Fans of all ages rejoiced this week when ABC made public details of its planned Muppets reboot. The documentary-style update will follow the Muppets on and off the set, exploring their personal lives in a “more adult” version of America’s favorite puppet variety show. But leaked internal memos obtained by The Daily Beast reveal that the production is already plagued by jealousy and infighting.
Countless emails between executives at ABC, Disney (which bought the Muppets franchise in 2004), and cast members show acrimony at all levels and intense disagreements over everything from salaries to wardrobes.
In one particularly heated exchange between executive producer Bill Prady, who also created Big Bang Theory, and ABC President Ben Sherwood, Prady referred to the Swedish Chef as a “Nazi” who “f**ked his way to the middle” after the famously demanding Muppet demanded a $500,000 bonus and the right to plug his own line of cooking utensils on the show.
“Chef has been a dick since ’85,” wrote Prady, who worked with Jim Henson, and the Swedish Chef, throughout the 1980s. “He doesn’t even really speak Swedish. Did you know that? That’s not real Swedish. He’s a f**king liar and a sham.”
Sherwood, who’s married to the Swedish Chef’s sister, insisted that the bonus was “more than fair” and that Prady could “take it up with the green guy” if he disagreed.
Another series of emails between Disney executives Anne Sweeney and Jim Hedges portray the popular Muppet Gonzo as a “sloppy alcoholic” and womanizer with a reputation for getting “blackout drunk” at parties and making inappropriate sexual overtures. “Put two beers in him and that nose of his gets awfully curious,” Sweeney wrote. “He’s got little blue kids he doesn’t know about running all over half of southern Cali,” Hedges wrote back.
Hedges and Sweeney went on similar tirades about Fozzie, whom they described as “dumb” and “a big dumb bear” and “this stupid, furry dumb bear who no one likes,” who’s “not very funny, even for a bear.”
“His comedy sucks, his hat sucks, and he sucks,” Hedges wrote. “I hate Fozzie Bear.”
They reserved special ire for Scooter, the lovable backstage assistant, who they claimed was “a monster” and a closeted homosexual.
“Scooter [Braun, Scooter’s agent] is pushing to bring on Rashida [Jones] as Scooter’s girlfriend,” Sweeney wrote. “As if ANYONE in their RIGHT MIND would believe them together.”
“Hahahahaha, yeah,” Hedges replied. “maybe Jenna [Elfman] instead?”
“No, I’m saying they won’t believe it because Scooter is gay,” Sweeney replied. “Don’t you know that?”
“Hahahahahaha yeah, I know. Of course I know that, he’s totally gay, everyone knows that,” Hedges wrote. “Maybe we should bring in Travolta then.”
“Because Travolta’s gay, too,” Hedges continued.
The one cast member who was universally praised and beloved in nearly every email was Miss Piggy, who was alternately described as a “peach,” “a total dream,” and “literally the nicest, humblest actor you will ever work with.”
The Beast also uncovered a memo from Disney CEO Robert Iger, who sought to quell the drama surrounding the Muppet project.
“I know that a lot of you work from a place of passion and conviction,” Iger wrote. “But we need to put our egos aside to make this show a success. To that end, I’d like to share a personal message from Mr K., pasted below.
Hi. How’s it going? It’s Kermit here. Not sure where to begin so I guess I’ll just speak from the heart.
This show means an awful lot to me and if you pieces of shit can’t get your acts together I will personally rip you open from asshole to eyeball. You have something to say, you say it to my face you f**king cowards. You f**king dickless, talentless f**ks. Look me in the plastic eyes and tell me what you think or just shut your shit-eating mouths and make the goddamn mother**king show.
That’s all I really wanted to say. Thanks, I guess. Bye, Kermit.”