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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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ABC viewers may choose ‘America’s Next Muppet’

Associated Press

The Muppets could come back to prime-time television with their own reality show.

ABC has ordered a script and five episode outlines for “America’s Next Muppet,” in which viewers can join in choosing the newest member of the puppet family that includes Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

The network is part of the Walt Disney Co., which purchased the Muppets franchise from the Jim Henson Co. in 2004.

The late Jim Henson’s Muppets got their first regular, widespread exposure on PBS’ “Sesame Street” starting in 1969.

The syndicated “The Muppet Show” aired from 1976-81 and was seen in more than 100 countries.

Henson’s puppets moved to the big screen in 1979 with “The Muppet Movie,” followed by films including “The Great Muppet Caper” and “The Muppets Take Manhattan.”

‘Dancing’ waltzes back in

“Dancing With the Stars,” a summertime hit for ABC, will return for an eight-week run beginning Jan. 5.

The series will fill in for “Alias,” which is going on hiatus to accommodate Jennifer Garner’s maternity leave. Garner is expecting her first child with husband Ben Affleck later this year.

“Dancing With the Stars” attracted an average weekly audience of nearly 17 million viewers and became the most-watched network summer series in the past five years.

It was followed by a September dance-off between initial champion Kelly Monaco (“General Hospital”) and her partner, and runner-up John O’Hurley (“Seinfeld”) and his partner. O’Hurley won but that show drew a smaller audience.

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