There’s been a behind the scene shake-up on ABC’s The Muppets. Co-creator Bob Kushell is exiting as executive producer and showrunner amidst conflicts with fellow co-creator Bill Prady over the creative direction of the Tuesday night comedy, TVWise has learned.
Prady serves as an executive producer on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and as such is not in a position to take over the day-to-day management of The Muppets. The network and studio have been keen to stress that no replacement has been set as yet, however, it is understood that Galavant’s Kristin Newman, who has an overall deal at The Muppets producer ABC Studios, is being eyed to succeed Kushell.
Kushell was well liked by almost everyone on set but had frequent clashes with Bill Prady over the tone and style of The Muppets. There is a feeling that this was all exacerbated by the nature of the pick-up at ABC. After all the series was rushed through development, scoring a pick-up a month after it was pitched to ABC, not giving producers much time to find their feet. This is not a new problem, there were similar issues several years ago on Law & Order: LA, which was similarly rushed through development.
With the departure of Bob Kushell, The Muppets will now be getting something of a creative reboot after episode ten wraps production. The talk is that the show will be going in a “new direction” in its final six episodes, with hopes that will be enough to win over viewers who were soured by the more adult portrayals of characters such as Miss Piggy and Kermit. ABC is certainly open to a second season for the show, but there is concern internally about the poor ratings performance, especially as The Muppets was considered a guaranteed hit early on.
The Muppets is a contemporary, documentary-style show that, for the first time ever, explores the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, break-ups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires. ABC Studios and The Muppets Studio are producing with Prady, Kushell, Randall Einhorn and Bill Barretta executive producing.