Director/Screenwriter Corey Edwards has updated his blog with a note warning Fraggle Rock fans that “there are some dark days ahead, my friends.” As it turns out, The Weinstein Company, who has been working with Edwards on a big screen Fraggle Rock movie, has begun a wide search for a new screenwriter to come aboard the project after demanding the the script was “not edgy enough.” Ugh…
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Even though Christopher Weekes‘ script The Muppet Man ‘won’ last year’s Black List poll of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood, there was every chance it would never make it to the screen. Essentially a biopic of Jim Henson peppered with fantastical scenes starring The Muppets, it would require the involvement somehow of both the Henson company, who hold the right to his life story and Walt Disney, who hold the rights to his famous felt creations.
Luckily, the two companies appear to have come to an agreement and seem to be pressing ahead with the picture together. They have reportedly even agreed on the director they’d most like for the job. His name is Michael Gracey and this would be his debut feature after a slate of music videos and commercials, most famously the Evian spot with somewhat off-looking roller-babies that went atomic as a viral video.
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In a chat with MTV, Kermit-heir Brian Henson has given the world an update on the long promised Dark Crystal sequel and Fraggle Rock spin off movie. Both, he tells us, are progressing nicely and could be entering pre-production soon. Blimey. I’m not too disbelieving about the Fraggle picture but the perennially on-off Dark Crystal sequel… well, I’m hopeful anyway. We can say that.
The plan with the Fraggle film is to net a broader audience than the TV show. Here’s Henson:
It’ll have a strong musical component. It’ll be expanded to an older audience. Fraggle Rock’ [the TV show] was presented… for a pretty exclusively children’s audience. The feature film does expand it to be more accessible to a wider audience.
Adding songs to make it accessible to a wider audience? That’s a new one on me.
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You probably remember Gallery 1988 as the Los Angeles-based art gallery which hosts the pop-culture infused Crazy4Cult show every year. We’ve featured artwork from their exhibitions in previous editions of cool stuff: Beastie Boys Inspired Art, Crazy4Cult 2, and Stan Lee Tribute. From April 2nd to April 23rd, Gallery 1988 is celebrating their 5th year anniversary with the Idiot Box art show. 100 Artists take aim at television’s guity pleasures. I have included 15 of my favotires after the jump.
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Cory Edwards is hard at work writing the screenplay for The Weinstein Co’s upcoming Fraggle Rock movie, and has completed almost 50-pages of his first draft based on an extensive 17-page studio approved outline.
“[The outline] is the product of many meetings with the Henson and Weinstein folks, and has every little story beat we could think of,” writes Edwards on his blog. “The outline as been picked at, beat up, and shot at for any major problems. So now I have the freedom to lock myself in my laboratory and create, knowing that I am working from a road map that everyone has signed off on.”
And while Edwards is contractually obligated not to reveal any story points, he does mention an action scene, something not common in the original Henson-produced television show.
“I’m having a lot of fun. I just finished my first action scene (yes, there WILL be action scenes!), and am cracking some decent jokes. It’s hard to create jokes for Fraggles, since they have no pop culture references whatsoever. That’s probably a good thing… that means I have a better chance of creating a timeless movie (If I see one more cute iconic character ruined by “Shrekking It Up” for easy jokes, I’m going to go postal).”
The lack of pop-culture jokes gives me a little hope. I wasn’t a fan of Edwards’ 2005 animated film Hoodwinked! And it’s strange that Edwards takes a stab at the pop-culture obsessed comedy of Shrek since his last film was very much in the same vein. Edwards has also assured fans that the film will use “Real puppets on real sets with live actors.”
“It’s my goal to do everything the “old school Muppet way.” I do believe there are many Henson fans who would have my head on a platter if I attempted anything else. If it is possible to do something physically, on set and “in camera,” we will do it. But it’s also fair to say that I will use today’s effects to enhance or help any scene. I will just keep asking myself, WWJD? (“What Would Jim Do?”)”
The film will be music heavy and will feature a lot of original songs. Rumor has it that the storyline will involve the Fraggles going into “outter space” (aka above ground) to rescue Traveling Matt. Edwards confirms that the Fraggles (he promises “Gobo, Red, Wembley, Boober, Mokey and Uncle Matt will be in it”) will encounter the human world, and the idea is based off a story idea that “Henson always wanted to do.”
“I have come up with an original take based on that. There will be elements of a classic fantasy ‘quest’ movie with some traditional high-energy Muppet hijinks thrown in. My goal is to make this more than just a “cute” movie that occupies a kid’s attention span for 90 minutes. And the movie will not simply be a feature-length version of a Fraggle TV episode. It will deliver much more. I want to create something that will stay true to the spirit of the original show, but also go way beyond it. This is going to be a big fantasy adventure film that stands up to anything else at the multiplex today. Everyone involved in this project wants the same thing.”
For some kids it was Sesame Street, for others it was the Smurfs, for my best friend Jon it was Nightmare on Elm Street (which explains… a lot), but for me I grew up watching Fraggle Rock. I’ve always believed that the Jim Henson created 1983 television show was vastly underrated. Meanwhile the characters have earned cred in the hipster crowd in recent years. We’re coming up on the 25th anniversary of the series and The Weinstein Co have announced that they will be producing a live-action musical feature film.
The bad news is that Cory Edwards, the guy who directed the animated Hoodwinked! (which as you can tell, I wasn’t too fond of) has been hired to helm and write the project. The story will supposedly involve the Fraggles leaving their home to interact with the Aliens (humans) in “Outer Space”. Past rumors have involved a storyline where they go in search for Uncle “Traveling” Matt. While this seems like the logical direction to go in for a big screen adaptation, I think it’s a bad idea. The great thing about Fraggle Rock was, well, Fraggle Rock itself. You take the Fraggles out of Fraggle rock and all you have is a bunch of muppets running around in the real world. And we already saw how that worked out in the last few Muppet films.
The television show ran for 96 episodes over five seasons and focused on a group of creatures called the Fraggles, who live in a system of caves called Fraggle Rock. he series focused on one tight-knit group of Fraggles in particular; Gobo, Mokey, Red, Wembley, and Boober. The “Theme song from Fraggle Rock” was actually a top 40 pop hit in Britain.
According to wikipedia, the vision of Fraggle Rock articulated by Jim Henson was to depict a colorful and fun world. Also a world with a relatively complex system of symbiotic relationships between different “races” of creatures, an allegory to the human world, where each group was somewhat unaware of how interconnected and important they were to one another. Creating this allegorical world allowed the program to entertain and amuse while seriously exploring complex issues of prejudice, spirituality, personal identity, environment, and social conflict. Fraggle Rock generally refused to over-simplify any individual issue, instead simply illustrating the consequences and inherent difficulties of different actions and relationships.
You can watch the classic opening of Fraggle Rock below:
[flv:http://bitcast-a.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/trailers/fragglerock.flv 322 240]
Discuss: Should the Fraggles leave Fraggle Rock for the big screen movie?
Cool Posts From Around the Web:
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, MINDStyle has announced plans to release a series of Fraggle Rock vinyl figures later this year.
The initial line-up will include: Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red, Uncle Traveling Matt, The Trash Heap, Sprocket, King Gorg, a Fraggle, and the Doozers, each of which will include a “special building block” with “different letters of the alphabet on them, so with several figures you’ll be able to spell out words or names with the Fraggle blocks.” Seems rather pointless to me.
The Doozers were always my personal favorite. I can’t wait to get a bunch of these guys (pictured above from the NewYork ToyFair 2008) on my bookshelf building their their clear plastic-looking structures (they should release a Doozer playset).
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