 VMAs and used pieces from Jim Henson's Creature Shop on her tours. However, her most famous Muppet-collaboration is the jacket she wore in 2009 that was made entirely of Kermit puppets, and might actually beat out the meat dress as the strangest thing she's ever worn. Hopefully, Gaga will avoid turning her co-hosts into clothing this time around, although we predict there will be some kind of fashion showdown between her and Miss Piggy. Gaga was also supposed to have made a cameo in 2011's The Muppets, but the sequence was cut for time.
This is the second holiday special that the pop star has hosted for ABC, after she headlined A Very Gaga Thanksgiving in 2011. That event featured a duet with Tony Bennett, a sit-down interview with Katie Couric, and a cooking segment with celebrity chef Art Smith, in addition to Gaga performing several tracks from her second album, Born This Way. She even got into the holiday spirit with a performance of White Christmas — although, in true Gaga fashion, she wrote a whole new verse for the song (which you can see below). It's hard to imagine how the superstar will manage to top A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, which was equal parts insane and entertaining, although we're personally hoping it involves an homage to the greatest Christmas movie of all time, The Muppets Christmas Carol.
Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular will air on November 28th at 9:30 pm.