UPDATED with Josh Gad’s reaction: Disney+ will not be proceeding with Muppets Live Another Day, its scripted comedy series project written/executive produced by Frozen star Josh Gad and Once Upon a Time creators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis.
The ABC Signature-produced comedy, which had been in the works at Disney’s upcoming streaming platform for awhile, had a pilot order. It will not go forward over discrepancy between the writing team’s creative vision and that of the top brass at Disney-owned Muppet Studio, which last year became part of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in a company reorganization.
More from Deadline
- ESPN Uses 'Monday Night Football' To Warn DirecTV Viewers About Carriage Fight
- Disney Strikes Long-Term Agreement With British Studio Pinewood
- 'The Mandalorian': Julia Jones Joins Cast of Disney+ Live-Action 'Star Wars' Series
“After a little over a year and a half of working on a project called Muppets Live Another Day, @adamhorowitzla #eddykitsis and I have decided, with a heavy heart, to walk away,” Gad wrote in a lengthy Instagram post after news of the project’s demise broke. “Some times creative differences are just that.”
Muppets Live Another Day was to pick up right where 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan left off and focus on Kermit as he must bring the Muppets back together (after being disbanded) to help locate the missing Rowlf.
“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),” Gad wrote. “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.”
The Muppets are among the most recognizable characters in the Disney IP library, and Disney+ had been looking to get a new Muppets series on the platform alongside original shows based on other iconic Disney-own brands like Marvel and Star Wars.
Along with a scripted comedy series, which underwent two rounds of development with different creative teams, Disney+ had been development a variety series, a reimagening of the classic The Muppet Show. That project was announced at Disney’s recent D23 confab as Muppets Now, a short-form “unscripted” show, featuring celebrity guests. It will debut on Disney+ in 2020.
ABC previously tried a Muppets reboot series with the 2015 The Muppets, which lasted one season. Meanwhile, Disney Junior is enjoying success with Muppet Babies, which recently received an early third-season renewal.
Muppets Live Another Day was one of two comedy pilots ordered by Disney+, along with Four Dads, which also did not go forward. Additionally, the streamer recently opted not to proceed with high-profile series Book of Enchantment, an adaptation of the Villains book series by Serena Valentino, which had been in unofficial pre-production. Disney+ also passed on kid series Sulphur Springs, which became a pilot at the Disney Channel.
In addition to original series from Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney+ will offer series reboots of two hugely popular Disney Channel franchises, High School Musical and Lizzie McGuire.
“It has been one of the great joys of all of our lives to write words for these iconic characters,” Gad wrote. “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 @kristenlopez5681 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.”
Here is his post.