Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Green is Hip(pity hoppity)

Beloved Kermit the Frog Approaching 50
Kermit the Frog, that Muppet of all Muppets, has got to have other Hollywood stars green with envy. EDITOR'S NOTE: OUCH OUCH OUCH.

He's turning 50 years old next month but doesn't look a day over... well, he looks pretty much the same as in the mid-'50s, when he made some of his earliest appearances with puppeteer pal Jim Henson on the local Washington, D.C. TV show, "Sam and Friends."

And Kermit doesn't seem to have aged a day since getting his star-making breaks in the late 1960s, in the telefilm "Hey Cinderella" and on the children's TV series "Sesame Street."

"Well, you know, it's interesting being 50," Kermit said in a recent interview with AP Television News. "You start to reflect on your life. And you look back over the years at everything you've ever done. And, with age, middle age, comes wisdom. But I have to say that I'm not sure that 50 for me is the same as 50 in people years." EDITOR'S NOTE: NO. THE FROG IS PROBABLY MUCH WISER AT 50 THAN PEOPLE OF THE SAME AGE. (RIGHT, BOB? BECKY?)

In honor of Kermit's birthday, Buena Vista Home Entertainment has just released "The Muppet Show: Season One," a four-DVD box set that delivers all 24 episodes of the first season of the variety series, which originally aired from 1976-81.

"(It) has never been released in its entirety before; this is the first time," Kermit noted. "And, on there, not only do we have all those amazing guest stars like Sandy Duncan and Candice Bergen and Ruth Buzzi, Florence Henderson — all those original folks who worked with us back in the '70s. But we also have the original tape that we did to try to sell 'The Muppet Show,' as an extra, which I don't think the public has seen before."EDITOR'S NOTE: WHAT A GREAT PITCHMAN...ERR...FROG.

Other DVD bonuses include the original "Muppet Show" pilot, in which Kermit barely appeared, as well as a first-season gag reel.

Besides the Muppets themselves, "The Muppet Show: Season One's" star attractions are, indeed, the star attractions, including such legends as Lena Horne, Vincent Price and Ethel Merman.

"I'd have to say one of the memorable ones was probably the first guest we had, which was Juliet Prowse: a beautiful lady and talented performer," Kermit said. "She probably took a big chance coming on with a lot of farm animals."EDITOR'S NOTE: THEN AGAIN, COMPARED TO SOME OF HER (HUMAN) LEADING MEN, IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN AN IMPROVEMENT.

The frog also appears in another new DVD release, the telefilm "The Muppets Wizard of Oz," which originally aired in May.

"It stars Queen Latifah, David Alan Grier, and Jeffrey Tambor, along with Ashanti as Dorothy," said Kermit. "And Gonzo plays The Tin Thing, because he's not really a man. Fozzie is The Cowardly Lion. I am The Scarecrow. So, it's sort of a Muppet adaptation."

The DVD delivers an extended cut of the film, running 20 minutes longer than the broadcast version. And if that wasn't enough, we're likely to see a lot more of the green guy over the next year.

"I will be celebrating my 50th year in show business starting this September, and that's going to be like a yearlong celebration," he said. "And it'll be a whole year filled with things having to do with being green and frogs and all that sort of stuff."

As for Kermit's own private birthday bash? He's unsure what to expect, but he's prepared for anything from that wacky Muppet menagerie — even exotic dancers.

"Listen, you can send a stripper to my party if you like," he said. "It won't affect me because, as you can see, I am appearing naked, which I always try to do because I'm kind of a natural guy."


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