‘Million Muppet March’ Planned Nov. 3 To Support PBS

Two weeks ago, Big Bad Old Man Mitt Romney put Bird Bird and the rest of the cast of Sesame Street in his crosshairs. Now, two  dudes in the entertainment biz have responded by with a Million Muppet March in Washington, D.C. on November 3.

Chris Mecham and Michael Bellavia plan to protest on behalf of saving funding for public broadcasting and "keeping full employment for all Muppets" — which will surely be music to the ears of prolific tweeter @FireMeElmo. The march is planned on the National Mall from 9a.m. to noon and attendees are encouraged to bring Muppet paraphrenalia. More deets can be found on the protest’s Facebook page. (Wow, what do you think Abbie Hoffman would say about that sentene?) 

Sounds like a good time. Maybe anti-Semitic Elmo will take the Fung Wah down? (Then again, maybe not.)

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

Ben Folds Five and Fraggle Rock Make a Comeback

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I’ve never been a Ben Folds Five fan. Sure, "Brick" was a good tune, and I think it was something about teenage pregnancy or something? (That or rape. I always get that song confused with Better Than Ezra’s "Desperately Wanting" and The Verve Pipe’s "The Freshmen," which have similar themes along the lines of SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED TO SOMEBODY, LET’S REMEMBER IT.) (Also, don’t get me started on my brain’s issues with The Verve Pipe and The Verve.) (Remember the ’90s?!?!) You know what I do love? Fraggle Rock! Well, I did when I was a kid, because I haven’t really spent much of my adulthood rewatching television programs for children. But I suppose Ben Folds Five (made up of Ben Folds, age 46, and the two other members of the Five) sure do!

In the video for "Do It Anyway," the lead single off of their comeback album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, the Five team up with the Fraggles, as well as Rob Corddry, Anna Kendrick, and Chris Hardwick, to dance their cares away. What have we learned here? That people get really excited for Ben Folds Five reunion despite the fact that Ben Folds Five sounds like Ben Folds Solo, and that I am jaded because I see incorporating second-rate Muppets as a cheap music video stunt. I mean, Weezer already recruited the real ones for one of their late-era boring songs ten years ago (and it included dialogue from the actual Muppets!). Of course, make up your own decision after watching the video below:

Contact the author of this post at tcoates@bbook.com, and follow him on Twitter.

Berenstain Bears Book Replaces Jim Henson Toys at Chick-Fil-A

After not admitting the real reason behind the Jim Henson Creature Shop Kids Meal Toys recall, gay-hating Chick-Fil-A has tapped the supposedly unaware Berenstain Bear fam for their latest Kid’s Meal prize. Ironically, the “toy” is a Berenstain Beared-up version of the Holy Bible, which teaches kids about the Golden Rule. (I guess they forgot about that othercommandment about lying. What heathens!)

If that wasn’t mind-bendingly paradoxical enough for you, then get this: on the Berenstain Bears website, the friendly foursome have posted this little tidbit to make sure no one gets their overalls in a twist:

Dear Friends,

Our publisher, HarperCollins, is marketing several of their Berenstain Bears titles through a kids’ meal promotion at Chick-Fil-A scheduled for August. This program was in development for over a year. We were unaware of any controversy involving Chick-Fil-A until July 25th.

The Berenstain family does not at this time have control over whether this program proceeds or not. We hope those concerned about this issue will direct their comments toward HarperCollins and Chick-Fil-A.

Sincerely, The Berenstain Family.

Translation: don’t go picketing and rioting outside our lovely treehouse in Bear Country, because WE HAD NOTHING TO DO with Chick-Fil-Cray! Now kindly leave us alone while we continue to scold our two bear children for eating too many teddy grahams, scratch our furry behinds and eat way too much honey for our own good. 

Here’s a Nine-Minute ‘Muppets’ Blooper Reel

Puppets made a huge comeback last year, with Disney’s Jason Segel and Amy Adams-starring The Muppets ruling over the holiday box office, fueled equally by positive reviews and even more positive word of mouth marketing Well, I’m happy to report that the film’s nearly nine-minute blooper reel, which you’ll find after the jump, is just as entertaining! Because who doesn’t love bloopers? [via ONTD]

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.

Watch the Muppets Crash a Kyle MacLachlan-Led Goldman Sachs Meeting

In his now-famous exit letter, one of the more amusing things that ex-Goldman Sachs employee Greg Smith revealed about the financial firm (among many not-so amusing things) was what they call their clients: muppets. That isn’t very fair to the actual Muppets, no? In this new video for Funny or Die, the felt-lined friends show up to a Goldman Sachs meeting to chew some beef. “We represent the Anti-Muppet Defamation League,” announces a suit-wearing Muppet, “and we’d like to lodge a formal complaint about Goldman Sachs’s use of the word ‘Muppet’ in an offensive and derogatory way.” They’re met with some resistance by actors Kyle MacLachlan and Neal McDonough, who make for very convincing executives. Watch it after the click, via Flavorwire (slightly NSFW for language and drug use).

"If Americans didn’t want us to get rich," MacLachlan sneers in his WASP-y way, "then why would they give us all their money?" Some surprisingly biting economic analysis follows, if you can believe it. As many will note, it’s the best class-related Muppets video since their response to Fox News’s allegations that their new movie was teaching kids to hate capitalism. To which I respond: Hey, did you know that Obamacare could actually get overturned by the Supreme Court? The world is unequivocally awful.

Oscars Cut Best Original Song Performances, Devastate Muppetheads

The "Best Original Song" performances at the Academy Awards are always a crapshoot in terms of quality, but they’re certainly one of the most memorable parts of the show, whether it’s Björk warbling in a swan dress or Robin Williams leading a chorus in "Blame Canada." This year, as the spectacle continues to fight insane running times, they’ve decided to cut performances of the nominated songs, Vulture reports. 

Granted, there were only two nominees — "Real In Rio" from Rio (what?) and "Man Or Muppet?" from The Muppets — but look at the credentials! The former, albeit from a lukewarmly-received animated movie everyone forgot about, was co-written by the legendary Sergio Mendes. The latter was written by Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie, who after many Emmy nominations for FOTC, may actually get on the board towards an EGOT. And for Muppetheads expecting to see an encore performance from Jason Segel, Jim Parsons and the Muppets, this news will probably come as a major drag. 

No word yet on whether or not Uggie the Dog, who recently retired from acting as he battles a neurological disorder, will still get to read his moving speech for the honorary Academy Award winners. 

Why ‘The Muppets’ Is an Allegory for Class Struggle

"Sorry I haven’t been in touch," says Kermit the Frog in The Muppets, as he reunites with a down-on-his-luck Fozzie Bear. In the new film based on Jim Henson’s classic felt puppets, Fozzie has been working and living with a knockoff "Moopets" show in a crack den in Reno. Well, technically it’s a cheap motel and wedding chapel, and he doesn’t actually live there. Instead, Fozzie camps out in the back alley, while Kermit lives in a giant mansion surrounded by an electric fence in Bel Air.

"That’s okay," says Fozzie, whom we must assume has just shot up some really wonderful dope before doing the scene. Otherwise, Kermit wouldn’t have to stage an awkward Leif Garrett-like reunion routine in order to convince his former best friend that, despite living like a green felt version of The Fountainhead’s Howard Roark, the poor, big-hearted bear should help out the wealthy, emotionally unavailable frog.

By all accounts, The Muppets is a delightful film. Self-referential humor and pop culture references in kids’ movies have become staples in this Pixar-dominated movie industry, and the computer-animated characters owe much to the felt-and-cardboard players of Jim Henson’s puppet troupe, who all starred in an SNL for kids in the late ‘70s. But yesterday, a more sinister theory surfaced. The talking heads over at Fox Business posited that The Muppets is actually a work of anti-capitalist propaganda, sent to brainwash young, malleable minds.

We learn early in the new film that the Muppets have fallen on hard times. They’re washed up, disbanded, and no one under the age of thirty knows who they are. The Muppets are a relic of another time, meaning that evil corporate bad guy Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) feels vindicated in swooping in to tear down the old Muppet Theater in Los Angeles to … drill for oil? (In L.A.? OK, sure.)

Unless the Muppets can raise ten million dollars in two days, Tex Richman will also own the trademark to their very identities! It’s time to cue the music, it’s time to light the lights, and it’s time raise the money with a live show!

But if the Muppets needed to raise $10 million, why didn’t Kermit sell his Bel Air mansion that he’s been living in while ignoring the cries for help from the downward-spiraling Fozzie? Why didn’t Miss Piggy—an editrix at Vogue Paris—think of chipping in? Gonzo’s new career has him as the CEO of his own plumbing supply business, which seemed to be rather recession-proof, as he’s shown being carried on planks of wood by human underlings who obey his every Mr. Burns-ish command.

And Scooter? Scooter works at Google. I mean, my God. When the characters ask themselves how to get the word out about their charity telethon, it’s amazing no one thought of calling Mark Zuckerberg for a cameo.

The message to kids could not be any louder even if Animal (who is in an L.A. rehab facility for anger management, by the way) screamed it: the Muppets at the top of the heap are rich. They have to be rich, because the image of a Kermit or Miss Piggy licking food stamps in that Reno crack den is just too traumatic, even for a gag. And when they’re in trouble, their salvation is more money, and the challenge, naturally, is raising it. So yes, the answer to saving the Muppets is a Jerry Lewis-esque telethon. Could it be any worse? The inevitable sequel might as well feature the gang reuniting yet again to raise funds for Sam the Eagle’s Congressional campaign. It could star Alan Alda as a Koch Brother!

Yet at the same time, The Muppets reflects America’s current aversion to class issues. Kermit is filthy rich, but he’s also an iconic underdog! He, like Warren Buffett, still eats in diners. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so infuriating if the Muppets didn’t still act like they were the 99%. They beg Tex Richman for their studio back and turn their Muppet faces into felt frowns when they are (unsurprisingly) rejected with a (surprising, and somewhat nonsensical) rap about how great it is to have money. What the movie seems to miss is that Richman is preaching to the choir.

And this is the confusion at the heart of The Muppets. The sweet (but catchy!) new songs like "Life’s a Happy Song" and "Me Party!" almost seem like wormy cynicism masquerading as cuteness. Because in the end, we’re supposed to believe the Muppets have realized that arbitrary monetary stakes are meaningless ("Turns out we don’t need that ten million, our theater, or our brand names after all!"). And if you sit on five million dollars in property assets or live like Emmanuelle Alt in Paris, it probably is.

But for Fozzie Bear, Animal, Rowlf, and the rest of us watching this movie, $10 million is a lot of money. The loss of a home (well, theater) and future employment is nothing to sing about. Fozzie Bear is just getting by, which made sense when The Muppet Show was in its heyday, when every night their dingy and cluttered backstage seemed one building inspection away from being closed by the city for safety reasons. It makes less sense to root for the Muppet "gang" when their economic disparity gap makes it unbelievable that they’d even be in the same room together (unless it was to stage an occupation on Kermit’s front lawn).

What we take away from The Muppets isn’t that the lovers and dreamers can conquer the slimy corporate greed that exists in the real world. It’s that the lovers and dreamers can delude themselves into thinking that money doesn’t matter—just as long as they have it.

New Muppet ‘Walter’ Was Actually Based Off Of Michael Cera

Today in ‘WTF’ news, it’s come to light that the new Muppet on Seasame Street was – not joking – based off of Arrested Development and Juno actor Michael Cera. 

The new Muppet is named Walter, and was created especially for the Jason Segel written / starring / probably-catered-it-too puppet picture, and was actually created with Michael Cera in mind. Puppeteer Peter Linz said: "They told me to think about Michael Cera—that if he was a puppeteer he would already have the job." The AV Club picked up on the factoid from the extensive NYT article about the new film The Muppets, which opens tomorrow. 

So there’s that! You can now impress your family at Thanksgiving with that knowledge.