Disney is developing a biopic project based on Muppets creator Jim Henson titled Muppet Man! Deadline brings word that The Current War and The Giver screenwriter Michael Mitnick is set to pen the script, rewriting a draft previously penned by writing duo Aaron and Jordan Kandell. The film will be produced by The Jim Henson Company with Henson's real-life daughter Lisa Henson set to produce. According to the trade the film will "chart the life and times of the legendary puppeteer" and will include his journey to getting The Muppets onto television, something that he started experimenting with in commercials.
In addition to creating The Muppets, providing the voices of Kermit, Rowlf, Doctor Teeth, and Swedish Chef while he was alive, Henson also had a hand in creating and developing Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal (the later two of which he directed). His puppetry work spanned years before The Muppets as well though with his public access TV series Sam and Friends debuting in 1955. Henson died in 1990 from complications from bacterial pneumonia and one of his final works with his creations was for the Muppet*Vision 3D attraction as Disney's Hollywood Studios which debuted after his death and remains open today.
"I got interested (in puppets) when I started on television," Henson said in an old interview with HiLIFE Magazine. "I never was interested when I was a kid. I don't think I ever remember going to see a puppet show. But about the time I was finishing high school, I wanted to work in television. Television was new then. I think they were just starting color television at that point. And I just loved it. I was very much in love with that whole form. And I wanted to work there. And I heard of a station that was looking for puppeteers so I made some puppets and I went down and auditioned. And got a job. And it was kind of that easy. Because then I was on the air regularly for the next eight years, in Washington. And during that time our style sort of came about.
It's unclear how much of Henson's life will be covered in the upcoming movie, or if this film will end up being a theatrical release or perhaps a Disney+ exclusive title. Fans of the Muppets can no doubt expect real-life figures like Frank Oz (the original Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Cookie Monster) and Caroll Spinney (the original Big Bird) to be featured.
(Cover photo: Bettmann / Getty Images)