Jessica_simpson1 We and the kids have been working our way through the delightful four-DVD set of "The Muppet Show," Season One. This morning, we watched one of the high points of the series, the episode featuring Ethel Merman. (She sings "Anything You Can Do" with Miss Piggy and comforts Fozzy with "There's No Business Like Show Business" after his tiny agent fails to win him a big raise from tightwad Kermit.) At one point, as Merman and Kermit sing a duet of "You're the Top," we hear this bit of banter:

Merman: "You're a Bendel bonnet, A Shakespeare's sonnet, You're Mickey Mouse!"
Kermit: "Is that supposed to be a compliment?"
Merman: "Hey, you called me a Coliseum."

It was just a harmless throwaway line at the time, an in-joke for show-biz-savvy parents of the 1970s, but this dis of Mickey must have deeply offended the mouse's entourage at Disney, who have a memory for these things like Dumbo. And today, sadly, Disney's minions are having their revenge: As owners of the "Muppet Show" Muppets,* they're debasing Kermit's image by trotting him out for risque pizza commercials with Jessica Simpson, and, for all we know, hiring out Miss Piggy to strip at college lacrosse parties.


* -- who, as we all know, are a different corporate entity than the "Sesame Street" Muppets, which is why you only see Kermit on Sesame Street in old reruns.


A 49-year-old woman died on one of Disney World's most popular rides, the $100-million "Mission in Space," earlier this week. She was the second person to die on the ride in the past year, and park officials insist it was her own damn fault:

Disney told state officials that the woman, who was not identified, may have had high blood pressure and other unspecified health problems. “Walt Disney World engineers and ride system experts completed a thorough inspection of the attraction overnight and found it to be operating properly,” the theme park said Thursday in announcing the reopening of the ride.


Actually, the "That 70s Show" star and the tot-pop supergroup both appeared on "The Jimmy Kimmel Show" the other night. Kimmel filled his studio with moms and preschoolers for the musical segment, which closed the show. The Wiggles, on the eve of a national tour, sang two of their classics, including "Can You Point Your Fingers and Do the Twist?" (Turns out, no, we can't.) And we thought it was a lovely moment for late-night TV: Why NOT book the Wiggles, after all? But true to the spirit of the Kimmel show, which books Maxim cover girls far more often than kid-music performers, the camera repeatedly swooped over to check out the hottest blond mom in the crowd as she boogied to the songs. As for the performance itself, Wiggle Greg has definitely put on a few pounds since the "Yummy Yummy" tour, and that seems to limit his mobility a bit.

We taped the Kimmel segment and played it for Tiny when she woke this morning. All went well - she was thrilled by the surprise and even got up and danced - until Kimmel made a classic non-parent mistake during his signoff. He told the kids gathered in the studio that the Wiggles would sing another song just for them after the cameras went off. That naturally led to a lengthy Tiny Girl tantrum about why she couldn't see "the one more song."

In other Wiggles news, the New York Times magazine gave them the profile treatment a couple of weeks ago, and concluded that they weren't such bad mates after all:

The success of the past four years does sit atop 11 years of hard-won, nonapplesauce-assisted Wiggles fame. . . . the Wiggles began in the ashes of a Sydney party band known as the Cockroaches. During the late 1980's. . . the band toured Australia, recording two albums of catchy roots rock that made Australia's Top 10. . . When the band fell apart, Anthony enrolled at the Institute of Early Childhood at Macquarie University in New South Wales to become a schoolteacher. One of only half a dozen men in a program with roughly 500 women, Field soon met two of the other men: Cook and Page, both former musicians. . . . [Page] said, ''I thought as a teacher I'll just write songs for kids and sing them.''

On the other hand, Wiggles Inc. also fills superstore shelves with $1 billion-plus worth of disposable crap placed right at a preschooler's eye level:

"If it's a toy, we'll try and keep it so that it fosters the imagination or language development,'' [Anthony] said. . . . "We have little guitars that come out that encourage children to believe that they're making music.''

The Times pressed Anthony on the question of why it wouldn't encourage imagination more if the Wiggles toy guitar didn't have a full set of sound chips and other add-ons:

"'Well, the guitar would probably be better for a child if it were a foam cutout as opposed to all the musical things,'' Field agreed. ''A kid could have just as much fun without those buttons. But the kid will have just as much fun with the buttons. So you could put out a foam one, and you could put one out that has the gizmos. The toy manufacturers probably wouldn't put out one without all the gizmos, because you're up against Elmo the doll.''

''I got my daughter a Dorothy [the Dinosaur] on her shirt,'' [Anthony] said, referring to the Wiggles character. ''She won't go to bed without Dorothy. She believes Dorothy's with her when she's got that on. She's using imagination.''

Or maybe his daughter just feels secure sleeping with Dorothy because she knows that thanks to the gardening dinosaur and her other Wiggles friends, she'll never have to earn an honest dollar in her life. But that's just a theory.


By now, you've probably heard about the Midwest couple who scammed their community by claiming to be giving birth to sextuplets (the Today Show offers video of the scam). It was a creative plan, and it just might have worked, except for those nosy neighbors who called habeas corpus on them and asked to actually see the children whose college funds they had just invested in. Lousy meddlers.

Today's twist on the story is that the wife who perpetrated the scam says that her husband had no idea that she wasn't pregnant until the very end. "Sarah Everson refused to say how she kept Kris Everson from finding out," AP reports. Oh, those two are so headed for the Springer show.

April 13, 2006 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS


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