Puppets rubbed out in Henson film noir

Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:14pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Jim Henson Co. has picked up a spec script that may signal a daring turn into adult territory for the company behind Kermit the Frog and Fozzie Bear.

"The Happytime Murders" is a film noir murder mystery that will fall under the company's Henson Alternative banner, a division that develops projects not intended for children.

Brian Henson, co-CEO of the Jim Henson Co. and one of the late puppeteer's sons, is on board to direct.

The story takes place in a world where humans and puppets co-exist, with the puppets viewed as second-class citizens. When the puppet cast of an '80s children's TV show called "The Happytime Gang" begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced puppet LAPD detective turned private eye -- with a drinking problem, no less -- takes on the case. The script was written by Todd Berger from a story he worked on with Dee Austin Robertson.

This would not be the first time that Henson is delving into more adult fare. In 1982, the company made "The Dark Crystal," which featured a dark tone and, in one scene, nudity. But "Happytime" will also have an absurdist and comedic quality to it, comparable to Broadway's "Avenue Q."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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