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The Hollywood Insider: The Muppets return

Disney greenlights Jason Segel’s new Muppet movie, and Will Ferrell’s ”Anchorman 2” might get shelved

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MOVIES
New Disney Boss Digs Muppets and Wizards
As Rich Ross shakes things up at Disney after taking over as studio president last fall, he’s turning to some Hollywood stars who haven’t been on the big screen in more than a decade: Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Fozzie Bear. An untitled new Muppet movie is likely to become one of Ross’ first greenlit projects (after Pirates of the Caribbean 4, of course), and it says a lot about where the studio is headed.

When Ross grabbed the reins last October, he killed a lot of movies in the development pipeline, including a sequel to 2007’s John TravoltaTim AllenMartin Lawrence comedy Wild Hogs and a big-budget remake of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that McG was slated to direct. Instead, he fast-tracked a Muppet movie written by Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel, whose 2008 hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall made puppets cool again. The duo’s plot is being kept under wraps, but sources say Segel (How I Met Your Mother) will star as the best friend of a new Muppet named Walter who will join a quest to save the famed Muppet studio. James Bobin (Flight of the Conchords) is on board to direct, and Amy Adams has been mentioned as a possible costar. Mandeville Films (The Proposal) is among the producers. Next up is a table read with the Muppets and their puppeteers, and since merchandising opportunities are apparently limitless with such an adored property, sources predict production could begin as early as this fall.

Disney is also close to signing off on the high school movie Prom by newbie screenwriter Katie Wech, and is seeking a director for a Wizard of Oz prequel about a man who comes to the Emerald City and is mistaken for the wizard by everyone he meets. Robert Downey Jr. has shot down rumors that he’d star as the wiz, but sources say Sam Mendes and Adam Shankman are set to meet with the studio about the directing job.

Will Anchorman‘s Ron Burgundy Ever Strut Again?
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who co-wrote the 2004 hit Anchorman featuring the leisure-suited wonder Ron Burgundy, are struggling to forge a deal with Paramount before scripting a sequel. The issue, of course, is money. Prospects looked bleak on April 30, when writer-director McKay tweeted, ”So bummed. Paramount basically passed on Anchorman 2. Even after we cut our budget down.” Truth is, the studio didn’t actually pass, but worries about how the sequel will play overseas and hopes to cap the budget at $50 million. While the first Anchorman cost $25 million and grossed $85 million domestically, it made only $5 million abroad. It seems ”You stay classy, San Diego” just may not translate.