Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'The Muppets' Premieres Tonight on ABC, Explores Backstage Relationships at Miss Piggy's Late Night Show

Miss Piggy and Kermit.  Photo Credit: ABC/Michael Desmond
ABC's new soapy version of The Muppets premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT. In "Pig Girls Don't Cry (Pilot)," Miss Piggy is furious that Kermit booked Elizabeth Banks as a guest on her late night talk show Up Late with Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear meets his girlfriend’s parents, and Grammy Award-winning rock band Imagine Dragons performs their new single “Roots”.

The Muppets will "explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, breakups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires."  With Kermit serving as executive producer of Up Late with Miss Piggy, hosted by his ex, things get complicated in a hurry.  And, of course, there are lots of laughs.

Check out a breakdown of the characters below and watch the trailer for the series.

The Muppets Characters

Writer on “Up Late with Miss Piggy” on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

Rizzo has risen from the sewers to the stars. After more than 10 years with the Muppets, one can safely say that Rizzo is one of the most famous rats in the world (not that there are all that many famous rats in the world).

Originally from the sewers of Brooklyn, Rizzo knew at an early age that show business would become his life when his family took him to the Passaic premiere of “Willard.” “I saw all dose rats on da big screen and thought to myself, hey, I can do dat,” says Rizzo. “Besides — rats are the only ones who actually enjoy studio commissary food.”

For several years, Rizzo traveled from theater to theater, waiting in the wings (and the back of the kitchen) for his big break. When he arrived at “The Muppet Show” in 1980, he knew this was the place to be. It was here where Rizzo was ‘discovered’ by Kermit the Frog. “It’s not like we were actively looking for rats,” remembers Kermit. “It was just cheaper to hire him than to call an exterminator.”

Rizzo worked his way up with the Muppets (“When you’re a rat, there’s no place to go but up, says Rizzo”), first working backstage, then eventually appearing in sketches and musical numbers. He made his film debut in “The Great Muppet Caper” and was featured with several of his rat friends in “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”

With “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” Rizzo took on his first major role alongside The Great Gonzo™ as narrator of the story. Rizzo was also in feature films, “Muppet Treasure Island” and “Muppets from Space” and the ABC primetime series “Muppets Tonight.” Most recently, Rizzo was hired by his friend Gonzo to be a writer on the syndicated talk show “Up Late with Miss Piggy.”

In spite of his celebrity status, Rizzo vows not to let fame affect him. He does, however, see some advantages. “For years as a struggling actor, I’ve eaten in alleys behind some of the dumpiest delis around,” says Rizzo. “Now, I get ta’ eat behind some real nice places.”

Will he ever become tired of being recognized on the streets? “When you travel in the sewers,” he says, “you’d be surprised how few people recognize you.”

Owner of Rowlf’s Tavern on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

Rowlf is a piano-playing dog with a down-to-earth manner and somewhat solitary habits. He lives alone, and after a day at work usually comes home, fetches the paper, and then takes himself for a walk. Rowlf is a keen observer of life and the philosopher of the group. But, his deep-down love of the worst in vaudeville comedy can easily be seen in his “Veterinarian’s Hospital” sketches on “The Muppet Show,” in which he rivals Fozzie for delivering the most awful puns. Currently, Rowlf is the owner of Rowlf’s Tavern, a local piano bar in Los Angeles.

Talent Coordinator on “Up Late with Miss Piggy” on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

Scooter started his career as Kermit the Frog’s energetic and excitable assistant. Officially, his occupation was “gopher” — that is, when anyone needs anything, Scooter would “go-fer” — coffee, sandwiches, supplies, etc. He has done such a good job helping Kermit keep things on track; he was recently promoted to Talent Coordinator on “Up Late with Miss Piggy.” With an eager-to-please look on his face, Scooter is perhaps the only one who knows exactly where everyone is and what is supposed to happen next.

Fozzie Bear
Warm-up Comic / Sidekick on “Up Late with Miss Piggy,” on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

Fozzie Bear is the self-proclaimed “funniest stand-up bear comedian in the world,” an assertion that is helped by the fact that he is also the only stand-up bear comedian in the world. The only cub of Emily Bear, Fozzie indicated his love for comedy at an early age when he sat up in his crib and asked his mother, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” He is still seeking a satisfactory—and funny—answer to this question.

Fozzie began his career touring small clubs where he was hit by every variety of fruit and vegetable in the world. After being bonked by an over-ripe cantaloupe, he decided television would be a good (and less messy) way to make a living. As fate would have it, Kermit the Frog happened to be in the audience that night. Impressed by Fozzie’s perseverance and his willingness to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged audiences, Kermit asked him to join a new show he was producing.

That show was, of course, “The Muppet Show.” Since getting his big break on that international television series in 1976, Fozzie has shared the stage with such legendary comics as Steve Martin, John Cleese, Bob Hope, George Burns, Milton Berle and Jonathan Winters.

After getting his feet wet in television, Fozzie made the big plunge into feature films with “The Muppet Movie.” This was followed by “The Great Muppet Caper,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Muppet Treasure Island,” “Muppets From Space,” “The Muppets,” and “Muppets Most Wanted.” Currently, Fozzie serves as the warm-up / sidekick for the syndicated talk show, “Up Late with Miss Piggy.”

From his polka dot tie, his “funny” pork pie hat and trademark “Wocka-Wocka,” right down to the hook that pulls him off stage, Fozzie is a comic in the classic vaudeville tradition (He lives by the motto: “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants”, despite the fact that, as a bear, he doesn’t wear pants. Go figure!?)

Like his comedic forebears (Get it? For Bears? Ahh! Funn-ee! Wocka! Wocka!), Fozzie will do anything for a laugh…even if it means getting hit in the face with a pie or slipping on a banana peel. Fozzie lives by three simple rules: “Tell funny jokes, use lots of props, and eat plenty of chicken soup!” Why chicken soup? “It couldn’t hurt! Wocka-Wocka!!”

Kermit the Frog
Executive Producer “Up Late with Miss Piggy” on ABCs “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

An international star of the highest magnitude and the world’s most famous amphibian, Kermit the Froghad the most humble of beginnings. Born one of several thousand tadpoles in a southern swamp, Kermit’s life began swimmingly. His early years were typical, the most notable event being his transformation from tadpole to frog.

Ah….but that’s another tail. Long before Kermit first appeared on the silver screen, he began his career with a dream. With only his talent, banjo, and a song in his heart, a young, green Kermit headed out to make his way in the big world of show business. His first stop was Washington, D.C. where he starred in a local television show, “Sam and Friends,” which earned him his first Emmy Award.

Since then, Kermit has literally hopped to the top of the entertainment pantheon, a feat honored in 2002 when the frog was awarded with his own star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. This event marked the first time an amphibian had been honored with this stellar award.

With almost 60years in the entertainment industry under his tiny belt, Kermit boasts countless credits in television, feature film and online. He has guest-hosted The Tonight Show, met the Queen of England, been a special correspondent on Nightline and donned suspenders to fill in for Larry King on CNN. He has had his likeness created in giant balloon form for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and served as the Grand Marshall in the Tournament of Roses Parade (1996), and been the first frog to ever address the prestigious Oxford Union in England (1994).

In 1956, Kermit made his network television debut on Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show.” This led to many more TV appearances and specials, and then his big break in 1969, Kermit, along with his Muppet friends, joined the cast of a new show called “Sesame Street.”

Seven years later, the primetime hit television series, “The Muppet Show,” gained Kermit a legion of older fans and catapulted the mild-mannered frog to superstardom in more than 100 countries. Kermit’s success on “The Muppet Show” led to a string of feature films including “The Muppet Movie,” “The Great Muppet Caper,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (where he took on the pivotal role of Bob Cratchit), “Muppet Treasure Island,” “Muppets From Space” and “The Muppets.” In 2011, Kermit and the rest of the Muppets reunited to shoot “The Muppets,” one of the best-reviewed films of the year, and were back at it again in “Muppets Most Wanted,” which was released March 2014.

On Kermit’s 50th birthday, the United States Postal Service released a set of stamps with photos of Kermit and some of his fellow Muppets. The background of the stamp sheet featured a silhouette of creator Jim Henson sitting in a window well, with Kermit sitting in his lap looking at him.

Kermit added the title of author to his long list of credits with the publication of One Frog Can Make A Difference: Kermit’s Guide to Life in the 90’s (1993) as well as a memoir/self-help book called Before You Leap: A Frog’s Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons (2006).

Successful music endeavors include Kermit Unpigged (1994), where Kermit sang duets with such recording artists as Vince Gill, Linda Ronstadt and Don Henley, Grammy Award-winning A Green and Red Christmas (2006) and The Muppets, the album from the film of the same name that won the first-ever Academy Award for a song in a Muppets film, Man or Muppet, written by Grammy Award-winning Bret McKenzie. In addition, he has worked with Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran, Jimmy Fallon and Josh Groban.

Music video credits include a re-mix of the ever-popular The Muppet Show Theme Song with alternative rock band OK Go, best known for their award-winning elaborate and quirky videos (2011). Then in 2012, Kermit partnered with Grammy-Award winning artist CeeLo Green to record All I Need Is Love, an original holiday song and music video performed with CeeLo and the Muppets.

Academic achievements include Kermit’s aforementioned address to the students at Oxford University and an honorary degree from Long Island University in 1996, making him Dr. Kermit the Frog.

More active than ever, Kermit has recently appeared on “Good Morning America,” “Jimmy Fallon,” “Saturday Night Live,” “The Colbert Report,” “WWE Raw,” “The Voice,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Queen Latifah Show,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “The View,” “The Bachelorette,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The 68th Annual Academy Awards” and many more! He currently serves as the Executive Producer on “Up Late with Miss Piggy.”

As he looks to the future, does Kermit show any signs of slowing down? “Slow down?” he asks. “I just got started!”

The Great Gonzo
Head Writer for “Up Late with Miss Piggy” on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

What is Gonzo? Rumor has it that one of his ancestors was a turkey…or maybe an anteater….or some have mentioned a toaster oven. But it is best to think of Gonzo the way his friends describe him — He’s a….whatever…and they love him for it.

Now known as an international performance artist and daredevil, Gonzo began his career as a traveling plumber (He has often noted that plumbing and show business have a great deal in common, ask him for the details.) But Gonzo wanted to do more than unclog drains and re-pipe kitchens. He wanted to be a movie star. So, naturally (for him) he headed to Bombay, India. When told that the place to go to become a rich and famous movie star is Hollywood, he responded, “Sure, if you want to do it the easy way!” Gonzo, suffice it to say, never does anything the easy way.

Gonzo never made it to Bombay, but his penchant for combining high culture with a high tolerance for pain was noted by Kermit the Frog who gave Gonzo his very own spot on the first episode of “The Muppet Show.” After a few appearances (i.e. eating a steel-belted radial tire while humming “Flight of the Bumblebee,” or reciting Hamlet’s soliloquy while being shot out of a cannon), Gonzo was star. The rest is history…

After supporting roles in “The Muppet Movie,” “The Great Muppet Caper,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan” and “Muppet Treasure Island,” Gonzo took on the role of Charles Dickens in “The Muppet Christmas Carol.” He played his first lead role in the feature film “Muppets From Space,” and returned to his plumbing roots in the international hit movie, “The Muppets” and “Muppets Most Wanted.” Gonzo was recently hired as the head writer of “Up Late with Miss Piggy” and oversees a diverse team of rats, prawns and humans.

Pepé The King Prawn
Writer on “Up Late with Miss Piggy” on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

First of all, Pepé is a King Prawn…NOT a shrimp. (This is not a mistake you want to make, trust us!) Born off the coast of Mallorca, Spain, Pepé was discovered during an early morning casting call. Unfortunately, the casting was done by a fisherman using a net, and the role was as a seafood entree at a local eatery.

While being breaded, Pepé realized there was literally no future in the seafood industry and decided to go into show business. After washing ashore in Hollywood, Pepé joined the Muppets and first appeared on the ABC television show “Muppets Tonight.” This led to his breakthrough role in feature film—“Muppets From Space,” “The Muppets,” and “Muppets Most Wanted.”There’s been no stopping him since. He was recently hired as a writer for the syndicated late night show, “Up Late with Miss Piggy.”

An inveterate schemer, Pepé is forever trying to get Kermit (whose name he mispronounces as “Karmen”) to go along with his usually less-than-honest plans. It is not that Pepé is a bad guy — it’s just that he prefers to get everything for free and not have to do any work to get it. In addition to his many monetary pursuits, Pepé is a self-styled hot-&-spicy ladies’ prawn, always looking for the woman of his dreams…or any other attractive lady who is willing to give him the time of day.

Miss Piggy
Host of “Up Late with Miss Piggy” on ABC’s “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

International star of television and feature film, author, supermodel, fashion icon! It is no wonder that she is considered “the paradigm of porcine pulchritude.” And yet, though her millions of fans around the world can’t remember a time when she wasn’t a superstar, Miss Piggy has not always been “in the pink.”

Born and raised on a farm, Miss Piggy enjoyed a typically happy agricultural childhood—if hunkering down in mud is your idea of a good time. But these early years—which, be forewarned Miss Piggy does not like to talk about—were soon put behind her as she left the rural life to pursue her dream of becoming a celebrity of the highest wattage.

Miss Piggy left home as a teenager, having graduated from a charm school and karate dojo where she became a perfect lady, and learned how to break boards…and other things. On her own, she managed to find employment selling gloves in a department store. Unfortunately, her salary was too meager to cover her extensive wardrobe costs (despite the employee discount). Strapped for funds, Miss Piggy was forced to pose for some ads, one of them for a certain product that is often combined with lettuce and tomato on a sandwich. (This whole incident is too painful for her to talk about, and we know better than to say the word aloud in her presence — don’t say you haven’t been warned).

Soon, Miss Piggy’s luck changed and she was able to get frequent work as a hand model, a gig which oddly enough led to her entering the Miss Bogen Country Beauty Pageant that was to change her life forever. There she met her adored frog, Kermit. And the rest, as they say, is history…

Miss Piggy soon moved to London and worked in the chorus of “The Muppet Show.” Of course, she wasn’t fated to remain in the chorus for long. Actually, her stint out of the spotlight lasted for only half a musical number during the very first episode of “The Muppet Show.” Soon, she made her presence known and became lead chanteuse and femme fatale on the show, and Kermit’s constant companion.

Quickly, her career expanded to include television specials, home videos, records and books. Her “how to” volume of advice on absolutely everything, Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, became a national bestseller. Other books to her credit include a celebrity cookbook entitled In The Kitchenwith Miss Piggy and Miss Piggy’s Rulesand the recent bestseller The Diva Code. Miss Piggy’s memorable divine face has been featured on the cover of countless magazines too numerous to mention (all right…Time, TV Guide, InStyle and People to name a few).

With Kermit, Miss Piggy has starred in all eight Muppet feature films including “The Muppet Movie,” “The Great Muppet Caper,” “The Muppets Take Manhattan,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Muppet Treasure Island,” “Muppets From Space” and “The Muppets” where Miss Piggy starred as fashion editor for Paris Vogue.After spending more than a year preparing for the role, by living in Paris and buying expensive fashion, Miss Piggy was convinced this was the movie that would lead to her finally winning an Oscar. Unfortunately, Hollywood has yet to overcome its species bias against actresses who don’t happen to be human. (As a consolation, she did “borrow” the Oscar won by songwriter Brett McKenzie for Best Song, “Man or Muppet”). Most recently, she starred in “Muppets Most Wanted” which released March 2014. Currently, Miss Piggy hosts the late night syndicated show, “Up Late with Miss Piggy.”

The Electric Mayhem
House Band for “Up Late with Miss Piggy,” featured on “The Muppets”, ABC, The Muppets

Dr. Teeth

Dr. Teeth is the leader and keyboard player for the junk-rock super group, The Electric Mayhem. Dr. Teeth is also the absolute authority on what is cool.

Sgt. Floyd Pepper

Sgt. Floyd Pepper is the laid back bass player for The Electric Mayhem. In addition, he plays the vibes, sings solo, and keeps track of the group’s drummer, Animal. Floyd is a mixture of 50’s beat, 60’s hip and timeless cool.


Zoot is the shades-wearing, almost totally silent saxophone player for The Electric Mayhem. He usually speaks in barely audible mumbles, preferring to let his sax do the talking for him.


Animal is rampant, he is an appetite on two legs whose desires in life are very simple—drums, sleep, pain, food, and women! Yet for all of his unchecked passion, Animal is a totally innocent spirit. While his behavior may sometimes wreak havoc, he never intentionally causes harm.


Part flower child, part valley girl, and completely organic, Janice is the left-handed guitarist and sometimes tambourine player for The Electric Mayhem.


A trumpet virtuoso who adds jazzy brass to The Electric Mayhem’s repertoire, and amazingly enough, he speaks even less than Zoot. So if you want to know what’s up with Lips— Talk to the horn.

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