Making Music with The Muppets

Beyond the Marquee was on hand this week at the Rennaissance Hotel in Hollywood for the annual Film & TV Music Conference put on by Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter.
Easily, the Muppets panel entitled, THE MUSIC OF THE MUPPETS, was our favorite.

Academy Award-Winning Composer and Songwriter; Paul Williams and Director of 'The Muppets' movie; James Bobin.

“It takes a village to make a Muppet movie,” Kaylin Frank, Disney’s VP Creative of Music & Soundtracks explained yesterday morning at the Billboard and Hollywood Reporter’s 2011 Film & TV Music Conference MUSIC OF THE MUPPETS panel this week.  Where else can you hear how a chicken clucking a cover of Cee Lo’s “Forget You” came into existence or hear Kermit the Frog, labeled as ‘The Jimmy Stewart of Puppetry’?  “Everyone is a Muppet fan,”  Frank continued when discussing how crucial that was when licensing the coveted “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the film. It was such a fun event, the room filled with new and old Muppet fans and admirers, thoroughly enjoying the anecdotes and insights from the team behind the movie’s soundtrack, including the composer Christophe Beck, the arranger Chris Caswell, producer Ed Mitchell, director James Bobin and Academy Award-Winning composer and songwriter Paul Williams.

“This is the only job where you can show up on set and find out you are going to be the voice for a singing cabbage today,” jokes Williams, the artist responsible for much of the classic Muppet tunes we all know and love. Between exclusive clips and trailers of the film, the panelists touched on how much fun they each had in creating the joyful and memorable moments that characterize Muppet movies. Director James Bobin added, with a laugh, “We spent a lot of time arguing about what a jar of mayonnaise would sound like singing.” Bobin’s previous work on Flight of the Conchords and Da Ali G Show has developed his talent for incorporating music as “story telling pieces” which stick with us so much because they were “never written for kids, always for the characters.”

And the quintessential behind-the-scenes Muppet experience was complete thanks to the ‘Man Behind the Muppets’: Bill Barretta, the Puppet Captain and voice of many of our most beloved characters.

Panelists form left to right: Chris Caswell Arranger, Bill Barretta Muppet Performer/Associate Producer & Puppet Captain, Christophe Beck Composer, Jeannie Lurie Co-writer "Pictures in My Head", Paul Williams Academy Award Winning/Hall of Fame Songwriter/Composer, James Bobin Director, Ed Mitchell, Music Producer, Kaylin Frank, VP Creative, Music & Soundtracks, Walt Disney Studios

The panel reminisced about their favorite songs throughout Muppet history and mentioned that the film references the established Muppet hits and would continued their legacy. The film has many new covers of songs and six original tunes including a brand new song co-written by Jeannie Lurie, called “Pictures in My Head.”  “This one is so full of touching Kermit nostalgia that even the crew on set couldn’t help but tear up when it played … and that’s saying something!” reminded Bobin. Because of terrific new songs like this and others, Paul Williams described the Muppets musical legacy as “growing,” which is exciting for music and Muppet fans alike.

Williams wrapped up the memorable panel stating that his experience with the Muppets “is the most cherished experience of my life and continues to be.” Based on what I saw from this panel, there are many cherished Muppet moments to come in theaters this Thanksgiving.

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3 Responses to “Making Music with The Muppets”

  1. […] my BTM opportunities, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing talent from TV and Film, from Glee, the Muppets, the Help and more. Along the way meeting some of the incredibly talented actors behind those shows […]

  2. Chris Cortese says:

    I’m a member of an older generation, and still remember the classic Muppet songs of the past. I am heartily pleased to know that with the return of the Muppets to the silver screen my grandchildren will now discover and enjoy the wonderfully endearing and enduring music of the Muppets!

  3. Cindy says:

    great story, looking forward to the movie, and now the music too, thank you.

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