I partnered with Disney who brought me to LA for an all expense press trip for the coverage of my posts and interviews. All opinions are honest and my own.
Photo Credits to ABC
I was so excited to get to go on set with Randall Einhorn (director) and Bill Baretta (executive producer).
What do executive producers do?
Bill said: “Well our jobs intersect quite well. We try to decide what the stories are going to be. We have to keep track on what the characters are doing and we have to keep track of who they are in the script phase. In production phase we have to figure out what the actors are going to do. Randall brings a documentary style which we’re not used to. We do more presentational play instead of documentary. So we had to let the cameras find the characters. Which is not what we’re used to. Randall has the vision as the director of how these pictures will come together.”
How do you make the puppets work?
Bill told us well there’s different types of puppets. In Kermit you can see the knuckles and see how he manipulates his face to make the emotions. Fozzie is operated by two people. One person does the head and someone else does his body. Head and left hand operate together. It’s a collaboration. Different characters operate in different ways. Most of the characters are performed by 6 people total. If I’m doing a scene where Pepe and Swedish Chef are in the same scene then I need someone who knows both characters to be in the scene. Dialogue is done later. We shoot one side and then turn it around and shoot the other side. Ms. Piggy and Fozzie are done by the same person. We have to have one person stand in for Fozzie while the main guy does Ms. Piggy and then they would switch. This way we’re always true to the character. Uh that sounds complicated to me!
What is your production schedule like?
Randall explained that they prep it for 5 days and shoot for 6 days. It takes a lot of time to do the simplest thing. We have to have monitors for our monitors and floor removed for the puppeteers. We have to see what the cameras see on the monitors. It’s 15 minutes to rehearse a scene it takes 45 to light the scene. In normal shows it’s 28 hours of work to prepare for shooting. This show takes 2 hours to get your first shot. That’s 56 hours to get to shooting. Rehearsals are while we’re shooting. We’re constantly rehearsing. These dopey puppets are in the way. Are they looking at the person they’re supposed to be looking at? It’s the simplest things that make it difficult.
You have a lot of new writers. Did you guys look back at old episodes for inspiration?
Both agreed that the writers looked back on old episodes themselves so they would know and they did their own research. We made a book of the characters with their quirks and what we know about them. We’re still learning the characters. Gonzo isn’t the same guy he was 30 years ago. The cast/puppets are constantly evolving like we are. The relationships between the puppets come from the relationships between the puppeteers.
How much input do you have with the writers?
Randall explained: We have a fair amount of input. Most of the time you say that character won’t do that and we have to listen because they’ve been playing that character for 25 years.
Bill explained that “Walter was just someone that didn’t have a place in these episodes yet. That was a choice made by the show writers and what they felt comfortable with. Walter will be coming soon as some other characters that have been set to the side.”
Why a late night talk show?
Randall stated: Our writing staff came up with late night for the new show. We wanted Kermit to have a normal life so we gave him a job. A talk show places them in the real world. It gives Piggy celebrity status and she’s a strong female lead so she can be a diva. The show is all about her.
How do you cast guest stars?
Both agreed that they ust call them. Friends calling friends. Texting them and saying “Hey you want to come on? Yes. Dave Grohl just wanted to come do it with us. Sometimes we get certain people in and sometimes we just take who’s available. Kristen Chenoweth was a replacement and I can’t imagine anyone else doing that job now. Reese was amazing in her job too.
Is there a dream cast you’d love to have?
There’s people that’d I’d live to have come play. Jeffrey Tambor or would be fun. Bill told us that Pepe’d like to work with Sophia Vergara! Jimmy Stewart would be great. He’s busy though.
Has there been any talk of redoing some old skits? Like Phenomenon with Sandra Bullock?
Bill: We’ve been talking about bringing some old acts back on the show. I don’t want to give too much away.
I hope that you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at The Muppets as much as I did and be sure to tune in TONIGHT at 8|7c on ABC for the “Going, Going, Gonzo” episode!!
Does your family watch the Muppets or did you watch the older ones?