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Last week, the news broke that Jason Segel was not one of the writers hired to develop a sequel to "The Muppets."
True, it was his frequent collaborator Nicholas Stoller who was hired, but just the notion that Segel might not be a driving force on a sequel seemed to upset some people. I thought it was probably not as big a deal as it was made out to be, and I said so, but I thought it would make sense to talk directly to Segel about it.
So on Saturday, one of the two press days I was at was for "Jeff, Who Lives At Home," the marvelous new comedy from Jay and Mark Duplass, and one of the interviews I had scheduled was Jason Segel. Why not kick things off by asking him to directly address the situation?
"I did what I set out to do." That's really all the answer he needs to give, and I think it's important to note just how happy he is with the film and what a miracle the film is at all. There were many points during development when it easily could have died, and there were most likely points where Segel must have felt worn down by it. Even after they filmed it, when they were in post and I spoke to him about it on the set of "The Five-Year Engagement," he was cautiously optimistic, thinking that they'd done something he liked but still unsure what was going to happen with people accepting what they'd done.
And, look, I understand why some people would be sad to lose him from the equation. There was a very disappointed Muppets fan standing in the room with us (Toshi came with me for the day) who told me later that Gary has to be in a Muppets movie because Gary LOVES the Muppets. There's no doubt he does, but the story in the first film was designed to get Walter to the Muppets. Gary and Mary went back to their small town to get married, and logically, there's no reason for Gary to have to have a major role in the next film. Walter, though, should be, and I hope they start the next movie with the Muppet Show back on the air and Walter part of the group. That seems like the most important thread to follow in a sequel.
Whatever the case, I'm just glad to see that Disney's committed to the characters.
"The Muppets" arrives on DVD and Blu-ray March 20th.