December 6, 2009 in Business

Muppets engage the Web with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Jake Coyle Associated Press

NEW YORK – Much like the Muppets took Manhattan, they have taken the Web.

Since debuting late last month, the Muppet parody of the classic music video of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” has been viewed more than 8.6 million times on YouTube. It’s an exceptional hit for the first video posted on a new YouTube channel by the Muppets Studio, the Walt Disney Co. subsidiary formed in 2004 after the Jim Henson Co. sold the franchise.

A Twitter feed has also been launched. (It’s mostly promotional; Kermit isn’t blogging.) And a Facebook page has been started.

Muppets Studio General Manager Lylle Breier said the online push for the Muppets was designed to help reboot the franchise and quickly get new content to fans.

“When the Muppets came into real popularity was the ’70s. What was popular in the ’70s? Variety shows – that’s what ‘The Muppet Show’ was,” Breier said. “What’s the Web? It’s a giant variety show. That’s why the Muppets fit so perfectly. Parody has always been at the heart of what the Muppets do.”

Breier said the Muppets singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” had long been an idea on the back burner, but the project only recently came together.

In it, just about every famous Muppet character makes a cameo: Gonzo and his chickens appear in silhouette; Rowlf plays piano; Beaker supplies his normal “meep-meep-meep-meep”; Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem rock out.

It’s not the Muppets’ first foray into online video. Several videos were released last year, most notably including Beaker singing “Ode to Joy.” More than 7 million have since watched Beaker’s rendition.

Breier said more Web videos are on the way, as is a much-anticipated theatrical film written by Jason Segel (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and his writing partner Nicholas Stoller. “It’s all part of a plan for new creative content with online, television, a new theatrical movie,” Breier said.

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