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Disney Milks the Muppets

Anybody catch "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" on ABC last night? Did you spot the puppets?

No, I'm not talking about the Muppets, which were given 10 minutes or more of shameless promotional positioning during the latter half of the show. I'm referring to the show's producers and the ABC execs who dangle at the end of Disney's long strings.

Here's the backstory for those who don't keep up on Muppet lore: Mickey and Co. bought Jim Henson's washed-up band of puppets just over a year ago. Since then the company has trotted them out for ABC's short-lived "The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour," a Pizza Hut commercial and Disneyland's new California Adventure park, where they've posed for photos. (Coincidently, Fast Company blogger Heath Row mused on the Muppets' new role at Disney just last year.)


In last night's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," the justification for giving the Muppets a cameo on the highly-rated primetime series was thinly disguised as the inspiration of "bad boy" lead designer Ty Pennington. Building a home for a couple with sextuplets, Pennington and his crew thought the Muppets would offer the design team a chance to tap the resources of some "child experts." (Sigh)

Now, I know Disney's gotta get Kermit and the gang back out on the road - and the company has made some smart strategic moves, from giving them a Disney-powered web site to casting a Muppet's version of the Wizard of Oz (with pop star Ashanti as Dorothy). But *sheesh*... fix the voices first. On last night's show, Kermit sounded more like a Sunday morning political commentator with a head cold than the frog many of us grew up with. (I'm not alone on this, just drop by the Muppet Central Forum!) The voices of Fozzie and Miss Piggy? Well, hear for yourself. ABC will be showcasing the Muppets again on tonight's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition - How Did They Do That?"

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