The Muppets 2011
Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy and Kermit enjoy the spotlight | Walt Disney Studios

If you haven’t seen the new Muppets movie, get thee and thy kids to the nearest theater pronto. It’s ultra-cute, totally family friendly (well, there’s that one scene with Fozzie Bear’s “fart shoes”), and a great way to bring the classic Muppets we know and love into a new generation. Look for my review at Reel Life With Jane next week. I always embargo reviews until my syndication partners have had a week or two to publish them on their own sites.

One question that came up in my mind was: Where’s Elmo? The little red guy was conspicuously absent from the movie, so I checked around to see what the scoop was. Apparently, writer-star Jason Segel actually wrote a scene where they were trying to get Elmo to be the celebrity host of the Muppet’s telethon, but lawyers turned them down.

Turns out, that story hit close to home. On Ryan Seacrest’s Nov. 9 radio show, Segel said, “That’s what actually happened. A team of lawyers told us Elmo wasn’t available.”

When Disney bought the Muppets from the Jim Henson estate in 2004, the Sesame Street characters remained with the Children’s Television Workshop. Crossovers have occurred, but studio attorneys decided against Elmo. Joked Seacrest, “Can you imagine going to law school, and that’s what you’re defending?”

But Elmo is making his own way in the industry. At the Traverse City Film Festival this summer, I had a chance to meet Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, who was promoting his new film, Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey. It’s a great documentary about how Clash started building puppets at the age of ten and went on to embrace the character of Elmo on Sesame Street.

Here’s the funny part. Since I’m always the one behind the camera and never in front of it, it didn’t occur to me to get MY picture taken with Elmo and Kevin, who spent hours in the theater lobby taking photos with fans. When my friend brought it up, I went back to the lobby but ended up giving my spot — the last one — to a little boy in line behind me. I’ll catch Elmo next time he’s in town.


  1. This is so cool! I cannot wait to see this documentary. What a great success story! Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I was half listening to the BBC and the piece was about Sesame Street being translated for Afghanistan. Elmo didn’t translate well, the concept, I mean.

  2. So Elmo isn’t a crossover? That doesn’t surprise me, he seems like a more ‘modern’ muppet anyway, doesn’t he? I don’t remember him from when I was a kid–Mrs. Piggy, Kermit, Gonzo. As long as Beaker is in the movie, I’m happy. He’s in there, right?


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