Neil Patrick Harris’ New Web Series: How I Met Your Muppet

Neil Patrick Harris is no stranger to working with Muppets (and Muppet enthusiasts like his How I Met Your Mother co-star Jason Segel). He’s cited Jim Henson as an influence and appeared on Sesame Street a number of times, including recurring appearances as the "Fairy Shoeperson" and singing about pajamas and carrots with Elmo. But his latest Muppet-related enterprise is a far more adult affair, one that might even be inadvertent nightmare fuel for the little ones. 

Harris collaborated with Nerdist and Henson Alternative, the less family-friendly wing of the Jim Henson puppetry enterprise on Neil’s Puppet Dreams, a web series launched yesterday starring Harris, his subconscious mind, his partner David Burtka and a host of particularly weird Creature Shop creations. In the first installment, Harris falls asleep on the floor of his twins’ bedroom, waking up in a Science of Sleep-esque puppet world in which he is falling, and fast, which as anyone who has ever slept before knows, is a terrifying feeling that sometimes happens in various stages of sleep. He receives words of comfort, however, from a trio of singing angels, played by his twins’ vivified puppets, among them, a goat and a winged beaver. Their gentle lullaby quickly turns from comfort to carnage though, with couplets like: "Your limbs will snap off and your organs will burst / you’ll look like an art piece like Damien Hirst." Sesame this ain’t. Watch.

Bret Easton Ellis Is Cranky About NPH, “Gay” Sitcoms

I don’t know who anointed American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis the cultural arbiter of all things gay (that would be John Waters, duh), but Ellis had a huffy week on Twitter getting upset by the perceived gayness of CBS sitcoms.

Ellis’ strong opinions zeroed in on gay actors who play straight roles, tweeting:

"Feel complicated about Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother — central joke being that he’s a gay actor playing a het[erosexual] womanizer. Why not cast Jason Segel in the Neil Patrick Harris role in How I Met Your Mother? [Because] the meta-joke is that Harris is openly gay. Lame. You don’t think the makers of How I Met Your Mother didn’t KNOW that Neil Patrick Harris and that would be part of the joke? Really? Look, I like Neil Patrick Harris especially when he’s hosting The Tonys but How I Met Your Mother is, like all CBS sitcoms, a piece of crap."

He also griped about the nerdy The Big Bang Theory. "And please don’t get me started on the gay The Big Bang Theory – I’m too tired to go there," he tweeted. "Gayness personified."

Despite his strongly voiced opinions on "crap," Ellis’ core complaint is unclear. Is he implying that gay actors should only play gays onscreen and straight actors should only play straight ones? Because if Rush Limbaugh called for casting roles that way, we would call it "discrimination." And practically speaking the result would be less work for gay and lesbian actors, given the lack of mainstream roles for gay and lesbian characters.

These tweets by prompted after Ellis tweeted at length against rumored casting White Collar man piece Matt Bomer as the Christian Grey role in 50 Shades Of Grey because Bomer is gay. His objection is that Bomer is gay and Grey has to be straight, for some reason ( despite fact Bomer played a married straight man in Magic Mike and no one cared). It is worth noting that on Friday night, Ellis did a 180 and tweeted, "You know what? I changed my mind. I think a gay actor HAS GOT to play Grey. It’s IMPERATIVE that someone gay plays him…"

I’m not sure if Bomer or NPH’s real-life sexuality are the first thing on all viewers’ minds; they certainly aren’t on mine, nor are the sexual orientations of other actors. As a heterosexual woman, I wonder if Ellis’ observation is acutely sensitive to him because he is gay, yet goes unobserved by others.

‘Dr. Horrible’ Coming To The CW

The CW is about to get a little more absurd: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is coming to the network. Joss Whedon revealed at Comic Con on Friday that the series will play on the network at an undisclosed future date. 

The three-episode 2008 web series, which starred Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day, was written and directed by Whedon and members of his family. He also promised Dr. Horrible 2 is on its way "soon" — hopefully with NPH. 

Gay Actors Are Coming Out in a “New” Way

June is Gay Pride Month, so everybody’s talkin’ about gay people. Yesterday the New York Observer took a look at the business of outing celebrities (while slyly suggesting that Gossip Girl star Chase Crawford might indeed be in a glass closet himself). Today Entertainment Weekly shared a sneak peak at this week’s cover story, which focuses on "the new art" of coming out. On the cover are popular TV actors like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Lynch, Zachary Quinto, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jim Parsons, as well as comedian Wanda Sykes and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. But is this a rising trend or just a puffy trend piece?

It’s true that we’ve come a very long way from when Ellen DeGeneres came out fifteen years ago, which truly ushered in a new age in which LGBTQ actors (and, hell, normal people) were seen in a completely different light. For a community still struggling with the impact of HIV/AIDS and continued discrimination, DeGeneres and her show’s treatment of her sexuality was groundbreaking—displaying it matter-of-factly and as a normal thing rather than something to be terrified of or find revolting. While her show was cancelled soon after, she bounced right back and is today a much-loved TV personality. And her coming out certainly inspired others to do the same. As EW says on its site:

Even if it’s accomplished in a subordinate clause or a passing reference, coming out casually is, in its way, as activist as DeGeneres’ Time cover, although few of these actors would probably choose to label themselves as such. The current vibe for discussing one’s sexuality is almost defiantly mellow: This is part of who I am, I don’t consider it a big deal or a crisis, and if you do, that’s not my problem. It may sound like a shrug, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for indifference. By daring anyone to overreact, the newest generation of gay public figures is making a clear statement that there is a “new normal” — and it consists of being plainspoken, clear, and truthful about who you are.

But, are people being plainspoken, clear, and truthful? Jim Parsons made headlines when his sexuality was revealed in a New York Times profile last month, but it was buried in the end of piece. Is it not a big deal that someone on a high-rated show is gay and has kept it mostly hidden from his audience for years? EW also brings up T.R. Knight’s name, but you may remember that he was outed after gossipy rumors about his sexuality circulated online following a on-set fight in which his Grey’s Anatomy co-star Isaiah Washington called him a "faggot." 

And what can we say about the fact that there are still no major film actors who are open and out? Isn’t it still clear that an actor’s sexuality impacts his or her career? Of the eight celebrities on the magazine’s cover, only three have recently played or are currently playing gay characters on TV. (Neil Patrick Harris, for example, has been playing a womanizing sleazeball for years.) In an industry in which most gay characters are reserved for straight actors (actors who are then lauded with awards for bravely portraying those who are generally doomed), I ask this question: Should we reward a handful of people who treat their sexuality with a casual shrug, or should we ask for more? After all, there are still people who every day struggle with their sexuality, often keeping it hidden from friends and loved ones out of fear. Whether you want to admit it or not, coming out is still sort of a big deal.

Your Daily Guide To Trending Topics

Every day there are some topics that are trending. Since many of them don’t make sense, we provide easy contextualization. Also, this way, you won’t actually have to know anything about anything.

Tony Awards

Who knew Google users were so theatrical? The trendingest term on the site this morning has to do with last night’s awards show, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, which celebrated all things theater. Once, adapted from the twee movie of the same name, took the award for Best Musical, and the beloved revival of Clybourne Park took the award for Best Play.

Auburn University

Googlers are also curious about Auburn University or, more specifically, the shooting that took place near its campus Sunday. A pool party was interrupted, cops say, when Desmonte Leonard arrived at the soiree, shot three people dead and wounded three others in what might have been a fight over the affections of a lady. Leonard is still at large. Though people are tying the crime to the nearby school and its football team, but Auburn’s police chief has said, “The only connection that the Auburn football team has to this is they are victims of a brutal shooting. Sometimes the young men get a bad rap, I feel like, but they are the victims today.” 

Deena Cortese

Yahoo! users are more interested in the crimes of Jersey Shore star Cortese, who was arrested Sunday in Seaside Heights, NJ for disorderly conduct. According to TMZ, this came after a weekend that saw the show’s gents get into a bar brawl that left one cast member with a sprained ankle.  Since Snooki’s about to be a mom, someone’s gotta take over her role of being an out-of-control boardwalk hobbit. You can check out a video of the ordeal here.

Joe Paterno’s Will

Something else capturing the minds of Yahoo searchers this morning is the odd news that the will of the late Joe Paterno, the Penn State coach who died in January (and was tied up in all of that nasty pedophilia scandal stuff), has been mysteriously sealed. And it goes deeper than that. “Even the judge’s sealing order and the petition a Paterno attorney filed to request the order were sealed, erasing from the public record any explanation for the maneuver, which estate law experts and the Centre County register of wills called exceedingly rare,” reported Citizen’s Voice, a local newspaper. Something creepy’s going on! 

#10SignsShesTheOne

You’re doing better today, Twitter. While most of your worldwide trending topics are still exceptionally simple minded, in the U.S., news about tennis and the alleged butchering of some interesting Jeb Bush quotes are trending. Unfortunately, it’s just people postings the same stories again and again. Here and here. For variety in tweets, we had to go with this charmer. You’re welcome.  

THe One 4

The One 3

The One 2

The One 1

Remembering Jim Henson With Some Muppet-Celebrity Sesame Street Moments

On this day 22 years ago, the master of Muppets and brightest hallmark of childhood for many of us, Jim Henson, passed away after a sudden illness. His creations—Sesame Street, The Muppets, Fraggle Rock and the perennially creepy The Dark Crystal—all live on in perpetuity.

The Muppets never really left, but thanks to the popularity of their 2011 eponymous film, which also starred Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper (and featured a few pretty great cameos) and got the Muppets accused of communism or something.

The other arm of the Muppet Empire, Sesame Street, is still going strong after more than 40 years, and Henson’s whimsical puppet people have always been at its heart and soul. But as with The Muppet Show, more and more fabulous celebrities have been making their way to the Street to hang out with Henson’s progeny, perhaps to give some reprieve to the parents who watch it. Here, in honor of Jim and his legacy, are a few of our favorite recent celebrity-Muppet encounters from Sesame Street.

Neil Patrick Harris Dances With Elmo
As a pairing, there is no one more fitting. An energetic former child star and a Muppet that embodies childlike enthusiasm. Here, they sing about pajamas and do the dance that launched a thousand .gifs.

Feist Sings "1, 2, 3, 4" With Some Help
This video is cute, and is surprisingly not the only tenuous link between the Muppets and Peaches. Because of course someone on the Internet made a Miss Piggy/”Fuck The Pain Away” mashup. Of course.

Ken Jeong and Joel McHale Teach About Vegetation
The Community stars came on the show earlier this year to expand some young vocabularies. Ken Jeong taught the word “deciduous,” while Joel McHale demonstrated “prickly” with an anthropomorphic cactus and pineapple. As one YouTube commenter put it, “You guys are going to have Abed on to decribe the word ‘meta,’ right?” #sixseasonsandaMuppetmovie

R.E.M. Sings “Furry Happy Monsters”
It’s no Katy Perry singing “Hot ‘N’ Cold” outside Hooper’s Store, but “Shiny Happy People” is still a jam, and when Muppets and a banjo are also involved, well then.

Richard Pryor’s Alphabet
No Muppets involved, but too good not to mention. Even funny when he has to self-censor for the kiddies, Richard Pryor gives the best rendition of the alphabet we have ever seen.

Beaker Sings "Hot Stuff"
One for the road from The Muppet Show and YouTube. Neil Patrick Harris tweeted this today in homage to the late Donna Summer as well as Henson.

Neil Patrick Harris to Make a ‘Doctor Horrible’ Sequel?

Neil Patrick Harris is a busy guy. He’s on How I Met Your Mother, promoting the new Harold & Kumar Christmas movie, filling in for the newly departed Regis Philbin on Live!, and raising a family. He’s got a full calendar, but his priorities are in order. The actor, along with director Joss Whedon, is planning a sequel to the cult web series Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.   

Whedon, who has The Avengers coming out this year, along with a Much Ado About Nothing adaptation, told Yahoo:

"We have been working on that for a while. It’s been hard, because we all have jobs, and some of them are extremely taxing, but we have had a vision of the thing for a while, we have been working on it, we have a bunch of songs and a few scenes. We need a little free time and right now that’s plenty hard to come by."

You waited how long for Arrested Development to return? You can handle this.  It will give you time to perfect your memorable evil laugh.

Morning Links: Baby Monroe’s First Photo, Neil Patrick Harris Gets Engaged

● As tweeted by her mother, Mariah Carey, Baby Monroe’s first photo proves that divas are born, not made. [MariahCarey/Twitter] ● Jennifer Aniston recently revealed her first tattoo. It says “Norman,” the name of her deceased dog, on the inside of her foot. This from the woman who used to knit clothes for fun. [People] ● Surely, most of lower Manhattan was closed off before they let Kim Kardashian and Heidi Klum go jogging together, right? There are some real safety concerns here. [TMZ]

● TMZ’s Harvey Levin says that, despite everything, he really does care about Lindsay Lohan. “I root for her,” he told the NYT. “She had it rough growing up, really rough.” [NYT] ● Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend, David Burtka, have been wearing engagement rings for five years, but now that gay marriage is legal in NY, they’re making it official. “David and I did propose to each other, but over five years ago! We’ve been wearing engagement rings for ages, waiting for an available date,” tweeted Harris Friday night, after the bill passed. [PopEater] ● Florence Henderson, who played Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, has a new memoir on the market, and figures that makes it as good a time as any to come forward about that night, way back when, when she had a one-night stand with NYC mayor John Lindsay and got crabs. Ew! Actually, there’s not really any good time to talk about crabs. [AP]

Links: Tila Tequila Feels the Wrath of the Juggalos, Hilary Duff Gets Married

● Professional famous person and part-time singer Tila Tequila was assaulted while on stage over the weekend at the Gathering of the Juggalos — a music festival founded by Insane Clown Posse — pelted with rocks and allegedly, feces. Then she flashed them and it got worse. [E! Online] ● Katy Perry crashed a high school prom in Australia when she heard the infectious strains of her hit single “California Gurls.” [Radar] ● The actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, 93, is in serious condition following surgery and was read her last rites on Sunday morning. [AP]

● Twenty-two year old Hilary Duff married some hockey player named Mike Comrie, for some reason. And Gordo weeps. [NYDN] ● The babysitter who witnessed Mel Gibson flipping out on his girlfriend — and also the woman he called a “wetback” — has died after a fight with cancer. Gibson is, scientifically, a lucky son of a gun. [Radar] ● Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend are expecting twins via a surrogate mother, reality show to follow, should his career falter at all. [E! Online]