The rainbow connection is severed. Josh Gad has confirmed that he, along with Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis, were not only working on an unannounced Muppets show for Disney+, but that they have left the project, too.
Described as a mature follow-up to the classic film Muppets Take Manhattan, it was not connected to Disney+’s previously announced Muppets show, Muppets Now, an unscripted limited-form series in which Kermit, Piggy, and others interview celebrities.
In a statement on Instagram, Gad clarified last night’s reports about how his team and Disney+ had mutually parted ways over Muppets Live Another Day, with THR saying that Disney has since scrapped the limited series.
According to Gad, Muppets Live Another Day was secretly in the works for about a year and a half, but he and the others decided to walk away from it over creative differences.
THR had attributed those to changes in executive leadership at Muppets Studios — the arrival of former Disney Parks Live Entertainment Senior Vice President, David Lightbody, as a new head at the studio — that wanted to go in a different direction than the creative team (Gad didn’t address that specifically, but added that both Disney+ and ABC Studios supported the project).
Here’s his statement in full:
After a little over a year and a half of working on a project called Muppets Live Another Day, [Adam Horowitz, Eddy Kitsis] and I have decided, with a heavy heart, to walk away. Some times creative differences are just that. The project, with original songs by Bobby Lopez and Kristen Lopez was to be directed by the great Jason Moore, (director of Avenue Q and Pitch Perfect).
It was meant to be a limited event series that picked up a year after Muppets Take Manhattan and was essentially about what happens after you’ve reached the end of the rainbow. It was going to be Muppets by way of Stranger Things and feel like a movie spread over 6-8 episodes.
Part of the joy for us, by placing the Muppets in the middle of the 1980’s, was to subvert and comment on our current love for all things nostalgia while at the same time allowing the characters to tell a story that would ultimately lead to and end in present day, revealing some secrets along the way.
It has been one of the great joys of all of our lives to write words for these iconic characters. We wish this franchise all the best and thank our partners at Disney+ and ABC Studios for the opportunity to develop something so fun and outside the box. They have been nothing but supportive and terrific and we can’t wait to play again in other sandboxes.
While it is sad, I have no doubt this franchise, under its new leadership will find new and wonderful stories to tell. My only hope is that one day you can all hear the BRILLIANT music by Bobby and [Kristen Lopez] wrote for Kermit and company. The music is next level good.
In the meantime, Adam, Eddy and I are already cooking up new fun ideas that we cannot wait to share. Until then, long live The Muppets. They have given us joy for over 40 years and I have no doubt they will continue to bring us joy for the next 40 years.
It sounds like a really interesting project, and the talent behind it cannot be overstated: Gad wrote on Twitter that Frozen songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez had already written four songs, and Pitch Perfect and Avenue Q director Jason Moore was in the middle of storyboarding.
That said, I can understand why Muppet Studios might be apprehensive with something like Muppets Live Another Day. After all, we all remember what happened the last time ABC tried doing a more-mature, scripted reboot of The Muppets.
This is the second series that has been cancelled at Disney+. According to THR, Michael Seitzman’s villain series Book of Enchantment was recently pulled due to concerns over its budget and darker tone. But it’s kind of wild that there’s already so much being put onto this service that we’re starting to see cancellations like this months before it even becomes available.
The still in progress Muppets Now is set to debut on Disney+ sometime in 2020.