Support grows for The Muppets hosting the Oscars


So yesterday we reported that Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy both bowed out of the Academy Awards. Veteran producer Brian Grazer (24, Arrested Development, Apollo 13) has since stepped in to replace Ratner, but the question remains: who will replace Eddie Murphy as the host? If thousands of people on the interwebs had their way, it would be the Muppets.

The Facebook campaign and Twitter page to get the Muppets to host the Oscars have been rapidly gaining momentum. As of this writing, there are more than 18,000 supporters on the Facebook page, a gain of more than 14,000 supporters in less than 24 hours.

A Muppet-hosted Academy Awards could be something incredible. Rather than a series of perfunctory jokes between speeches, there’d be a sense that you’re watching a unique spectacle. Setting up the stage to accommodate the Muppets, the puppeteers, the presenters, and the award winners would be a major feat in itself. The show could be worth watching from start to finish even if only for the ambition. And if done well, you’d wonder long afterwards how they did it — the same sense of awe you get from watching daredevils and illusionists ply their trade.

This isn’t the first time the Muppets have been at the Academy Awards ceremony. Let’s look at their previous appearances after the jump.

[Via Collider, Hero Complex]

According to Muppet Wiki, the first Muppet appearance was at the 52nd Academy Awards on April 14, 1980. Johnny Carson was the show’s host, and Miss Piggy joined him on stage to announce the first nomination for Best Original Song, which happened to be “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie. (Sadly the performance is edited out in the clip above due to copyright.) It lost to “It Goes Like It Goes” from Norma Rae. The Muppet Movie would also lose its Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score nomination to All That Jazz.

The next appearance was at the 54th Academy Awards on March 29, 1982, also hosted by Johnny Carson. During the ceremony, Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog did a live performance of “The First Time it Happens” from The Great Muppet Caper, which was up for Best Original Song. Sadly, it lost to the yacht rock classic “Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross. While I couldn’t find a clip of this magic moment, I did find a clip of Christopher Cross performing “Sailing” with a double-neck guitar while wearing an Earl Campbell Houston Oilers jersey.

Next came the 58th Academy Awards on March 24, 1986, hosted by Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, and Robin Williams. (Were names drawn at random from a hat that year?) Kermit, Scooter, and Jim Henson were on stage presenting the award for Best Animated Short. An online clip of this was available at one time but is unfortunately kaput. Kermit apparently got frustrated when Scooter’s Muppety hands couldn’t open the envelope to reveal the winner. Statler and Waldorf also made an appearance in the audience.

The last Muppet appearance at the awards ceremony was at the 68th Academy Awards on March 25, 1996, hosted by Billy Crystal. During the ceremony, Miss Piggy interrupted a video conference between Whoopi Goldberg and the pig from the movie Babe.

Now it’s all a game of wait and see. Sure, a Facebook campaign can get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live, but could it work for Hollywood’s big night?

I’m thinking about that final rendition of “The Rainbow Connection” in The Muppet Movie right now, and I can’t imagine a better way to close out the Academy Awards. The show shouldn’t be about studio politics or fashion; it should be about art and creativity, and how these things move us and inspire us. If the Muppets led the entire audience in song, the evening would end with a little gratitude and hope: “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending / Keep believing, keep pretending / We’ve done just what we set out to do / Thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.”

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.